Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grief Sites

Through the years of writing this blog, many of you have left sites of your own and others in the comments section for me to look through. I have looked at them and believe there are many people with which I would like to share these sites.

I’ve always believed that the bereaved help each other through words, thoughts and actions. I have gone through every blog written to gather these sites and have listed them for your perusal. I hope some of them meet your needs, are helpful and that you will keep sending me new ones. I have drawn these sites only from the blogs. I'm sure there are hundreds of others. If you'd like to send them to me, I'd be happy to print them.

In my book “Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child” I list many others in the resource section. I am truly amazed at how many people have started their own blogs and will hopefully continue them, not only to help others but also to help themselves. Here is a listing of what you have sent to me. Try these out. (a conglomerate of many sites to visit)


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

As a way for families to honor their child and to help themselves heal, MISS Foundation began “The Kindness Project” in 1997. By 2007, more than 750,000 Kindness Project cards have been used around the globe to perform random acts of kindness in memory of a child, parent, friend, or spouse who died before their time.

The idea is to perform random acts of kindness in the community, usually anonymous. A little card is left behind so that the person who benefits from the kindness knows that someone’s life and death continues to matter.

Anyone can participate by ordering Kindness Project cards or just doing nice deeds in the community with your child’s loving memory at heart. I know one parent who sends a note to any names she sees in the newspaper of a person who loses a child. She doesn’t have to know who they are. Her heart goes out to these parents because she too, has lost a child and knows how they feel. She puts her name and phone number on these notes, in case these parents need someone to talk to. She says she gets calls from some of them and a few have become good friends.

The Kindness Project Card is a business sized card that reads:

                              This Random Act of Kindness…

                                 Done in Loving Memory

                                     Of our beautiful child

                               ____name of child here______

                         Here you can leave your name if you so desire and any other
                         piece of information you would like to share.

This card can be used by siblings, grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles or by any person who wants to honor and remember the life of a very special child.

A little bit about the MISS Foundation…
More than 120,000 children die every year in the United States. After the death, families experience significant trauma and grief that can affect family and individual functioning and an entire community. The MISS foundation helps families through local support groups, camps for grieving kids, indigent funeral funds and funeral planning assistance, counseling, newsletters, web sites and opportunities for volunteerism that allow people, affected by the death of a child, begin to heal.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Famous People Lose Children Too

After our child died, all of us wonder why this has happened to us. We are just ordinary people living ordinary lives. Why doesn’t something like this ever happen to the well-known? You may be surprised to learn that many famous and wealthy suffer the loss of a child. Some are made public; others not. I thought you might like to see a list of some of them, names, ages (where known) and how the child died. My list follows.

The Kennedy clan has had more than their share: John and Jackie had a stillborn daughter Anabella in 1956 and premature Patrick in 1963 and then John Jr. died in a plane accident with his wife at 39. Only Carolyn survives them all. Ted Kennedy and wife had a stillborn son in 1964 and many other children in the brothers and sisters of the Kennedy’s large family have died for various reasons.

Mike Tyson’s four year old daughter, Exodus, strangled by a power cord in 2009.

Eric Clapton’s four year old son, Connor, fell out of a window in 1991.

O.J. Simpson’s one year old daughter, Aaren, drowned in the family pool in 1979.

Mark Twain lost his son, Langdon, to diphtheria at age 19 months.

Abraham Lincoln had four sons, three of which did not survive to adulthood.

Senator John and Elizabeth’s Edwards’ 17 year old son, Wade, died in a car accident.

Singer Prince and his then wife, actress Mayle, lost their week old son to a rare genetic disorder in 1996.

Audrey Hepburn had a stillborn child.

Yoko Ono had a stillborn son in 1968.

Oprah Winfrey had a son in 1968 who only lived two weeks.

Rick Schroeder and wife had a child that was stillborn in 2004.

Keanu Reeves and then girlfriend had a daughter, Ava, who was stillborn in 1999.

Luciano Povarotti and his wife had twins in 2003. Their daughter survived but their son was stillborn.

Vice-president Joe Biden’s one year old daughter, Amy, died in a car accident, along with his wife in 1972.

Barbara Eden of “ I Dream of Jeannie” had a stillborn child in 1971.

John Travolta and Kelly Preston lost their 16 year old son, Jett, in 2009.

Anthony Quinn’s first child, Christopher, downed in a neighbor’s swimming pool at age 2. (The neighbor was W.C. Fields.)

George and Barbara Bush lost their two year old daughter, Robin, to Leukemia in 1953.

Red Skelton’s 10 year old son, Richard, died from Leukemia in 1958.

Jerry Lee Lewis’s 3-year-old son, Steve, drowned in 1962. (He also lost his 19 year old son in a car accident in 1973.)

John Walsh’s 6-year-old son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered in 1961. Walsh went on to do the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”

Charlie Chaplin’s son, Norman, died when he was 3 days old in 1919.

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger and then girlfriend had a stillborn daughter, Corrina, in 1968.

Writer Anne Rice’s daughter, Michele, died from leukemia in 1972 at age 5.

Bill Cosby’s son was murdered a few years ago when changing a tire on a freeway access road in Los Angeles.

A few others are Mary Tyler Moore’s son, Marie Osmond’s son and Gandi’s son.

This list only scratches the surface. You are not alone in your loss. Child loss touches most people in one way or another. It may be you, a family member, a friend or just someone you feel empathy for. Reach out to those you know. And to the others, you can empathize, knowing just how they are feeling because you, too, have been on a grief journey.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Finding Support

Everyone needs support when on a grief journey. Below are some ideas where support can be found during your grief journey.

1. Your child's friends. I know how pleased I was when my daughter's friends would call or send notes telling me how much Marcy meant to them. I, in turn, promoted that support. I wanted them to talk about her, tell me stories that perhaps I didn't know and laugh and cry with me. We all want to learn as much about our child as possible, so that we have good memories to store in our hearts. I know one lady who invites her son's friends to her home on his birthday and in addition to having birthday cake, they write messages to her son, put them inside balloons and release the balloons from her backyard. This is a really nice tradition and she is fortunate that her son had such nice friends and they continue to make it a tradition each year.

2. Reach out to your friends and say, "I need (fill in) from you. Can you help me out?" They will probably be more than happy to do whatever you need. They, too, feel helpless as to what they can do to help, so don't be afraid to tell them directly.

3. Get support from your family. Most family members will understand your every emotion during this time and want to reach out to you. Sometimes you run across a family member who can't deal with your loss and backs off from any kind of help. In most cases, they are afraid because they don't know what to say or do. Try talking to them so they understand your needs and you, in turn, can understand their fears.

4. If you can't get support from your family, try counseling. Most bereaved parents will tell you that the best counselors are those who have been through a loss themselves. Counselors can tell you rote advise that comes from books, but those who can identify with what you are feeling can be the most help. Other counselors will also try to help; it is up to you to determine how helpful they are for your needs.

5. Online support also can be very helpful. Besides the national organizations such as Compassionate Friends, Bereaved Parents USA and Alive Alone, there are specific bereavement support groups you can look up such as cancer groups, suicide groups, parents of murdered children, MADD and many others. Even Facebook has grief groups you can look into. Other web site bereavement support are groups like Angel Moms, MISS, Miscarriage Support,, and The Cope Foundation. Whatever your need, you can find it online. The web has put grievers in touch with all types of individuals who can help you through the pain.

6. Starting your own support group where you live. Not every town or city has a support group for bereaved parents, but what is to stop you from starting one. Start by contacting the local newspaper and see if they will do a story about your first and subsequent meetings. Place flyers in hospitals, funeral homes and religious institutions to start. Call local hospice groups and contact national organziations for names in your area. Ask a church if you can hold a meeting there and go from there.

7. Music is its own support. Find a room in your home and a relaxing chair where you can reflect on your loss by yourself, a room of peace and serenity. Choose soft music that you or your child liked. Relax, close your eyes and remember your child. The music will calm your soul and allow you to remember the good memories to support you through the rough times.

8. Build a children's memorial in your city called the Angel of Hope if there is none. This Angel of Hope was created to serve as beacons of hope for those suffering from the emotional and physical absence of a child. Parents can leave flowers and notes. Candlelighting ceremonies are held once a year. There are many cities across the U.S. that have these memorial angel sculptures in a specific location such as a park or a memorial garden in a cemetery. If your town does not have one, you can be part of seeing that one gets built so you and others can have somewhere to go for comfort.

Trust the journey you are on. It will get better with time. You will never heal completely, but with support from many sources, your journey will be easier.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Grief Has Changed Me

Grief is defined as “intense mourning.” I think of grief as a lifetime journey. Your child is gone; there is nothing you can do to bring him/her back. So, for the rest of your life, you grieve for that child; you grieve the fact that you’ll never see them again, never share a moment together again or be able to hug them close. The pain at first is indescribable and unbearable. With time, love, patience from others, and perhaps counseling and therapy, the pain will ease but it will never go away. Don’t expect it to. Your heart has been ripped in two and a part of it torn from you, never to be normal again. Even when you find your new normal, the grief will be buried deep down, not visible for all to see. You alone will know it is there. You will always miss your child, love them and mourn for what might have been.

Grief has changed me:

…It has made me more conscious and empathetic of others and their problems.

…It has empowered me to do things that before my daughter’s death I wouldn’t even consider doing

…It has taught me to stand up for what I believe in and help others do the same.

…It has forced me to change my goals in life.

…It has shown me not to be afraid of crying when appropriate because I know grief is my constant companion.

…It has given me new priorities in life.

…It has made me brutally honest with everyone and everything that I now see from a different point of view.

…It has made me acknowledge that everything that happens in this world has a reason. We may not know what that reason is immediately, but eventually we will find out.

…It has striped me of everything I was before my daughter’s death and led me to a new phase of my life.

Perhaps grief is the price you pay for loving someone with every fiber of your being.