Sunday, October 28, 2012

Answering Blog Questions

I’m going to answer a few recent questions and comments this week that I’ve received from those who follow my blogs.

The first one is What kind of solutions and suggestions did I get out of the Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) conference when I spoke at their national conference in Tempe, AZ recently? Unfortunately, I can not comment on that since I was only there a few hours during the second day, when I was to speak. I didn’t get to attend any of the other sessions, but I can tell you what I learned from many of the participants: they had some good speakers on victim rights, police officers and professionals on legislation of victim impact statements, and psychologists to help with the trauma of what happened, seeing the body and crime scene photos. Parole hearings, plea bargaining, appeals process and particularly the trial itself were discussed. These parents had one thing in common. They needed to know “why.” But, in most cases there is no answer to that question, leaving them frustrated. I did see petitions to stop the early release of a loved-one’s murderer and watched parents sign them. POMC has protested the early release/parole of more than 1000 murderers, most with less than 50 percent of time served. The workshop I gave dealt specifically with parents who had lost their only children to accidents (sudden death) or murder and difficult situations they deal with as a childless bereaved parent going through the grief process. We talked about redoing wills, who will take care of them when they get older, being a step-parent and any problems that may cause, affects on marriage, listening to others talk about their children, no more happy occasions, hearing hurtful remarks like “get over it already”, are you still a mother, and answering the question: how many children do you have? In addition to all this grief self-help weekends are held for survivors to deal with the anger, pain, hopelessness, frustration, fear and helplessness. The weekend tries relaxation techniques, meditation, sharing sessions and encouragement to move forward to a new life with a renewed sense of purpose. It is held twice annually.

The second comment dealt with punishment for distracted drivers. I agree with this completely. When you text or use your cell phone to call someone, you are now labeled a distracted driver and I believe it should be outlawed to use a cell phone at all while driving. Too many accidents; too many death have occurred because of them. I don’t know of any support groups that deal with that topic specifically, but I know that at the Compassionate Friends national conferences, the topic does come up within other sessions of automobile deaths. I would ask TCF to do a specific workshop on this topic next July, so parents, police and professionals can weigh in on it and offer suggestions for punishments for distracted drivers, not let them off or give them a light sentence if someone is killed. I’d also write to Pat Loder, the executive director of TCF, and ask her to put an article in the TCF magazine and the monthly online e-newsletter, sent free to anyone who signs up, for those parents who have lost children or any loved one to distracted drivers and try to get a group started in your area. From a national childless conference I chaired in 2007, I got enough people together who had lost their only child and we started a Now Childless group in the Scottsdale, AZ, area which is still going strong.

Third, I made a comment in one of my blogs on how I believe “everything has a reason for happening.” Not everyone agreed with that statement. Although I have yet to find a reason that my only child was taken from me and no child’s death makes any sense, there is nothing I can do to change what has happened. So I have accepted the fact that I have a choice: let it destroy me or get out there and continue my life, but with a different kind of meaning to it. Fortunately for me, I have already found that meaning: helping others in their grief journey by speaking to groups and writing books and articles. I am very compassionate and know that because I have walked this path myself, I can truly understand another’s grief. Doing for others makes grief bearable. For other people, it will take a much longer time to find why God has made you suffer so for the rest of your life, but eventually, I believe you will understand and accept what has happened. You will find your own meaning and move on from there. Don’t get me wrong. I hate what has happened. I’d give anything to have my daughter back. But if I dwell on that, it doesn’t do me nor anyone close to me any good.

Lastly, I wrote a blog on what I would do if I had one more day with my child and one reader sent me her site in which she, coincidentally, wrote a very nice poem entitled “If I Had One More Day.” If interested, go to: http://samaralansari.blogspotcom/2008/11/if-you-had-one-more-day.html .

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