Sunday, May 26, 2013

Depression and Recovery

According to statistics, currently, some 19 million Americans suffer from chronic depression. That’s 1 out of every 15 people in America. In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States and abroad for people over 5 years of age.

Depression may be the biggest killer on earth; it claims more lives than war, cancer and AIDS together. Twenty-eight million people in America, 1 out of 3 Americans, are on some kind of medication to try to handle this terrible darkness, time defying sadness and confusion of mind and emotion.

Depression speaks a language of its own: a persistent and anxious emptiness, a feeling of hopelessness and pessimism, a sense of guilt and worthlessness and helplessness, a loss of pleasure or interest in things that were once extremely enjoyable, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, early morning waking or oversleeping.

You may be suffering any or all of these feelings if your child died, but the most important thing is to get help from a professional and not let it consume you.

There is no question that when our child dies, it affects us physically and emotionally. Many fall into depression and find it difficult to get out of it. Seeing a doctor is good advice. You may have to take some medication at first but you will be treated by a professional, and that is very important. To take medication without consulting a doctor can be harmful to you and to those around you who don’t understand what you are feeling and going through.

When you read history you may read people like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill suffered serious depression. Depression knows no educational, cultural or financial boundaries. Depression causes people to lose pleasure in daily life. It is emotional pain that forces itself upon us against our will.

The first thing that goes in depression is happiness. You don’t gain pleasure from anything. It takes over your mind and will. Soon all other emotions follow; happiness into oblivion, your sense of humor, your capacity for love. You can’t see the light of life or the love of others. It is utter darkness, and you can’t see through it.

Some bereaved parents may find one or more of these apply to them. It is then time to get help. We know nothing will bring back our child, but the help you can get may save your life and eventually encourage you to move forward.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Deepest Fear

My deepest fear: that my precious daughter will be forgotten over time. Surely, that is understandable coming from a mother’s point of view. As time passes, others begin to continue with their lives, and I want to shout, “But what about my child? She lived too. She would not want to be forgotten. And I would not want her to be forgotten, ever.

How can I prevent that, and what have I done so far to keep her memory alive now and forever? I know I think of her every day and all the wonderful things she did for everyone, always helping others in whatever their situation. She was such a good child through all 27 years of her life, which ended in a split second on a crowded road in Los Angeles. And she was a wonderful friend to everyone, always there in good times and in bad times, comforting others, laughing with them and crying with them. I know her best friend will never forget, her husband won’t forget, I won’t forget, nor will some relatives who thankfully remember and talk about her. I encourage that, as it is the only way to keep her memory alive for them.

The one thing I have done from the very beginning is to establish memorials, such as scholarships in her old school, build buildings in her honor which house one of her loves, the theater, and put up memorial plaques and bricks in every institution she was involved with during her life. Most recently, I was able to buy a memorial brick at the college she attended to help fund the Memorial Union refurbishment. It says, “In Loving Memory of Beloved Daughter, (her name) and the year she graduated (BA 1988).”

I have written two books about surviving grief, always mentioning her name and her situations where they apply to what I am writing. I write articles for many online grief newsletters and contribute articles to other books such as the Open To Hope book. I speak at national conferences of bereaved parents, but more importantly, I try to help others during their grief journey. I have been there. I know exactly what they are feeling. And I try to tell them that it will get better. They will survive. They will find a new normal. It may not be what they had hoped for, but, indeed, it can be fulfilling in a new way.

The most fulfilling thing I have accomplished is to establish an endowment fund in her name to help others fulfill the dreams she was unable to do. Each year three students receive funds to help them through college. The very first student who received funds has recently contacted me, we went to lunch, caught up with each other’s lives, and she promises to keep in touch. Such a lovely woman she turned out to be. I am as proud of her as I would be of my own daughter. I realize it is a project that will always carry her name into the future she was deprived of, but will bring hope to many others.

A few years ago, I started a bereavement group for parents who have lost their only child, as I have. We now have 15 members, who are comfortable talking about their child, telling us stories about them and their antics. We laugh, we cry, we are very close because we have a common bond that most other bereaved parents don’t understand. We no longer have any child to continue our legacy and most of us do not have grandchildren to help ease that loss. That bond allows us to be at ease with each other and there is nothing that feels as good as that.

I have done everything I can think of to keep my daughter’s memory in front of others and will continue to do so as I think of additional ways to memorialize her. Although I have lost the most important person in my life, I will never forget her. She will always hold a place in my mind and in my heart and I will not let others forget her either for as long as I live.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Still Hard

Today is Mother’s Day, probably one of the saddest days of the year for bereaved mothers.

For many years after my daughter died, I tried to ignore it. I didn’t go out and celebrate the day; what was there to celebrate any more? I had no other children. Although I knew I would always consider myself a mother, it was still a very hard day. I usually just cooked dinner and wished the day would just hurry up and end.

The passing of time has helped soften the hurt and empty feeling. So now I accept invitations to go to friends’ houses who know how hard this day is for me. I find that extremely kind of them to invite my husband and me over. In fact, one friend who invites about 10-12 people makes sure it is only those who have no one to celebrate with. This doesn’t mean their child died; perhaps they are married and live in another state or perhaps they have never had children. It is a mixed group. I like that because of the one thing we have in common…no children to celebrate the holiday with. So we have lunch, we chat about everyday things and after a few hours we go home. It is a nice afternoon, and I feel good after that.

This year my friend invited us again, but also, so did my best friend, whose children live in different parts of the United States and only send cards and/or flowers. I, too, get a couple of cards. Usually, one comes from my daughter’s best friend, one from a close cousin, one from a friend in another city and, of course, one from my husband. The first couple of years after Marcy died, I’d get cards from some of her friends that I knew, but it’s been 19 years, and I would never expect them to even think about sending a card now. That’s okay. I know they haven’t forgotten her. I heard from her former boss who, once a year, gets all her friends together from where they all worked, and he tells me the first thing they do is talk about Marcy. Oh, how wonderful that makes me feel!

So, even though this isn’t my favorite holiday, I tolerate it and smile, thinking of all the funny cards my daughter used to give me (some of which I still have), the gifts she would make for the family and the meals she would cook. I will always remember these times and keep them tucked way down in my heart.

I wish you all a good Mother’s Day. Remember good thoughts about your children and you will make it through this day hopefully with a little smile.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Three Bereavement Conferences This Summer

Three national conferences for bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives and friends will be held this summer. Although I mentioned them briefly about 4 months ago, here is some more detail for your perusal.

July 5-7, 2013 National Compassionate Friends Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston, MA.

This conference will have over 100 workshops dealing with all aspects of bereavement. In addition, keynote speakers will include:

• Dr. Heidi Horsley, Dr. Gloria Horsley, founders of "Open to Hope" Foundation and Phil Horsley (Chair of TCF Foundation's Board of Trustees), a family united after the loss of sibling and son Scott, will combine to welcome you as Opening keynoters at the National Conference.

• Tina Chery who, after the murder of her son Louis, created the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute with a mission to create and support an environment where families can live in peace and unity.

• Ken Druck, bereaved parent, founder of the Jenna Druck Foundation, and one of the nation's pioneers in personal transformation including healing after loss.

• Bill Hancock, director of the Bowl Championship Series (college football), author of Riding with the Blue Moth, and father of Will, who was killed during the January 27, 2001 crash of an airplane carrying members of the Oklahoma State University men's basketball team.

If you go to , it will direct you to registration information and tell you more about the conference. Hotel cost is $169 plus tax per night. Registration if $90 per person until June 1, then $130.

Places to visit in Boston include The Freedom Trail, Boston Commons, Fenway Park, John F. Kennedy Library, Paul Revere House, lots of museums and shopping.

July 25-28, 2013 National Gathering of Bereaved Parents of USA at Sacramento, CA.

The site of this conference is The Lions Gate Hotel and Conference Center, 3410 Westover St. North Highlands in Sacramento. There is free parking, free shuttle to and from the airport, free breakfast for $89 per night. Places to visit in the area are Lake Tahoe, Lake Shasta, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park and the Redwoods.

Speakers include: Dr. Bob Baugher, Mitch Carmody, Dr. Gloria Horsley, Dr. Heidi Horsley, Daryl Hutson, Susan Levy, Kris Munsch, Dr. Darcie Sims and a beautiful Candle Lighting Ceremony presented by Alan Pedersen.

Registration for the conference is $50 per person

Contact Denise Pedersen at 916-367-7865 for more information about the conference or go to .

August 15-18, 2013 National POMC Conference in Cincinnati, OH

This conference if for families and friends of those who have died by violence. POMC stands for Parents of Murdered Children but incompasses all violent deaths.

The conference will be held at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza on 5th Street next to the Hyatt. cost of the hotel is $115 per night

Sessions will include the following: medical examiner, prison life, legal panel of judge, prosecutor and defense attorney, DNA cold cases, victim impact statements, domestic violence, homicide, view into the mind of a killer, gun violence prevention and the journey to hope.

For additional information, contact Sheri Nolan at 513-910-2598 or Terry Barton at 513-777-3397 or go to