Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Q.U.I.L.T. campaign

Quietly United In Loss Together (Q.U.I.L.T.) is a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Campaign started by Nneka Hall, whose child died before birth.

Nneka”s vision for October 15, 2014 is one which includes thousands of families touched by the loss of an infant coming together in Washington, DC to march from the White House to the National Mall where the memorial quilt will be on display. The quilt is made up of panels from each state. After the event, the quilts will return to their respective states and will be displayed during pregnancy and infant loss awareness month.

QUILT’s goals are to (1) lift the stigma associated with pregnancy and infant loss by introducing society to these angels, (2) educate people about the various causes of pregnancy loss and infant death, (3) encourage expectant mothers to be more proactive in their prenatal care., (4) convince some doctors, midwives and doulas to incorporate a kick counting component to all prenatal care, (5) show grieving families where and how to tap into the support available to them, and (6) raise awareness by marching to a location where a memorial quilt, comprised of lost pregnancies and infants who have died, will be on display.

Nneka saw the reaction and lack of compassion from co-workers who told her to “forget about” the child that is not here. “The loss for me was a deadly dose of reality and then to have co-workers say they are uncomfortable with having my daughter’s picture in my office and that I must take it down. It is a very sad uncomfortable reality. Loss is uncomfortable and so is the lack of understanding by those who are unable to put themselves in our shoes.”

“We will march as a united body to remember babies who would otherwise be forgotten, the many causes of pregnancy and infant loss and to take this time to grieve openly without judgment,” said Nneka. “Please honor the memory of an Angel by marching with us on this special day.”

For more information, visit the Quietly Together In Loss Awareness Campaign on Facebook.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Heroin information

Editor’s note: I feel this topic has become so important, I wanted to give you some information about Heroin in case you know someone who can use it to save their child.

“No mother should ever have to bury her child,” said Caroline Casina, bereaved mother from Illinois, whose son died of an overdose.

No parent wants to believe their child is hooked on any drug, particularly Heroin. Nor does any parent want to deal with the aftermath of a drug overdose, resulting in the death of their son or daughter.

Heroin addiction is back. It has hit the suburbs now, where as years ago it used to be only in the inner city. Some statistics: Heroin seizures in the past four years is up 50 percent. Users are up a staggering 75 percent from 2007-2011 to a total of 281,000 people. The fastest growing group of users are under 21-years-old. It has hit the suburbs and rural areas of middle class and affluent America.

Kathy Cane Lewis, researcher, says it starts by using pain pills and when those become difficult to get and too expensive, users switch to Heroin. A bag of heroin can cost as little as $10.

Twenty-four percent of high school kids abuse prescription meds. That’s over 5 million. Kids like Vicodin and Oxycodin, a 33 percent increase in five years. Why? One boy says it for most: because it felt so good, and we didn’t worry about the consequences.

Parents are getting involved, parents like Caroline Casina, who doesn’t want to see this happen to others. First, these parents want a nationwide good Samaritan law. This will allow anyone who is with someone overdosing to dial 911 without fear of getting charges put against them. Illinois is only one of 14 states with overdose good Samaritan laws on the books.

The parents also want people to know about a heroin antidote called Naloxone, which can neutralize the drugs’ effects and save the life of someone who is overdosing. It can cut these deaths in half says Lewis. She believes this antidote should be available over-the-counter. “I want to make sure no more people die. Our goal is to reduce overdose to zero in 10 years. It may not be achievable, but if we can reduce it by 50 percent, that would be a big deal.”

Others have learned hard lessons, lessons they hope others in their teens will listen to. Says one teen, “If you want to lose family, friends, break hearts, then use. If you want to keep friendships, make something of your life and make your family proud, don’t use heroin or any drug.”

“It is an unmanageable, untamable beast that’s a shape-shifter,” says Casina. “It hides in plain sight. It is insidious, clever, and conniving. I don’t think anybody, even a user, fully understands it.”

But she and others would like to defeat it. The question becomes: What can we do about this as a community, a society, a nation? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Power of Hope

This short piece is by Nan Zastrow, bereaved mom and author. In it, she says she believes that hope is a positive attribute. But hope without some backup plan or some strategy may be disappointing and even threatening in times of crisis. In its simplest terms, hope is a wish or a desire. It doesn't make things happen all by itself. Hope must be developed, cultivated and nurtured to benefit from all it has to offer. Hope requires some action on our part. It is achieved through perseverance, self-direction, planning and commitment. Hope comes from within. I agree completely with her sentiments.

I believe in the power of HOPE. I believe that through our grief everyone has the ability to find hope.

I believe hope is found in
            Saying yes instead of no;
            Loving the concept of living; dying can wait;
            Turning the sad memories to stories of the living soul;
            Forgiving the unforgivable, not planning for revenge;
            Counting your blessings; not your challenges;
Mending relationships instead of replacing them;
Saying, “I’ll always remember”, not “I’ll never stop missing you;”
Getting up, instead of laying down;
Giving in gracefully, when you have nothing to gain;
Letting go,, when you can’t change the outcome;’
Looking for the miracle; not just waiting for it to happen’
Strengthening your spiritual self, not being angry at God for your lack of faith;
Counting your steps forward; not the ones that sometimes drift back;
Saying, “what next?” instead of “why me?”

Hope begins your journey. Believe in it. Trust in it. Imagine it. Build a strategy! Feel the energy! Allow yourself to be enveloped with its radiant embrace. You have begun. You will see dignity and grace in others. Compassion in the human touch. Faith in a power far greater than you. Peace in the order of all things. Wonder in the roads not traveled; Promise in what is yet to be.

Reprinted with permission from Grief Digest, centering Corporation, Omaha, Nebraska.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lessons I've Learned from My Daughter

What did my child teach me from the 27 years of her life and after her death when I also discovered from others how much she meant to them.

Marcy was an outgoing person all her life. She loved having lots of friends, and I had not had time for many friends. I was always teaching and many times even missed out on events she was involved in. Teaching was important to me; I know now nothing was as important as being with my daughter. When she died I vowed to get my priorities straight. Although, still extremely busy after retiring, I now have three godchildren and try to get to as many events in their lives as possible and see them as much as possible. Time passes too quickly not to enjoy everyone and everything. It is the same with my grandson, born less than two years ago, but who lives in a foreign country. We get there a few times a year, but thank God for Skype. We Skype at least once a week, so he doesn’t forget us in these young formative years.

Marcy was always fair with everyone. When her father and I divorced, she made sure she divided her time equally on holidays, one year coming to my home, the next year to her fathers. What a wonderful quality, to show she loved us equally. I have learned to hug those I love more often and tell them how much they mean to me whenever I see them. My godchildren have been instilled with that quality from their mother, my daughter’s best friend. My husband instilled it in his daughter, and I hope she passes it along to her son. Not a telephone call nor a day together goes by with any of these close people ending our conversation by them saying to me, “I love you.” And I smile and return the sentiment.

Marcy embraced each day and each person she was with as though they were the most important thing to her. Her friends wrote me letters after her death telling me she was the glue that held them all together. She was helpful, friendly and when any of them had a problem, she was there for them. I like to think that she got some of that from me, but I know that she discovered most of those attributes herself. I try to follow in her footsteps and am kind to most, when at other times, I might not have been. I’ve learned it does no good to have a bad attitude towards others. Life is too short to hold grudges, so I go out of my way to try to always be kind.

Marcy was a giver. Whether it was a shirt off her back, sharing her lunch with someone, giving someone a ride in her car or loaning a few dollars, it was always because she wanted others to have what she knew they couldn’t get or afford. In my own way I have tried to help others while honoring her memory by giving scholarships to students in colleges who need financial help to fulfill their dreams of a career and a better life. I am confident that if she could have, she would do the same.

I have learned what is important and what is not important in life. After Marcy’s death, I learned to stop what I am doing and enjoy a beautiful sunset, watch the quail in my backyard drinking water from the pond, see the beauty in plants and gardening, and take lots of walks. Even though we were very close, these are some other things I wish I could have made time to share with my daughter. I now share them with my husband and anyone else who is around at the time. I don’t waste the days, the hours or the minutes on trivial things that no longer have any meaning to me.

When I look back and proudly think of my daughter, I know she is there with me every day urging me on to be a good person and do good in this world. I am proud of what she was and what I hope I have become. I will be forever grateful for her love and her life.