Sunday, May 31, 2015
Vacationing after the death of a child can be difficult, but eventually you must move on and find a new way to enjoy summer fun with the rest of your family.
My first suggestion would be to find a new place you haven’t been that doesn’t remind you of your child every second of the day. If you have other children, it might be good for them to talk to you about how much their sibling might have loved or not loved the place you choose. It is good for the entire family to talk about the one who died. You don’t want them to be forgotten and neither do they. Talk about them as much as possible to make it more comfortable. Laugh or joke at something he/she would have done on this new vacation.
Don’t plan a vacation that is too long. You or your husband may not be up for that yet. Perhaps a few weekend trips to start and expand from there. See how it goes. See if everyone is coping with this new normal. A beach weekend or going to a resort close by are good choices. Even though you will miss your loved one tremendously, try to keep up appearances for the other family members. If it gets hard, talk about it all together.
When everyone is comfortable with the weekend trips, try a longer one (a week to 10 days). Get the other family members involved with the planning. Have everyone suggest a place, discuss the advantage of each one, the good and bad points, what activities as a family can be done, and then vote for the top two. Go from there to pick a winner. If not everyone likes the chosen place, they will know that the next trip will be their choice. And who knows, they may find the first choice to eventually be to their liking.
Remember that on any trip you take, be kind to yourself. Allow some time for yourself, to read, to journal, whatever you feel comfortable doing. You or any family member may become overwhelmed during this trip and that is okay. It’s all right to say to the others how much you miss the one no longer with you, to even cry if necessary. But you may also want to remember happier times you can talk about. The more the child’s name comes up, the more comfortable others will feel.
There is no right or wrong answer to: when will I be ready to take a vacation again? You must decide that for yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you how long you should wait. Keep in mind your loved one would want you to move forward and enjoy life. And in the process, perhaps you will honor them by the choices you make. Happy vacationing!
Sunday, May 24, 2015
It is amazing to me that sometimes you find you can do something you were never good at. In my case it was writing a poem. I challenge each of you to try writing a poem about your child who died, how you feel, what you hope for, what you miss, or whatever flows from your heart. I think you will find it a challenging but useful activity during your grief journey. Here is one of the few poems I have written dedicated to my daughter Marcy that can be found in my second book on surviving grief.
As I look up to the sky,
a bright star shines down.
I feel it is you smiling at me,
telling me it is okay for me to laugh,
it is okay for me to be happy again.
I'm trying, I tell you.
It is not an easy road to travel
when you have lost the most
important thing in your life.
But my heart is full with love
from a wonderful man and many friends,
And, of course, I feel your love surround me
on this chilly December day.
It warms my heart and my body as always.
I keep busy and try to make a difference
in this world by helping others.
I do it for you, in your memory,
and I find it is a wonderful feeling.
I know you used to do it also,
You used to help close friends
and even strangers.
I look around me and see young people
enjoying the outdoors, running, playing,
wishing for a good snowfall.
I hear their laughter and their good wishes.
I know there is hope for a better
world when I look into their eyes.
I wish I could share everything I say
and do with you, as I used to.
I miss you so much,
my beautiful daughter.
I think of you every minute of every
day and always will.
I want you to know, though,
that I was always a survivor,and will continue to be one
both for you and for me.
I love you, always and forever.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
It’s been a long time, but I’m so happy to see that Glen and Linda Nielsen will be doing their 6th “In Loving Memory” national conference for bereaved parents with no surviving children April 7 – April 10, 2016 at the Hyatt Fairfax at Fair Lakes Hotel in Fairfax, VA with a $89 room rate.
Glen and Linda have not done a conference since 2001. In fact, I took over for them in 2004 and 2007, and with much help we put on a very nice conference called "Now Childless" in Scottsdale, AZ and have not had once since.
The purpose of In Loving Memory is to provide conferences for bereaved parents where they find encouragement and relief from profound grief caused by the death of their child. There will be many workshops and informal sharing sessions for parents to learn coping skills to take back to their daily lives.
Grandparents, support group chapter leaders, friends and the professionals who assist parents in walking through their grief are encouraged to attend. Special events and activities are planned with a view toward learning and commemoration. Free time has been built into each day to allow time to recharge and refocus in your own way.
Experienced and some new now childless bereaved parents will be presenting workshops with topics relating to our specific concerns e.g.: How do I go on living without my child?, What am I going to do as I age with no children?, What do I do with my and my child’s things?, How do I handle stepchildren?, I am truly alone, as I am single/widowed, How do I plan for a future?, How do I fin d purpose for living?, I’ve had multiple losses and wonder how others have coped, How do I keep my child’s memory alive forever? And so on.
Registration materials will be available soon on the site below. Free parking at the hotel and a free shuttle to major, enclosed shopping centers is available. Centering Corporation will have a bookstore. Authors who have written specific books for childless parents should let the conference know so they can be included. Registration is $75.
More information will be on www.InLovingMemoryConference.org and www.alivealone.org . This is the only gathering that focuses entirely on the needs of parents who have no surviving children.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
There are two other national conferences you can attend beside Compassionate Friends in Dallas that I wrote about last week, plus two regional ones and a Mother’s Day gathering today.
Mother’s Day – Ann and Jim Cook will host the 10th Annual Now Childless Mother’s Day Brunch today at noon, at their home in Northport, Long Island, New York. Spouses are also welcome. If you live in the area, it is an excellent way to meet other childless parents. Being together gives comfort and camaraderie. If interested in attending, email Ann and Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 631-754-9141 or because of this late notice, contact Ann or Jim and ask them to keep you on their list for the next brunch.
Bereaved Parents USA – A national organization to help bereaved parents, it also holds a national gathering. This summer it is at the Sheraton Hartford Hotel at Bradley Airport July 24-26 in Hartford, CT. Speakers will include Sara Ruble, Deb Carlin Polhill, Scarlett Lewis, Dave Roberts, Kelly Buckley and Bart Sumner, all bereaved parents. The signing choir, "Love In Motion" will perform their inspirational songs of Love, loss and healing through sign language. A sibling program is also included. Parents are encouraged to include their children in the gathering. Call Jodi Norman 703-910-6277 for more details or go to the website: www.bereavedparentsusa.org.
POMC (Parents of Murdered Children) national gathering this year is July 30-Aug. 2, at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, 221 N. Rampart Blvd, in Las Vegas, NV. Room rate is $89 per night. This is a very specialized national organization for those children who have died by violence. Specialized workshops will include: prison life, cultural sensitivity, homocide overseas, understanding the criminal mind, solving cold cases, vicarious trauma and burnout and caring overload, preparing for a parole hearing and many more yet to be announced. There are also many activities to participate in. Contact Dan Levey 480-946-3422 or go to the www.pomc.org website for more information.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Hope Shines Bright deep in the heart” is the theme for the 38th National Compassionate Friends Conference in Dallas, Texas, July 10-12, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency .
Some of the special events at the conference will include sharing sessions, the walk to remember, picture buttons, hospitality rooms, memory board tattoo wall, reflection room, butterfly boutique, bookstore and keynote speakers.
Over 100 sessions will be available for bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. They include sessions on circumstances of the loss such as illness, accident, drugs or suicide; sessions for men and women specifically; sessions dealing with healing; the grief related to family and friends, long term and early grievers; using creativity to help healing, and many other topics related to grief. Many sessions will be available to siblings (teen and adult siblings) on how to deal with various issue that may come up with parents and additional siblings such as multiple loss and parents being parents.
Three keynote speakers will highlight the conference. At the opening ceremony Kay Warren, co-founder of the mega Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA, is an international speaker and best-selling author who has a passion for inspiring and motivating others to make a difference with their lives. Her son, Matthew died by suicide at the age of 27. Kris Munsch, whose son Blake was killed in a car accident, tells his inspiring story of survival and how this quest inspired his famous Birdhouse Project. Gary Mendell will speak at the Friday luncheon. He is founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a national organization committed to protecting children from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. He lost his son Brian in 2011 to addiction. At the closing ceremony Christopher Jones, whose son died of Muscular Dystrophy, is the author of Mitchell’s Journey, a popular Facebook blog about his son, his journey and the transformative effects it has had on the lives of his family and himself.
One new addition to the conference is the Creative Café, a three-part specialized area focusing on the use of creative arts, craft making and good self-care practices in the healing process. Each of the three areas originated in one or more of the traditional workshops, but the cafes new come-and-go hours on Friday and Saturday will allow more time and a more conducive environment for personal reflection, for completing actual take-home projects, and for learning about and experiencing resources and techniques to help in the grief process.
The first area in this new Creative Café will provide a rich variety of art materials in addition to collage making. It will be an open all day art studio. It is about getting in touch with where you are in your healing journey. The second area is the crafty corner which will offer make and take crafts that can be completed easily at the conference, as well as those that can be completed at home, using you own loved one’s photos and belongings. The third are is healing haven, a peaceful setting for relaxation, renewal and recovery of the mind, body and spirit.