Sunday, December 25, 2016

Importance of keeping pictures

If your house was on fire and you only had time to take a few precious mementos, what would they be?

For me, pictures are the most important mementos. They are the one thing you can never replace, especially if they are pictures of a child who died. Grab as many as you can and add other family photos to the ones you chose. We think we remember everything about our loved one who died, but as time goes on, memories fade. And if you have additional children, their lives are important also, so grab what you can. The clothes, the awards, the keepsakes from trips—all of these are important too, but most are replaceable and don’t hold the same sentimental value as a photo.

To make sure of always having photos of the family: children, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, I take a number of photos and store them in my safe deposit box at the bank. I know they are safe there and that if anything happens to my home, I will still have precious ones to look at and be able to reproduce at a later time.

Another idea for those who have lost everything in a flood or fire is to ask friends and relatives to share pictures with you that have one or more members of your family in them. It may just be a camping outing, a birthday party or a wedding you all attended. The more you can gather, the better you’ll feel that not everything was lost.

If you put family pictures all over your new abode, you shouldn’t feel strange or embarrassed about doing that. I love surrounding myself with those I love and particularly those no longer here. I like talking about my family to friends when they come over and include my family in my life in any way I can.

As long as I have those precious photos, I feel my life is as complete as it can be, and I can move on from there making new memories but never forgetting the old ones. 

Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas

In a rare occurrence, this year Hanukkah, the festival of Lights, begins on Christmas Eve. It is usually days or weeks before December 25, depending on the Jewish calendar. It lasts eight nights and is marked by the lighting of candles in the home, one candle for each night until all eight lights burn brightly.

One legend tells of finding the Temple in Jerusalem desolate and desecrated. It was cleansed and rededicated by Judah and his brothers. With a little flash of holy oil expected to last only one day, they relit the great Menorah. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight days and over the years the custom of lighting Hanukkah lights developed into the festival celebrated today by Jews all over the world.

Hanukkah is a happy celebration, Jews sing songs, play games (especially with a dreidel—a four-sided top)—eat potato pancakes called latkes, visit with family and friends and give gifts. It is considered a good deed (mitzvah) to give to those in need. Originally, gifts were coins given on one night. Today gifts are often given each night for the eight nights. Gifts can be small and not expensive or elaborate, depending on what people can afford.

If you have lost a child, no matter your religion, Hanukkah and/or Christmas can be a daunting time of year remembering all the good times you had while they were alive. When the time is right—it can be months or even years--get back into the spirit of the holidays by helping yourself and by helping others. 

I have been on the road of grief for many years, but now I have a new reason to celebrate, a grandson. I see those who are ahead of me and know they can help too in many ways. I also see those who are just starting the long journey. I and others can give them words of encouragement and hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I wish you all peace, a pleasant holiday and hope for the year ahead.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Grief Journey Never Ends

The grief journey never ends, but neither does the journey of hope. There is no proper way to grieve, no matter what you’ve been told or have heard. There is also no magic formula to help with the pain. We each go through our journey as best as we can. For some it will take a year or two, for others, much longer.

We have choices to make as we go through this journey. With each choice we can become stronger. We can face the future with courage, optimism and creativity. At first we may be afraid to do anything, but day by day I personally choose to be happy. I choose not to wallow in my grief. I choose to have goals and to make them happen. I choose a reason to live and move on with my life. I choose to regain control of my life. Having hope for whatever I choose to do is important to me now. I think I’ve succeeded in this goal. Sure, I miss my daughter. She is part of my heart now and always will be. But being happy is a choice that I have made, no matter the roadblocks.

Over the years I have met so many people, heard so many stories of loss, and I have tried to be part of the recovery process. With books and organizations now to help in that process, the end results is a society of thriving individuals who did it themselves. Although others may help, the inner-most part of the person must also want to succeed. By helping others, I have helped myself and I have chosen the path of helping others get through the pain, the anguish, the sadness and find new meaning in their lives. I do this through speaking at national conferences, at local bereavement chapters and writing not only books on surviving grief, but also (at last count) almost 500 blogs on the topics of coping, personal stories and informational helpful articles for the bereaved. What a cathartic help all this has been for me in return! It was a natural choice. I have been a journalist/writer my entire life.

Trust your own instincts no matter what others say is the key to hope and renewal on our grief journey. If you have dreams you have never been able to fulfill, now is the time to take a closer look at your dreams. Take that leap of faith. Someone once said to me, “Dare to dream and believe in yourself.” For example, if you’ve always wanted to travel, now is the time. Go alone if you must; you will find others on your journeys to exotic lands. And who knows what might come of taking that first step. Don’t fear the future. You’ve already lived through the worst thing that could ever happen to you, the loss of a child.

More and more, people are making bucket lists and following them. Not only does it show that you can accomplish great things, but you will find you have gained control over your life again. I am always reminded of the quote by William Shedd I had for many years on the wall of my classroom (along with others) that I found thought-provoking “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Worldwide Candle Lighting and other info

A reminder that the 20th annual Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting  to  honor the memory of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and grandchildren who left too soon will be held. It unites family and friends around the globe when hundreds of thousands of people commemorate and honor their memory. Candles are lit for one hour at 7 p.m. local time. By doing this, it creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone.

It started in the U.S. in 1997 as a small internet observance, but has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten.

Local bereavement groups, churches, funeral homes, hospitals, hospices, children’s gardens, schools, cemeteries and community centers have arranged services for all size groups. Check on the Compassionate Friends Website for postings of where some of these are held. If there are none in your area, you may plan one on your own open to the public and use Compassionate Friends website to help with suggestions on planning the service. It can be as simple as getting into a circle, lighting a candle and saying a few prayers for those who died and perhaps one special prayer for your child before blowing out your candle. In some locations, the names of those who died and are attending the service are named as well as a speaker giving prayers. If planning one for your community, let TCF know, so it can be posted so others can attend and/or know about it. TCF also invites you to post a message in the Remembrance Book which is available during the event at the national website.

The Worldwide Candle Lighting gives bereaved families everywhere the opportunity to remember their child(ren) so that their lights may always shine.
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I read a fabulous idea recently about parents who wanted to honor their daughter who died. They did this by donating children’s books to a children’s hospital for reading and also donating grief books for those parents to read. It has gone over very well. Children were delighted to read or have stories read to them and parents could either read in the hospital or take the books home to read. I would definitely encourage any parents who want to honor their child to take up a  collection from parents who no longer need books for youngsters or to buy new books for this worthwhile project. Contact the local children’s hospital for additional information on how to go about doing this for them.
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If you want to create a memory book for your child who died, Kelly Gerken founded and is president of Sufficient Grace Ministries, a non-profit organization that helps bereaved families create memory books of their children. Kelly and husband Tim lost three of their five children to Potter’s Syndrome in utero.
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A support group for families who have a child suffering from cancer is Cal’s Angels, offering hope and love. Its mission and purpose to grant wishes, raise awareness and fund research to help kids fighting cancer continues Cal’s legacy, according to his parents, Tom and Stacey Sutter. Cal Sutter never gave up hope after his diagnoses of Leukemia. He was always more concerned about the well-being of others fighting cancer than he was about himself during his 14 month battle with the disease.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Attending weddings, funerals, events after your child's death

Attending weddings, funerals, and special events after the death of your child can be very traumatic for the first year.

I remember two months after my daughter died in a car accident, a dear friend’s son was getting married and I was invited. I agonized for weeks about what I should do. On the one hand, I didn’t want to disappoint my friend, but on the other hand, I didn’t think I could make it through the ceremony without breaking down. You see, my daughter had gotten married five months prior to her death and those wonderful memories lingered in my mind and heart. If I were to see the bride coming down the aisle, would I be able to hold it together or would I think about my daughter’s wedding and be heartbroken?

I finally made a decision. I had to do what felt right for me. Everyone is different. I wanted to go to the wedding, but I just couldn’t. I had to call my friend and explain the circumstances. I thought it would be difficult, but she was very understanding and said she wondered what I would do, didn’t want to interfere, and left the decision up to me. I bought her son a very nice wedding gift, visited him when he got back from his honeymoon and hoped that would suffice. My friend told me her son understood. As time goes on, it does get better.

Attending a funeral of a relative or friend or one of their children is no different as far as emotions are concerned. Again, my mind reverts back to my daughter’s funeral. Many, many people attended, but truthfully, I didn’t see any of them. I was just thinking of what had happened so suddenly. The finality of it astounded me. I would never see her again. How could this have happened to my beautiful child? Children are not supposed to die before their parents.

Depending on when the funeral is (more than a year out is less taxing) and how close I am to the parents or child was one of the decisions as to whether or not I went that first year. I could send heartfelt condolences or offer to send food or flowers to their house if I didn’t feel I could handle going to the service and/or cemetery. 

Unfortunately, there were situations within that first year or so where I knew I must attend to show support and compassion for those grieving. I didn’t have to stay long, just acknowledge and express sympathy to the family and give them all a big hug. After all, I know only too well how I felt during that time in my life. If it is the same cemetery as where my daughter is buried, I use it as a reason to visit her grave. As long as I honored the life and memory of the one who died by attending, I think they understood if my emotions got the better of me and I started crying. Know that there did come a time when I was ready and at peace with these situations, but it does take a lot of grief work and you must do what, in your heart, is best for you.

I remember attending a few special events held for my daughter by her friends months afterwards. This was one area I felt I couldn’t bow out of with any kind of excuse. And to be truthful, I wanted to go to hear what others had to say about her. They were wonderful stories about her life and friendships, some of which I was not even aware. Yes, they tugged at my heart, but I was so proud to know how important she was to others.

We will all at some time in our life, lose someone we love dearly, and there is no way to avoid that. Trust your grief skills to get you through any situation. A loved one may be gone too soon from our lives but never, never from our hearts.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving has not been a fun or favorite holiday of mine for many, many years, but it is getting better with new additions to my family.

At first, I used to love the holiday. Although not that fond of turkey, I never had to worry. My mom always cooked the turkey and dinner and all I had to do was eat it! Easy enough. I must admit that I’ve never cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving in my entire life! Oh, I’ve cooked parts—a breast, a wing and many, many thighs, (my favorite part of the turkey). When my mom died, I still didn’t cook Thanksgiving. Either my sister-in-law did or my husband, at the time, prepared the turkey. I did the trimmings.

One of the last times I saw my family together was Thanksgiving, 1992, when my daughter and her fiance, drove to Tucson from Los Angeles to celebrate with us. Everyone was in a great mood. Always a fair kid, I was informed this was my year for Thanksgiving; next year they would go to her Dad’s in Phoenix. Little did she know that I was not cooking the turkey! The man of the house was doing it and did a great job! We kidded about the engaged couple sleeping in a trundle bed. “Don’t you know,” my daughter said, “that engaged and/or married couples like to sleep in the same bed, close together, not in twin beds.” I replied, “You’re close enough; you’re not married yet! And unless you want to sleep on the floor, this is the only other bedding in the house!” (To this day, it remains the only other bedding in my home, but with new mattresses.)

It was a festive weekend. I did not know it would be my mother’s last weekend alive. She died from heart failure the following week, not much older than I am now. How was I to know that my daughter would only have another year and a half to live before tragedy struck our family again after another holiday season and wedding celebrations, my daughter’s and her best friend’s.

As we celebrate every year, we are always thankful for our health, our families, our comfortable life. But the death of a child changes all that. I do not celebrate Thanksgiving as a festive day anymore. Sure, if invited, I go to a friend’s home, but when I hear others talk about their child, see their grandchildren and hear what they did recently, I always wish they would ask about a story or just mention my child, who they all knew and loved and who also lived a wonderful life for as long as she could. Sure, I wish she was still here, enjoying everyone and everything, but it was not to be.

I do, however, give thanks for what I do have now: a new husband of 10 years, a new step-daughter, who couldn’t be more like my own (born in the same month and on the same day), and recently, her new son, my first grandson, as her proud father, my husband, says to me, “I know you’ll never get over your own loss (and I wouldn’t expect you to), but I’m so glad I could help a little, fill the hole in your heart.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Celebrate as best you can with those you love.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Tributes Digest

To help sustain the memories of children who have died, the Starshine Galaxy Foundation supports the Tributes to Lost Children Community Page on Facebook as a place to post, share, and comment on activities to honor these children and to celebrate their lives.

A biweekly Tributes Digest presents highlights from this community page along with other items of interest. These stories, many of which I’ve read, remind me of my first book, “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye” where I tell what happened to the child and then how the parents have moved on and what they are doing to honor their child. Many have causes or have started foundations. All of them don’t want what happened to them to happen to others.

Their stories are touching, and I’ve briefly summarized a few of them to give you an idea of the wide variety of what is being covered.

One of the recent highlights is “Jacob’s Hope.” Jacob disappeared in 1989 and his parents never gave up hope of finding their son. When they recently discovered his remains, they decided to keep the goal through this site of educating the public about those who take children, in hopes of stopping these kidnappings and murders.

Childhood cancer awareness is another topic on the minds of many as is the bodies of abandoned babies left on the roadside. As gun violence among young people become more prevelent, it is noted that we must find ways to stop this violence. Research into stillborn babies and Hemophiliac children is ongoing. And hope is always present as researchers learn more and more each day as to why these illnesses happen.

In the wake of 26-year-old Kayla Mueller’s death (she lived in Northern Arizona), “Kayla’s Hands” was created by her parents to continue their daughter’s humanitarian work she started in Syria to relieve human suffering. She was held for 18 months before she died. The  work they now do to help others is comforting to them and a loving tribute to Kayla.

Two year old Lane Graves was attacked by an alligator in Disneyworld recently, as he stood on a beach at the Disneyworld resort. Friends and family where he lived released 5,000 blue balloons as they stood in a large heart formation to honor and remember him. Disneyworld has since put up protective fences so no one else will get hurt or die.

Mathew Shepard, an incoming freshman at the University of Wyoming who was gay, was lured from a bar by two men who then kidnapped and tortured him and let him die, tied to a fence in an empty field. The voices of gay people are being heard now in greater numbers and they are hoping to stop this vicious violence.

The many deaths of men, women and children on September 11, 2001, will always be a tragedy, but out of that, a living memorial was built in New York to remember all the victims, and many families have started their own foundations to honor their children, relatives and friends and to document the lives of those tragically killed in this terror attack.

All of these deaths and many others are talked about in this Tributes Digest in much greater detail. Activities are held to honor those who have passed away and hopefully, what others have done can help in the healing process.

Their mailing address is: Starshine Galaxy Foundation, 1400 Sherwood Lane, Geneva, IL 60134. Direct any comments, questions or concerns on any post you may read in full on Facebook to:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Giving Back

Two people who feel that Compassionate Friends has given them their lives back after the death of two of their three children is Jacquin Edwards-Mitchell and John Mitchell. Even though they lost two children, they say they gained a family of thousands, referring to the TCF community.

Fortunately they didn’t let their children’s death destroy their their lives. Both children died by drowning 22 years ago and yet they still attend meetings and try to help others who are going through their grief journey. John and Jacquin run the Manhattan, New York, chapter, going twice a month.

Their two boys were swimming one day and the older one hit his head on the side of the pool. The younger boy dove in the water and tried to save him but to no avail and also died in the attempt. 

They didn’t think they would survive this devastation. Someone told them about Compassionate Friends and they attended their first meeting, feeling a camaraderie with those who had lost a child.

When asked how they survived that first year, the answer was “One day at a time.”

 “Grief doesn’t just go away,” said Jacquin. “You don’t wake up one night and think you are all better. It’s a lifetime struggle and you need other people. You can’t do it alone.” In the first year one needs support--someone to call in the middle of the night who understands what you are going through. The Mitchells try to help those in need through this difficult time. She emphasized that if one chapter of TCF doesn’t work for you, go to another one. Shop around to find the best fit for your needs.

John tries to help men in grief, while Jacquin works on the board of directors of TCF. Someone was there for them and now they want to be there for others. 

Gloria Horsley, grief specialist, says it feels good to help others, and it gives you a chance to give back.

“At TCF you are surrounded by love,” said Alan Pedersen, executive director of TCF.

Whatever you decide is best for your needs, take that first step and you will find that after a while, you will be helping others like yourself. I know it is true. I have given back by speaking at TCF National Conferences and making new friends with those who sought help. It is very rewarding, and in the process of helping others, I also helped myself. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Online Chat Rooms

For those needing help to get through their grief journey, the Compassionate Friends offers live online chats. This program was established to encourage connecting and sharing among parents, grandparents, and siblings over the age of 18 who are grieving the death of a child. These chat rooms supply support, encouragement and friendship and encourage conversation among friends who understand the emotions you are experiencing. The following are general bereavement sessions as well as more specific sessions based on Eastern time. The views expressed in this Online Support Community are the opinions of individual visitors and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization. Visit Compassionate for additional information of how to get on to these chat rooms.

9-10 a.m. and 9-10 p.m.                                                         
Moderator: Pat

9-10 p.m.                                                         9-10 p.m.
Bereaved less than two years                            Bereaved more than two years
Moderator: Margo                                            Moderators: Becca and Carol

9-10 p.m.                                                         10-11 p.m.
Parents/grandparents/siblings                         Parents/grandparents/siblings
Moderators: Karen and Walline                        Moderator:s Carol and Jeanne

8-9 p.m.                                                           9-10 p.m.        
No Surviving Children                                    Parents/grandparents/siblings
Moderators: Adaline and Izzy                           Moderators: Carol and Donna 

10-11 p.m.                                                       9-10 p.m.
Parents/grandparents/siblings                             Parents/grandparents/siblings
Moderator: Karen                                            Moderators: Margo and Maureen

9-10 p.m.                                                         10-11 p.m.
Pegnancy/Infant Loss                                        Parents/grandparents/siblings
Moderators: Andrea and Sara                           Moderators: Margo and Maureen

9-10 p.m.                                                         10-11 p.m.
Parents/grandparents/siblings                             Parents/grandparents/siblings
Moderators: Becca and Carol                           Moderators: Leslie and Carol

8-9 p.m.                                                           9-10 p.m.
Survivors of Suicide                                          Parents/grandparents/siblings
Moderator: Izzy                                                Moderators: Carol and Diana

Closed Facebook Groups are also available, but you will have to contact the organization to get approval to join them. These groups are more specific on the loss. They include: loss of a child, loss of a stepchild, loss of a grandchild, sibling bereavement, men in grief, loss to substance related causes, loss to suicide, loss to homicide, loss to a drunk/impaired driver, loss to cancer, loss of a child with special needs, loss to long-term illness, infant and toddler loss, loss of an only child or all your children, loss to miscarriage or stillbirth, and loss to mental illness.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Earthquake

Out of the blue one day last week, someone brought up the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in the Los Angeles area. Oh, yes, that was part of a heartbreaking year, when my daughter was in a fatal car crash. Remembering that year, the earthquake triggers some fond memories, certainly not of the damage, destruction and death of many people, but of what transpired that morning of January 17. I received a phone call from my daughter asking if I had heard the news. I looked at the bedside clock which read 6:30 a.m. and said, “No, I was sleeping. What happened?” My daughter told me they had just experienced an earthquake of around 6.1 where she lived with her husband in Sherman Oaks, and she was under the kitchen table!” “Don’t worry, she said, we’re all right, and I called to let you know that.” (Always so thoughtful and considerate). I smiled. “Nothing was damaged,” she continued, but she called me first and needed to make another call to her dear friend’s mother in Tucson to let her know that her daughter was on the East Coast that week and that she didn’t have to worry about her. “Okay, I said. “I’m glad you called me.”

When my daughter died two months later, her friend’s mother came to the funeral. She said it was because she wanted to face me and let me know what a special daughter I had and how much she appreciated that call two months earlier. To myself I said, I know she was special, but it was still great hearing it from others.

All that month and for many after, I received many cards and letters telling me how special she was to others, and it always warmed my heart. Many years later, I even heard from her first boyfriend, who I think always had special feelings for her even after she broke up with him. He told me that it had taken him a long time to get up the courage to write me to let me know how much she meant to him and still does. He reminisced about many events we all shared, again bringing back wonderful memories for both of us.

Every time I hear someone mention 1994, I always associate it with the death of my daughter. It could be a casual remark someone makes about the O.J. Simpson murders, a marriage, a divorce, the death of a well-known personality such as Nixon or Jacqueline Kennedy, a sports team winning a championship or a statistic comparing the population growth then and now. My heart skips a beat when that year is mentioned, even now, more than 22 years later. I want to shout, “Hey, my daughter was beautiful inside and out, and I don’t want her to be forgotten.”  I know I never will.

Because of all the people who loved her, I know that will never happen. And I have made sure of that through all the meaningful things I have done in her memory including setting up a perpetual foundation to give financial aid to college students to finish their degrees.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my daughter, who died far too young. She had so much to do, so much to give…And after the pain that accompanies memories of people long since gone, I remember all the good times and the wonderful people I have met while I try to help others deal with their loss as I know my daughter would have wanted to do.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Writer Found Grief Books Helpful With Personal Loss

I  found that when my daughter died, I didn’t want to go to bereavement groups and listen to everyone who sat in a circle, crying and telling their story. It was very sad seeing and listening to those people, and I wanted to do something to lift myself up, not dig a deeper hole that I could crawl into and feel safe. I turned to books also, grief books that had ideas and passages I could identify with. Not all books were helpful, but as I read everything I could get my hands on at the time (and there wasn’t that much in 1994) I could say, “yes, I feel that way too” or “no, I don’t agree with that.”

Everyone has his own way of facing the grief that comes with losing someone you love. Writer Alex Weiss found that books helped him deal with personal loss in eight important ways.

Here are Weiss’ eight ways books helped him heal from loss. I agree with most of what he says. See if you can relate also. Remember, this is a summary of his thoughts only.

Books reminded me I wasn’t alone. I could find similarities in characters who dealt with death who felt lost and confused. It helped me feel less lonely and made me realize just how many possible realities are out there, how many people deal with what I’m going through, and that I’m certainly not alone in how I feel.

Books showed me there are so many things worth living for. When you lose someone you love, it can seem as if the entire idea of living worthless. But it didn’t take long for books to show me how many beautiful things exist in the world and the millions of paths one can take. Even though positive outcomes are hard to imagine during loss, books showed me there will always be something worth living for.

Books didn’t bullsh*t the hard stuff. Guidance counselors, therapists and friends all try so hard to make things better when you lose someone. The human instinct is to reassure a person in pain that it will get better. But when every part of you hurts, that isn’t exactly what you need to hear. What you do need is for someone to tell you the truth of how sucky this is, and that’s exactly what some authors and characters showed me.

Books showed me how to process emotions in a healthy way.  Books helped me realize how important it is to focus on each emotion – heartache, anxiety, inspiration, growth—ort through them and really try to understand why I’m feeling the way I am. And that in itself is a life lesson worth learning whether you’ve experienced personal loss or not.

Books taught me that a short life isn’t a bad life. One of the things I struggled with most is that this person close to me hadn’t been able to live out the amazing life she/he deserved. It took a few books that dealt with death and the loss o young lives that made me realize it doesn’t matter how many years you have, it matters most in how you live them.

Books inspired me to learn and grow from loss. Books gave me a reason to actively search for good in the world, and ever since, I’ve been committed to taking time out of every day to stop, look and find something to smile or be grateful about. Experiencing death takes a different toll on everyone, and while the lessons may not appear right away like they do in books, you will grow and take something positive away.

Books have never made me feel bad for feeling bad. This is probably the most powerful and important lesson I got out of reading a lot during my stages of grief. When years started to pass but I still felt the pain of loss just as strongly, if not worse, my friends and family around me didn’t feel as approachable. I started to feel bad for feeling bad, as if there’s something wrong with me and I should just move on already. The thing is, books never told me there was a time limit. They told me it was okay to feel bad, that it was okay to feel happy, that it was okay to move on when it felt right to me, and not to move on when it wasn’t. Books empowered me then, and they continue to do so every time I pick one up—and I can’t imagine my life without them.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sudden vs. Anticipated Death

Sometimes the question comes up, “Which is harder: sudden death or anticipated death?” Would  it be better to know your child is dying and being able to say ‘good-bye’ and live life filled with lots of things you could do together, or is no preparation in the event of a sudden car accident or such, easier on the parents.

Many people have been interviewed on this topic and all have a variety of opinions. There isn’t one better choice. Death will bring the same shock, whether you knew it was coming or didn’t. What you do need is the same support from others. You will need more support systems with anticipatory loss and not as much with sudden death.

In sudden death, you didn’t get to say good-bye. That is the common complaint. According to death specialist Darcie Sims, “We never say good-bye.” I found this to be so true and the title of my first book reflects this idea.

But no matter how you look at it, there is incredible pain. Regardless of your loss, it is important to get support from those who had someone die the same way. You will feel a particular bond with them. Hope is the main goal of Compassionate Friends and that is what they try to do, give hope, when you feel there is none there. TCF provides the opportunity to connect with others and eventually you will find joy again.

Different people try different ways of self-help. One father had massages, exercised, moved around a lot and did a lot of reflection. One mother felt yoga was very beneficial, as was hiking. She said she would get a sense of serenity in doing one of these activities. Another mother made baskets of stuff for bereaved. She thought it would help others and ended up starting an organization to this goal. She also did a lot of running and just getting out of the house to clear her mind. Another father said that anything that gets you out of bed and taking that next step is helpful. He also said he got great support and information from TCF that allowed him to reach out and help others as well as himself. Still another mother said golf and getting into nature, allowed her to do a lot of searching. With that in mind, she met a lot of fabulous people who helped her and that she also helped.

All these people give a few realistic goals you can set for yourself: (1) self care- drink a lot of water and breathe; take care of your body (2) find a safe person to talk to; family doesn’t want to hear it all the time and (3) find something that brings you joy.

We can grow through grief. Set goals of where you’re going to be in the future and strive to reach them. Some will tell you it doesn’t get better, but it really does. You can find joy in doing what makes you happy and through people coming into your life who truly understand what you are going through.

A wave can knock you down again and again, but one day you’ll get on top of that wave and move on to find hope again.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Recent Comments On My Blog Postings

Editor's Note: I really appreciate the comments sent to me about my blogs. At the end of most of the comments is the name of the blog read and commented on and some have given me their real names. This year at the national TCF conference I even met some of you. So many bereaved parents and each one reacts differently to their loss. I wish it was possible to talk to and see all of you, but that is not possible. I hope that you have found some way of coping now and that some of what I've said in my over 460 blogs has led you to a more positive look at your situation. I'm sorry that I had to suspend comments directly on the site, but I was getting unnecessary spam. If you'd like a personal answer, you can send me an email. The email address is on the right side of each blog.          Sandy Fox

I cannot move beyond the loss of my son. on Grief chat rooms and email support
Maggi Crowston-Boaler
on 8/17/16
Our son was diagnosed with Duchene muscular dystrophy when he was six.My wife was pregnant (one month) and we had another daughter. We discovered my wife is a carrier and we know both our daughters are carriers too,HE died when he was 15 She carries a lot of guilt with her.The pain s ever present, i can crack up at just the mention of his name and our marriage such as it is, could not get much more sterile on The divorce rate

We lost our sixteen year old daughter to suicide ,with her being our only child ,it has been extremely tough we have been married 20+ years , grief has played a big factor in my wife wanting a divorce after three months of losing our daughter, I was completely caught off guard when she told me , I have had to leave it to god to help with both losses , there is good days and not as good but we all must get up try to go about life & I am a believer that time will help heal , our loved one will always be in our heart.
on 7/23/16
I am a single parent that lost my only child in sept 2015 and i can honestly say this is the only thing that actually made sence. Gave me a silver lining in some ways. Thank you on Coping As a Single Bereaved Parent
on 7/20/16
We lost our son eight years ago. Your words resonate completely with my own experience of loss and grief. My son will be with me forever, and ever. Thanks for your post! on My New Reality
on 4/20/16
Sandy, May I include this article and the information you're providing in the Piedmont, VA TCF chapter newsletter??? I will attribute it, of course. onKnot My Baby and First Candle Organizations to Help the Bereaved
on 3/23/16
My email is on Valentine's Day 2016
on 2/14/16
Hey Sandy, I would love to interview you about your books for an article I am writing on grief. Do you have an email I may reach? on Valentine's Day 2016
on 2/14/16
Thank-you. on Class Reunion Jitters
on 10/23/15
My daughter passed away in January and I am still learning how to answer that awful question: how many children do you have? I don't want to tell the truth and ruin someone's day, but I don't want to lie and do a disservice to her memory. I applaud you for being honest and for honouring your daughter. One day I hope to do the same, at the moment all I do is change the subject... Love and strength to you ❤️ on Class Reunion Jitters
on 10/3/15
I agree, as a trama therapist, fellow blogger, and someone who recently lost a 22 year old, I find that I sometimes feel responsible for holding other peopl';s grief. Silence is golden on Calling On the Bereaved
on 9/24/15
We are approaching one year since our baby girl was taken from us. I created a blog to try and write about my feelings since I have a hard time talking in person about them. Is this something that is healthy to do? Would you mind reading it and letting me know what you think? I'm just trying to find ways to cope. on Calling On the Bereaved
on 9/21/15
Hi Sandy, I am an author publicist and wanted to know if I could send you offers for free review copies of books on grief, when available, seeking editorial/review on your touching site? Thanks, Beck on Richard Edler Words of Wisdom
on 9/9/15
Awwwww Thank You!!!! I had a great Great Chat with a mom last night her name is NANCY.......Your blog is great!!!! Call me lets chat....... 503 901 7900 on Tears To Triumph-Creating With Sea Glass
Deb Hart
on 8/11/15
Wonderful posting, Sandy!! on Supportive Husbands
on 7/21/15