Sunday, February 28, 2016


An interesting article I am reprinting by Greg Adams, program Coordinator, Center for Good Mourning…This information can relate to loss of a child or any loved one close to you.

Years ago, I took a course about leading adult grief support groups. In the handouts was a list of ways that grief is expressed emotionally, cognitively, physically, etc. In the list for physical aspects of grief, “sighing” was listed, and it stood out to me as, at that time, I would not have thought of increased “sighing” as part of our natural grieving response. In the past month or so since my Dad’s unexpected hospitalization and death, I will vouch for sighing as part of grief. It has become one of my body’s favorite pastimes.
What is this all about—this sighing as part of grief? We sigh for lots of different reasons and in many different situations. There is the contented sigh at the end of the day or when relaxing. The “life is good” sigh. There is the sigh of relief that can come in a few varieties such as “thank goodness that is over” and “thank goodness that (bad thing) didn’t happen” Then there is also the sigh that comes with disappointment, frustration or exasperation. The kind of situation where in emails we may actually write, “Heavy sigh,” in response to a particular or general wrongness in the world. Connected to this kind of sigh is the sigh of resignation—this is all there is, the best we’re gonna get, no need asking for more as no more will be provided. Submissive to the realities present, subdued, resigned, beaten. Sighs of sadness, of sorrow, sighs “too deep for words.”

There is a part of us that resists in life. When trials come, when we are challenged or when something or someone valuable to us is threatened, we resist. We push back and fight. We’re not going gentle into that good night, we’re not going down without swinging, we have not yet begun to fight. This fight response is often a good one and we need it. It’s adaptive and helps us to not just survive a crisis but perhaps even thrive afterwards. Advice sometimes given to people with cancer is to not let the cancer take anything that it doesn’t have to take—don’t give it one thing more, unless you choose to let go of something that in the end is not worth the effort. Resistance is, thankfully, everywhere, for without it there would be more pain and suffering in the world and these are already in plenteous supply. Resistance is needed and many, if not most, times adaptive. But what about when resistance is futile?
We’ve all been there and we will be there again. No one gets out of life alive despite our prayers and protests. Death can be delayed but ultimately not avoided, not on this side of the veil, at least. We get that in concept and then we have to also get that in practice.

There is a point to protest, push back and resistance. Without it, we don’t know our limits and we may live an unnecessarily small life when there is potential for more, sometimes much more. Yet, some realities are just that, all too real and not in the change category, and with only so much energy at our disposal to go around, there are some fights that do us no good in the end. Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams has a whole song devoted to the idea, “It’s over, but I can’t let it go.” Part of us knows that it’s over, and that part of us sighs. And then we realize it again.

And if we ever start to forget it…or doubt…or wish…

Sighing has been recently studied, and the idea found is that sighing works as a reset to our respiration. Sighing keeps us from getting stuck in a fixed pattern of breathing. It makes us, in an unexpected, perhaps paradoxical way, feel better.

Perhaps this is true. Doesn’t matter in what way because the body has its own wisdom and a mind, so to speak, of its own. We grieve and we sigh. We hope for more, wish for better, settle for what we have…and sigh. Sighing is part of getting used to what we’d rather not. Part of the wisdom of accepting what we can’t change. Part of living into a new world not of our own choosing. Part of life, especially in the grief world.

                                    Heavy, heavy sigh

(Reprinted with permission from Grief Digest, Centering Corporation, Omaha, Nebraska)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

FMLA Program for Bereaved Parents and more

Since 2011, Barry Kluger, and his good friend Kelley Farley, both bereaved parents, have been working on legislation that would grant grieving parents extended leave from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Both parents lost their 18 year old daughters just four months apart in car accidents in 2001.

Kluger says that many parents are being forced back to work within days of the death of their child. These two parents want to do something about it. They feel it is unjust that bereaved parents do not qualify for this program. 

Under the FMLA program, eligible workers receive up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave a year. FMLA requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave. Employees are also entitled to return to their same or an equivalent job at the end of their leave. Bereaved parents are not eligible for FMLA benefits and that is what these two men are trying to change.

Kluger knows this is an uphill battle, but he continues to contact and seek support from U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives. He has a deep commitment to see this through. Both Kluger and Farley plan to travel to Washington, D.C. in March to speak in support of the Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act. If you feel as strongly as they do, contact your local congress representative and senator and have them support HR2260 and S1302. To find your local representatives, visit

Executive Director of Compassionate Friends, Alan Pedersen, says of Kluger, “I know the action he has taken to try and make it happen has brought healing and hope into his life…and that should be inspiring to all of us.”
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In other information dealing with Compassionate Friends, TCF offers “virtual chapters” through an Online Support Community through live chats. This program was established to encourage connecting and sharing among parents, grandparents, and siblings ove the age of 18, grieving the death of a child. The rooms supply support, encouragement and friendship. The friendly atmosphere encourages conversation among friends: friends who understand the emotions you’re experiencing. There are general bereavement sessions as well as more specific sessions. Contact for additional information.

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Cookouts, parades and family gatherings across America on Memorial Day will highlight a weekend of connection and inspiration at the 22nd National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp May 27-30 in Arlington, Virginia. Speakers, sharing groups and a variety of workshops to provide tools and resources for navigating your grief journey and honoring your loved ones. Coping skills for children and teens are available at the Grief Camp. Visit to register.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016

Valentine’s Day…a day when I  remember my child and all that she gave me…love, joy, affection, happiness, and so much more.  I was always so proud of her, her accomplishments, her grace, her beauty, her dignity in various situations, and her ability to draw people to her and embrace others with a kind and helping hand. That was my daughter, and there will never be a time that I will forget her loving embraces, her warm smile, her humor or all the good times we had together.

Her first Valentine Day cards were made at nursery school and then through the first few grades. Some of the gifts were handmade with paper, some were plaques made of plaster, but my favorite gift was the simplest gift of all, a framed piece of lined yellow paper that said, “To the best mom in the world. You’re always there for me, and I love you.” On the side of the paper she had drawn a 1st place ribbon.

The cards were never in a serious vein, but ones that either poked fun at me or talked about my clothes, hair curlers or something weird I may have done. But they always ended with how much I meant to her and they were always signed “xoxoxo Love and kisses, Marcy.”

Later on, when she grew up, she never forgot the holiday, as I thought she might. She made sure I always had a gift on Valentine’s Day (a piece of jewelry, a new pot for the kitchen or a book I wanted) with a funny card. She was thoughtful in that respect and always tried to get something she knew I wanted or needed.

We shared so many wonderful times that I will always treasure and remember…a beauty contest she was in, a play she acted in, a trip we went on to New Orleans together (just the two of us), a speech contest that she won and her leadership abilities with her youth group that won many awards.

This unfathomable emotional loss and pain of losing a child will always be with me, but her death can never take away the beautiful memories we shared, and so on this Valentine’s Day, I don’t need gifts or cards. I have sweet memories of the one person that will always be in my heart each day and particularly on each and every Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

After Ten Years...

After 10 years and many phases of grief, a few parents explained how they now feel, how they are coping and whether it really ever gets better.

For one father, helping others was his reason to move on. “Rest assured, the pain never goes away. It gets softer and more bearable, but that hole in your heart is always there. Time helps soften the grief but never heals it.”

One mother said, “It feels like it just happened yesterday. And the time factor of when she died becomes important: everything is measured by before or after the child’s death.”

“I am a different person and a better person 10 years later. I found joy again both in my private and professional life. Little things don’t bother me because the worst thing has already happened and I have been able to slowly move on.”

“I found that over the years I lost some friends who couldn’t deal with my grief, but I think that showed me they were never really friends to begin with. And I have made new friends yearly, particularly by being able to share my feelings with other bereaved parents. We try to help each other.”

“In the 10 years since my son’s death, I have gone through various phases of grief. In the beginning, it was very raw, and I found it difficult to go on living. Over time, I have come to spend less time grieving, and the grief is less intense than it was. The process was very gradual.”

“Over the last decade I have worked to move my life forward in a meaningful way, said another mother. I want to honor my daughter in all areas so that she will never be forgotten by others. I have done this through scholarships, a foundation, planting trees and having plaques all over in her memory. This helps me move on with my life and allows me to do things I never even considered before her death.”

There are those who have more trouble than others, and I would advise seeking help through professional means: a grief counselor, a clergy or a psychologist. Don’t forget grief groups like Compassionate Friends with over 600 chapters across the U.S. where you can meet others who have lost children can be very helpful.

We ,who are bereaved, will never forget our children. By honoring their memory, their principles and ideals, they will always be with us, no matter how many years go by.