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