Newsletter of The Compassionate Friends, Inc.

Atlanta Area Chapters

July - August 2000

"The mission of The Compassionate Friends is to assist families in the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child and to provide information to help others be supportive."

A Nonprofit Self-Help Organization Offering Friendship and Understanding to Families
Who are Grieving the Death of a Child



  

 

Waiting

The house is silent, your music no longer plays
Your art work and trinkets, remain on display.

Your bed made up, with soft comforter of down
Waiting for you, with the sheets turned down.

Clothing folded, put neatly away
Lillie, your kitten waits patiently, maybe today?

Little reminders of you everywhere
But without you here it's so empty and bare.

All remains, as if waiting your return
OH! For the reunion our hearts so yearn.

But the sound of your steps eludes our ear

No longer your voice calling, "anyone here"?

The days are long, nights longer still
Wishing for your presence a space only you can fill.

We gaze at your picture, as if you are there.
Yes you are gone, but you remain everywhere.

Should we take it all down, put it all away?

Pretend it didn't happen, that you'll return someday?

We may fool our minds, but our hearts give it away
You'll not be returning, the emptiness is here to stay.

In loving memory of our son, 
Steven W. Simmons 1970 - 1999

~written by Sheila Simmons
Dallas, Ga

"For years I never knew whether the twilight was the ending of the day
or the beginning of the night 
and then, suddenly one day, 
I understood that this did not matter at all, 
for time is but a circle,
and so there can be no beginning and no ending, 
and this is how I came to know that birth and death are one, 
and it is neither the coming or the going that is of consequence. 
What is of consequence is the beauty that one gathers in this interlude called life."

From "Come Walk Among the Stars," 
by Winston Abbott

Anonymous in Raleigh, N.C.

The following is a response sent to Ann Landers by Dawn Morville Johnson, sibling representative on the TCF National Board of Directors.

Dear Ann Landers:

As a bereaved sibling, I was disappointed in your response to "Anonymous in Raleigh, N.C.," who asked whether it would be appropriate to send her parents a card on the anniversary of her brother's death. You advised her not to send a card, but to take her parents to dinner "with no mention of the sad anniversary."

Bereaved parents will tell you that the one thing they want to do is talk about their child. Ignoring the anniversary of a child's death is the same as ignoring the child's birthday: it makes bereaved parents feel as though their child did not exist. Many bereaved parents have told me that their surviving children will not talk about their brother or sister who has died. Often this is because they are afraid of upsetting their parents. However, bereaved parents yearn to hear their children mention the dead child's name. "Anonymous" should be encouraged in her efforts to remember the anniversary of her brother's death by sending a card to her parents.

On the anniversary of my brother's death, I send a special card to my parents to tell them that I am thinking about them and remembering my brother. We open our hearts to each other and share our memories of him and how much we miss him. We also put flowers on his grave that day and have flowers on the church altar in his memory on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of his death. In other words, the day is not like any other day, so I don't treat it as such. My life and my parents' lives changed forever the day he died. Making no mention of it would only be another tragedy.

~lovingly lifted from TCF Southern OR Online Newsletter

Independence Day

The Fourth of July, Independence Day, Our Nationís Birthday. Whatever you call it, we celebrate Americaís independence from England on July 4 each year. 

As a nation, we have endured for 200+ years to become a significant independent and powerful force in the world. We were founded on the principles of equality and religious tolerance, of equity and opportunity, and of rights and responsibilities. Several generations of men and women have defended our precious freedom with their lives.

As we celebrate this year, letís take a moment to remember those who paid the ultimate price for freedom Ė and to remember their families. It is sometimes easy to think only of the glory of their sacrifices, and to overlook the sacrifice of their families. War is never glorious, no matter how romantic the notion created by Hollywood. War has casualties that go farther and deeper into the fabric of our nation than we may realize. Those who died are buried with fanfare, as befits a nationís fallen valiants. And their families learn to go on, just as we have, in spite of their loss.

But think for a moment of those who were declared missing in action, or who were prisoners of war. Their families must endure, often for years, and sometimes without an end to their pain and loss. 

Remember all of our nationís fallen when you celebrate this year. Remember those ceremoniously laid to rest; remember those who were captured, imprisoned, even tortured; remember those whose fate remains unknown. And remember, too, the families of all of them. 

Death, no matter how noble, is never easy for those left behind.

We send our thanks to the veterans - living, dead, and missing Ė and their families.

Tom and Sondra Wright,TCF, Tucker, Georgia 

Fireworks Are Like
the Love In Our Hearts

July brings Central Oregonians lingering blue skies, lazy afternoons and the Fourth of July celebration, complete with the grand fireworks finale bolting from the top of Pilot Butte. This was one of my son's favorite holidays. When he was six I asked him why fireworks were so special to him. He said, "The lights explode in the dark and make the whole sky light up!" That was obvious. I said "Hum?" He gave me one of his "Oh mom" looks, then went on to say "The fireworks are like the love in our hearts, we should always try to spread our love out to others". I knew then and I still am aware today that profound wisdom comes from the lips of our children. From the summer on, in my mind, fireworks have been a triumphant testament of love's enduring power and wonder. I miss my son, Joshua terribly. I comfort myself knowing that his wisdom and kindness were precious gifts in my life. 

Wherever you are on the Fourth of July, I hope that the splendor of sparkling fireworks might comfort as you acknowledge that the love you hold dear for your child is the light that is able to shine through you. We all have known grief well, yet as compassionate friends we need not walk alone in the darkness. We can lighten the path for others.

Grief can cripple and destroy us, but as we gather to share each other's burden, we are able to gain strength. Love for our children is our common flame, sharing and caring keep the flames afire. I look forward to our next meeting and the opportunity to hug and listen to my comrades.

~lovingly lifted from TCF Salem, OR Newsletter
~written by Jane Oja, TCF, Central Oregon Chapter

"True friendship is like sound health;
the value of it is seldom known until it is lost." --- 

Charles Caleb Colton

"Everyone hears what you say.
Friends listen to what you say.
Best friends listen to what you don't say."

Where is my child now? 

by Claudia Waller, TCF Alexandria, VA

So many times after our son died, I found myself asking questions. Where has he gone? Is there really life after death? Is there really a Heaven? Was his life with us worth anything?

I read. I talked to people. I prayed. I cried. I became depressed and I yelled at my God. Then I found Elizabeth Kubler Ross's book, "On Children and Death." She responded to a mother's letter and shared her wisdom and experience. She told that grieving mother (and through her, me) that out of her pain - if she chooses - comes a great amount of compassion, increased understanding and wisdom, and love for others who are in pain. It is her choice whether out of tragedy comes blessing or a curse, compassion or bitterness.

She concluded her letter with these words: "I want you to know that our research in death and life after death has revealed beyond a shadow of a doubt that those who make the transition are more alive, more surrounded
with unconditional love and beauty than you can ever conceive. They are not really dead. They have just preceded us in the evolutional journey all of us are on; they are with their former playmates (as they call them), or guardian angels; they are with family members who proceeded them in death and are unable to miss you as you miss them since they are unable to feel any negative feelings. The only thing that stays with them is the knowledge of love and care that they have received and of the lessons they learned in their physical life.

God Gives Us Memories
So That We Might Have Roses In December

Precious Moments Figurine is now available in local stores in your area. 

Sam Butcher, creator of the popular Precious Moments, is a bereaved parent. His son Philip died in an auto accident.

Two Lives From One...

The Ultimate Gift 

God has granted us these bodies
for our short time here on earth,
but have you ever stopped to think about
what your bodyís really worth?

The body is a miracle equation;
the sum of its parts, greater than the whole
and it is a really just a shell
offering protection for the soul.

And if God makes the decision
that your time on earth is done,
you could have the opportunity
to make two lives...out of one.

The heart knows no greater joy
than the joy it feels by giving,
and the finest gift you can bestow
is the precious gift of living.

We donít think about these details
as we go about each day...
but there are many unexpected turns
as we travel lifeís highway.

Only you can make the decision
on the route that you will choose,
but why take with you these lifelines
that someone else can dearly use?

Here is a chance to make a difference,
like a candle in the dark;
itís a chance to leave a legacy,
a chance on earth...to leave your mark.

Grieving loved ones can find comfort
through heavy hearts and many tears,
if their loss gives someone else a chance
to live on for many years.

What will they say when you are gone?
Did you help others? To what scope?
Will they say you left in a parentís eyes
the look of gratitude... and hope?

So when youíre asked to donate organs
and think you wonít, or that you canít...
think of the faces of the children
who are now in need of a transplant.

Stop and ask yourself this question,
what if it was me, or someone I love
who was benefiting from someone else
who had been called from up above?

And when you reach those heavenly gates
and His Kingdom so divine...
youíll be directed to the most beautiful cloud
with "organ donors" on the sign.

by Linda Ellis www.lindaslyrics.com

Copyright-1998 reprinted with permission 
(Linda Ellis is also the author of "The Dash")

DEAR BRAD

I miss you son, since youíve been gone. 
One whole year Iíve been all alone.

I miss your smile. I miss your voice
I will get through, for I have no choice.

Iíll never see you graduate, or join the Marines.
Your life wasted, or so it seems.

Iíll never see you marry. Iíll never see your child.
You were condemned, without even a trial.

You were only sixteen when you were taken away.
It was one year ago, on this very day.

My life has changed since youíve been gone.
It will never be the same, but I must live on.

I love you Brad and Iím so proud of you.
You gave life to others, as you chose to do.

Your heart beats on; itís just not the same.
The gift of life; but not your name.

As I remember your face on this summer afternoon,
Without a doubt I know; I will see you soon

I send you my love, Brad, on this anniversary date,
Iíll meet you in Heaven; make no mistake.

~written by Joyce Brooks, Conyers, Ga
In Memory of Brad 
9-19-82 - 8-2-99

TCF Atlanta Online Sharing

TCF Atlanta Online Sharing is an online sharing group available to anyone with internet access. 

The Online Sharing began in September 1999 when I felt there was some very good resources available to me as newsletter editor and co-webmaster and I wanted to find a way to share this information with other bereaved families on a weekly basis rather than bi-monthly through the newsletter which we are limited for space. I had currently subscribed to "Chicken Soup for the Soul - Online Daily" and this gave me the idea to put together something for bereaved parents and siblings. Thus it began. Currently we have 445 members.

To Join Go To The Following Link: http://www.tcfatlanta.org/SharingSubscription.html

We are going to include various things from the Online Sharing in our Linked Together Newsletter for those who are not able to join us online.

Do You Ever Feel Like Me?
~from TCF Atlanta Online Sharing

Do you ever feel like me? Right now I am utterly tired of grief. I am sick of it. I can't get away from the always aching pit in my heart and soul. I search for understanding. I do all I can in the memory of my child who is gone and the others who are like her. I try to move into life again. I smile. I laugh but inside I ache, my soul literally burns inside my body.

Some say it gets better WHEN???? That is what I want to know, when in this life am I going to feel better. Oh what I would give for the bliss of ignorance once more.

~Jean Stewart 

ResponseÖ.My only child died four years ago. A friend of mine lost her daughter two years before that. Although she lives in IL and I live in GA, we've kept in
touch these past four years. . .

Two years ago, I met with Mary. We asked each other, "How are you doing?"

I described for her (even though she knew it) the pain I was feeling. The same pain and despair that you describe, now.

Mary said: "I woke up one day and said to myself: 'I am tired of feeling this way. I do not want to feel this way any longer. I won't.'"

I did not understand, then, how she could possible let go of the everyday pain. That pain was a comfort, to me. I felt that, if I was in extreme pain, every day, then I was paying tribute to my son and to my love for him.

I am beginning to understand, just now, a desire to NOT spend every day with the pain. It's been four years since my son died, and two years since I
heard Mary's words.

There IS hope for "better days", for you. And, when those days come, you will not be giving up love for your child, but beginning to love yourself, once more.

Teal Snapp, Conyers, GA
Billy's mom, always June 23, 1981 - February 25, 1996

Yes Grandparents Do Grieve!

Thank God, some one stepped up and said. "Hey" This child was and is my grandchild!!! And I hurt too! Not looking for sympathy, but wanting the world to know that Yes, the mother and father are hurting from the loss of their little angels, but Granny and Grandpa loved these children with their hearts and souls. Totally unconditionally!! 

I read these letters that are sent to me, everyday. My heart hurts for these parents for the loss of their children. But please, let us not forget any of the Grandparents, who's loss is twofold. One for their child who is hurting so bad and for the loss of their Grandchildren. 

I always thought my Grandchildren would out live me. At least that's the way it's suppose to be. It doesn't always work out that way. So yes, my heart also hurts for the Grandparents too. 

~Wanda Bryant, Vidalia, GA

Grammy to Victoria King
April 17, 1998 - April 11, 1999

Whatever Would We Do Without the Atlanta Online Sharing?

I am so glad to be given the chance to sing the praises of the Atlanta Sharing Line. I wish I could remember who let me know that such a thing existed so I could give them a big hug and a huge thank you, but whoever or whatever led me to this wonderful lifeline for all bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings, I am just so thankful! 

It is not only a valuable resource for myself as a bereaved parent, but because I am a chapter co-leader and newsletter editor, I pass on so much of the invaluable information I get from all the dear hearts who share their thoughts, pain, and advice. I can't tell you the countless number of times I have said to our group, "I read this on the Atlanta Sharing Line." Without The Compassionate Friends I wouldn't be where I am in my grief journey; I wouldn't be "healthy" enough to be of any help to my family and other bereaved parents. And when I am having a hard time and am suddenly blindsided by something that brings me right back to May 11, 1995, I can read what everyone else says about having their good days and bad days, whether they are ten months out or ten years out, and I know that I am "normal", for us, and truly not alone. I feel so sad when I hear of those that have had negative first-contact experiences with a TCF group. But, then again, I am able to take that information back to our first-contact person to make sure nothing like that happens in our group. Actually, just when I think I have heard it all, another request for advice comes from another parent on the Atlanta Sharing Line, and the responses are so informative and help me so much with the other newly bereaved parents that come to our group. 

I too feel like I "know" these parents and I "know" their children intimately. What better way to know a child than through the very people who love them the most? I take your sadness as well as your victories in your journey down the grief path, into my heart and carry you and your children with me. God bless you all. And a million thanks to all of you who have shared with us. I feel a personal connection to each and everyone of you. 

With most sincere thanks, 
Cathy Seehuetter, Nina's Mom
St. Paul, MN TCF
 

Anniversaries

A friend e-mailed me the "anniversaries" article written by Peggy and Denis O'Connor's mother. Elaine Stillwell. Please express to her my appreciation of putting anniversaries into a form of reality.

Yesterday we celebrated the 7 anniversary of the murder of our daughter and two grandsons. I love her comment of - "anniversaries are a time to share with others our special love for the people we miss. I call it, "Sharing Peggy and Denis with the world." I love that - sometimes I feel strange talking about my kids to people - but these simple two sentences have put a different light onto it - I'm sharing my kids with the world.

Pat
Gina's Mom, Shaun & Joshua's Nonie
http://www.g-s-j.org

Do You Ever Feel Like I Feel?

How can I not feel like you. I too would give anything just to see and touch my daughter one more time. I miss her so much. It seems so unfair to lose someone who was so happy with life and loved by so many people. 

I know none of us are exempt from hurt and disappointment. But this is something we never expect to happen. I too feel that if I don't feel this pain and cry my eyes out each day that I am doing dishonor to my daughter in some way. I know she would think this was ridiculous and would want me to be happy. But, how can I be happy without her. She was my first born. She taught me how to be a mother. She gave me so much joy for 31 years. 

I was so very proud of the woman she became. I wanted so many more years with her. Why couldn't God take me, and let her live. She had so much to live for. Cari was a successful singer, she was getting married, she loved her life and all she had in it. IT IS SO UNFAIR!!!!! 

Thank you all for being out there. You are the only ones who really know how I feel and you don't think I should be getting over it. A part of our lives has been cut out
of us and we can never heal from this. Maybe one day I will adjust, but for right now I want to die.

Janice Olejnik, Covington, Ga (Cari's Mom)

Tribute to My Sister

You always held within your heart a strength and purpose that few others would have known. My success in life and joy I owe to you for helping me along the way. When I was ignorant, you taught me. When I lacked experience in life, you gave me new challenges. When I stumbled and fell, you gently helped me up again. When I was lost in the darkness of depression, you were the beacon on which I focused to find my way again. When I had gained strength, you trusted me to help you with your own difficulties. And, always, when I needed a friend, you were there.

Throughout the years you were always my family. You honored me with your love and trust, and accepted me just as I was. More than my own flesh and blood, you were my sister, and I will always cherish the time we had together. We have laughed, complained, and sometimes wept, but we always persevered. The good times, the bad times, the joy and sorrow, will always bind our hearts as long as I am able to draw my breath.

We traveled together for awhile and our journey was fulfilling, but now our paths have diverged and we had to say goodbye. To my years with you, I bid farewell. Ahead of me lies a life without you, a new definition of myself. For all that I may someday become, you will always be a part of me. 

On some distant day, when something reminds me of you, I will lovingly think of you and remember the smile you had. From time to time, I will remember the years spent with you and what we have shared. I will always miss your sweet voice and your unconditional support and endless companionship. May we carry that beyond the grave.

For all the smiles and tears, for all of the love and laughter, and above all, for being the person that you were, I will carry you in my heart. I will always, always love you.

In Loving Memory of Ashley Marie Sockwell
January 31, 1978 to October 22, 1996

~from your sister, Lisa Sockwell Meredith
Snellville, Ga

What to do on AnniversariesÖ.

~from TCF online sharing

On my brother's 1 year anniversary of his death my entire family met at church. It was a Sunday so we thought we'd all go to church and then we went to brunch at a restaurant. At brunch we talked about my brother and enjoyed the time we had together as a family. After that we went to the cemetery and held hands and formed a circle around his grave and we prayed.

My other brother played a song that we listened to which was very moving. He gave us all copies of the song. The song is called "Dear John" by Styx. 
My brother's name is Rich so we changed the words a little bit -- mine is on the refrigerator.

My brother will be gone 4 years this July. I miss him dearly. He'll always be my big brother and remain in my heart where he never left.
 

Sincerely,
Mary K. Rakytiak
surviving sibling 








What about Vacations

~Elaine Stillwell

When your heart is hurting after the loss of a loved one, you wonder if you will ever be able to "take a vacation" from grief. There are many answers to this question. The secret is to find the right one for you.

Vacations for my family were spent mostly at home. Our work schedules rarely permitted us time to go away and with three children we found traveling to be expensive. I have always lived on Long Island (NY), and my parents brainwashed us to think that living on Long Island was a permanent vacation. Do you think they worked for the tourist board?

After my 19 year old daughter, Peggy, and my 21 year old son, Denis, died in the same automobile accident, I never planned a vacation to "get away" from my surroundings. My home was my "nest" and the source of great comfort to me. Not everybody feels this way.

Staying with the familiar made me feel comfortable. Having my support circle nearby was important to me. Enjoying the pleasures that I had shared with Peggy and Denis kept them close to my heart. Even though tears could accompany these pleasures, the tears were healing. Whether it was simply walking along the beach where we had many family outings, or sitting by the pool where we had spent so many hours with swim team, or watching a soccer game which took so much of our time with three teams in the family, or noticing their favorite colors, flowers, TV programs, or foods. These things helped reinforce their presence forever in my mind, never to be erased.

Some families agonize whether to go away for a vacation after losing a loved one and some families canít get away fast enough! So you see how different we all are. Itís tough for husbands and wives who disagree about vacation plans to find a reasonable "compromise" to give relief to their individual styles of grieving.

The rule of thumb is: Do what helps you. If taking a cruise, or flying to a distant sunny haven, or visiting a mountain or seaside retreat, or just relaxing at a nearby resort helps you gain a moment of peace, do it. But one thing I must caution you about, donít go alone. There is time to reflect or quietly meditate wherever you are, but when you are hurting so terribly, it is not wise to be alone for long periods of time. However, it is good to have someone to share your thoughts with, releasing some of those feelings that are haunting you. Having a good listener with you is wonderful medicine for you. Itís also good to have someone to hug. Remember, you need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth. Therefore, make sure you vacation with the right person!

Many grieving families that I have met have found solace in a trip "away" from their home base. Sometimes, just the change is what they need. Other times, itís leaving work or that "empty chair" behind. A little sunshine can warm our souls, so the warmer climates appeal to us and seem to bring an inner cheer. I know I am a "sunshine" person and can accomplish ten times as much on a sunny day, so Iím sure a sunny vacation would be productive for me.

In my early days of bereavement, I found that taking a little photo album like a "grandmaís brag book" with me, filled with my favorite pictures of my Peggy and Denis, made it feel as if they were with me. Packing that album in every pocketbook I used, whether the large everyday variety or the tiny evening bag, it was like a pacifier to me. When a friend of mine told me that she dreaded going on vacation "without her daughter along," I suggested she take a little picture album, crammed full of her daughterís snapshots, with her on the trip and she did. When she returned, she called me and happily announced that it had made a difference to her, releasing some of that emptiness she had felt. So take a chance and try something different to help your heart. You might surprise yourself!

Other bereaved friends could not bear to stay home for major holidays and off they flew to far-away vacation spots. That worked for them, getting away from the hoopla of the holidays and the family gatherings that they did not feel strong enough yet to attend. Some of these bereaved families said they found a respite from their grief while "on vacation" but that coming home was the hardest, causing feelings of depression when they returned. So, we all have to find the balance that fits our lives. It doesnít happen overnight. Itís something that requires "trial and error" by us to find the blend that lifts our spirits.

Vacations can be a time of "renewal" for us. We all know that we need a vacation "from grief." We just have to figure out what kind of vacation our own heart needs. Good luck!

"Howard" My Teacher

~by Marie Mercer, Conyers, Ga

My son Howard become my teacher as soon as I found out I was to be a mother. He taught me to change my life in order to take care of myself both mentally and physically so that we both were in the best of health when we first met.

On that day, February 10, 1962 he started teaching me how to become a responsible parent. Through Howard I learned how to take care of a human that was totally dependent on me. He taught me to love unconditionally, to put his needs before mine and to thank God for this child everyday he was in my life. He taught me patience and understanding. Howard taught me how to be proud of his every accomplishments, to accept him as he was and respect him as a man. He taught me to be strong when I needed strength at the hardest time of my life. That day was August 11, 1997, the day he was called home to a place where there was no more fear or pain. Aids had lost. My son won his last battle. He left this virus in a body that would not tolerate it any longer.

My child was free and taught me one last thing, my love for him was so great that I allowed him the freedom he needed to let us go and have the peace he longed for.

What a great teacher Howard was. I learned so much from this soul on earth.

Goodbye my love, I miss you so much and always will.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summer Thoughts

Summer is a time when things naturally slow down, a time when many are waiting for the orderly routine of their lives to begin again. For those of us in grief whose lives are already in limbo, it can seem endless if we let it. Seeing children, babies, and teenagers is not easy for us, and in summer we see them everywhere from shopping centers to beaches. Everyone is out living, loving, enjoying carefree activities with their children, and we want to scream, "It's not fair!". 

I was sitting on my patio one evening at dusk recently listening to the shouts of children outside playing and I was crying as I remembered the sounds that my child used to make. I became very depressed as I thought what a long summer this was going to be. 

In my reverie I was reminded of a recent comment I had heard at a TCF meeting: "My child was such a loving, giving person. He would not want me to waste my life being bitter." I also remembered a good friend telling me to "count my blessings" and naming over all the things I had to be grateful for. I was furious at the time. Nothing that I had to be grateful for could compensate for the fact that my child was dead. 

Now, sitting in the twilight of this early summer evening, I began to see things differently. I determined that this summer would not be an eternity, that I would not let it be. I decided first of all to stay busy. I know I can find plenty to do if I only take the time to look. I am also going to try to enjoy the simple things that used to give me so much pleasure, like working in my garden and flowers. I then decided to try to be truly grateful for the blessings that I have, like my husband, my surviving children, my job, friends, etc.

It has been almost five years for me, and I know that last year this would not have worked. Of course, I still have times of sadness. I know I always will, but I have decided that in the process of grieving, we close so many doors that the only way to recovery is to reopen them gradually at our own pace.

I know I will never be the same person I was before the death of my child, but I hope eventually in some ways I will be a better person because suffering can be beneficial if we learn and grow through it. A year ago I didn't feel this way, and I know I still have a long way to go, but in the meantime I know the greatest tribute to my child will be to enjoy this summer as he would have done.

~Libby Gonzales, Huntsville, AL TCF

"A butterfly lights beside us, 
like a sunbeamÖ..

and for a brief moment

it's glory and beauty belong to our worldÖ

but then it flies on again, and although we wish it could have stayed,

we are so thankful to have seen it at all"

Nature's Rainbows

We held them in our parent arms
for days or weeks or years.
Now we hold them in our hearts
and cry the darkest tears.

The cord attached to children,
eternally fine and strong.
We never leave the missing;
it holds us all life long.

Our children now inside us - 
our souls' tattooed with gold.
Their love, their words, caresses,
are hugs that we still hold.

If we open to the knowledge,
that they aren't completely gone,
we will sometimes feel their touching, 
sometimes soft and sometimes strong.

When they show us nature's rainbows,
we can feel their proud delight, 
sending signs to show they're living,
only far beyond our sight.

"Stars in the Deepest Night - After the Death of a Child" 
is a beautiful book of poetry written by Genesse Bourdeaux Gentry. 

Her 21 yr. Old daughter Lori died in a car accident on June 28, 1991. This book is dedicated to her and to all bereaved parents and the families and friends who love them. Genesse Gentry is also a member of Compassionate Friends.

"Nature's Rainbows" is a poem from this book.








"Butterfly Courage"
Written by David L. Kuzminski

Walking down a path through some woods in Georgia in 1977, I saw a water puddle ahead on the path. I angled my direction to go around it on the part of the path that wasn't covered by water and mud. As I reached the puddle, I was suddenly attacked!

Yet, I did nothing, for the attack was so unpredictable and from a source so totally unexpected. I was startled as well as unhurt, despite having been struck four or five times already. I backed up a foot and my attacker stopped attacking me. Instead of attacking more, he hovered in the air on graceful butterfly wings in front of me. Had I been hurt I wouldn't have found it amusing, but I was unhurt, it was funny, and I was laughing. After all, I was being attacked by a butterfly!

Having stopped laughing, I took a step forward. My attacker rushed me again. He rammed me in the chest with his head and body, striking me over and over again with all his might, still to no avail. For a second time, I retreated a step while my attacker relented in his attack. Yet again, I tried moving forward. My attacker charged me again. I was rammed in the chest over and over again. I wasn't sure what to do, other than to retreat a third time. After all, it's just not everyday that one is attacked by a butterfly.

This time, though, I stepped back several paces to look the situation over. My attacker moved back as well to land on the ground. That's when I discovered why my attacker was charging me only moments earlier. He had a mate and she was dying. She was beside the puddle where he landed. Sitting close beside her, he opened and closed his wings as if to fan her. I could only admire the love and courage of that butterfly in his concern for his mate. He had taken it upon himself to attack me for his mate's sake, even though she was clearly dying and I was so large.

He did so just to give her those extra few precious moments of life, should I have been careless enough to step on her. Now I knew why and what he was fighting for. There was really only one option left for me. I carefully made my way around the puddle to the other side of the path, though it was only inches wide and extremely muddy.

His courage in attacking something thousands of times larger and heavier than himself just for his mate's safety justified it. I couldn't do anything other than reward him by walking on the more difficult side of the puddle. He had truly earned those moments to be with her, undisturbed. I left them in peace for those last few moments, cleaning the mud from my boots when I later reached my car.

Since then, I've always tried to remember the courage of that butterfly whenever I see huge obstacles facing me. I use that butterfly's courage as an inspiration and to remind myself that good things are worth fighting for.

Fourth of July

Each Year on the 4th of July we celebrate the birth of a great nation - a nation of people "united" in a dream. It was through hope, determination and a bonded strength that the people of America strived to achieve their dream of freedom to be a free nation.

Nothing, however, is achieved without a strong will. We, too, as bereaved parents are fighting a battle to be free - free of the pain that has become a part of our waking days. We want to be happy. We want to be able to enjoy life again. You are one of those proud Americans. Refuse to give up. Fight for your dream. There is peace to be found in freedom!

~written by a member of TCF, Homdel, NJ

Sobbing Out Loud

After my second child died, I have wept many times, crying quietly - often feeling like the grief would choke me, unless I screamedÖ But I have never been able even to sob aloud again, at least for more than a moment. And since then many grievers have told me they had much the same experience after death took their child.

I wonder if we should encourage each other to sob out loud or scream. One author suggested closing the windows of one's car and screaming. I am not sure that sobbing alone is quite as "good" as sharing it, but even sobbing alone is probably better than not sobbing at all. Some cultures deliberatey provide grievers with rituals for sobbing and screaming. Like the women in African villages, or the bereaved mothers of Islam - I always envy them and their traditions of giving sound to their grief. And what about grieving men? Have we been so "civilized" that we can only weep quietly? Perhaps we should all learn not to sob in silence. Who knows, we might sleep a little better, have fewer headaches, feel less alone, if we could sob out loud?

~by Sascha from her book Wintersun

A Circle of Friends
by Darcie Sims 

Together, we shall join hearts and hands across the earth and decorate the
world with hope and healing and remembered laughter. We shall remain
forever linked through the love of our absent children, parents, husbands
and wives, siblings, grandparents, friends-all of our loved ones who dance
across the rainbows ahead of us. 

We are a family circle-broken by death, mended by love. May this day, and
every day, be days for us to laugh and sing, to dance and dream. May this
day, and every day, be days of celebration and the chance to give one more
hug, to say one more, "I love you." May love be what you remember most! 

My Son, Another Fallen Comrade

Recently our town had a visiting replica of the Vietnam Wall Memorial to commemorate Vietnam Veterans' Day. I felt a strong need to go to see and honor the names of my marine comrades from twenty-five years ago engraved on the wall. I took my camera to record their names, twelve in all, including my aunt's nephew, whom I knew as a young boy.

When my twenty-year -old son Chris first died, I had no frame of reference other than my experience as a young Marine officer. In training, in stateside operations and finally in combat, I experienced the losses of dear close friends, brothers in arms. So many, so fine, so young, with all their potential and enthusiasm for life abruptly wrenched from my life. The loss of the strong and good friendships and the loss of the chance for a long and meaningful relationship became a frequent, tragic part of my young life.

These fallen comrades became a double-edged sword in my heart in 1988 with Chris's death. At 20, he was close in age to theirs. As a NROTC student, he wore the uniform and served the military with eager dedication. I remember that my first reaction to my son's death was to put it in the same context: The Ultimate Fallen Comrade. I even arranged for him to have a military funeral, even though he was still a college student.

So now I grieve for them all. The loss of these friends surges through my emotions again. There is a parallel perspective for me: they died at about the same time that my son was born. Somehow I am left with the excellent possibility that now they all know my son, just as they knew me, a comrade in arms.

Ed Kuzela, Atlanta, Ga