Newsletter of The Compassionate Friends, Inc.

Atlanta, Georgia Area Chapters
July-August 1999

A Nonprofit Self-Help Organization for Families Who Have Experienced the Death of a Child

"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."

If you are receiving our newsletter for the first time…everyone within The Compassionate Friends Organization wants to say …. Welcome and we hope our newsletter will be helpful on your journey. 


Just remember, we hurt because we love, and to experience a child's love is worth the hurt.


The Unending Symphony

by Bee Ewing

The sun will surely rise again

And rivers will run to the sea.

The ocean waves will crest and roll,

The eagle will always fly free.

Just as certainly heaven waits

For all those who believe.

While God in His infinite mercy

Sustains all those who grieve.

In the unending symphony of life,

You have played such a special part.

The song of your life will remain for all

Who have memories of you in their heart.

~submitted by Meg Avery, Sugar Hill, Ga

In Memory of Her Son, James Avery
July 15, 1983 - September 22, 1997



Every time I am in a group of bereaved parents, I hear people say things like, "I wish my child hadn’t died" or "I wish I had him back." Those wishes, unfortunately, can never come true. Another wish I hear is "I wish my friends (or church, or neighbors, or relatives) understood what I am going through and were more supportive." This is a wish that has some possibility of coming true if we are able to be honest and assertive with the people around us. What do we wish others understood about the loss of our child?

Here is a partial list of such wishes:

1. I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was important and I need to hear his name.

2. If I cry or get emotional if we talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me; the fact that my child died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and thank you. Crying and emotional outbursts are healing.

3. I wish you wouldn’t "kill" my child again by removing from your home his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances.

4. I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn’t think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or that if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling.

5. I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separately. It is the ultimate tragedy and I wish you wouldn’t compare it to your loss of a parent, a spouse, or a pet.

6. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me.

7. I wish you knew all of the "crazy" grief reactions that I am having are in fact very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child.

8. I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. The first few years are going to be exceedingly traumatic for us. As with alcoholics, I will never be "cured" or a "former bereaved parent", but will forevermore be a "recovering bereaved parent".

9. I wish you understood the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a host of illnesses and be accident-prone all of which may be related to my grief.

10. Our child’s birthday, the anniversary of his death, and holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you would tell us that you are thinking about our child on these days, and if we get quiet and withdrawn, just know that we are thinking about our child and don’t try to coerce us into being cheerful.

11. It is normal and good that most of us re-examine our faith, values, and beliefs after losing a child. We will question things we have been taught all our lives and hopefully come to some new understanding with our God. I wish you would let me tangle with my religion without making me feel guilty.

12. I wish you wouldn’t offer me drinks or drugs. These are just temporary crutches, and the only way I can get through this grief is to experience it. I have to hurt before I can heal.

13. I wish you understood that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was before my child died and I never will be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to "get back to my old self", you will stay frustrated. I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values and beliefs. Please try to get to know the new me - - maybe you’ll still like me..

Instead of sitting around and waiting for our wishes to come true, we have a obligation to teach people some of the things we have learned about our grief. We can teach these lessons with great kindness, believing that people have good intentions and want to do what is right, but just don’t know what to do with us, or we can sit and wait. I believe our children would want us to help the world understand.

~ Elaine Grier, TCF, Atlanta, Ga

One More Time

To Hilary (July 2, 1984 - May 8, 1998):

If I could tuck you into bed, one more time,

I'd kiss your cheek, then look you in the eyes,

and tell you how I really love you more than you may know.

You'd surely wonder why I stayed so long there by you,

reluctant to get up and go back to all the urgent,
pressing things that dads must do.

But there, I'd stay for a few more cherished moments with you.

I'd tell you I was sorry for each cross word you'd heard me say,

and ask for your forgiveness for impatience with you that day.

I'd kneel on the floor beside your bed and pray

and ask for you God's help and care
with all the troubles on your heart,

I'd thank the Lord, so you could hear,

how undeservedly I am blessed as father of a girl so dear.

If I could tuck you in just one more time,

for a while I'd stay there on my knees beside
you as you drifted off to sleep,

and listen to you breathe, and admire your sweet and pretty face.

I'd think of all the things I had to do, the concerns which pressed me so, and put them in their proper place.

They'd all still be there later for me to do.

They seem so unimportant now that I no longer have you.

If I could pick up after you, just one more time,

and take your clothes to the laundry room,

I'd hesitate before dropping them in the pile,

and hold them, smell them, and treasure them, for just a while.

If I could rush back home on an errand for you, to retrieve something 
you carelessly forgot, just one more time...

If I could take you out to lunch, just the two of us, just one more time...

If I could help you with your math, or listen to you sing...

If we could ride together in the car, just you and me...

If I could hold you in my arms, just one more time...

What a cherished, treasured moment that would be.

To Marcia (May 10, 1949 - ), Zack (March 27, 1982 - ) and Molly (August 27, 1986 - ):

I don't know whether in this life God will give me but

one more time, or perhaps millions of moments, with you.

But I know what a cherished treasure each will be.

Rob Robinson (Dec. 1, 1949 - ) Macon, Georgia

"Though life is not as it was before,
And never will be again,
Our memories are much richer,
Than if love had never been."

Lovingly lifted from Bruce Dean's Memorial
May 21, 196l - September 16, 1998


That Fateful Morning

That fateful morning we said goodbye,

I never dreamed that you would die.

You are my child, my son, my friend,

I never thought our time would end.

I would have held you close to me,

Had I but known what was to be.

The anguish of my broken heart,

The knowledge that we must part.

Seeing you lying there, so quiet and still,

I thought to exercise my will,

And call you back, to keep you near,

It was not to be, that much was clear.

Your soul had flown to God above,

Who holds you close in His true love.

Those of us left here below,

Must turn you loose and let you go.

Lovingly lifted from Bruce Dean's Memorial
May 21, 196l - September 16, 1998

A Lesson in Grammar

      If you are like me --- I don't want anybody to quibble with me about whether my son's birthday is or was November 20, because
        1. it is
        2. it was , and 
        3. it always will be.
      And, as to whether I have or had two children…because,
        1. I do
        2. I did and 
        3. I always will have
written by Mary Cleckley


After the worst has happened

with nothing left to fear

The sun continues shining with

undiminished cheer

And winds continue blowing and skies

continue fair

As hearts continue bearing the thing

they could not bear.


~submitted by Judy Blumsack, Sandy Springs, Ga

    I also found the following helpful to know it was "ok" to continue to talk about Craig as often as I wished and appreciated when others would do so as well…Judy Blumsack (In Memory of her son Craig)

Go ahead and mention my child,

The one that died,you know.

Don't worry about hurting me further.

The depth of my pain doesn't show.

Don't worry about making me cry.

I'm already crying inside.

Help me to heal by releasing

The tears that I try to hide.

I'm hurt when you just keep silent,

Pretending he didn't exist.

I'd rather you mention my child,

knowing that he has been missed.

You asked me how I was doing.

I say "pretty good" or "fine".

But healing is something on going

I know it will take a lifetime.

~written by Elizabeth Dent, TCF, McMinnville, OR

We added a new section to our newsletter. Helping is Healing. When our worlds are shattered and we feel so helpless and out of control, we desperately try to find something that we can do that will make a difference…if not for our child for someone else. Parents express a deep sense of having "no control" not being able to "fix this problem" when their child dies. Many parents have found that by reaching out to others In Memory of Their Child, it helps with the healing process. They feel that maybe, just maybe they can make a difference in someone elses life because of their child's death. Over the next months we will be sharing some of these stories with you…and encourage you to share with us your stories.

Because of our children's and sibling's deaths……we have…..

Mary Jane LaBonte lost her only child, Julie Lyn, December 23, 1995. On December 10, 1995, at the age of 22, Julie graduated from Georgia Southern University She was happy, looking forward to a bright future and was in love with a wonderful young man. She had the world before her with many opportunities to accomplish great things in her life. Julie had so much to offer to all of us. But only 13 days later her life tragically ended in a horrible automobile accident at GA 400 and I 285.

Still in a state of shock, someone asked Mary Jane would she like to say "in Lieu of Flowers" in Julie's obiturary…and someone mentioned a trust fund …so she said O.K. Six months later, Mary Jane realized she had all this money and had never deposited it, so she went to the bank and set up a trust account with the help of friends…and with that money the JULIE LYN Foundation was created in Julie's memory.

The foundation will concentrate on the enrichment of life for the family as a whole. Most of the money has been used to help young parents struggling to complete their education with affordable quality daycare. The recipients of these awards are very young and are trying very hard to better themselves…and Mary Jane saw a need there. These young parents needed help with day care while they attended school (whether it be high school, technical school or college). Mary Jane pours all her love and energy to helping others in Julie's memory. Mary Jane says "This gave me a sense of purpose and a gift of helping others by making a difference in other people's lives. There was nothing I could do for my daughter, but I could help others in her memory.

This has been a healing process for me…to give me a sense of purpose. Julie would have been a wonderful force in the achievement of our goals, and it is with Julie's memory that we will help others to become a productive member of society."

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Julie Lyn Foundation, you can reach Mary Jane @

The Julie Lyn Foundation, Inc.

P.O. Box 464303

Lawrenceville, Ga 30042

or call: 770-736-5353 

In Memory of Julie Lyn Donaldson

September 26, 1973 - December 23, 1995


Lisa Gordon lost her only sibling and older brother Chad, September 3, 1996 suddenly from heart failure. Lisa and Chad were as close as any brother and sister could be. They lived together two years earlier at Auburn University, until Chad graduated in June 95 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Lisa still had two years to go…she was getting her BSN in nursing and wanted to be a pediatric nurse. Nine months before Lisa graduated from college, Chad died. She had to return to college for the fall semester just days later and go straight into Critical Care. She experienced pretty much the norm for a bereaved sibling…all her friends in college wanted to "party" and she just wanted to get through. Most of her friends abandoned her because they could not deal with her grief. 

After she graduated in June 97, she returned to Atlanta and went to work at Egleston Children's Hospital…where she had always hoped to be. Because of the tragedy in her life, she was much more aware of the needs of grieving parents and families. For those who have lost a child or sibling, you know that until you experience this you can not possibly understand the pain and the needs of others. Lisa wanted to use her "gift" to help others in the area of grief and bereavement. The hospital staff (as well intended as they were) did not understand fully the needs of the families who lost children. Lisa felt she needed to do everything possible to help these families. She volunteered for the "bereavement committee" and has been working very hard to make a difference for the bereaved families through new programs, literature and understanding.

Lisa said "I feel I need to do this because I do understand the needs of these families. It makes me feel good to know that I have helped families and that I do understand their pain…and by sharing my story I help them begin their journey as well as help myself."

In Memory of Chad Gordon 5/21/72 - 9/3/96


Thomas R. Egleston founded Egleston Children's Hospital at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1916 as a Memorial to his mother, Henrietta Holmes Egleston, who lost four of her five children to early childhood disease. It is Georgia's largest and most comprehensive pediatric hospital.

Terry and Evelyn Sparks lost their Daughter, Natalie, 1-22-98, to complications of a bone marrow transplant to cure her leukemia. Natalie was 22. When her Mother and Father found out that she would need a bone marrow transplant, they added their names to the bone marrow donor list by donating vials of blood to identify antigens which are critical to the matching process. Since each parent "gives" a child half of their antigens, parents are not able to provide the required match. However, by identifying their antigens in the bone marrow registry, someday they might prove to be a donor for another person needing a transplant.

During Natalie's 12 month struggle with leukemia , her Father Terry found that bone marrow transplant patients do better if they receive platelets from the same donors. Natalie was far away from home and the only regular platelet donor she had was her Father. He noticed that whenever Natalie received his platelets she seemed to do much better than from some of the unidentified donors. He was able to give platelets every three days but Natalie needed platelets and whole blood almost every day. It was Christmas and during holiday periods donors become very scarce. Natalie's Mother and Father were able to make an appeal on the local television station which helped increase the number of donors. 

Terry and Evelyn hope that someday they can be a match for a patient needing a bone marrow transplant. Natalie's Father believes that being a platelet and whole blood donor for others could hopefully save another person especially since it seemed to make such a difference to his Daughter.

In Memory of Natalie Sparks 
May 11, 1975 - January 22, 1998
Lawrenceville, Georgia 


The Secret of TCF

The secret of the Compassionate Friends is simple: there is no line between helped and being helped. In the early months of peoples' membership in TCF, it seems that most of the time is spent absorbing ideas, crying and letting the grief flow, and "learning the ropes" of being a bereaved parent.

The next step is reaching out to others and helping them. It is not a big step, for listening to another person sort out their life helps us to sort out our life too. But it is an important step because it is the first point at which the movement is reversed. All of the energy had been going inward. We had been feeling so empty inside that we kept withdrawing into ourselves. But the point when we turn around is the point when we first listen to another, speak the words of comfort and hope, share out pain instead of just feeling our pain. At that time the real healing has started. 

~Dennis Klaus Phd, TCF, St. Louis, MO

Book Review

Lessons from the Light :

Messages of Love and 
Comfort from the Other Side

Lessons from the Light is the fourth book about George Anderson and I believe a major change in focus from the first three. Those were about George and his work as a medium with bereaved people. In his own words this book is "forty years of maintaining an ongoing relationship with the souls in the hereafter…"

The lessons learned during that time are uplifting, hopeful, inspiring, unique and varied. There are very specific lessons regarding child loss, suicide, violence, loss of a partner, coping with the loss and the role of animals in loss. Other lessons are broad and far reaching observations of the relationships of these two worlds as well as the role of each.

If you are not already familiar with George's work, I would strongly recommend one or all of his previous books, We Don't Die, We Are Not Forgotten and/or Our Children Forever as background reading prior to tackling this work. Obviously the book is most meaningful to those who believe in the hereafter and that it is possible to communicate from that plane of existence, but others might find it interesting just from the viewpoint of speculation.

Some may find the observations about hell, abortion and suicide disturbing. They are in direct opposition to stated beliefs of most organized religions. I personally don't believe that should deter people from reading the book but will leave that decision up to each individual.

This is probably not where a newly bereaved person should start their grief work but it is definitely recommended reading at some point in that journey. 

~book review submitted by Pat Malone, Atlanta, Ga

Please remember to visit our bookstore on the TCF Atlanta Web Site…you can order Lessons from the Light directly online…and TCF will receive a commission.

Thank you for your support.


It has been 2 1/2 years since Ashley was taken so suddenly in October 1996. It has almost been a year since Jeff left us in June of 1998. They were my only sister and Scott's only brother.

Now we are married and expecting a little girl. She moves and kicks and I just wish she knew what a little ray of sunshine she will bring to us. Two broken hearts she will unknowingly try and mend together by her little smile. She will come into this world unaware of the unspoken grief etched not only upon her mama's heart but also her daddy's. She will never know the joyous laugh and sweet spirit of Ashley, or the love of life displayed in Jeff's 35 years. 

No, she will never know the sudden death of Ashley, or the slow pain of death of Jeff. Her aunt and uncle she will never see. Or maybe she has. Has Heaven sent a little angel to mend our hearts? Perhaps sent with a kiss by Ashley and Jeff? When I look into her eyes will they look back with a message from Heaven? A little comfort sent to make us smile through the years?

We love and miss Ashley and Jeff so much. We only wish they were here to share in our little girl's life.

Scott & Lisa Sockwell Meredith, Snellville, Ga

In Memory of Ashley Marie Sockwell and Jeffrey K. Meredith
Ashley's Memorial


I remember my brother. He was a great person.

I loved him very much. He would do so much for me. 
He and I never fought or argued. My sister and I "always" fight.

But, I just want to say he was my hero. 
I loved him. I would give him hugs and kisses.
He was the only person that could pick me up…

~written by Brooke Carithers (9), Ellenwood, Ga, about her big brother who left this life on August 8th, 1998

In Memory of Wesley Carithers 6/10/78 - 8/8/98

Ashley, I Miss You

It is me, or have I fooled myself?

I thought I heard you call my name

Was it just the pouring rain…

I really thought that I saw your face

But after a second look

I saw I made a mistake

Sister, I miss you

And days I wish you were with me

So we could laugh and talk again

Ashley, I miss you

But I'll just kiss you and send it on the wind

Cause I know I'll see you again

So much I wanted to show you 

So much you had to give

I thought our time would be much longer

Now I've lost my best friend

~submitted by Lisa Sockwell Meredith, Snellville, Ga
In Memory of Ashley Sockwell 1/31/78 - 10/22/96

A Whisper for the New

I am new--new to myself and new to this world. 
I hesitate to walk through this door. 
I stare at my foot as it crosses the floor.
I didn't want to come, but I need to know more. 

I hope I'm not the only one 
Who tries to will back the sun. 
Tell me that I'm not the only one. 

Tell me your names so I know that you're real. Describe, for me, what I feel. 
I'm new to you, and I'm new to me. 
I don't quite know who I will be, 

But if I see that you are here, 
The sight will add a hint of cheer. 

If you have made it, I can too.
I'll discover this new world with you.

~Scott Mastley, Atlanta, Ga

In Memory of My Brother, Chris Mastley
9/2/67 - 12/05/94

Our Special Dove

I am Loving and Caring
I wonder what the World would be like without God
I hear Angels singing
I see the End is Near
I want to be there

I am Loving and Caring
I pretend my Brother's always with me
I feel his arm on my shoulder
I touch back but…
I worry he can't feel and 
I cry wanting him to be here

I am Loving and Caring
I understand he's gone
I say I Love Him
I dream of the Day we'll meet again
I try to remember every bit of our lives together
I hope he remembers everything too

I am Loving and Caring

~Written by Jennifer Carithers (15), Ellenwood, Ga., 
for an English Assignment in Memory of her brother Wesley.

6/10/78 - 8/8/98

A Solitary Journey

Grief is a solitary journey. No one but you knows how great the hurt is. No one but you can know the gaping hole left in your life when someone you know has died. And no one but you can mourn the silence that was once filled with laughter and song. It is the nature of love and of death to touch every person in a totally unique way. Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey. And solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again.

~Helen Steiner Rice

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