The issue, finally distilled to its essence,
is revealed as not so much who you were
as who your example inspired us to be.
Because we walked beside you in life,
we grew strong enough to handle grief,
determined enough to endure emptiness,
wise enough to cry when hurting,
brave enough to start over every day.
We are different people from the ones
who accompanied you on your journey.
We don’t think the same or look the same
and we certainly don’t feel the same.
Every event plowed and furrowed our souls,
shaping us into fields of unconditional love
capable of bearing an inexhaustible harvest
that will always and forever exceed our need.
Our choices in the new world thrust upon us
are whether we shall limit our experience
to daily memories of grief, pain and sorrow,
or opt for deliberate expansion of heart and mind.
Whether we shall define your passing as the ending
of all we cherished and sought and dreamed,
or lean into the loss to reveal an opening
we never thought possible or let ourselves see.
An opening that beckons and promises
a transcending, a separation from the grief
everywhere-present like the fine dust of an explosion.
A hidden place where tears give way to freedom,
hearts recover and songs begin to play again.
A shelter where your legacy of victory heals,
revealing the power of seeking joy in sorrow
and the bliss of finding peace in what is.
Copyright © Harold G. Hopkins, May 2001. Lawrenceville, GA
In loving memory of Lance Porter Hopkins, July 1975 to November 1999
March 20, 1999, the day that changed our lives forever. The
morning started as a usual Saturday but for some reason time seemed to
move at a snails pace. I kept wondering what it was that made this
day seem so different. Little did I know that our precious son Jonathan
would be leaving us on his path to heaven. It was noon and Jonathan
went with his friends to a beautiful creek to have lunch in the woods.
They pushed on a dead tree, hoping to make a bridge to cross the creek
and the tree snapped from above and crushed Jonathan's head against the
base of another tree. One child stayed with him as the others went
to call 911 and ran to get my husband and me. We ran thinking that
he must have twisted his ankle or something minor, never expecting the
horror we were about to see. A large tree branch lay on top of him
and he was barely breathing. We removed the tree and turned him over
when I realized that this was not a minor accident. I told Jonathan
how much I loved and appreciated him in my life. I also told him
that if the ANGELS were surrounding him, that he was needed in heaven to
do GOD' work.
I am a health professional and realized that I needed to perform
CPR. The paramedics arrived and continued the CPR until we arrived
at the hospital. I was met at the ER by the doctor telling me that
there was no hope for Jonathan. I waited until my husband and daughter
arrived to talk with them and make the decision to stop the life support.
They weren't able to establish a
heart beat since the accident. Because of lack of heartbeat,
we were only able to donate his heart valves through Lifelink.
Earlier in the day, Jonathan had told me that he was to be honored at
school for a poem he wrote for the Reflections PTA program. When
we arrived home from the hospital, I asked my daughter to go to the computer
and find the poem. We were truly shocked when we read it.
SUDDENLY YOU TURN AROUND
AND HEAVEN IS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Suddenly you turn around,
And you hear an angel sing a lullaby.
The words are so emotional,
That you begin to cry.
The angel cries, Just like you,
Because the emotion sweeps over,
And the tenderness too.
You see many colors, All so bright.
All so beautiful, On this starry night.
Pink, orange and blue were the first that you saw.
Then came yellow and green.
Violet and fawn were next.
Finally, mauve and cream.
The angel made these colors, All so very new.
The angel just flapped her wing,
And the colors came into view.
She flew so high, She flew her very best,
She asked you, Can you take the test?
White feathers started shooting Out your back.
They started making wings,
But there was something that lacked.
The wings lacked luster, The beauty of life,
The angel saw this and knew they weren't right.
The angel said "Fly away, Be free"
You say " No, I'm scared, Help me."
The angel said" Do not be frightened,
Do not fear. I am pure comfort, And I am here."
You feel truly safe, For once in you life.
You feel separate, From all the pain and strife.
You pray for a minute, Not knowing what to say.
You look at the angel, Then she looks away.
You build up courage, And start to fly.
What happens next, My, oh, my.
You fall long, On a journey to black.
Then you figure out, There is no turning back.
You wake up in your warm bed, Hot and sweaty.
You need comfort, Reaching for a Teddy.
When suddenly you turn around,
And hear an angel sing a lullaby.
The words are so emotional, That you begin to cry.
You will remember Comfort, And all of her love.
Going solo, Is like a black dove.
JONATHAN NICHOLAS LONGO
JULY 16, 1986 - MARCH 20, 1999
The Angel Who Tends to My
There's an angel who watches the flowers grow
And keeps each leaf in perfect shape.
Oh this Angel watches over my special garden.
And never lets one iota of love escape.
For this garden grows inside of my heart.
My Angel won't let it be torn apart.
The flowers bloom each & every day
for the gardener wouldn't have it any other way.
Oh yes, I have a special garden, my friend.
And I know that somewhere at the end
The Angel who tends to my special garden ...
Will be back in my arms again.
Oh I smell each rose that blooms & think of you.
The Angel who tends to my garden.
You've taken time to make sure
that the water in the garden is pure.
A bucket filled with tears we endure;
And will time & time again.
This Garden is full of beautiful flowers
always arranged for view by the best.
Oh yes, I know this garden will forever give beauty ...
As long as you are my Angel's honored guest.
~Author~ Kaye Des'Ormeaux
Copyright 2001 Kaye Des'Ormeaux
Dedicated to the Moms & Dads & loved ones who
just need a hug at this time. November 9, 2001
W- Stands for his "willingness" to help other people
E- Stands for the "encouragement" he gave to others
S- Stands for the "silly" things he did & the "sports"
L- Stands for the "love" in him
E- Stands for the "effort" he put into everything
Y- Stands for the "young" active person he was
By Brooke Carithers, Ellenwood, GA
In Memory of her Brother Wesley Carithers
2002 I Resolve
I resolve to surround myself with beauty,
even when beauty becomes blurry and
I am filled with tears;
Even when I am brought to my knees
in pain and grief and I can't seem to pray;
I resolve to look up.
I resolve to wrap myself up and hold me close and to
let others, who understand, love me-
If others have a difficult time understanding,
I resolve to love them.
I resolve to listen a great deal when I can and
talk a great deal when I need to.
I will share myself.
I will not give myself away.
I will let go of anything that hinders joy.
I will be gracious in the knowledge of letting go.
I will sift and sift and sift some more.
I will know, by sifting that I am choosing life over
Living death, victimization and
I resolve to be fully present to life and
To remember my birthright as
A beloved child of God.
I will be thankful for gifts of the heart;
They are priceless gifts to The soul.
I resolve to remember my
Beloved child with joy and gladness
For his life and to
Live my life with full knowledge
Lovingly lifted from Tributes Online Newsletter
FINDING SPRING AGAIN
By Cathy Seehuetter, TCF St. Paul, MN
It is the end of February, which means we are nearing the end
of what has often been a brutal winter. While gazing at the mountains of
snow piled high in my front yard and the foot-long icicles hanging from
my roof, it is hard to imagine that spring will ever come. We have endured
bitter cold winds that have chilled us to the bone and treacherous roads
that we have cautiously traveled. The days have been long and dark and
often free of sunlight. No matter how long you have been a native of the
Upper Midwest, I know we all will be glad when it comes to an end.
However, as I described these thoughts about winter, I felt as if I
was describing the days of my early grief. At that point, I did not believe
that a day would ever come when I would thaw from the chill that had overtaken
my body and mind. The bleakness of my existence during those early months
after Nina died is almost frightening to remember; it is so difficult to
even conceive of that much pain. I was anesthetized from some of its cruelness
by the protective blanket of numbness that blessedly shielded me from the
gale force of such overpowering sorrow. How could I ever feel spring in
my heart again?
Spring had always been my favorite season. The air had a certain freshness
to it that I would drink in. Simply put, it always made me feel happy and
light of heart. Spring was our reward for surviving the freezing winter
months that preceded it. It brought a smile to my face and a bounce to
However, it was the spring of the year where my heart was irretrievably
broken. It was during this exquisite season of warm, lilac-scented breezes
and sun-kissed mornings where my sweet daughter Nina's life would end.
I wondered if my thoughts about spring would never be the same. Rather
than anticipate with gladness the coming of spring, I dreaded it with the
knowledge that it contained the anniversary of her death. The smell of
the air and the look to the sky that I once found exhilarating now
brought me back to my darkest day. I know that anyone, who has lost a loved
one to death, no matter the season, understands.
Will spring come again to your life? In the almost six years since Nina
died, has it come to mine? Looking back at my description of the winter
of "my early grief", I know that I have come a long way from that time
of desolation. I have found, especially after the first two years, that
with each subsequent spring, I have rediscovered some of the pleasure I
used to feel. I have learned that just because I have found things to feel
joyful about again, it doesn't mean I am dishonoring my daughter's memory.
I now take her along with me in my mind and my heart. I try to retrieve
memories of the dandelion bouquets she so carefully gathered and presented
to me, the rides to the park in the Radio Flyer, our talks while sunning
on the deck, and, of course, shopping for spring clothes! Her favorite
pastime! I will always feel tenseness, apprehension and sadness as May
11th draws near, but I no longer hold it against spring.
It is a slow, difficult journey, this grief pathway we travel. It is
as treacherous as the roads we maneuvered following the winter storms,
never knowing when we will hit an icy patch on the road and be thrown into
a tailspin. Yet, we must travel it if we are to find any measure of peace
Please be patient with yourself as you are working hard to survive this
winter in your heart. Trust that spring, though a much different one than
the one we knew before our beloved child died, will come again.
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 it doesn't exist
I'd rather you'd mention my child
Knowing that he has been missed.
You asked me how I'm doing.
I say "Pretty good" or "fine"
But healing is something on-going
I feel it will take a lifetime.
By Elizabeth Dent
Suggestions on Remembrances
My Parents Are Survivors would like to combine our knowledge to bring
you a few ideas for acknowledging your angel's birthdays and anniversaries.
The loss of a child sometimes makes us wonder if we are doing the right
thing when we want to do something special for them. Below you will
find a some of the ideas our members have tried themselves.
~reprinted with permission from My Parents Are Survivors Online Support
Group Web Site
Purchase helium balloons (the number to match your angel's age) to release
at their graveside on their birthday or heaven date. Invite your
family and friends and/or friends of your child to share their memories
about your child with each other. You may also put your child's name on
the balloons or place forget-me-not seeds inside of the balloons. When
the balloons burst, the seeds will scatter and grow.
One member said she released balloons with Forget-Me-Not flower seeds
inside them. (If the balloons burst, hopefully the Forget-Me-Not flowers
will soon grow and bloom in her child's memory some where.) That year they
also attached little note cards saying in Memory of her daughter with the
birth and death dates. She also attached a return address label and asked
the person, if found, to please send to the address. A week later she received
one of the balloons back. A bank president in a neighboring state found
her balloon in his parking space at work. He thought it was trash at first
but after picking it up and seeing the note realized it was much more.
He took it inside and shared it with his co-workers. He said there was
not a dry eye in the house. He wanted to let her know how much she had
touched him for he had just recently lost his father. She did the same
thing again last year and received one card back from a woman in a neighboring
county. She said she was touched by it also. And the member was touched,
to see how far her love for her daughter could reach and just how caring
some strangers can be. Shared by Kathy Thompson.
There are a lot of our children's clothing that we just can not part
with. Use your child's clothing to make a memory quilt. One of our past
craft projects explains in detail how to make a beautiful memory quilt.
Looking at each square of clothing can bring back another memory of the
happiest moments in your life.
Memory Scrap booking
If you have lots of photos of your child, a good way to spend your time
is Scrap booking! The memory book is a creative way for you to preserve
your child's history using their photos. This is a project the entire family
can participate in while at the same time each family member will be able
to get their creative juices flowing. Each will have their own special
style for their scrapbook page/s/. Materials can be purchased at stores
such as Michaels, JoAnn's Fabrics, and other similar places.
A while ago, Jo Ann Taylor submitted a wonderful idea. For those who
enjoy cooking, you can create a special recipe for your child and name
the recipe in your child's memory. We made a web site to show some of the
artistic members how to make special recipe cards to include with gifts.
Choose a special area of your yard to create a garden in your child's
memory. You may also want to think of a theme garden and plant a special
tree for your child. Another theme could include planting a rose bush on
every birthday. Place concrete stones with your child's name and birth
date. These may lead from your backdoor to the garden. You may also place
statues of angels in your memory garden. Place a sign with the name of
the garden, such as "John's Garden" or something to that effect. Place
a nice bench so that you may relax in your child's garden. Working in your
garden can bring serenity and a lasting place of beauty. There are many
possibilities. Choose a theme that you enjoy the most.
TCF Atlanta Online Sharing
Many nights I spent alone in thought about the loss of my child and
the loss of other parents children. Not only did I or do I cry for the
loss of my son (through the years I have learned to live with it) but for
the loss of all our children. We are the ones that know the pain from this
loss, we pray that not another parent has to feel what we have had to and
always will feel from this. My family always says "Valene I do not know
how you do it or did it, I could never handle it or live with it" Well
my answer was always the same "I did not ask for this it was thrown on
me I had no choice. I did not say take my child from me."
So when someone says to you "I don't know how you do it, I could never
handle it.” You tell them “well neither
could I but I had no choice.” The only choice we have is the choice
of going on with our lives as our children would want us to do or give
up. Giving up I thought about many times but then I thought of my son and
I decided to live, only live in a different way, without one of my son's.
I am no pro on how to go on. I do not believe anyone is but I have found
my peace and a way to deal with my life now.
For one thing, I speak of my son all the time as if it has not been
6 years. When people ask how many children I have I say 3, I do not try
to hide the fact that I lost a child. It is now part of my life and
I live with it. We talk about him often, as I will always remember him
and I want his brothers to always remember him. The brothers speak of him
(maybe not as much as I do). So I say to anyone who needs a friend when
they are feeling sad or lonely, or whenever they want to talk about their
child or just the weather, feel free to send me a note and I will be more
than happy to chat with you. It is a good listening ear we need a lot of
the time. I have learned so much in the last 6 years but I will save that
for another time. May God be with you all and my love as well.....
Moonlight is shining down, there is a soft wind blowing.
Walking along the beach alone, the sea spray gently caresses my face
and I think of you.
Alone as I walk, I feel your presence near me.
Then your hand reaches out and touches mine.
I hear your voice say,
"It's alright mom I'm here with you."
We walk hand in hand talking of happy times,
laughing and smiling.
I turn and hold you, “I love you Chris”.
I no longer feel so alone.
You look into my eyes and
see tears of joy fall down my face.
You wipe away my tears and say
"Mom I am happy, I am safe now
It will be alright, YOU will be alright."
We walk and I feel you let go of my hand,
I turn and you are gone.
My tears again return, but somehow I know you are
always with me and I will always love you.
You will always Be my baby Christopher.
Valene (Christopher's mom) Oak Harbour, WA
September 21, 1981 - June 14, 1996
About Handling Grief – from Wintersun by Sasha
I always wonder whether we should speak about “handling grief”.
Grief is so much like a force of nature, like an avalanche, or an earthquake
or a tornado. Such a force of nature handles US…and we can only react
to it. No matter how much we know and how well we prepare, we are
never quite ready for grief.
If we keep in mind that grief is handling us, instead of expecting it
to obey our own plans, chances for positive survival are much better.
True, "handling grief" is only a word - yet this concept can inadvertently
convey the wrong idea at the worst possible time. Otherwise, we and
our friends could well expect us to follow more traditional good manners
in the face of unbearable stress. That would further drain our severely
reduced emotional and mental resources. By acknowledging that grief
handles us, we can retain a better grip on reality. If we accept
the fact that grief is the master here, and a difficult master at that,
we can learn to respect grief's power and begin our healing work with a
more useful perspective.
Almost Two Years
On April 3, 2000, we began a journey like no other we have
ever undertaken before. It is an experience that only those that have lost
a child can even begin to understand.
It is a journey filled with pain, sorrow, and many unknowns. The path
is a rocky one complicated by steep hills and treacherous valleys. When
you reach the top there is light and warmth, then unexpectedly you are
headed down into the depths of another dark valley.
How did we get to this foreign land? How do we go back to the comfort
we once had? Then the realization hits: THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. We are
banished into this unknown area for the duration! We must learn to adapt
and change our lives to suit this new period in our life.
Many things look familiar, and some of our friends and family have come
along. Yet we see faces we thought we knew and they don’t recognize us.
Have we changed that much?? They speak to us as if strangers. They
no longer call or visit with us. Another cross to bear in this unusual
Just over two months into the journey, we are contacted by someone from
a group called The Compassionate Friends. They are experienced in
the type of travel we now find ourselves involved in. We meet many having
suffered a similar loss. Knowing this is of a small comfort. We share
stories and tears. We hug and whisper our child’s name. We tell of our
memories that we cling to and show pictures of better times. There are
smiles and nods of acknowledgement. There are tears sharing the thought
that there is a future that will not be shared with a loved one.
For us the shock and numbness starts to wear off after six months and
reality sets in. Thanksgiving turns into a sad tear filled meal staring
at an empty chair. No words are spoken, just a small stream down each cheek
flows. Christmas has lost its magic. Then January brings our Jessica’s
birthday followed by her mom’s eight days later. The “Happy” no longer
Going to meet with two chapters of these wonderful TCF folks helps a
lot. We get to meet new people and help others like we had been helped
to learn about our new “life”.
For some reason, the Fourth of July is a “bump in the road” that shakes
us up for about three weeks.
September 11th brings about a great sadness. Many others have joined
us in the journey all because of the cruelty of humans to their fellow
beings. We ask WHY??? But there are no answers.
In October, we go to the trial of the man that killed our daughter..
He denies he did anything wrong. He feels it was an unfortunate occurrence
that he couldn’t avoid. The judge disagrees and sentences him as
best as he can for a “MISDEMEANOR”.
We avoid Thanksgiving 2001, not even having the traditional dinner.
Christmas is tougher that year, decorating bringing about much sadness
where joy once was abundant. We turn to helping others even more, dedicating
our efforts to our Jessica’s memory. Still confusion and sadness is part
of our daily routine.
January finds the closeness of patriotism from the September tragedy
has worn off.. Our wonderful representatives “of the people” are back to
“politics” instead of caring for the people they represent. They turn their
attention back to the almighty dollar and
its affect on the path we as the human race have taken. “Me, Me, Me”
instead of “We the People”!
Should we leave our area and try a new path? Will that help or hurt?
Will we regret leaving the familiar landmarks with the accompanying memories?
What about the new TCF friends we have met? Their support has been a Godsend!
We struggle with our plans even as I write this message. We travel the
rocky path even as more boulders are strewn in the road and hope for the
best. Pray for us and this place called Earth.
May God have mercy on us weary travelers and grant us peace and the
strength to go on.
of my daughter Jessica Lyn Bryl
January 19, 1977 – April 3, 2000
Grant Us Strength and Wisdom
Almost two years now, we miss you very much,
We long to see you, and feel your gentle touch.
Heaven has probably been a busy place, for sure,
That September 11th tragedy, even God can’t cure!
The tears have been plenty, as we watch each day,
How cruel we can be to each other, no words can say.
The Angels have many duties, but can do the task,
With all the good folks joining, help’s easy to just ask.
We have met many parents, of Heaven’s recent gain,
Talking, hugging, meeting, prevents our going insane.
The sharing is so sad, but helps remember our love,
For our children that have left us, to places far above.
Thanks for your help, as I create words and verse,
To aid grieving families, through this ugly curse.
Our lives have been changed forever, this is so true,
We miss the days and moments, spent lovingly with you.
The world keeps changing, and not for the very best,
Praying for peace and harmony,
a part of our daily quest.
Happiness is knowing,
that some day you will greet us too,
As we are sure you are doing, as new souls come to you.
Your smile warms us daily, as we wake under your care,
The Angel hug that we feel, lets us know you’re there.
So dear daughter our love for you,
grows each and every day,
God daily grant us strength and wisdom,
to carry on we pray.
-Created in Loving Memory of our Jessica Lyn Bryl
Jan 19, 1977 – April 3, 2000
- Dan Bryl
~GARDEN OF MEMORIES~
Strolling down your garden path, my heart takes flight
Dedicated in your memory, a breathtaking sight.
Blooms of love overflow, delicate petals aware
Of the love that is planted, with so much loving care.
A garden of your life story, your memory held near
Solace to the weary soul, I draw comfort here.
A quieting of the heart, sadness takes a respite
Testimony of love enduring, to the senses pure delight.
My gaze is drawn, to butterflies dancing in air
Such freedom and abandon, their beauty comes to share
Surrounding themselves with the nectar of the vines
Showing once again, the beauty of God’s design.
Fragrance drifts gently, nature’s sweet sigh
Gentle reminder, you are always near by
Love from heaven, wrapped in loving care
Speaks softly to my heart, quieter than a prayer.
In the garden of your life’s reflection
Memories recalled, with each selection
Symbols of enduring love, and introspection
Blazing colors of God’s perfection.
Designing and planting Cory’s garden, was such a comfort to me. It made
me feel as if I could still do something for my child. The garden reflects
just who he is, his free and easy spirit, nothing formal about this garden…smile.
We make new additions every year, and when we have it completed, it will
reflect all the things that he held dear in life. We are always searching
for new and different items to add, and have even carried it over to be
decorated for the different holidays.
I would suggest to any parent that is newly bereaved, to find a special
way of honoring your child, something that was important to him/her in
life, it will bring your child joy to be honored, and will bring comfort
to you, as you continue to give meaning to your child’s life even though
they are no longer physically with you on earth. It will bless their heart
In Memory of her son Cory Michael Griffin
January 4, 1972 ~ August 30, 1999
A Sibling’s Story
~written by Robin Johnston Eggers
In Memory of her Brother Matt Johnston
March 8, 1967 – October 11, 1993
It has been seven years since my brother Matt’s accident. Seven
years since my dad took that horrendous call. Little did he know
I was listening on the other end. You know the drill, “we regret
to inform you that your son was killed in a car accident tonight at 1:00
AM. His was the only car involved. I’m so sorry, is there anything
we can do?” Yeah call somebody else, let somebody else deal with
I was 21 years old at the time and living at home with my parents, Matt
was 26. Matt and my sister Julie are / were twins. I still
stumble with that one. Are we or were we siblings? I usually
say, when I’m asked, that I have a brother and a sister who are twins.
Why ruin that person’s day.
Once the initial shock wore off I remember thinking what if he died
alone. How horrible was that to think that there in his final moments
it was dark, cold, and scary and he was dying. It was not until later
after I read the autopsy report that I found out he was rendered brain
dead on impact. Does anyone else find it odd that I took comfort
in that? The funeral was also a terrible blur although I distinctly
remember his hands. They were cut and bruised.
The months following also ran together. I flunked out of college
that semester, the first time ever, but re-enrolled the following.
I slept a lot. On the average day I was in bed by 6:00 PM.
You know me I had to get my 14 hours of sleep in a night. I didn’t
pray though. I think I felt too betrayed by God, by faith, or my
lack there of. I really wasn’t able to talk about it at all, which
worried my family quite a bit. I felt like I couldn’t trouble my parents
with my problems because it could not possibly be worse than the burden
they were forced to bear. Besides, everyone who did talk about it
started crying, and I felt I was much too busy to have a nervous breakdown
at the time. I was amazed at the number of people who tried to give
me a quick fix. Here, read this or write in that. I had just
lost my brother what were they thinking? Some things just aren’t
meant to be fixed.
Everywhere I went and everyone I saw reminded me of Matt. At Christmas
time I found myself shopping for his underwear and Timberland shoes.
When I heard something funny or had news to share I immediately called
my sister and then out of habit picked up the phone to call Matt as well.
What a cruel sick joke that was. Everyone I came in contact with
asked about him or asked about how his twin sister was doing. Oh
don’t mind me, “I was his sister too” I felt like saying.
(I felt selfish at the time for even thinking that) The
weird thing is I was mad at people for asking because I didn’t want to
be reminded and I was mad at people for not asking because I felt they
had forgotten him. No one could do anything right. So what
did I do, I went back to bed of course.
My friends were great initially, but after a while they ran out of things
to say and the mood just felt awkward. I needed an escape and a change
of scenery. So I applied for a job in Yellowstone National Park for
the summer. I had gone away to college for a year and hated it and
came home to go to a commuter college. I think my family thought
Yellowstone would also be like college and I would be home in a week.
To everyone’s surprise, including my own, I found my safe haven.
Yellowstone was a place where I could meet people and the great thing was
they only knew what I told them. What a great place! I was
no longer the grieving sister. I was just one of 2000 other college
students working, living and having the time of their life in a three million
acre National Park.
After Yellowstone I came home to finish college and continue on with
life. I am often asked for advice by other people on what I did to
get through that time and what miracle cure worked for me. If there
is anything I learned it is that grief is very unique and that I can not
even pretend to know what another sibling goes through during that time
of loss. What I do wish is that someone had been honest with me and
said “you know what the next year or maybe even two years is going to stink.
It is going to be awful, but it can’t stink forever. Sometime down
the road the sun will shine again.” I don’t recommend that everyone
pack their bags and head West. I suggest they do what ever it takes
to keep getting out of bed in the morning and getting through each and
I read somewhere that “losing a loved one is like walking through the
valley of the shadow of death and surviving”. I found comfort in
that. For some the valley is short and narrow for others it is wide
and long. I think I am through my valley now. I pray again
and I always include Matt in my prayers. I’m 30 years old now, 4
years older than my big brother and I think I am probably wiser too, which
is weirder still. His 92’ Mazda Protégé seems to be
disappearing from the roadways and the smell in his clothes has faded.
My anger and sarcasm have subsided as well, but his sweet memory remains.
I still miss his hands (the way they used to be), he had the best hands.
For the Professionals…..
Death Ended Your Child's
Life, but Not His or Her Relationship to the Family by Nancy Hogan, RN,
In 1983, I wrote a two part article for the Newsletter called "Commitment
to Survival" in which I described parent bereavement as a complex process
that includes mothers and fathers maintaining a relationship with their
dead child. Specifically, I wrote "Death ended your child's life but not
his or her relationship to the family" and "You give up the old person
who was physically connected to a now deceased child and make different
connections with your child who has died."
I received many letters describing how bereaved parents had been criticized
and even ridiculed by others for expressing their continuing love and connection
to their dead child. You told me you copied the articles and sent them
to friends, relatives and people at your work place to let them know that
it was "normal" to want to talk about your child. You also told me that
in your opinion, maintaining a sacred bond to your dead child was vital
to your well-being.
From 1983 to the present I have conducted a number of studies with both
bereaved parents and siblings. Findings from these studies indicate the
ongoing connection you have to your dead child is a catalyst and an enduring
energy which sustains one through the most intense time of grief and gives
survivors the courage to face losses that bereaved parents and their living
children must endure. The deep pain of grief comes with a deep introspective
searching for answers to agonizing questions about why your child's death
had to be a part of your life and about your shattered dreams.
Research shows that this period of grief is characterized by feelings
of hopelessness, profound sadness, aching loneliness and a belief that
you will not and cannot ever be happy again. Physical reactions may include
fast heartbeats, shortness of breath, and a sense of fear or panic that
more bad things will happen to other loved ones. Many bereaved parents
expressed feeling angry, blaming yourself and others for your child's death.
You spoke of being preoccupied with endless thoughts and feelings about
the circumstances surrounding his or her death and the difficulty of coping
and adapting to your new, permanently changed lives.
You said that this was a time of "feeling confusion about who you were,
not knowing yourself anymore and feeling detached from others" and
how these thoughts and feelings demanded and used up the little bit of
energy you had each morning.
Grief work is infinitely private, painful work. Part of you died with
your child and now you must struggle with letting go of your old self as
you endure the unknown of who you will become. One newly bereaved parent
described this process by saying. "I liked who I was before my child died.
I don't like who I am now. I barely know myself." In the beginning of grief
you were consumed with the myriad of reminders of you child's life and
death. As time passed, you found occasional peaceful respites from grief
as the episodes of deep grieving gradually became less frequent and intense.
Finally, you described knowing you were having more good days than bad.
This marked the beginning of leaving behind some of the suffering and sorrow
of intense grief and having the energy available for keeping and cherishing
the love and connection you have to your dead child. Surviving the struggle
with death and finding life again renews energy and is manifest in your
becoming stronger and better able to cope with your loss. You gain a realization
of having become more tolerant of yourself and others, feeling more compassion
for others and becoming a more forgiving person. Measures of happiness
and hope become a part of your life again.
The hardest work of becoming a survivor is learning to live without
the physical presence of your dead child while simultaneously learning
to live with his or her emotional and spiritual presence. You find that
meaning in your life is derived from your relationship to those you love,
including your dead child. The legacy your child has left is a love that
transcends time and space.
--Nancy Hogan RN, Ph.D is an Associate Professor at the University of
Miami School of Nursing where she teaches, conducts research and publishes
on the parent and sibling bereavement process. Since the mid 1970's she
has worked with TCF parents and sibling bereavement groups. She authored
the TCF tape 'Impact of Grief on Marriage' in 1981, and has spoken at many
national and international bereavement conferences.
We Are Individuals …
We are individuals.
We are similar, but different.
We each have our own perception of the same scene or situation.
We all view life through the spectacles of our experiences.
We are all grieving our losses.
Does that mean that we all feel the same way?
Does that mean we are suddenly alike?
Is there a book that tells us what to feel?
We travel the same road at different speeds
Our destination unclear
Loss of a child is devastation
It changes us – but how?
If we were compassionate, do we now hate?
If we were closed minded, do we now embrace new ideas?
If we were full of hostility, do we now look out in love?
Who we are has changed . . . but we still retain much of ourselves.
Our bond is our loss …We reach out in pain
Our world, no color but gray
Will we love all those we meet?
No, we are human
Will we hate those we greet?
No, our pain is alike
We are drawn together by our Spirits
We must interact in the flesh
God tells us the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
Let your Spirit rule
See her. Look at him. Indescribable Pain; Anguish.
Reach out. Spirit to Spirit
Put aside our differences
Help each other all along the way.
Thirty days, Thirty years
The loss is still a loss
Do we live, survive?
Differently, yes Differently, yes.
Debbie Chase, Amanda's Mom Always
Cedar Rapids, IA
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.
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 1020 active
members and are growing at a rate of 2 per day.
We have recently added several new features to our Online Sharing….Cyberfriends
Database for those new parents and siblings who want to have a cyberfriend
to talk with and Birthday/Angel Date Web sites for our Children.
For More Information and all the new additions, please visit our new web