Newsletter of The Compassionate Friends

Atlanta Area Chapters
May - June 2002


"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 

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When you need to....
Reach deep inside and take one of your
precious memories.
Wipe away the cobwebs, lay it out in
front of you
And let the sunshine
and the sounds engulf you.

Revel in the experience of it...
Re-live each precious moment,
be overwhelmed by them
And taste the wonderful sweet tears
that are their gift.

When your needs have been almost satisfied
Pause for one more second
Then gently fold it back up, give it a big
hug and a tender kiss
And return the treasure
to where you found it.

Then to make the experience complete,
Find someone special and share the
feelings with them...
For surely something as wonderful as this
is meant to be shared.

Don't be afraid of using them - that's
what memories are for
You will never lose them....
for as certain as the sun
will rise tomorrow,
Love once attained is never lost.

~by Steve Channing

Here Comes The Dawn

Another Mother's Day without me, 
I know that you were sad,
Having lost your baby boy,
 how can anyone be glad?

Then comes my birthday, 
just a short time after,
A day that our family had, 
to celebrate with laughter!

These days are remembered fondly, 
by three women in my life,
You my darling mother, a dear sister, 
and a forever loving wife!

Thank God I can be many places, 
all through a busy day,
For I try to visit all of you,
 in a very special way!

My thoughts are with you always, 
although it's just not the same,
To think of how I'd like to be there,
 when you call my name.

Following the Atlanta Braves is easier, 
with truly the best view,
But nothing compares to the times,
 I sat watching them with you.

I miss that furry friend of mine 
and all the fun we had,
I try to make him happy,
 but sometimes he looks so sad.

Another night has passed 
and here comes the dawn I see,
A day filled with good wishes and with love sent by me.

Created In Memory of Chad Gordon
May 21, 1972 – Sept 3, 1996
Son of Wayne and Jayne Newton 
Brother of Lisa Gordon
-written by Dan Bryl, Atlanta TCF

Be prepared, be patient, and enjoy the 


Memorial Day Then and Now

Isn't it strange that in all the decades of my life, that I didn't really think much about Memorial Day until my sweet Nina died? That first Memorial Day was about 2 1/2 weeks after her death. She is buried in a very old cemetery with much history. I drove into that cemetery that Memorial Day and saw all the flags (about 170 of them I think) at each veteran's grave and I paused for the first time in at least three decades and really thought about the meaning of that day. 

Last year, while at the TCF National Conference in Chicago, I spoke with one of the bereaved couples that also were attending the conference. The man was telling me about his duty in World War II, and how he survived for days in the ocean after their ship had been bombed, watched as many of his shipmates died, yet somehow he survived. I thought about how that must feel to have survived against all odds, but then decades later lose your own precious  child. Who can understand? A lovely lady I met while in Chicago, Jackie, walked in our on conversation. With tears in her eyes, she said to this man, "Thank you so much for our freedom." That really struck me. How I,  and I am sure many others, have just taken the freedom we enjoy every day for granted.

I watched "Saving Private Ryan" and that first half hour depicted the horror of the invasion of Normandy during WWII and all the lives lost. In that movie, a mother has been told that all three of her son's have perished in the War. I wonder if I hadn't lost a child if I would have felt the same gut-wrenching pain and sorrow as I did when watching that fictitious mother sink to her knees when told of her son's deaths. It affected me for days afterward. 

Classmates of mine were killed in the Vietnam War. I remember being very sad about it, but I don't remember I thought much about it beyond that, about what they had sacrificed their lives for. It was all so far away from home...But now when Memorial Day comes along each year, I remember the mothers and fathers of the soldiers who died for our country, and my heart aches for them.  I would like to say to anyone who might be reading this today, who served our country in 'Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm, World War II, or anywhere else in this troubled world, just as Jackie did last summer, "Thank you so much for our freedom." 

God bless every one of you. 
Cathy Seehuetter, Nina's mom forever 
St. Paul, MN TCF


~Freddie Saye, Jonesboro TCF

October 9, 1982, was a  Saturday afternoon like any other Saturday afternoon. But around 5:30 that afternoon as we were preparing to return home from our trip to Gainesville, GA our normal world was turned upside down. We received a call from our associate pastor that our son who had stayed home that weekend to work had been involved in an automobile accident.  He didn’t know how bad Kevin was injured. After a few frantic phone calls to the hospital we decided to head home. When we got to the Suwanee exit, I stopped and called the hospital again.  They put our associate pastor Hinton Harris on and without telling me, we knew Kevin had died. What a long and heart breaking drive it was to get to the hospital knowing our only son was dead. What do we do? How do we continue to function and live?

My wife Charlotte and I and our twin daughters, Joy and Jamie, were beginning the journey no one ever wants to begin.  What words could I say that would ease the pain we were going through? I certainly didn’t find them that night or ever.

We made it through the funeral and as the days turned into months, we begin to wonder if this pain would ever get better. We begin to receive the Compassionate Friend’s newsletter and found that there were many more out there who were hurting and looking for answers just as we were. Sadly it took us nearly 15 months before we got up the courage to attend a Compassionate  Friends meeting. We attended a meeting of the old South Atlanta chapter that met on Old National Highway. The one thing we learned that first night was that we weren’t really crazy after all, because we certainly thought we were with all the strange feelings and emotions we were having. We soon found the help that we needed as we heard other grieving parents talk about the depth of their hurt and what they were doing to ease their pain. But after about a year the lady who was the leader of the chapter finally gave it up because no one else would help and the chapter closed. Once again we were left on our own to fight this battle with sadness and pain, trying to survive our loss of Kevin for nearly three years. We struggled alone, looking with great expectation for the newsletter to come each month. About three years later we were in a new church and I was in charge of leading our church into a lay renewal weekend. As  I was setting up the different rooms for our groups to meet in I went into our chapel building and at once knew that this was a great location for a chapter of Compassionate Friends to meet in. I fully believe that God had laid a great ministry on my heart.

As soon as our lay renewal weekend was over I contacted Mary Cleckley who headed up the Atlanta Chapter and wrote the newsletter. Even though she didn’t give me great encouragement about restarting the chapter she did give me advise on what I needed to do to start and run it and even came down and spoke to our group.

Our first meeting was small. Wayne and Libby Gentry came down to give us support and we probably had a total of 5 people there. But it was a start and soon we were having 8-10 at each meeting. I don’t think we ever had less than 5 at any meeting and have had 25 plus several times and as many as 60 at our Christmas candle light service. We now average close to 20 each month, so we know we are reaching out and helping many families.

As I look back, I still see the sad faces and broken hearts of parents who have attended our chapter. We had parents come who lost their child only weeks before and others who came after many years of trying to cope on their own. Through the years I’ve been fortunate to see parents that we have helped who were able to stop coming. But I am so thankful for those who we helped who stayed around to help with our chapter as we ministered to other grieving parents.
I still have great memories of Nancy and Paul Jordon, two of our charter members, who came after losing their son Steve. Nancy was willing to share so many things she did after Steve’s death, like leaving her car at Walmart and walking home, putting the iron in the refrigerator, starting to go some were and ending up in Columbus, GA and not knowing how she got there. We nick named her the crazy lady, but the truth was we had all done the similar things and it made us feel better about ourselves as we realized others were doing those things too. Thanks Nancy for helping us to be able to laugh again and laugh at our selves.

I think the many things that have meant the most to Charlotte and I being in this chapter for the past 15 years are the following:  The love that we have felt from others. The knowledge that no one there judged us, but that they accepted us where we were in our journey. That they were there to pick us up when we were down. That they really did understand the depth of hurt that we were going through. That when we said our heart was breaking they understood. When we cried they cried with us. When we needed someone to talk to they were there to listen. Has it not been easy, by no means, but has it been rewarding you bet it has. We made friends and met people who have had a positive impact on our life, people who have helped us deal with our loss of Kevin, people who have given us hope that things can and will get better. That help is as near as the phone.

What have I learned……

• That men and women grieve differently.
• That I’m not really crazy after all.
• That I’m as normal as normal can be for a parent who has lost a child.
• That’s its ok for a man to cry.
• That I won’t get over this in weeks or months. That even though it took years before I really felt like I was getting better, I did get better.
• That there are people who really understand what I’m feeling.
• That I don’t have all the answers and don’t have to.
• That as we share we find that we are able to help one another.
• That it’s ok to go to the cemetery everyday or not at all. 
• That just because it helped me doesn’t mean it will help you.
• That it’s ok to be mad.
• That it is ok to laugh again.
• To be more tolerant of others.
• To be more sensitive of others.

After 15 years of leading the South Atlanta chapter,  of watching it grow and then five years ago to see it become chartered, I have made a difficult decision to step down. I know that Diana Green will do a super job as the new leader and that those in our chapter will join in helping her take it to a new level of helping other grieving parents as they come into our chapter.

I would like to thank all the parents who have ever come to our chapter and especially to those who stayed around through the years to help me. Thanks to Paul and Nancy, Geraldine, Carl and Lauren, Robin, Carol, Bill and Diana, Beckie, Dray and Judy, Robin, Lynda and Tom, John and Susan, David and Julie, Joy and Jerry, Bucky and Cheryl, Valarie, Mary Jane, Dick and Rosemary and to many I know I forgot to mention.
I’d like to give a big thank you to all Compassionate Friends everywhere for being there when we were at out lowest and darkest moment and showing us that there would be sunshine again in our lives. Thanks!!! 

Mother’s Day, Before and After

While sorting through boxes and bags, it is not unusual for me to find something unexpected. It happened just the other day. Sifting through a box, I came across a wrinkled, somewhat yellowed piece of lined school paper. I carefully unfolded it only to find a drawing of a stick-Mom and stick-daughter standing alongside a mammoth daisy. The mom and little girl were holding hands with huge lop-sided grins on their faces. In her little girl just-learning-to-print handwriting were the words, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy. I love you, Kristina.”

Even six years later, little “gifts” such as these can bring fresh tears. It is times like these that I am glad that I was an incredible pack rat, especially when it came to saving things that my children have made. I can picture my then-blond, petite little Nina (her nickname), with the wispy hair, bent over the kitchen table, crayon in hand, creating that hand-made card filled with love. Memories of breakfasts in bed, only to return to the kitchen after finishing the “gourmet” meal served with tender care, to find it in such disarray that it took hours to clean up! Even through the tears, these are the sweetest memories.

As I type this, I look at another gift from a Mother’s Day past; a little statue of a harried mom, surrounded by mop, broom and bucket, that says, ‘World’s Greatest Mom”, chosen for me at a neighborhood garage sale. I came across it accidentally shortly after Nina’s death, unearthing it from its hiding place. I wondered to myself, why had I packed it away. Did Nina know that I did and did she think that, by doing so, I hadn’t appreciated her gift? Did I ever thank her for it along with the other garage sale items that she proudly brought home to me, or did it show on my face that I really didn’t need anymore “junk” around the house? Sometimes resurrecting these treasures can bring unpleasant feelings of guilt as we wonder if our children knew how much their little gestures of love meant to us. When our child dies, it becomes easy to second-guess ourselves, trapped in our fixations and exaggerations of the negative things that may have occurred during our child’s life.

The first Mother’s Days after Nina died was so grief-numbing I could not imagine ever celebrating another Mother’s Day again. I am sure the dads have these same feelings on Father’s Day. My heart goes out to them, because I think we forget that they, just like us, grieve and hurt, too.

For those mothers and fathers who have lost their only child, I have been saddened by stories they told me about attending church on Mother’s Day Sunday. When the pastor asked the mothers in the church to please stand, they were undecided on whether they should stand or not. I hope that they will always remember, and the fathers as well, “Once a mother, always a mother; once a father, always a father.” We are forever their parents.

If we are fortunate to have surviving children, they are often forgotten as well. In the early days, we become obsessed with the one who is missing. My own children showed quiet patience with this. I often wonder if they thought ‘What about us? We’re still here!” Now with almost seven Mother’s Days behind me, I try to accentuate what I do have. This does not happen overnight. I found that in celebrating my surviving children, I could still honor Nina’s memory and find ways to include her as well. I have developed a ritual where I get up early on that morning and bring flowers out to the cemetery. I bring a flower and a note to some of the mothers that I know who have buried children there to tell them I am thinking of them and their child. There is something very healing when reaching out to others. I then sit by my daughter’s grave-site on the spring-green grass listening to the sweet call of a robin. I bring her a flower and write in her journal telling her how thankful I am to be her mother, how much I love and miss her. That is our private time together; the rest of the day is spent honoring my other children.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are holidays especially created for us. Try to get through them the best that you can, in whatever way feels right for you. Truly, only you know what that is. Whether it is alone those first few years or with people that you love and who understand, do something that you find comforting.   It is your day, for you were the giver of a precious life - you held a miracle in your arms. Even as powerfully destructive as death is, even that cannot take those memories away from you – they are your child’s gift to you.

With gentle thoughts and peace on your special day,
Cathy L. Seehuetter, TCF/St. Paul, MN


Since the astonishment of your leaving,
I’ve spent so many days and hours
dodging reality while looking back and hoping
to catch a sudden glimpse of your face
shining in a forgotten corner of memory’s maze.

I’ve wept early and late over photographs,
yellowing mementos packed away in boxes
and so many remembered points of happiness.
I’ve even sat and held your clothing close,
trying to recapture your living scent.

With a glimmer of wisdom born of distance,
I recognize the futility of the mystical expectation
to find you hidden in yesterday’s embers.
Emerging truth tells me you are running on ahead
already out there on the other side of tomorrow.

I see you afar, bemused at the spectacle
of my searches through all the wrong places,
the welling tears as if you didn’t exist anymore;
the unending game of celestial hide-and-seek
while you watched serenely from a place of peace.

The fabric of my grief must have seemed strange to you,  spun as it was from
 the compelling pull of yesterday.
Your transformation blessed you with a wondrous knowing 
that eternity can only be found in the sparkle of a moment 
and yesterday and tomorrow do not exist.

I now understand that remaining mired in grief
neither honors my life nor enhances your memory.
Honor of either estate comes 
only in the act of living fully,
calling forth from within the energy 
and joy of simply being,
willfully scattering seeds of love across every field.

Time now to look ahead, 
down the path you marked so clearly;
time to follow your crumbs of sizzling joy,
 and hear them erupting into the helpless laughter of innocence, 
feel them emerging in the warm smiles of strangers, 
see them gilding the wings of hawks and eagles along the way.

In remembrance of Lance Porter Hopkins, 
© Harold G. Hopkins, October 2001
Atlanta TCF

More Poems by Harold Hopkins

From TCF Atlanta Online Sharing

Thoughts After the Graduation Party

It was been a long time since I have written and I feel out of touch with all you wonderful people. I have been so busy that I haven't even read the line for the last two to three weeks and I miss you. I get so much strength from your strength, and so much outpouring of genuine caring from you whom I have never met, yet feel like I know you so well. 

The baby of my family, my son Dan, graduated from high school at the end of May and we had his graduation open house yesterday. It was a bittersweet day of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am so thankful and so blessed to have him here with me so that I was able to have the party for him. He was in the back seat, sitting right next to his sister Nina, when she was killed six years ago, and he could have been killed as well. She was his mentor and his best friend. His life was changed immeasurably by her absence these past years during the difficult years of junior high school and high school. He missed the counselor and adviser in his sister. 

Making the picture board for the party was a very emotional experience. I have had boxes of pictures untouched for so many years and this forced me to go through them. Looking for pictures of the two of them together; well, it just broke my heart. She was always at his side or looking over his shoulder making sure he was okay. I have to trust that she still is looking over his shoulder, from a distance. We missed her physical presence so much yesterday. I know she was here in spirit, but, of course, it is not the same. She loved big gatherings like this and she would have been so pleased to see her brother looking so happy and watching her nephews, that unfortunately she never got to meet, as they played together. Oh, sweet Nina, we missed you! 

My heart hurts for those of you experiencing the first summer without your child. Their absence is even more apparent during the summertime, especially for the school age children, because they would have been on summer vacation and home with you. You are all in my prayers every day and night. Thinking of you and wishing you as much peace as you can grab hold of, 

Cathy, Nina's mom forever

Letter to Clergy

Dear Reverend ________, 

I'm sending you a letter from the TCF Online Sharing letter that I get in my e-mail. It really gets to the point of what a grieving parent can expect. Unless a person has lost a child, people have no idea what grieving parents really go through. Of course grief is different for everyone, and there IS NO "Right or Wrong" way to grieve. I haven't lost a child, but to me it feels as though I have. A grand parent goes through it two-fold, because you grieve for your child who lost their child, and you grieve for the precious grandchild whom you lost also.  I don't know if you've ever lost a child or grandchild, I sure pray that you haven't and never have to go through that. 

Until I got on this sharing line, I always assumed that preachers, priest, rabbi's and the other men of God would know all about these things, since you all do funerals, help the families and in your case, deal with the insurance's of these people who have lost a child. But on this sharing line, I've discovered that a lot of them know nothing about it because they have never experienced it themselves.  However, with this sharing group we learn many things and the best thing we learn is that what we, as grieving parents/grandparents feel is very normal and that NONE of us need walk alone. 
Some of us walk with our Savior, some of us blame Him. Some of us don't know what, where or who to turn to, so we close ourselves off from the living and suffer in silence.  We wear many faces in public, even when deep inside we're a total wreck and we sometimes can not see any light at the end of the darkness we have been thrust into. 

Now Reverend, I would never try to tell you that you know nothing about how we feel, because I could not possibly know what you have been through yourself. All I am saying is that, "If more men of God, would read some of these letters, they too would learn a great deal about how to help grieving parents."  So, I'm sending this to you in hopes that you will read it and find out what "We at TCF Atlanta" are all about, and will know more about what you can tell those parents you meet that ask you where to go or who to talk to, that really need some support from those of us who have been there and know what they will be going through. 

As you know, I am only three years down this road of grief, and I have so much further to go before my end of time. But "I know that I do not have to walk this road alone." 

I'm also sending a copy of this letter to TCF Atlanta, so they can post it in their next sharing letter. Maybe some of the parents/grandparents will share TCF with their pastors or what ever religion they happen to be.... or not to be. 

Will you please say a prayer for Kami and me, as Vickie's birthday and death day are coming in the next two weeks and we could sure use prayers at this time. 

Thank you, and may God continue blessing us all. 
Your Friend 
Wanda Bryant, Tarrytown, GA
In Memory of My Granddaughter
Victoria King 
04/17/1998 ~ 04/11/1999 

(Article Sent to Pastor)

Your child has died. As a newly bereaved parent you have experienced the most devastating life-changing event. Your whole world has been shattered and you are in a new world now. You will be relearning how to survive when at times you won't even want to survive. The only hope I can give you is that we in The Compassionate Friends have survived and we are here to help you. It won't be easy but keep in mind, if you hadn't love so much you wouldn't hurt so much now. 

"How long will it last?" is probably the first question we hear from ones like you new to grief. It is a very important question to us at the beginning. Professionals have managed to place timetables based on their studies and you will hear "two years" quoted, but those of us who have been the road a number of years will tell you that you will not "get over" the death of your children in two years. You probably never will "get over" his or her death, but you will learn to live with the fact of it and rejoin life and lead a normal life again; it will just be different from before. 

There is no timetable on grief. Some work through the process sooner than others. We operate on our individual timetable; we cannot judge our progress or lack of it by anyone else. 

Grief is a process, a moving through. Sometimes we go forward, but sometimes backward, and sometimes we get "stuck" for a while, but keep in mind it is a process and eventually you will move through it. Within this process there are "stages". We're told those stages are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. They don't necessarily come in that order. 

Most of us do experience shock and denial or disbelief first. We can't believe it has happened! There must be a mistake! This happens to other people...not us! That shock is so tremendous that it affects us physically as well as psychologically. It is marked by a lowering of blood pressure, coldness of the skin, rapid heartbeat and an acute sense of terror. That shock insulates us and allows us to go through our duties and do things at this time that we never could have done otherwise. I praise that shock because it keeps us from dying too. That shock allows some of us to carry on with grace and skill during the days surrounding the death and the funeral. That same shock knocks some of us into merciful oblivion and we don't remember a thing during that time. We are all individuals and we react differently during grief, but there are common reactions we all share. This is why you will find very quickly that the only one who really understands what you are going through is another bereaved parent. 

Anger, another stage, may come at any time. It is a very natural, normal reaction; don't be afraid or ashamed of it. Know it is okay, you won't always feel this way, there is nothing wrong with you for feeling this way - most of us feel some anger toward something, someone, even at God, even the child in some instances. You have been hurt beyond your wildest imaginings. I have described my own anger as rage. Society frowns on anger so don't expect always to be treated kindly when you display it, but remember you have a right to be angry. Anger is often unfocused and we sometimes take it out on innocent people. Medical personnel are often the first to receive this anger and funeral directors are next in line. Later, that anger can attack anyone who crosses our paths. It is good to recognize anger and try to focus it, learn to use it as a tool. Take up social issues, find healthy outlets for it. It is important to do something physical about anger. Hard work and sports are ways, and we've heard many stories of chopping wood, breaking dishes bought at garage sales and breaking them when we need an outlet. Scream in the shower, in your speed boat or closed up in your car, but get it out. Anger turned inwards becomes depression. 

With the death of our child everything we ever believed in is shattered. In my own case I had to struggle for a long time to even figure out what I did believed in; I was so confused. Our egos, our beliefs in ourselves, were badly shaken because, as parents, we truly believed we could protect our child from anything. We were careful, good parents, and now our child is dead. WE HAVE FAILED TO KEEP OUR CHILD ALIVE and our ego tells us we are a failure! This devastates us; we can no longer believe in ourselves; we feel that obviously we are incapable of doing anything right We have no self-confidence, no longer any self-esteem: These are all natural, normal responses to the horror of your child's death. Given time and care these feelings will pass. We will achieve a balance in our personal life again 
Remind yourself to be patient, to be kind to yourself. You are not a failure, you did the very best you could, and you would surely have given your own life to save your child's. You did not fail; life just isn't always fair. These feelings, and others as bizarre, may cause you to think you are going crazy. Ask any bereaved parent of some years and they will all tell you they thought the same thing at some time. You are a changed person now, you will never again be the same as you were before your child died. Someday you will accept that fact: Out of the ashes of grief you can grow, if and when you choose to do so. Look around you to the other bereaved parents; you will find role models and hope in them. There will be many tears, allow them, they are healing and necessary to survival and recovery. 

Many of us suffer from the lack of ability to concentrate. It is a common complaint. We can't think, we can't remember from one minute till the next and we have no idea what we've read when we finish a page. Be patient…given time and some effort you will return to normal. 

Hang on to any shred of your sense of humor that you can, even a small chuckle now and then can break your tension and give some relief. It may be a while in coming but one day you will laugh again. I know you can't believe it now but you will. 

You will have a strong need to talk. You will find that you can talk more than one person can listen, so seek out several good friends who will let you talk to them. You will find some at the Compassionate Friends meetings. You will need to tell your child's story over and over again. You will need to talk about the whole life and death and what you are going through now. Talking is therapeutic. Talk and talk, and talk, until your story is told. 

At night you may go over the events again and again and again, night after night. This is called obsessional review. Sleep disturbances are not unusual. We either can't sleep or sleep too much. 

We suffer guilt real and imagined. We recall punishments and in turn punish ourselves with them when at the time the punishment was probably fair. We go through the "if onlys." If only we had or hadn't.... Beware of isolation. We need to be with people, not alone. When we isolate ourselves with no one to talk to about our feelings, we become depressed: and isolation plus depression equals suicidal feelings and that spells real trouble. 

We are fatigued, lack motivation, we suffer numerous physical complaints, headaches, stomach disorders, we are either nervous or feel dead inside... many and sundry are our complaints, most of which are normal and to be expected in this time of enormous stress and always we ask ourselves and others, ""Why?" "Why me?" "Why my child? Simply because life isn't always fair, my friend.... 

Your world is topsy-turvy now, nothing makes sense, nothing balance is upset, the numbers are all wrong, there is one empty chair at the table now, so you choke on your food and think of the empty chair. Grocery shopping is a nightmare because your child's favorite food greets you from the shelves of every aisle; you don't dare think of holidays because you know you'll never survive them without your child. Your child's birthday and the memory of all the joy of that day looms like a mountain far too high to climb. ...some days all you want is for the pain to stop. Some days you just can't get out of bed. Some days you work hard and fast like something has possessed you. Every day you cry. You find you are very lonely even in the midst of a crowded shopping mall. You want to scream at the busy, happy people, "Don't you know my child is dead?' How can they go on as if nothing has happened?" No matter how many people you are with, you are lonely. 

Compassionate Friends understand: each one of us has had a least one child die. We know what you are going through. We don't pretend to have all the answers, but we want to share this time of your life with you. We want you to know you are not alone. 

Fay Harden TCF Tuscaloosa, AL 


A Mother's Day Wish 
From Heaven
By Jody Seilheimer 

Dear Mr. Hallmark, 

I am writing to you from heaven,
 and though it must appear
A rather strange idea, I see everything from here.
I just popped in to visit, your stores to find a card.
A card of love for my mother, 
as this day for her is hard. 

There must be some mistake I thought, 
every card you could imagine
Except I could not find a card, 
from a child who lives in heaven.
She is still a mother too, no matter where I reside
I had to leave, she understands,
 but oh the tears she’s cried. 

I thought that if I wrote you,
 that you would come to know
That though I live in heaven now, 
I still love my mother so.
She talks with me, and dreams with me;
 we still share laughter too,
Memories our way of speaking now,
 would you see what you could do? 

My mother carries me in her heart,
 her tears she hides from sight.
She writes poems to honor me,
 sometimes far into the night
She plants flowers in my garden,
 there my living memory dwells
She writes to other grieving parents, 
trying to ease their pain as well. 

So you see Mr. Hallmark,
though I no longer live on earth
I must find a way, to remind her of her wondrous worth
She needs to be honored, and remembered too
Just as the children of earth will do. 

Thank you Mr. Hallmark, I know you’ll do your best
I have done all I can do; to you I’ll leave the rest.
Find a way to tell her, how much she means to me
Until I can do it for myself, 
when she joins me in eternity.

 "Heartfelt Words by Jody"

This is the first time I have written anything since the loss my beautiful son, Josh on January 21,2002. I read what all of you write everyday. It a source of great comfort for me to know that I am not alone in the thoughts I have and in the way I feel. Every agonizing day that goes by the already unbearable pain gets worse and worse. Josh left this world in my arms in the driveway of our home. He had some friends over riding bikes that day and he had an accident on his bike. I replay this over and over in my head. I don't understand why or even how it happened. I never will. I  would like to share with you a poem I wrote to my angel Josh. 

With love and thanks, Wendy Phillips, Winder, GA

Twelve weeks 

Twelve weeks since I've held you 
And seen your sweet grin 
Twelve weeks since we've talked 
Oh, how long it has been! 
Twelve weeks since I've touched you 
Or seen your beautiful face 
Twelve weeks since we've laughed 
Or been to your favorite place. 
Twelve weeks since I've smelled you 
Or picked you up from school 
Twelve weeks since I've heard you 
How could life be so cruel! 
Twelve weeks since I've watched you 
Riding your bike 
Twelve weeks since I've tucked you in 
And kissed you goodnight. 
Twelve weeks since you left 
On that horrible day 
Twelve weeks since I begged God not to take you away. 
Twelve weeks since my heart 
Was ripped from my chest 
Twelve weeks since I had to lay 
You, my beautiful son, to rest. 
I know you're alive 
In Heaven above 
Surrounded by angels 
And Gods precious love. 
Josh, when I get there 
We will never part
 Until that day comes 
I'll forever keep you in my broken heart! 

In Loving Memory of Joshua Stephen Phillips 
May 16, 1989-January 21, 2002


What is Normal Now?

I was jokingly asked recently what normal meant by a friend and I thought about it and jotted these things down.  It is amazing what can become "normal" to us.  I'm sure you could all change the names and a few circumstances and your normal is very close to mine.

Normal for me is trying to decide what to take to the cemetery for Christmas, birthday, Valentine's day, and Easter. 

Normal is discussing with a friend in the Netherlands how different funeral customs are there than here.  Discussing how much both our sons loved trains and how the train sets now collect dust. 

Normal is talking to a fellow musician at Sandhillls symphony practice and the conversation going toward how you felt after your child died.

Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.

Normal is feeling like you know how to act and are more comfortable with a funeral than a wedding or a birthday party. Yet, feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers, see that casket, and all the crying people.

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming cause you just don't like to sit through church anymore. And yet feeling like you have more faith and belief in God than you ever have had before. 

Normal is going to bed feeling like your kids who are alive got cheated out of happy cheerful parents and instead they are stuck with sober, cautious people.

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your families' life.

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's and why didn't I's go through your head constantly.

Normal is having the TV on the minute I walk into the house to have noise because the silence is deafening.

Normal is staring at every blonde little boy who looks about Kindergarten age. And then thinking of the age Isaiah would be now and not being able to imagine it.  Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it because it will never happen. 

Normal is every happy  event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind because of the hole in my heart.

Normal is seeing Ian in his long black coat and hat at the cemetery visiting his brother’s grave and thinking, how could this be normal?  He shouldn't have to be going through this.

Normal is seeing other kids that are Ian and Isaac's age teasing and playing with their brothers and sisters that are Isaiah's age and feeling so envious of them.

Normal is seeing Isaiah's classmates from church and Sunday school and wondering why he can't be with them.  Why him?

Normal is playing my flute for a performance and feeling really great about doing well, followed by an immediate down after thinking how Isaiah would have said, "That was beautiful Momma (whether it really was or not).

Normal is telling the story of Isaiah's death as if it were an everyday common place activity and then gasping in horror at how awful it sounds.  And yet realizing it has become part of our normal.

Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child's memory and their birthday and survive those days.  And trying to find the balloon or flag that fits the occasion.  Happy Birthday? Not really.

Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of a penguin.  Thinking how Isaiah would love it, but how he is not here to enjoy it. 

Normal is getting up early to exercise (when I really hate exercise) because I know my mental health depends on it.

Normal is disliking jokes about death, funerals.  Bodies being referred to as cadavers when you know they were once someone's loved one. 

Normal is being impatient with everything but someone stricken with grief over the loss of their child.

Normal is feeling a common bond with friends in England, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and all over the USA, but yet never having met any of them face to face.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother and meeting for coffee and talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.  And worrying together over our living children.

Normal is not being able to rest until you get the phone call that your 15 year old with a school permit has arrived at school just fine.  And having the courage to let your 17 year old not call after driving to school because he is insulted that you need to check on him.

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills,  cleaned house or did laundry or if there is any food in the house.

Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have 2 or 3 children because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that one of them is in heaven.  And yet when you say only 2 to avoid that problem you feel horrible as if you have betrayed that child.

Normal is feeling terrible hurt when you see your child's power point presentation at parent/teacher's conference and that child has listed only one brother.  Then you realize the way the information is set up there really is no logical place to list the brother who has died and went to heaven.  And how awkward that must of been for him to think about the problem.

Normal is avoiding McDonald's and Burger King playgrounds because of small happy children that break your heart when you see them.

And last of all normal is hiding all the things that have become normal for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".

~shared by Vicki Windham, North Platte NE Chapter 

Vicki’s son, Isaiah, died July 2, 1999. They were on a camping trip for the 4th of July weekend.  Isaiah was playing with his older brothers on a sandy river bank.  He wasn't tunneling or anything just sitting halfway up the bank, when the bank behind him caved in and knocked him down and buried him under three feet of sand. Isaiah suffocated.  He was 6 ½ years old.

In Memory of Michael Pattillo
May 14, 1973 – March 11, 1998

My Dearest Son,

This is the fifth birthday without you.  I think back to all the birthdays when you were alive.  You loved your birthday so and your mother and I always enjoyed the celebration of your birth.  They were wonderful days and years and our minds take us back to those days.  Now on May 14  we are always sad that we can no longer celebrate with you.

This would be birthday number 29 and all we remember is how you were.  We don’t have the fortune of knowing how you would have changed in the past five birthdays.  We know the changes would have been for the good because as you matured you were such a fine son, man and brother.

We think of all the things that could have been and we miss you with all our hearts.  You were our first born and so special. 

Love Mom and Daddy

Janice and Wayne Pattillo, Lawrenceville TCF

In reality we never lose the people we love, they become immortal through us.  They continue to live in our hearts and minds.  They participate in our every act, idea, and decision.  No one will ever replace them  in spite of the pain.  We are richer for all the years invested in them.  Because of them, we have so much more to bring to our present relationship and all those to come.     ~Leo Buscaglia, author of “Survivor”

In Memory of Michael Pattillo


With each passing year my grief is absorbed deeper inside of me.  It's not something strangers can readily see anymore.  It's not an excuse for friends to avoid the topic.  It doesn't bring sympathy.  It's in me, but it's part of me, unrecognizable.  If I didn't tell you, you would never know.  My body has adjusted to the extra weight, and my mind has learned to acknowledge it but not to give in to it.

Seven years. Ten years. Thirty years. We know we're functioning and smiling and making new memories.  We may feel guilty when we catch ourselves lingering a little less in front of our lost loved one's photograph.  We make commitments to renew our attention to the memory.  We remember our siblings while we talk to people over lunch, but we pretend like we're listening.  The feelings go through us like a rush , but it doesn't happen as often as it used to happen.  And no one knows.  Has anyone made sense of it yet?

I never knew my mind could be dominated by a single thought every day for years and still not get in the way of the progress of my life.  The hands on the clock continue to turn, and the sun rises every morning.  I'm thinking, "I wish Chris were here," and I'm thinking it constantly.  Even though the grief is not on the surface, the missing is as strong as it ever was.  We can't explain it, but we want to share it.  We might not break down, but the strength of the grief never fades.  We just keep on living with it and do the best we are able to do.  I miss my brother.

Scott Mastley, Atlanta TCF - 
In memory of my brother, Chris Mastley  -September 2, 1967 – December 5, 1994
Surviving a Sibling

Reflections of a Mother's Day Denied 
by Michelle Parrish, Columbia TCF Chapter, Baltimore, MD

On this, my first Mother's Day, I asked myself, Do I have the right to celebrate Mother's Day? Have I truly been a mother this past year? The answer is yes. 

Each day I have cared for my child as every mother does, except differently. In every way possible I have mothered him. 

I have mothered him with every tear shed; through the agony of longing to hold him. I have rocked him in my heart if not in my arms. I have kissed his little cheeks in my mind if not with my lips.  Smelled his sweetness with my hopes if not my nose.  Felt his skin with my memory, if not my hands.  Tickled him with my wishes, if not with my fingers. 

Am I a mother? I truly am. My physical mothering has been limited to lovingly tending his grave. But I am a mother all the same.


The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.

Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you.

Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.   When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.              -- Helen Keller


What is immutable is love and its sheer power.  Not even death can diminish its possibilities.  ~by Molly Fumia

When we feel we have nothing left to give and we are sure that the "song has ended"--
When our day seems over and the shadows fall and the darkness of night has descended.

Where can we go to find the strength to valiantly keep on trying,
Where can we find the hand that will dry the tears that the heart is crying—



Life is short and we have not much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark way with us 
Be swift to love. Make haste to be kind.    ~Henri- Frederic Amiel-1885

Life is full of treasures found
just beyond the "bend in the road".
Continue your journey my friend
and seek out your treasures.

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