Newsletter of The Compassionate Friends, Inc.

Atlanta Area Chapters

September - October 2000

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

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



Lessons in Life

Adapted by Joanne Cacciatore for bereaved parents

I've learned people don't care how much you know 
until they know that you care. 

I've learned to avoid judging others so I think what I say, 
not say what I think. 

I've learned that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be. 

I've learned that a child who has lived just moments
can be your greatest teacher. 

I've learned that you can keep going long after you think you can't. 

I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel. 

I've learned that heroes are people who do what needs to be done 
regardless of their personal circumstances. 

I've learned that learning to forgive takes a lot of practice. 

I've learned that friends can become strangers, 
and strangers can become friends. 

I've learned that ignorance isn't an excuse for the lack of compassion. 

I've learned that ignorance begets ignorance. 

I've learned that some people will never, ever get it.' 

I've learned some people love you dearly, but just don't know how to show it. 

I've learned that true love continues to grow, even over the longest distance. 

I've learned that the community of sorrow is the strongest of all. 

I've learned that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. 
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself. 

I've learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I've learned that your life can be changed in a matter of minutes. 

I've learned that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains. 

I've learned to trust myself.

I've learned that the people you care most about in life
are taken from you too soon. 

I've learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. 
It may be the last time you see them.

I've learned that love isn't measured by the amount of time you have with someone. 

I've learned that some sorrow is so deep that it has no words. But so is love. 

What has your child taught you?

TCF Unconditional Caring 
by Kitty Reeve
TCF, Marin & San Francisco, CA 
My Son Philip died in August 1994, when he was 26 years-old. He died by suicide, influenced by a genetic illness, bipolar mood disorder (manic depression). I well remember how I flinched inwardly when people began referring to Philip’s having "committed suicide." It seemed to diminish my wonderful son, to make him into what he never was: a kind of criminal. I wanted people to remember the beauty of his soul, yet what they focused on was the shocking way in which he died. 

So it has been personally important to me to learn that TCF has made a change in the language it uses related to suicide. TCF now uses the terms "died of suicide" or "died by suicide" in all publications and presentations. The new, emotionally neutral language helps to lift the burden of stigma from all of us whose children or siblings died by suicide. It gives us strength and helps us heal. 

If your child or sibling has died in one of society’s less "acceptable" ways-by suicide, murder, alcoholism, from a drug overdose, AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases or in prison-do know that TCF does not accept society’s stigmas. There is no room for blame or condemnation when all our hearts are aching for the children we no longer have. We honor your child and your grief, no matter the cause of death.

Similarly, if you are a parent or sibling who may feel "other" in our oft-judgmental society, please know that you will not be "other" in TCF. We welcome you with understanding and compassion, whatever your age, your race, your ethnicity, whether you are rich or poor, married or single, gay or straight, whatever your religion or lack of religion. We welcome you. And if you have endured the most terrible tragedy, if you have had more than one child or sibling die or have lost all your children or siblings, you are welcome. Many people are terrified that we are "contagious" because the worst nightmare has become a reality in our lives. They don’t want to believe what we know: that neither we, nor they, can keep our children safe and alive. So they avoid us. And they especially may avoid you who have had more than one child or sibling or all your children die, because the horror of what has happened in your lives terrifies them. We welcome you, and we honor your courage and want to be helpful to you in your healing. We offer our compassion and understanding to all parents and siblings and other family members who are on this very difficult journey into healing. May the unconditional acceptance one finds in TCF someday be mirrored in a wiser and more tolerant society.

by Cathy Seehuetter ~ TCF, St. Paul, MN

Shortly after Nina died, I re-member well-meaning friends talking to me about hope. My reply was usually, "What was there to have hope about?" The only thing I prayed and hoped for was that my daughter would come back again, that the accident that took her life had never happened. Since that wasn’t possible, what was the point of having hope?

Our lives have been turned upside down and we feel so out of control. We feel like we have failed – that the one thing we as good parents had tried to do was to keep our children out of harm’s way. We made sure that we locked away poisons, that they got their immunizations on time, that they buckled their seat belts; when older we taught them about the dangers of drugs and unprotected sex—all the things that we hoped would ensure their safety and well-being. And still they died. How could that be?

With the knowledge of our total loss of control, we look for some-thing to cling to that will help pull us out of the valley. I desperately sought out things that I could be hopeful for; I needed something that let me know that my daughter’s life went on…that at 15 ½ years old she didn’t just stop "being". 

Many of you have heard my story of what I call the "miracle pictures". I told my story and brought the pictures with me to share at a Com-passionate Friend’s meeting about a year ago. But for those who haven’t heard it, I would like to share that story, be cause if anything brings with it a message of hope that our children live on, I think it is this story. We were vacationing in Florida when the unthinkable occurred. 

We were driving back from a day at Daytona Beach en route to my celebratory birthday dinner. Just a mile from our destination a drunk driver fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the median, and hit the side of the car where my beloved Nina was sitting. She was killed instantly. As we know, all too well in each of our own circumstances, the next few weeks were a blur. But the one thing that I remember, and was obsessed with, were the pictures that had been taken that day before the horrific accident that took my daughter’s life. Shortly before we left the beach that day, only hours before the accident, Nina had handed the camera to her brother, Dan, and asked him to take a picture of the two of us together. It was the last picture taken that day. In the days following her death, I repeatedly cried out, "I need that picture" to anyone who would listen. They could only helplessly turn away knowing I was asking the impossible. 

In our conversations with the highway Patrolman who was in charge of the accident, we repeatedly asked if the pictures were found yet. The officer said that the trunk of the car where I had put the camera that day had been demolished and that it would take "nothing short of a miracle" to have survived the impact. For brevity’s sake, I won’t go into all the details, but I will tell you that three weeks after the accident, Corporal Gordon Jennings of the Florida Highway Patrol sent me a package. He had listened to this mother’s hopeful plea that someone look for the camera, though he knew in his heart he’d never find it. Even so, he walked that stretch of freeway and came upon a drainage ditch, looked down and saw the flattened cardboard disposable camera covered in water with a tire track mark over it! It had been im-mersed in water for weeks and run over by a lawn tractor! He took the compressed camera to Walgreen's and asked them if they could try to salvage any of the pictures. Remarkably, 7 of the 24 pictures that had been taken had survived.

And one of those pictures was the last one of mother and daughter Together, her head on my shoulder, arm around me, smiling her dazzling smile. The watermarks seemed to split as they stretched toward the picture of the two of us on the beach—it was as if the waters had parted to allow the picture of the two of us to re-main intact!

I had read in a past newsletter that the people who put together the Chicken Soup for the Soul books were looking for stories from bereaved parents. I felt this was such a hopeful story that I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. Even though I didn’t expect it to be published, I felt I had nothing to lose. Amazingly, the story about the day my beloved Nina died and the "miracle pictures" was accepted and will be in the Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul, to be released in book-stores in late March of 2000.

I believe those pictures were a gift from Nina so that I could share this story of hope with all of you, to let you know that our lost loved ones are still very much with us. They don’t always show themselves in such obvious ways, but they are with us.

The Velveteen Rabbit

The subtitle for this book is "How Toys Become Real." And for years I thought that was what this book was all about - just a nice story about a stuffed bunny that was magically transformed into a real rabbit. The wisdom of children became apparent to me when my ten-year-old daughter suggested I read this as one of my inspirational books. She recognized that I am finally at the place where I can understand. My children have always been so much older than I.

There was once a mom, and in the beginning she was really splendid. She read all the books on parenting. She made her own baby food - none of that nasty stuff out of a jar for her babies; she even washed diapers - none of those paper diapers would ever touch her babies' bottoms. She listened to all the other moms talk about how real they were; after all, they made sure their children were dressed in designer clothes and that they went to the finest nursery school. She had heard of other moms who didn't strive for perfection in themselves and in their children - moms who were really REAL, and she wondered what that meant.

A good friend, whose children wore hand-me-downs and received their schooling at home, was very experienced in nursery magic, and she was able to explain to this mom what it meant to be REAL. She said, "REAL isn't how many material possessions you can give to your children. It's a thing that happens to you when a child loves you---and not just for the things you can give to him, but really loves you. Then you become REAL. It doesn't happen all at once… Generally by the time you are REAL, you hair is a mess and graying, you have wrinkles around your eyes, and you get stiff knees and look very shabby, but these things don't matter at all, because once you are REAL, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.

The mom was fascinated and afraid. She asked her good friend if it hurt, and she replied, "sometimes," for she was always truthful. "When you are REAL, you don't mind being hurt."

The mom immediately knew that her good friend was REAL, and she longed for this magic to happen to her. Yet thinking of getting gray hair and wrinkles made her feel sad. She wished she could become REAL without these uncomfortable things happening to her. The days of childhood passed by very quickly. The mom spent countless hours with her children taking them for walks in the park, building snowmen in the backyard in the winter and helping them learn to swim in the summer. The mom was so happy that she didn't even notice that her hair was becoming gray and that there were now wrinkles around her eyes from smiling so much. But the other moms noticed and they also noticed the beautiful glow around this mom's face that was always present but became brighter whenever her children were near. She felt so loved, and she knew she was becoming REAL.

And then one day, the mom's little boy was very ill. He could no longer run or ride his bike, and within a short time he couldn't even walk. He could barely speak and it became increasingly hard for him to swallow his food. The mom spent many hours feeding and bathing the little boy, and playing games with him and reading to him. She missed the walks in the park and all the time they used to spend playing outdoors. The little boy's sisters missed these times, too, and they were frightened. The doctors told the mom that her little boy had a brain tumor and that they could not make him well. The mom wondered what awful thing she must have done to cause something so terrible to happen to one of her children. But deep inside she knew that is was part of becoming REAL, and she remembered her good friend's words.

It was a bright, sunny summer morning when God took the little boy home to make him well. The mom wanted so much to go with him, and she hoped that God would take her home, too. She and the little boy had talked often of how beautiful heaven was, with all the flowers, and all the friends and even the Pizza Huts. But it wasn't time for the mom to go home yet, and she felt discarded and very lonely. She went to the park where she and the little boy had spent long hours playing and to the lake where she had helped him learn to swim, hoping maybe to find him. She remembered those beautiful days of his childhood when they were so happy and she became very sad. Of what use was it to be loved and lose one's beauty and become REAL if all ended like this?

And then a strange thing happened. All the tears that the mom had cried and all the pain she felt in her heart caused a beautiful flower to grow from deep within her, and the mom knew that this flower was love - a love that would enable her to share with and to understand others who were hurt and suffering - a love that she could now give to her family. The pain was no longer unbearable, and the loneliness faded away. The mom didn't mind so much that it hurt, for she was REAL, and she understood.

Joshua is the little boy who made me REAL. He was strong and courageous and wise. Throughout his illness, he gave that strength and courage to me, and he gives me wisdom when God knows I'm ready. Thank you, God, for Joshua, and thank you, Joshua, for making me REAL. I love you.

~Taken from Fernside Newsletter, Original story by Margery Williams; retold by Marsha Catilla

"Those of us who have worked through our grief - and found there is a future - 
are the ones who must meet others in the valley of darkness and bring them to the rim of light." 

-Rev. Simon Stephens, TCF Founder 

Love goes on even when you stop breathing and 
you pick up where you left off when you reach Heaven 


Yesterday, the day you left is gone
Only my tears ,and pain go on.
You slipped away without a sigh
And now memories are all I have to get me by.
If I could borrow one day from the past
Which one would it be, could I make it last?
Would it be on the day you were born?
So I could hold you, mend up my heart so torn.
Or would I sit and watch as you run, laugh and play?
We were so happy then, so carefree and gay.
Perhaps when you started school, 
with a new world to explore
And all the news you'd share, 
when you came running to the door.
Onward up you grew, onward to your teens
And you began to voice all your hopes and dreams.
Until one day you stood with diploma in hand
And I was so proud, when they ask your parents to stand.
And before I knew it my little baby had grown into a man
And all the while you were turning loose my hand.
But oh what joy to find, when a son has become a friend
And we sit and talk of life for hours on end.
But a strange new virus came stealing you from me
And my eyes are dimmed through tears I just can't see.
So if I had just one day to spend with you again
It would not be one from the past, but one we'd just begin.
So rest for now my son and there will soon come the day
When we can laugh, love, dream, and run, 
and goodbye we'll never say.

MARCH 24, 1970_ OCTOBER 19,1999

I love you baby Mom
Sheila Simmons, Dallas, GA

 A Prayer For Angels

I prayed for Angels to guard you night and day.
I prayed they would hover and keep harm away.
If you hear the swish of wings or feel a gentle touch.
I know God heard my prayer today and loves you very much.

In Memory of My Daughter Tiffani Lea-Nicole

Stacie Lawson, Lawrenceville, GA

I Wish

I wish we could have finished the dollhouse.

I wish I had bought you a new sandwich instead of just taking off the onions.

I wish I bought you that new car for your graduation.

I wish I could have taken your place when you found out you were sick.

I wish I kept my promise that everything would be all right.

I wish I had said something to the Doctor to make him try harder.

I wish we could have put up the Christmas tree together.

I wish I had taken you and your Mama to a fancy restaurant once more.

I wish I had brought you home from the hospital before you left us.

I wish I wasn’t responsible for using the rest of my lifetime for the both of us.

I wish I hadn’t said good-bye.

I wish you were still here with us.

In Memory of My Daughter Natalie

Terry Sparks, Lawrenceville, GA

Old Grief

It is a milder storm and not so dark.

It lets you see the shore where life goes on.

Old grief finds words of peace, and brings us gifts of memories and joys from treasured living.

But nothing takes away the emptiness

Of all those years, of all those haunted nights, of all those lost embraces.

It is a milder storm, but just as grave.

Old grief does hover over soul and mind: A heartbreak song of timeless disappointment.


One Less

It doesn't take me as long to wash clothes anymore, or to cook or clean up afterwards….

There's not as many shoes to pick up out of the living room floor, 
there's not as many socks to be matted, or beds to make…

There's an extra seat at the dining room table, there's an extra seat in the car….

There's one less report card to sign, and one less PTA to attend….

There are a few less presents to buy this Christmas…

There is one picture frame that will never be completed with school photographs….

There's on less Six Flags season pass to buy this summer…

There is one less meal to order when we eat out…

There's one less hand to hold one less cheek to kiss…

There's one less voice to sing her song, one less laugh to make you happy…

There's one less goodnight to be said, and one less I love you to be heard and one less hug to be had….

There's one less star in the sky for me to see, one less beam of sunshine to warm my path,
and one less gentle breeze for me to feel….

There's one less beautiful rose bud that did not make it through the winter, 
and one less refreshing drop of rain to replenish my soul today…

And there is one, only one perfect snowflake not like any other that did not fall from heaven above….My precious Heavenly Father is holding her for me until I can gather her in my arms.

Dedicated in loving memory to our sweet and precious daughter 

Hillary Tally 8/6/87 - 9/5/99
Oh how we miss you and love you

Teresa Tally, Conyers, GA

Daniel's Twilight

The sun is setting,
The horizon black;
The sky still luminous,
Do you feel the lack?

No, you are the sun,
With an 'O' and a 'U',
I with my eye,
Can no longer see you.
I've been left behind in the dark,
But, what is your view?

You have moved on,
Your light shining elsewhere;
Life, now so different for me,
With tears of despair;

Life strangely continues,
Though you're not here.
Life had great meaning,
Now lessened from fear.

You couldn't stay here, 
You've wounded my heart;
You made the choice, 
You thought was smart;

Your pain, too intense,
You needed to part.

Your light shines on,
Though I know not where;
Lives bloomed because of you,
Loving memories always there; 
Hearts bonded forever,
Time together we share.

Like the setting sun,
You still shine on;
Cycles ever changing,
You had to move on;
Over the horizon,
There, you're the dawn.

Someday I'll turn east,

Whatever the reason;
I'll see you as dawn,
When it's the right season. 

Always Remember, Your Mom Loves You Best! ~Sally Brocato

"The most wonderful things in life are neither seen nor touched, 
but are only felt with the heart." Helen Keller

TCF Atlanta Online Sharing

In Response to a message "One Balloon."

I too, have wondered who finds the balloons we send to our children. We released balloons last year for Melanie's first birthday in Heaven. But this year, being her 21st birthday we, Melanie's best friend Lisa and I, wanted to do something special to honor her. So, like last year we sent up balloons but I borrowed an idea from another parent. Each balloon carried inside Forget-Me-Not flower seeds. I like to think that when the balloons burst that the seeds dropped to earth and Forget-Me-Not flowers will soon grow in memory of Melanie.

Then I remembered something that my oldest daughter had done when she was in the 2nd grade. Her class had a balloon send off with notes attached. The notes asked the person, who found the balloon, to please send it back to the student. The school wanted to see how far the balloons would travel and how many they would get back. I don't know how many were found but about a year and a half later Trinity's was returned. It had been found by a farmer plowing his field.

So we attached notes, with a return address label, to each of the balloons. I was eager to find out if anyone 
would find one of our balloons. 

About a week later, I received in the mail, one of the balloons. It had been found the next day in a neighboring state. A bank president found it in his parking space. At first he said he thought it was just trash but discovered it was my balloon. He took the time out to mail, even the balloon, back to me with a very nice letter. He wrote that he took the note into the bank and shared the message with his co-workers. He said after reading the note that there wasn't a dry eye left in the house. That everyone had been moved by the message and what it stood for. He had just recently lost his father and was dealing with his own pain and grief. He said he had a young daughter and understood some of what I was feeling. So I hope in some small way that finding Melanie's message might have brought him some- small- comfort. And I gained some comfort knowing that my balloons were not sent up in vain. That they had reached out to someone else in pain.

Kathy Thompson (Melanie's Mama) 
May 11, 1979 - Feb.15, 1999

Have You Ever Been Angry At God?

A nun in a Catholic hospital, standing beside me as my little 2 yr 9 mo old daughter lay gasping for breath from the ravages of leukemia, stated in a questioning voice, "But why are you crying? She is ALREADY AN ANGEL!"

That hurt. But nuns don't lose their children, it is all theoretical to them.

After my son's suicide, I told my minister I didn't know if I could believe in God again, and he said, "That's all right, we can hold down the fort for you."

He understood how hard it is.

Norma Grove, Tucson, AZ

Feelings on Losing Our Children's Pets

When my son David died last year at 19, he left us a kitten, about 6 months old. The kitten, whose name is Buster, had been a birthday gift to David 3 months before from his girlfriend. We had not been pleased about this. We already had a cat, age 19, and thought it would be too traumatic for her to have a kitten around. So for three months we had been strongly suggesting that the kitten go live with Beth until David was out on his own. But somehow it never happened.

Then David died. Now I can't imagine life without Buster. He is grown now, fat and sassy, still giving our old cat, now 20, fits. But my very last memory of David, as he went out the door that night, is of his picking up that kitten and giving him a kiss on his back. When I pet Buster now, or talk to him, or when he snuggles up to me on the couch, it is a sweet feeling of connection to my lost son. Losing him some day will be another degree of losing David. I ache for the Snapps.

Anne Teddlie, Decatur, GA
David's mom
12/5/79 - 3/22/99 

How TCF Helps

At our TCF meeting last night our topic was on the cliches of grief and the things that people say that hurt us. One of the moms in our group spoke of someone saying to her, "You must have done something terrible in your life to deserve to have your son die!" Can you believe it? Well, of course you can. We all have had these kinds of things said to us, either in ignorance or they thought they were the right things to say, but nonetheless they hurt just the same. We have so much guilt anyway; we are plagued by the "what ifs" and the "if onlys" and are most often our own worst enemy. Because we are parents we feel that we had failed our precious children as protectors...we were suppose to keep them out of harms way. Only when something like this happens -- our child dies -- do we come to realize that we have absolutely no control over anything. And that lack of control is very frightening indeed. 

We learn life lessons that we never wanted to learn. Because we are in TCF and are acquainted with those who have lost more than one child or multiple family members ( I am especially thinking of you, Norma, and I think about you often. I saved what you wrote into the TCF Sharing Line awhile back because I thought it was so good - God bless you ), we know that lightning not only can strike twice, but three or more times. If we have surviving children and they are out for an evening we watch the clock and count the minutes that they are late and torment ourselves. It is almost as if we wait for the other shoe to drop. 

The "why's" we will never know; at least while we dwell on this planet. When we join our lost children maybe we will find the answer to our questions. Until then, we have our family and friends and TCF and this wonderful Sharing Line to remind each other that we are truly not alone. We can pour out what is in our minds and hearts to each other and know that others will be there with just the right words or how-to-survive-the-worst-loss suggestions to help pull us through. And that we will be there for them as well. There is a saying that goes, "Grief can't be hurried; but grief can be shared." Thank you all for continuing to be there. Where would be without each other? 

Cathy Seehuetter - TCF, St. Paul, MN

Movie Review

I wanted to tell others about a movie that I saw on Showtime just this week. It's title is "A Storm in Summer", the main star is Peter Falk. It is a wonderful, simple, sweet, sad movie about a man whose son died 23 years before. His life changes when an inner-city child comes to stay with him for a country visit in the summer. 

The little boy and the man seem to have nothing in common, but both grow and change. In this movie, there are some of the most honest statements about what it means to have your child die. The little boy's older brother dies during the time the little boy is visiting. This movie, to me, signifies all that our credo means when we say "We need not walk alone; we are the compassionate friends."

I rarely see a movie, so there had to be a reason I left work early, came home, and flipped on the TV to this movie as it began. I'm so glad I saw it. There's no bad language, no sex...there are challenges to be considerate of others no matter how different they seem at first. Do keep your tissues near...I cried all the way through, laughing through the tears!

Jan L.

Does The Age of Your Child Make A Difference?

In response to losing an older child: It in some ways does make a difference, and in some ways it doesn't. I lost my son Steven at 29 years of age. I feel I not only lost a child, but also a very close friend, someone that I could spend hours with talking and not get bored. And since I had Steve in my life for 29 years I had so many memories, perhaps more then someone who had lost a child at an earlier age would have. 

But one thing I truly believe is that age does not really play a part in losing a child or someone you love. That would say to me that "OK you have reached a certain age now I don't love you as much" If Steve would have been one day old or his 29 years, I know I would miss him just the same, and grieve no differently.

Sheila Simmons, Dallas, Ga
Steve's Mom

Reflections on Returning from TCF Conference in Chicago

~Meg Avery, Sugar Hill , GA

I left Atlanta on a rainy Thursday afternoon and arrived to an overcast, cloudy, Chicago that same afternoon. Making my way through the airport, on the shuttle and eventually arriving at the Hyatt took no time at all. Little did I know that the Hyatt would act as a cocoon for the rest of the weekend . With reservations for a room and grief as my guide, I thought I was prepared for this experience.

What was it like? How do I explain what I gained to my friends and relatives who are among the "civilians" - not the bereaved parents with whom I spent my hours, tears, and remembrances. How can I say I spent three nights and two days with 1400 souls who walk the grief journey, mourning their child, sibling and/or grandchild? Some may try but few will understand, and that's alright. 

Attending workshops, listening to guest speakers, buying books, listening to "Precious Child", connecting with other moms were the focus of activities. Nodding in agreement when someone said my unspoken fears and regrets - holding the hand of one nearby as we sang in unison - offering a hug to one overcome with tears - telling the story - listening to their story - getting to know her child - telling her about my child - asking questions which we know have no answers - bridging our sorrows to create a path of compassion.

Again they ask what was it like? It was: refreshing to know others feel this way; relaxing not to wear the mask; rejuvenating to not be alone; relishing the company of those with common bonds; and reaching out to each other. I heard the stories of the ultimate tragedy, the heartache and pain of losing a child, but then also heard the flip side of courage and survival, aided by peace & hope, and it was both sad and inspiring. In learning how others are reinvesting in their future in memory of their child, I can see a light on this everlasting grief journey I constantly travel.

These thoughts and many more crowded my mind as I left the safety of the cocoon of the Hyatt, flew back to Atlanta and returned to the real world. The symbolism of the butterfly for Compassionate Friends never seemed so appropriate as it did then. 

What was it like? It was remembering - it was ... Roses in December.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn: Comforting Catholics in Their Time of Grief

~by Glenn M. Spencer, Jr.

The title of this book implies that it would be of interest to Catholics, only. I don't know why the author would limit his audience in this way. His words of practical advice are also relevant to those of us who have no religious affiliation, Buddhists, Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians… whatever. Grief is everywhere. How the Catholic Church views aspects of death is common to Catholics; grief and recovery are common to us all.

The common-knowledge Stages of Grief are all here in this book. In that sense, it's a basic-reader for the newly bereaved. There are some interesting insights presented, things that some of us have not yet considered. Spencer suggests that we "test" our reality and make an effort to deal with our feelings, one day at a time, and "create" a new life for ourselves. For those of us who have no surviving children, 'creating a new life' is the key to our survival. Spencer shows us how we can begin to accomplish this feat.

This book is a source of practical advice, couched in religious references that sometimes interfere with the task at hand. I would recommend this book for both bereaved parents and for siblings, for whom there are words of advice throughout.

Teal Snapp, Conyers, Ga

To Order


 Special Tribute to A Brother….

Innocent and Bound to Die

No tears left for me to cry.

Decaying thoughts of his love inside, 
and whispers of our last good-byes.

Can’t run, nor hide, because there is no escape.

There’s nothing left to me. 
Of love and beauty, have been raped.

No longer are we free.

Into the eyes of pain I stare.

What mirrors back to me?

Stares from people who recollect,

LIFE how it use to be.

If only I could understand,

LIFE’S long lesson of pain.

But yet I know there’s know one there to blame.

~written by Rebecka Solar, Lawrenceville, Ga

He Did Not Want To Go

He did not want to go tonight, 
his eyes turned red in the bright light.

The pressure was on him now;
he must succeed someway, somehow.

But why? He’s just a little boy.

They want him to come to them. 
But he doesn’t know if he should give in.

Fighting his nerves, he won the prize, 
of going to heaven for future tries.

Although, he felt quite brave and strong. 
His family was not there to see him slip away.

He did not want to go.

But GOD said NO, tonight is your night, come with me and everything will be all right.

~written by Rebecka Solar, Lawrenceville, GA

That Point In Life

Some stand outside the fire, while John was the flame.

John was proud of his accomplishments
while others filled with shame.

John strived to succeed, while others didn’t even care.

Some were always in themselves, 
John was there to share.

John stood for something,
while others fell for anything.

John was always out to comfort, 
while others chose to sting.

John was always involved, he knew how to play! 
While others tried their best to just stay way.

Some make themselves look good by cutting others down,
everyone’s laughing, except that one, John with a frown.

Some were quiet, but John was always loud.

Most were ashamed, but John stood proud.

But in the end, who will determine,
if you’ve lost or gained a win?

Some slipped around the hard spots, 
while John worked harder to achieve.

Some played by the rules, 
John had tricks up his sleeve.

Happiness was granted to John, while others had to fight.

Nobody cares anymore,
John only cares about what is right.

John found his place to stand, be strong and tall.

John always stood out, while most didn’t stand at all.


In Loving Memory of My Brother and Friend 

Johnathon David Solar

September 23, 1980 - September 27, 1998
Rebecka Solar, Lawrenceville, GA

Johnathon's Memorial

Sadako Sasaki's Story

Sadako Sasaki, an 11-year-old Japanese girl who was born in 1943, developed leukemia, "the atom bomb disease," in 1955. While Sadako was hospitalized, she was reminded of a Japanese legend which held that anyone who folded a thousand paper cranes would be granted a wish. Sadako
began folding cranes in the hope that she might be well again. 

Sadako completed 644 paper cranes before her death on October 25, 1955. Sadako's classmates folded the remaining 356, and the cranes were buried with her. 

Inspired by Sadako, her friends and classmates published a book of her letters and began to dream of building a monument to her and all of the children killed by the atom bomb. Young people all over Japan helped collect money for the project. 

In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park. The children also made a wish which is inscribed at the bottom of the statue:

"This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world."

As a result of Sadako's courage and the vision of her classmates, the paper crane has become an international peace symbol in recent years. People all over the world fold paper cranes and send them to Sadako's monument in Hiroshima.

Who Speaks of Anger ?

~lovingly lifted from Reflections, TCF Western Australia Newsletter

There is a scene in the movie "Terms of Endearment" when the mother totally loses it. Ranting and raving, she flies up and down the nurse's station demanding another injection for her dying daughters pain.

I am not sure what I thought my son's death would do to me, to my husband or my children. The horror of it re-mained unfinished for sure. 

Death sows a sense of loss; loss of identity, loss of routine, loss of tenderness, loss of one thing we thought we would never lose - our children!

So once the school bus left in the morning and our house became so very still, I was, as expected to be, engulfed by loss. No high - tech equipment, no medicines to be carefully measured, or nursing schedules to be set up. Just tears and quiet - then the roaring, unexpected anger. 

It was the doctor's fault my son died. It had to be the doctor's fault. It was my fault. It was the cold, the spring winds that stole his breath away, the milkman's fault, the school's - or it was the faith I imagined I didn't have. It had to be the lack of faith. 

It was my best friend's fault. Maybe even my husbands fault. Anger took over and it allowed me to become mesmerised by how it might have been. Everyone and everything around me stole my son. Children laughed.

My son couldn't laugh. 

I hate to shop, assistants sold Pampers. I cringe to see a young mother with a box of Pampers. In the distance, an ambulance could still be heard, not for my son. 

Who then speaks of anger? Who tells us how hard it will be? Tell us that even those of us with the softest edges will rave like the mother in the movie. I stayed mad for what seemed like a very long time. God was often my
primary target. I glared at the pulpit on Sundays, just as I glared at life during the week. So who spoke of anger? They spoke of it often. In all stages, at all levels, in so many different tones. I brought my anger to them, for they are my Compassionate Friends. 

Sue Whalen TCF Lanesborough, MA

Remember Me

As the wind stirs the leaves ... Remember Me
As the evening sunset cast its rosy glow ... Remember Me
As you smell the earth after a fresh, spring rain ... Remember Me
As you hear the sound of a child's laughter ... Remember Me
As the warm summer sunshine caresses your skin ... Remember Me
As the first winter snow flake falls to the ground ... Remember Me
As the smell of spring flowers tantalize your senses ... Remember Me
As you are wakened in the morning by the song of a bird ... Remember Me
As the days gently ease, one into another ... Remember Me
As you greet a smile on a friendly face ... Remember Me
As you walk through life ... Remember Me
For I shall ... Remember You.
Libby Graham

September - Back to School

I am thankful I have a son who will start first grade this year, but I still hurt because I know I will never see my other childrens' first day of school. They would of been three this year. Although nothing we can do will ever take away that hurt, at this time each year, I buy school supplies and donate them to needy children in my community, in memory of my twins'. I put a removable sticker on each item that says, "Donated to a Special Child, In Memory of My Angel Babies 9~22~97"

Even though they wouldn't be old enough to go to school if they were still with me, it doesn't matter, it just gives me a little peace to know I am helping another child who needs it. Our local Wal-Mart has a can to put the donated items in, which is what I do. Or you can donate them to the local schools. I know this may not work for everyone, but it sure makes me feel better about that first day of school. School has been really hard for me. I still cry every year! That will never change. I hope I gave some of our parents some help, so they won't feel so helpless about that first day of school! ~Michelle Peppers, Talking Rock, Ga

Wearing a Mask

Halloween is a great time to pretend to be someone else. You can be mean and nasty even though you're usually a pretty nice person, or you can be scary when you usually are the one that gets scared. You can pretend to be strong and powerful or beautiful or mysterious or famous. You can pretend to be anything on Halloween.

It isn't fun, though, to try to always wear a mask. Sometimes for a person who is grieving, it seems like you need to always pretend to be your old happy self. Your friends and others may want you to forget about your loss and go on as if nothing much has changed. But it is really hard to mask your true feelings all the time. It is much better for you if you can "take off your mask" and just be yourself sometimes. If you let your feelings out, then you are being honest with yourself and others. By taking off your mask and revealing your true self, you will be a much more REAL person. It's better to save masks for Halloween.

-From the Inside Fernside Newsletter, 

A Center for Grieving Children


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