Going back to school
after the death of your brother or sister is a hard thing to go through.
At first, there are three groups of people to deal with: people who give
you a lot of support, people who don't know what to say, and those who
give you weird looks and stay away from you. This lasts for a little while.
After a short time, changes
with each group occur. Those who didn't know what to say start to speak
or begin to talk. The group who kept away stops ignoring you. The people
who gave you a lot of support slowly return to their own affairs. After
about a month and a half, everything goes back to normal and is over to
everyone except you. This is very difficult and makes you feel all the
After a long while the shock
for you goes away and it is then when you need the support from your friends,
peers and teachers. This month is the first anniversary of the death of
my brother. Most people will have forgotten and everything is right with
the world. But it is not! Certainly not to my mother and me.
Making Dreams Reality
when a Piece is Missing
“You need to move on and carry
on with your life”. Those are the two phrases we as bereaved
parents hear so often. That’s what everyone wants us to do as soon
as possible after our child has died. The active parents want
to see us getting back to the land of the living; they want to be able
to see us normal again; they don’t know how to deal with us when we are
full of sorrow; when we have a bad day, no matter if it’s a year later
or five years later. We are told again and again, it’s time to move
on with your life, it’s more than enough time to carry on and get back
to normal. We, as bereaved parents, know that we do move on every
single day and every moment without our child. We don’t have
a choice. Every day we get out of bed and make it through the
day at work is a day that we are moving on. Every holiday we survive
with the spiritual image of our child, in the midst of the physical presence
of everyone else’s whole family, we are carrying on. We do
what we have to do just because we have to. We eat, live,
even laugh once in a while, find ways to reinvest our lives in memory of
our child and to most people, we look and act normal once again.
However only a bereaved parent, when connecting with another bereaved parent,
knows to what extent and how much courage it takes to breathe, survive
and deal with life again when a part of us is gone forever.
Yet, everyone else, the clueless others, tell us we need to move on.
We manage to do the things
we absolutely have to do with some semblance of normalcy. Yes, some
of us go to work or volunteer or speak out on various causes that have
a connection with our child’s death, or some of us just manage to get by
and are grateful for a good day, maybe one without tears or without hearing
that special song. The little things that indicate we
are moving on and carrying on become a matter of survival techniques.
We just do these things because we just have to. We can’t simply
lie back and let life pass us by. Many days most of us would prefer
to do just that, and in spite of what the clueless think, it’s ok to wallow
in sorrow once in a while. After all, this is a tragedy and it is
sad and we should be allowed to actively grieve whenever and however we
need to, without others telling us to get over it & move on.
Before James died, I had envisioned
a future that involved the typical teenage troubled, yet sometimes happy,
high school years. I would teach James how to drive, be nervous when
he had his first date, and be proud at both high school & college graduations.
I wanted him to have the kind of marriage and family that would bring him
as much joy as I’ve had with my husband and child. I envisioned
him being a loving husband and a great daddy. I had so many
plans for what I would do with and how much I would love and enjoy my grandchildren.
All those dreams died when James’ life ended and life took a totally different
direction. Those were our parental dreams and as a couple,
we still had our personal dreams; ones we couldn’t think about when all
we could manage was making it through today, never mind tomorrow and certainly
not years ahead.
This journey that has taken
our future toward a totally new horizon is one that I take with great reluctance
and deep sorrow. How do we, as bereaved parents, deal with
“the future” when the time comes to make a decision regarding the future?
This was a tough lesson I learned this summer when we realized our dream
of owning a house on the beach. We never would have been purchasing
this house this year if James were alive. When we had the opportunity
to realize our dream we took the chance and made it reality.
However, when it came to the actual closing date, July 5th, just ten days
before James’ birthday (which would have been his 18th) we didn’t know
how to celebrate. It’s hard to be happy and excited about making
a commitment for the future when our child is not a part of that future.
We own this beach house now and although it’s a dream come true, the part
of enjoying it with our son, possibly his wife and maybe our grandchildren
will never become reality. Instead we take what life gives
us and make the most of it. We’ll go to the beach house, walk the
shores of the Gulf of Mexico with James in our heart and bring his spiritual
presence and memories with us there.
Now, when we go to our beach
house in Cape San Blas, FL, we will have a special place to reminisce,
a place to relax and unwind from the constant “moving on and carrying on”
that we deal with in our daily lives. We’ll watch the dolphins swim
by, we’ll fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves and we’ll recapture
some pockets of happiness and joy that have not been a part of today.
We’ll look toward our tomorrows in a much different way; a new perspective
that has taught us that life is precious, simple blessings are a treasure;
life is too short; and each day is a gift ~ we simply have to have
the courage to open it. I hope each day to have this courage to continue
moving on and carrying on; not just for me but for all bereaved parents.
Meg Avery - Lawrenceville,
Memory of my son, James, 7/15/83 – 9/22/97, Forever Loved & Missed
One More Day…..
Last night I had a crazy dream
A wish was granted just for
It could be for anything.
I didn’t ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished for one more
day with you.
One more day, one more time
One more sunset, maybe I’d
be satisfied -
But then again, I know what
it would do -
Leave me wishing still for
one more day with you.
- Diamond Rio
This song reminds me so much
of my son. I lost him when he was eighteen to a car wreck. That was four
years ago. Of course, I got the usual comments if that were my child, someone
would just have to shoot me and I don’t know how you can live. One painful
breath at a time, that’s how. No one could imagine surviving losing a child
until they have to. And when you have to you do.
Four years after the fact,
I would still love to see Stephen, would do anything for a wish to be granted
and let me have one more day with him. But, at the same time, I am so very
grateful to wake up beside my husband every morning, to know that I do
have one more day with him. It would be a shame to take him for granted
and then someday find myself standing outside a mausoleum wall, telling
him I wished I had one more day with him, the way I do Stephen now.
The phone rings and it’s my
daughter, Stephanie, Stephen’s older sister, and she’s laughing about some-thing
her twin girls just did. And I am thankful to have one more day with her
and one more day with those wonderful twins of hers. One more day with
my stepson who is now older than Stephen was when he died, one more day
with my 13 year old stepdaughter. One more day with my brother and my two
sisters, my nieces, nephews and parents. I know I’ll see Stephen again.
You see, he’s fine where he is and he’s waiting for me. And we’ll have
an eternity together, not just one more day.
In memory of Stephen Beam
July 17, 1978 - April 13,
submitted by his mom, Marcia
author of Stephen's Moon
Marietta Chapter TCF
Memories of School Starting
The time has come to send my
14 yr. old son, Kevin, off to high school. To most parents this would
be done with a few tears and an understanding that this is another letting
go phase on the road to adulthood. To me, however, it has been a
week filled with "lots" of tears, anxiety, worry, fear...... well, you
get the picture. The memories of sending another son off to high
school 10 years ago only to have him die by suicide 3 months into the school
year have been overwhelming and I was completely caught off guard from
the onslaught. My sensitive, yet strong son, Robert,
lover of the ocean, was overwhelmed 10 years ago and completely caught
off guard also at this major life change....well, you get the picture here
My consolation and comfort
is that Kevin is strong both emotionally and spiritually and very ready
for this next step in his life. I cannot let Robert's
experience influence the success I feel awaits his brother. Kevin
and I are both "well seasoned" by life experiences that have grown us both
and hopefully equipped us both for the journeys ahead. For
those parents who are experiencing the anticipation of school starting
back, whether it's memories of past school years or sending one off to
school, my prayers are with you.
My son Robert, loved the ocean
and had the opportunity to swim in both the Atlantic and Pacific and shores
in between. His ashes were scattered off the coast of NC, his favorite
beach and I visit often bringing him flowers. I too love the ocean
and thank God for creating such a vast body of water that represents both
our anger and our peace and every emotion in between.
Mom to Robert Parsons
11/7/76-11/24/91 and to
Kevin Parsons, most precious
Lawrenceville, GA TCF
Realize that getting better
does not mean that you didn't love your loved one enough. Nor does it mean
that you will forget him or her. When and how you begin recovery, and what
your recovery is like, are up to you.
A Bit Richer…..
I’ve heard it said that what
you get out of a book depends not on what the book brings to you, but on
what you bring to the book.
It’s hard to fathom—much less
accept— that we can gain anything by losing child. Once the black hole
has been created, we can’t imagine that any light will ever enter it. But,
in time, tender mercies start to trickle in. If we keep our eyes and hearts
open, we do gain a more insightful view of life. We see and feel things
at a deeper level than others can even imagine.
I find as a speaker and writer,
when I quote books and use examples from movies to help illustrate or clarify
my feelings about bereaved parenthood—or more often, life in general—people
will say, “I don’t remember reading that” “I didn’t get that out of it.”
“I never made that connection.
Little Women, Pay It Forward,
Gladiator, Lost in Yonkers, and yes, the classic Gone with the Wind are
just a few of the books and movies that portray the depths of life as WE
know it while others merely read words or watch actors on a screen.
I don’t like being where I
am. I certainly would never choose to be here. But as I go back to favorite
books and movies, I find comfort not only in the familiar, but also in
the farther-reaching themes that I didn’t see before.
Revisiting books and movies
will never make up for the loss of my son, but it can make my life a bit
richer. And long as I’m still alive, I’m going to grab whatever I can get.
Susan Larson - Loren's Mom
- Atlanta TCF
You Never Can Tell
You never can tell when
you send a word like an arrow shot from a bow,
by an archer blind, be
it cruel or kind, just where it may chance to go.
It may pierce the breast
of your dearest friend, tipped with its poison or balm.
To a stranger's heart in
life's great art, it may carry its pain or its calm.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox fm
TCF Seacoast NH Chapter
You were here the other night,
So alive and well it seems.
But I awoke and then
You were only in my dreams.
The tears then came so
For the time with you
You were alive and talking,
If only in my grief.
I heard your voice and
As if you were with me,
But I awoke and realized,
This was not reality.
So I'll take my dreams,
whenever they come,
And keep them close
to my heart,
Cause in my dreams you
And we are never really apart!
Joy Curnutt (Jason's mom)
11-26-74 / 4-11-99
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads
her white sails to the ocean.
She is an object of beauty
I stand and watch her until
at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky
come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says:
“There, she is gone!”
Gone from my sight. That is
Her diminished size is in me,
not in her.
And just at the moment when
someone at my side says:
“There, she is gone!” there
are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to
take up the glad shout:
“Here she comes!” And that
~Henry Scott Holland
DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO
THAT GOOD NIGHT
In Loving Memory of Our Children~
Susan Van Vleck, Marietta
It was nine years ago on July
18, 1992 that two police officers came to our door with news that no parent
expects or wants to hear. “We are sorry to inform you that your son
was killed by a suspected drunk driver tonight.”
SHOCK~ My first reaction was
disbelief. How could Marc be dead? He has his whole life ahead
of him. He was driving a friend home and I was waiting up for him.
No, this can’t be! But it was the harsh reality that I could not
fathom at that moment that caused me to slip into the nice protective overcoat
named “SHOCK.” Thank goodness for the ‘shock’ factor because that
is what allowed me to make the necessary arrangements for the days that
were to follow.
ANGER~ From the minute I was
told that Marc had died I was angry with God. I talked,
screamed and wrote in my journal about being so mad that God did not protect
us under His umbrella that I thought was in place for our family.
No, I do not believe that God planned for Marc to die at age nineteen or
even that it was God’s will. It has taken me years to understand
that we, all of us have ‘free will’ and one 42-year-old man used his ‘free
will’ to drink and drive that fateful night that killed our son within
one mile of our home.
BARGAINING~The funeral was
held here and a week later we drove home to Topeka, Kansas where we had
a Memorial Service for friends and family. We drove back to Georgia
arriving late one night after the 14-hour drive. I unpacked a few
things in the kitchen while my husband was upstairs taking a shower.
When I had finished I tried to climb the stairs, but I froze and then fell
grasping at the carpet on the stairs sobbing loudly in the entryway.
I cried out to God asking, “why didn’t He take me instead?” I told
him he could make the change right here, right now and no one would ever
know the difference.
PAIN~As the shock began to
wear off, I felt the intense excruciating pain. It was so deep and
cut like a knife. I thought that the pain was going to kill me it
hurt so bad. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out.
I felt gutted and empty inside. I was surprised to
learn that grief is not just
about feeling sad. When you experience grief, there is a real physical
pain and mine was in my chest that hurt for many months every waking moment.
I remember I wanted to die. More importantly I wanted to be with
TEARS~ I did not know there
were so many different ways to cry or different sounds one could make while
crying. I would be sitting in my chair and begin to cry and invariably
I would end up on the floor, face down in the carpet crying my eyes out.
At other times, I rocked back and forth sobbing so hard and speaking gibberish
that even I could not understand what I was saying. Our older son
told me that I even cried in my sleep because he had heard me one night.
DEPRESSION~ I kept the drapes
drawn that first year and withdrew from the world. I was like a frightened
animal huddled in a corner. My first thought upon waking each morning
was that Marc was dead. I would curl up in a fetal position and cry.
I had trouble concentrating, remembering things and making decisions.
My mind would wander constantly. I had no energy—none—zip!
I remember being so proud of myself the time that I completed mopping my
kitchen floor that had taken me three days to do.
RECONCILIATION~ I am nine years
into my grief journey. For me, it has been about ‘leaning into my
pain’ and stumbling around in the dark searching and trying different ways
to cope since the death of our son, Marc. I read grief books, I journal,
I attend bereavement seminars, I visit the cemetery and most importantly,
“DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT
GOOD NIGHT”—but stand toe to toe with the beast called grief! Do
not be afraid of your thoughts, feelings, and pain. They are ALL
normal reactions to the death of your dear child. Instead I ask you
to wrestle grief down to the ground, screaming, kicking and crying until
you have made grief your equal and more manageable.
I heard a speaker say, “we
did not expect to outlive our child, but we can make a choice as to whether
we will become bitter or better with the time we have left.” Let’s
begin to take control of our life, picking up the pieces and make the choice
to be a better person. If not for ourselves, let’s do it for our
TCF Atlanta Online Sharing
Dear TCF Online Family:
Reading all the letters that
come through this site, I almost feel that we are indeed a family. I can
feel the love and concern others have shown here and I cannot tell you
how much this means to me. It would be so easy to just stay locked in your
own corner of grief, spending your time wondering WHY ME! But instead you
reach out to others and give them hope. Indeed not one of us chose this
road we are on, but how we walk this road is a decision we all must make.
And so I thank you all for doing all you do, you have made a difference
to many. Here is a poem I wrote for us all.
The road is rough and rocky,
although it is paved
worn smooth by footsteps of
who have travelled grief's
The light is very dim there,
full of black and gray
but reach out and take my
together we'll find the way.
The trail is often wet, by
the many tears shed
and by the wounded hearts,
that have been broken, and
And through this dark journey,
if we hold each other tight
together we will journey,
until we see some light.
For we are wounded parents,
grieving our children gone
but together we can make it,
if we just reach out and hold
And when we reach the path
our pain has softened some
then we can help others who's journey has just begun.
So come and take my hand, and
I will walk with you and together we will journey,
together we'll get through.
God Bless each of you
Sheila Simmons - Steven's
Dallas, GA - TCF Atlanta Online
Thoughts on Grief ….
Your note is heartbreaking.
Whether what you are exper-iencing is "normal," I don't know as I'm still
new at this grief business myself. My son Troy died last October. Since
then I've visited his grave several times. The first few trips were very
hard, seeing the fresh turned earth made me feel as if I'd been ripped
open with a hay hook. But I kept returning, if for no other reason than
to face reality: He wouldn't be calling anymore, writing letters, visiting
(he lived in Kansas; I in Georgia). He wouldn't be. . .doing anything here
on earth. That he's having a great family reunion in heaven gives some
comfort, and I pray, that as time passes, I'll focus more on his peace
rather than my loss.
The day of my last visit the
sun was blazing as I settled on the ground, my back against the stone in
front of Troy's. I wrote him a long letter (something I do frequently here
at home) just telling him what was going on in this world and letting him
know how much he's missed. After I'd tucked the letter in a basket of flowers,
I leaned back against the stone and thought about how much he loved days
when the sun blazed and the southwest wind blew across the plains. I remembered
the little boy who would have been on one foot and then another, filled
above the brim with swimming pool fever; and I remembered the man who loved
to ride his Harley into the wind. Yes, the tears ran, but my heart also
felt full and not nearly so cold.
We all respond to death differently,
so I don't know if this telling will help you at all. I guess, perhaps,
I'm wondering that if you don't bring your son home, then you could go
to him, tend his grave as a beloved garden, hang out with him there. Whatever
happens, I wish you peace deep deep inside.
Pam Troy - Troy's Mom -Atlanta,
I can't begin to tell you how
humbled and also encouraged I was to read this e-mail sent to the coordinator/webmaster
of TCF Atlanta Online regarding our July newsletter article about the butterfly.
Words can't describe how pleasantly surprised I was. This showed me again
how powerful our words can be to others, whether they are verbal or written.
Thank you, so much, Elma, for love, and encouragement to other bereaved
Faye McCord - Newsletter Editor,
TCF - Jackson, MS Chapter
What Do I Do With My Child's
I guess I put this off as long
as I could. I am one of those bereaved parents who has never touched their
child's room after they died. I have added things, but never subtracted.
Basically, everything is in its place as she left it 6+ years ago. Everything
that a normal 15-year-old would possess: posters and pictures of friends
held to the wall by thumb tacks, playbills from the school musical she
was in, dried corsages from school dances, stuffed animals won at the fair
thrown haphazardly on her bed, teen magazines and CD's scattered here and
there...my remaining links to the past, flashbacks before the loss of our
innocence. One that really hurt was the note that she had left to herself
that said, "Work at Perkins. May 14th from 7 - 3." Rather than my Nina
excitedly, yet apprehensive-ly going off to the second day of her first
"real" job, my family and I were at the funeral home making the final arrangements
for her funeral. Surreal and so sad...
I can remember the first year
or two when I would peer into her room and look at all the glorious clutter
of her active life. I swore I would never touch a thing, never throw anything
out...it would be left intact forever. The times I did spend in her room
were usually spent wrapped in her afghan on top of her bed, practically
curled in the fetal position with a box of Kleenex, and sobbing my heart
out. "I will never change this room, never!" was my mindset back then.
But things have changed. Due
to some family issues, we have to make room for more people residing in
our house. The time had come to face it...I had no choice. It is a long
involved process. My sweet Nina was a pack rat, to say the least! She saved
everything! I have sifted through page after page of her school work. I
have squelched the urge to look through the shoebox that says on the outside,
"Notes from Friends, 8th grade", instead choosing to not invade her privacy,
even after death. I have gone through her closet, and studied her clothing,
remembering what she looked like in each outfit. She was so tiny! Size
3-4 jeans and the teeniest little shirts you can ever imagine. It reminded
me why we always said she was "Petite but powerful!"..though tiny she was
a giant of a human being...loving, considerate, and so full of good ideas.
I have had my moments of intense
sadness, such as when I have come across her, "Book about Me" that she
made in school, the part that asks who is the most important person in
your life, to which she answers in her grade school handwriting, "My Mommy,
of course." I cry for the loss of that love and our close relationship,
even something that carried over into her teens, what are suppose to be
the "rebellious years." Even in her confirmation book she wrote the
same identical thing when asked who was the most important in her life.
God, I miss her so.
What I have been pleasantly
surprised about, though, is that maybe the fact that I waited so long has
made this an easier ( for lack of a better word...there is nothing "easy"
about any of this!) task. Bittersweet, I guess would describe it. I have
found myself laughing more at these pictures and reminders of the past,
and crying less. And the most amazing thing has happened. The past three
nights I have slept in her bed. I am the first one to have slept there
since Nina died over six years ago. After I turn off the lights and crawl
into her bed, the glow-in-the-dark stars that she put into perfectly placed
constellations, gleam and twinkle...it is the only thing that you can see.
I feel like I am lying in her bed, protectively wrapped in her arms, and
seeing a piece of heaven just as she does now, and what she used to see
from her bed when she was alive. The closeness I feel to her at that moment
is indescribable! I haven't slept as peacefully since Nina died as I have
these past three nights!
I wanted to share this with
you in case there are others out there like me...who haven't taken on the
task of clearing out their child's room and wondered if they ever would
be able to. And, also for those who have heard the comments, "You haven't
cleaned out her/his room YET!?!?!" I know it isn't the right choice for
everyone; as we all know, the ways we handle our grief and our ways of
dealing with our child's possessions are all different, just as they should
be. But for those who have waited, I want to reassure you that it has turned
out to be a much more positive experience than I imagined. All part of
seeing that you really ARE making progress and finding a little hope along
the way...that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Love and peace to all,
Cathy Seehuetter, Nina's mom
St. Paul, MN TCF
The following poem was sent
to a friend of mine after she lost her mother. My friend sent
it to me, hoping it would be of comfort after the loss of a child.
I find that I need the space or the gap, that it helps me to hold on to
my daughter. Many have written about not wanting the pain to go away,
as the pain is a tangible reminder and connection to the child who died.
It's been almost 4 years for me. The pain has decreased a little
bit, but the gap, the emptiness, the space is there. I believe it
always will be. It is what we all feel, whether it's been 4 months
or 24 years. I hope sharing this will provide some comfort for others.
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Nothing can make up for the
of someone whom we love,
and it would be wrong to try
to find a substitute.
We must simply hold out
and see it through.
That sounds very hard at first,
but at the same time,
it is a great consolation.
as long as it remains unfulfilled,
preserves the bond between
It is nonsense to say
that God fills the gap.
He does not fill it,
but on the contrary,
He keeps it empty
and so helps us to keep alive
our former communication with
Even at the cost of pain.
Submitted by Barb, mom to Angel
Beth and her sisters, Stephanie, Caitlin & Meghan
TCF Atlanta Online Sharing
Your life was an embodiment
expressing itself to the world
in countless moments of lightness,
despite all the indicators
of your brief existence
that pointed toward a logic
of despair and frustration.
I’ve often wondered
about the source of the light
that poured from your eyes
and danced merrily upon your
Your focus was obviously not
for your spirit surged from
into a bright world of possibilities.
Barriers were no more to you
and you understood you could
any not fitting the world
in your mind
and open others that thrilled
Yours was a state of transcending
that never allowed transitory
to exercise control over who
you really were.
You were a constant wonder,
one of the creator’s finest
a perfect blend of joy and
coalesced into a towering,
that, despite the condition
of your earthly body,
soared and looped and danced
and personified the overcoming
power of love.
Saying you changed us is classically
to the truth of your moments
in our midst.
No one who knew you within
your life’s boundaries
will ever be the same; could
ever possibly be the same.
We were touched and changed
at a fundamental level,
dared by love to search for
beginnings in every apparent end and see that existence is more, so much
more, than it seems.
In loving memory of Lance Porter
July 20, 1975 to November
Copyright © Harold Hopkins,
Lawrenceville, GA TCF
All rights reserved.
Poems by Harold Hopkins
Companion Through the
Inner Dialogues on Grief
Stephanie Ericsson - Excerpts
Abandonment: The sudden
state I am forced into. I no longer belong to you. I no longer belong to
Who expects life to change
suddenly? Little pocket calendars map out everyday life. Pick up the kids.
Drop off the proposal. Finish the laundry tonight. Send Mother a
birthday card. Life--listed on pages--predictable, orderly, pre-planned.
The priorities of daily existence are made according to our needs, and
the needs of those we care about or to whom we have
Then one day, a bomb is dropped.
Yesterday, there was a house--with walls, a roof, and the smells of life
steaming up the windows. Today, only the rubble of disaster. Shards of
broken confidence and the dust of dreams litter a cracked foundation. The
calendars are forgotten. Priorities reorder themselves with "surviving"
first on the list. What was eminently important yesterday is indisputably
Like the victims of war and
natural disasters, the sudden loss of someone so important plunges us into
a realm where we have no control. The lives we planned will never be as
The rubble has to be swept
up. But it looms like a mountain. How does one move a mountain? How do
you piece together something that may someday resemble a life again? Not
without many hours, days, months, even years. Not without blisters, cuts,
bruises, and tears. And the only place to begin is in the shadow of the
A paralysis that starts in
my soul and quickly attacks my body.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, there
is a tradition of remembering as clearly as possible the last days or months
of drunkenness. Not for maudlin reasons or self-flagellation, but because
it is the lucid moment of hitting these "bottoms" that propels recovery
forward. To forget is to risk the delusion that drinking again is a possibility.
So it is with death. I will try very hard to remember what the moment was
like when I heard he was dead. I will try very hard to remember what the
feelings were when the months afterward crawled by. These, like the last
days before sobriety, are the down payment for a new life, and new eyes.
Ironically, a love of life
springs from the memories of these days. Partially because I am no
longer there. But mostly because I survived. Death is my friend now, my
constant companion who makes me look for the precious every moment I am
conscious. And inside, I hear the words, "Be still. This won't kill you."
The Agony of Grief
The act of accepting forced
change; a constant state of my existence, in varying degrees from white
hot to disgruntle-ment a sign that I am truly alive.
What is there to say about
grief? Grief is a tidal wave that overtakes you, smashes down upon you
with unimaginable force, sweeps you up into its darkness, where you tumble
and crash against unidentifiable surfaces, only to be thrown out on an
unknown beach, bruised, reshaped.
Grief means not being able
to read more than two sentences at a time. It is walking into rooms with
intention that suddenly vanishes. Grief is three-o'clock-in-the-morning
sweats that won't stop. It is dreadful Sundays, and Mondays that are no
better. It makes you look for a face in a crowd, knowing full well the
face we want cannot be found in that crowd.
Grief is utter aloneness that
razes the rational mind and makes room for the phantasmagoric. It makes
you suddenly get up and leave in the middle of a meeting, without saying
Grief makes what others think
of you moot. It shears away the masks of normal life and forces brutal
honesty out of your mouth before propriety can stop you. It shoves away
friends, scares away so-called friends, and rewrites your address book
Grief makes you laugh at people
who cry over spilled milk, right to their faces. It tells the world that
you are untouchable at the very moment when touch is the only contact that
might reach you. It makes lepers out of upstanding citizens.
MONUMENTS OF REMEMBRANCE
CAPTIAL STEPS TO OUR
24th Annual National TCF Conference
– Arlington, VA/Washington, D.C.
Approximately 1500 bereaved
parents, siblings and grandparents attended The Compassionate Friends Conference
held July 5-8, 2001.
My husband and I were so excited
to attend our first “national” conference. It was awesome!
We arrived the morning of the 4th of July. The Hyatt had a courtesy
van for the trip from the airport to the hotel. Upon boarding the
van, I recognized two ladies I had met in May at the Chapter Leadership
Training Program and we picked up our conversation like we had seen each
other yesterday. It was so easy because we speak the same language.
We share a bond through pain and hope. It was like that the entire
weekend as we talked with old friends and made new friends.
We immediately checked our
masks at the door; you know the ones that we wear out in public for the
benefit of our friends and family. This was a safe and compassionate
environment where we could be ourselves, talk about our children with no
one rolling their eyes or afraid that we might cry.
We took the elevator up to
our room and unpacked then decided to go to the Mall. We met our
two new friends in the lobby and took the Metro together for the festivities
and fireworks that evening. There were many people enjoying the live
music and wares that were being sold on the lawn. Later that afternoon
there was a thunderstorm. Everyone was instructed to go inside and
seek shelter from the lightening. The closest building to us was
The Smithsonian Museum. We spent several hours looking at the exhibits
waiting for the rain to stop. It never did so we purchased these
‘stylish’ blue ponchos with white lettering that read “Smithsonian” all
over them. We stood in the rain not wanting to leave and miss the
opportunity to see the fireworks celebrating our nation’s independence
in the Capital. Miraculously at 9 o’clock there was a small patch
of blue sky that opened up and allowed the fireworks to go as planned.
Words cannot describe the beauty of the colors and the shadows that fell
on the many monuments surrounding the Mall that memorable evening.
The following day I attended
the TCF Professional Seminar planned for funeral directors, therapist,
police officers and others who work in the field of grief while my husband
went sightseeing. It was a powerful day looking at the perspective
of those “helping the bereaved” versus being the person “doing the grief
work.” The highlight that day was the Luncheon Speaker, Darcie Sims.
She has a gift that can make you laugh and cry.
The first formal day of the
TCF National Conference began Friday morning with Atlanta’s own, Iris Bolton
as the Opening Keynote Speaker. Then we were on our own with the
difficult task of narrowing our choices of workshops that we wanted to
attend because ninety workshops were offered.
Some of the titles
The First Two Years of Bereavement
Grief in the Aftermath of
Suicide: A Sharing in Healing and Hope
Riding the Roller Coaster
of Pain—Let Me Off!
Dealing with Family and Friends
How Grief Turns You Inside
Finding Joy Again
The Marital Tango
Friday and Saturday evenings
there were banquets with a different keynote speaker each night.
The banquet also offered live music performed by Cindy Bullens and Jeanine
Higgins. Cindy and Jeanine are bereaved mothers and sang their own
lyrics that they had written expressing their pain and grief journey since
the death of their children.
Each night following the banquet
there were optional sharing groups divided by topics; sudden death, terminal
illness, multiple loss, suicide, adult siblings and more.
There was a Butterfly Boutique,
Bookstore, Reflection Room and a Hospitality Room. On Sunday morning
(despite the light rain shower) there was a two-mile Memorial Walk and
on our t-shirts read “You Need Not Walk Alone.”
It was a GREAT weekend for
making new friends, working on grief issues, talking about our child and
being supported in a loving way. Next year’s conference will be in
Salt Lake City July 5-7, 2002. We hope to see you there!
Susan Van Vleck, Marietta
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 750 active members and are growing at
a rate of 2 per day.
To Join go to the following
LOVE IS FOREVER
You defined through your attitude
the bright world you saw beckoning.
As our guide, you steadfastly
to go on or leave us lagging
and led us, tho’ unknowing
into a new and wondrous territory.
How we miss your exuberant
your shining in the deepest
and how we miss your helpless
that lifted and would never
sadness to gain the barest
or keep us from the ecstasy
Hope pulled us through the
buoyed our spirits and lifted
With your help, we thumbed
our noses at fate
and ignored all the ‘should-have-beens’.
We marched on, never looking
back or ahead
and stumbled upon an oasis
in the desert.
If we could do all that while
you were here,
surely we can keep the flame
in the oppressive stillness
of your absence.
Surely we can hope again and
turn back the persistent encroachment
and laugh out loud at the
illusion of separation.
You are here with us, we feel
with every ounce of intellect
a faint image on the periphery
And someday, when we focus
with all our hearts
and lay down the limits of
what we think we know,
you will emerge, exultant,
from the mist.
“Love is forever,” you’ll cry
and we’ll believe because
our hearts agree
that nothing could possibly
the bond of love and hope
Love heals and reaches across
to fashion unity wherever
we may be.
In loving memory of Lance Porter
Jul 20, 1975 – November
Lawrenceville, GA TCF
Copyright © Harold G.
Hopkins, April, 2001.
All Rights Reserved.
Taking On Wings -SHARE
Invites Everyone in TCF to
join them for the Angel of Hope Dedication
With "Angel's" Memorial Brick
October 21, 2001 - 3:00 PM
In Memory of all children whose
brief presence touched the hearts and lives of their parents, families
Richard Paul Evans, author
of The Christmas Box, will join SHARE Atlanta, a pregnancy and newborn
loss grief support group, on Oct. 21st to dedicate the Angel of Hope statue
and memorial located in Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs, GA.
A dedication ceremony will first take place at Sandy Springs Methodist
Church followed by a dedication in Arlington Memorial Park. The angel
monument was first introduced to the world in Evans’ international best-selling
book in 1993. In the book, Mary mourns the loss of her child at the
base of an angel monument. Today, the book and the angel have become
a symbol of hope and healing for grieving parents everywhere.
With the dedication of the
first angel monument in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1994, Atlanta becomes
the 24th site for the angel monument. SHARE Atlanta is a non-profit
organization that is dedicated to providing grief support for families
who have experienced ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn
The Oct. 21st dedication will
be emceed by Wes Sarginson news anchor from 11-Alive and will feature remarks
from Richard Paul Evans, storytelling by internationally-known Milbre Burch,
performances by the Young Singers of Callanwolde and the St. Luke’s Presbyterian
Handbell Choir. The dedication event is open to the public and begins
at 3:00 p.m.
For more information, call
(770) 928-5606 or log on to the web site at
At the end of the ceremony,
we will lay flowers by the Angel in Memory of Our Children. Please
bring you favorite flowers.
"Angel's" Memorial Brick Path
SHARE Atlanta and TCF have
always worked very closely with one another. We are very fortunate
in Atlanta to have both support groups, plus more. The Members of
SHARE would like to extend the opportunity to any one in TCF who would
like to purchase a "memory brick" for their "Angel's" Memorial Brick Path.
The path is being built around the Angel of Hope which is located in Arlington
Cemetery - Babyland Section - Sandy Springs.
If you are interested in purchasing
a "memorial brick" for your angel, the information is listed below:
Order form for Memorial Brick:
Fourteen characters per line-do
not count spaces.
Please print clearly.
Icons - Heart__Star__Star
of David_ Cross_ None__
Pathway Brick $25.__
Keepsake Brick $20.__
An effort will be made to install
as many bricks as possible for the dedication. Installation will then be
based on our yearly installation schedule which is determined by the number
of brick orders.
Schedule: late Oct., Dec. and
Use separate sheet for multiple
Include your name, address
and phone number on all requests. Mail with check payable to "SHARE
Atlanta" to mailing address listed below. Thanks!
9925 Haynes Bridge Road, Suite
Alpharetta, GA 30022
*SHARE is currently checking
on a butterfly icon.
Visit our web site for
more information. Angel