Newsletter of The Compassionate Friends 

  Atlanta Area Chapters 
 September - October  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 



Am I the only one who feels a deep sadness and dread of autumn to start? Something about this time of year always saddens me. The tired look to the trees, flowers starting to fade, and the thought of a long bleak winter. Oh to be a bear and to hibernate away this season, instead we must endure the season and the coming of the holidays. I know the calendar still says it's summer...but I feel autumn in my heart. 

The Fall of Fall

What is it about the season that takes me back in time 
Everything I do, I find you are on my mind. 
Haunting dreams find me at night when I try to sleep 
And every little detail is replayed, 
and the sadness falls so deep. 

Something about the close of summer 
seems to bring it back 
Making it so hard to move onward and stay on track. 
Something about the dying and fading of the trees 
Brings my heart to sorrow, with the falling of the leaves. 

How I long to stop it, to keep the fall away 
But time marches on, and summer just won't stay. 
I know with the fall, winters not far behind 
Another lonely season, and the memories flood my mind. 

I cry my tears of sorrow, and pray for spring to come 
A rebirth of the earth, and the warmness of the sun. 
It makes the memories softer and gentler to recall 
But now my life is saddened with the nearing of fall. 

Sheila Simmons 
In Memory of my son Steven 
March 24, 1970 – October 19, 1999 
~reprinted from TCF Atlanta Online Sharing 
Tuesday’s Child Section

My daughter Mandy was killed instantly in an automobile accident at the age of eighteen.  Unanswered questions plagued me those early years in grief. 

This poem was written late one night when I was suddenly awakened by intense sadness—a thief that robbed me of sleep many nights after Mandy’s death.  I remember sitting at my desk, wrapped in a long robe with the hood flung over my head--I was cold inside and out. 

Once I finished the poem, I was able to sleep again—at least for that night.  I have returned to the poem many times in the last seven years, revising the stanzas but never the questions.  I lay no claim to being a poet.  My only claim is that I am a parent who has healed much from that first year, who still does not have all of the answers, but who believes Mandy’s love surrounds me in all that I do. 

Is That You?
By Diane Wattles 

The raindrops that fall gently 
 from the night-borne sky, 
Are they your tears that 
 wake me this midnight hour? 

The night's coldness 
 that numbs my body and soul, 
Do you remember the impact, my Daughter, 
 I need to know. 
The nightmares that strangle me 
 and rob me of sleep, 
Are they no longer yours, Dear? 
 Are you now free to dream. 

That very moment 
 when you watched from above, 
Did you feel scared, 
 or secure in my love? 
A dream, 
 a vision 
Are they be mine to behold? 
Or must I enter your world 
 to rock you once more? 

The night's star, 
 that twinkles east beyond the pond, 
Is it the sequin sparkle 
 that adorns your spiritual gown? 
The feathery cloud 
 that floats effortlessly in the sky, 
Is that your magic carpet; 
 do you smile as you pass by? 

The sudden chatter of birds 
 about nothing it seems, 
Are you near me, my daughter, 
 a spirit yet unseen? 
 The rippling of water 
 as it flows through the stream, 
Are you dancing barefoot on the rocks, 
 amidst laughter and screams? 

The trace of a breeze 
 that rustles the leaves of the tree, 
Is it a whisper?-- 
 a secret meant just for me? 
The laughter indistinguishable 
 in the distance afar, 
Are you regaling the angels 
 with your story-telling art? 

The night sounds 
 that make the silence hum and creak, 
Do you now return home 
 to lull me to sleep? 

The questions flooding my mind 
 at this unnatural hour, 
They become words of this poem 
 that can only be ours. 
As my body begins to ache for sleep, 
 do your arms encircle me; 
 do you wipe the tears from my cheek? 

Is that you, Mandy— 
Is that you?

Copyright 1995 

In Memory of my daughter, Mandy Collins 
April 20, 1977 – July 30, 1995 

Today I Smile
by Diane Wattles 

Unbroken Dreams

I grew up believing in dreams. As a child, my dream was to some day have children. I remember looking into the night sky and believing angels were watching over my unborn babies until it was time for them to become a part of my life. 

Years later, when I first learned I was going to have a baby, I wanted to stop strangers on the street and tell them. I was absolutely filled with love. 

I was in disbelief when months later my baby boy died soon after his birth. I felt the first crack in my dream, and thought my twenty-five-year-old heart would break. The love which had filled my heart so completely had suddenly turned into emptiness, and I was touched with the reality that life is too brief and fragile. 

My second little boy was born the next year, also prematurely, and like his brother before him, he lived only a short time. It was a different place, a different time, but the same deep heartache and darkness returned to my world. A part of me had died with each of these babies, and there were no words to explain how I felt. I kept my heart closed, my feelings unshared, and my silent hurt buried deep inside. 

I had not yet learned that from every loss there is something gained. Living through the loss of a child can lead us to a deeper knowledge of life’s gifts, and a kind of strength we never knew we had. The time came when I could no longer dwell on questions which had no answers, and I searched for insight and a right of passage to change my focus toward positive memories and feelings. My healing began when I realized I could not have felt this sadness about losing my babies unless I had first been blessed with the joy of loving and wanting them. The real emptiness in my heart would have been never having had them at all. 

As I worked through my grief, I was beginning to learn some of life’s lessons. The pain of losing someone we love, especially a child, never really leaves us, for it is a part of our lives that will always be unfinished and unexplained. It’s never easy to accept the unfairness of life, and yet it touches us all. And sometimes, only because life has touched us in this way, do we become more aware of its wonder and the pure blessing life gives us. 

I came to understand that each time I had allowed myself to love, it meant taking a risk. And each time I had reached for a dream also meant taking a risk. I knew the only way I could live life fully was to let go of the emptiness and become unafraid to risk again. I promised myself that I would let love back into my heart, for it is much too precious a gift to waste, and my days and nights too precious to be covered with sadness. I began to cherish life even more. 

My third baby son was born the next year, and two years later, my baby daughter. Both again premature, but thanks to God, a wonderfully dedicated pediatrician, and advanced medical technology, they survived. Their hospital stays were long and filled with frightening moments, but in spite of the odds that faced them, they clung tightly to life. Months later when they came home, I slowly found I was mending my broken dreams with the love I was giving to them. And I was beginning a new dream. 

Many years have passed, yet the thought of unfairness still comes, and I still feel my tears when I think of my first two babies, or when I hear of precious children being abused and neglected. This is when I remember the lessons I have learned and, instead of dwelling on loss, I strive to embrace the hope I know is real. I now give my love and support to organizations that dedicate themselves to the lives of children and to mending their broken dreams. Giving of myself is the only way I can ever give back the blessings life has given me. 

We all have something to give, and it is through this act of giving and risking to love again, that we ultimately find a way to heal. Often we uncover sacred gifts of our own just by listening to others who are hurting, or by holding someone’s hand and letting them know we care. Each of us has a story, and each of us feels alone with our heartache. Yet we are never truly alone when we let ourselves be unafraid to share our feelings, and to give what is in our hearts. Sharing connects us and makes us realize how much people need one another in this world. 

I still look up into the night sky sometimes and think about those two little boys that were with me for such a short while. And sometimes I find myself wondering what they would be like today if they could have grown up with their brother and sister. Then I remember that although they are with the angels, in some wonderful way they are still with me — because love never dies. It is the strength we carry with us forever. 

Written by Flavia Weedn
copyright Weedn Family Trust – All rights reserved 
(Reprint permission granted to TCF ) 



It is here, this day of merriment and children’s pleasure. 
Gremlins and goblins 
and ghosties at the door 
of your house. 
And the other children 
come to the door of your mind. 
Faces out of the past, 
small ghosts with sweet, painted faces. 
They do not shout. 
Those children 
who no longer march laughing 
on cold Halloween night, 
they stand at the door of your mind – 
and you will let them in, 
so that you can give them 
the small gifts of Halloween – 
a smile and a tear. 

~WINTERSUN by Sascha 

In Memory of Erin ……

I wrote this poem for my daughter Erin who would have been a senior in high school this year. This was placed in the section for memory pages in the yearbook. I thought this might help some family that had to experience this spring graduation time and your child was not there. Erin was 9 when she died of a stroke. If you have a child that would be a senior next year you can contact the yearbook staff of your child's high school and ask for the teacher sponsor and they can assist you. I think it was important for us to let people remember Erin. Poem attached 

Pat Moody Erin's Mom 

The purest wonder in life is found in the sharing of love. And the real gift is to have known love at all. 
Blessed are we who have held the gift in our hands. 

In Memory of Erin Leigh Moody

She was a classmate of yours’ at 
Holly Spring Elementary School, 
Her life ended at the age of nine, 
A Stroke took her away before her prime, 

She missed those high school times, 
Football games, playing in the band, 
Sweet 16, Driver’s Ed., 
Junior-Senior Prom, 
Senior pictures, Senior ring, 
Graduation invitations. 

When you don your cap and gown, 
And receive your high school diploma, 
Remember those classmates who 
Have graduated to heaven. 

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go… 
Some stay awhile and leave footprints on our hearts… 
and we are never the same.” 

We miss you Erin 

Mom, Dad, Daniel, 
Mama and Papa Moody, 
Grandmother and Granddaddy Rowell, 
Other family and friends. 


Again a new school year is upon us, with it, it brings on a new feeling of our loss. 
Even though Steven was long out of school, it still brings on the memories. 
So if you are dreading the sight of the yellow buses, know I am thinking of you. 

 School Day's

The summer is mellowing as the days grow shorter 
The green on the trees seem to droop, and look a little duller.
The lazy days of summer take on a busy hustle 
As families shop for school, 
each gets a new book satchel. 
Soon the quiet streets will be filled 
as children gather waiting 
The yellow bus to pick them up. OH! the anticipating. 
Another teachers face the greet upon their arrival 
But the same old lessons to be learned, 
to them seems so trivial. 
New friends to make, and old ones too 
Make their days fly past to soon. 
But back at home a mother weeps 
for the child that this year misses 
No new clothes to buy, 
no more good-bye hugs and kisses. 
For her this joyful time just brings on more heartache 
Another school year starts, 
another milestone the child cannot make. 
So she dries her eyes 
and tries to go on for the children that remain 
But each new start, breaks her heart, 
it's hard to see the gain. 
So if the yellow school bus brings 
on tears for you this year 
Don't forget your Compassionate Friends, 
we are always standing near. 

Sheila Simmons, TCF Atlanta 
~reprinted from TCF Atlanta Online Sharing 
Tuesday’s Child Section 

Sheila is the author of our “Tuesday’s Child” section on TCF Atlanta Online Sharing.  Sheila lost her son Steven in October 1999 and has been contributing her poems and articles to TCF Atlanta for several years.  Sheila lives in Dallas, GA with her husband, Wayne  She has one surviving son, Michael.
Bereavement Balance Beam

Notice the athlete as she carefully 
and gracefully strolls across the balance beam 
She makes it look so easy. 
We watch and hold our breath, 
We hope she won’t fall. 
She artistically swivels at the end, 
Goes back to the middle, 
And without missing a beat, 
Lands perfectly on the mat below. 

I am not an athlete, nor an acrobat, 
Yet I walk a balance beam each and every day. 
I trod gingerly across the beam, 
I know you have not noticed. 
I hold my breath, not as a spectator, 
but as a participant. 
I wear an outfit not of spandex nor sweats 
But of steel plated armor 
 guarding my emotions. 
I give a presentation of poise and control, 
Which I’ve learned with each step I’ve taken. 
I know how to survive, take each day one step at a time, 
Sometimes pausing for laughter, 
Sometimes trembling with tears. 

Then there are the times I’ve fallen off, 
Which in the beginning, 
took but a mere reminder of who I’ve lost. 
And I toppled off the balance beam only to 
Struggle silently to climb back on. 
What caused the fall? 
Perhaps a mention of his name, 
perhaps hearing his favorite song, 
Seeing a young boy on a bicycle 
and knowing it wasn’t James, 
Seeing a mom at the store 
shopping for back to school items, 
Reminiscing about bedtime stories 
which are now no longer told, 
Watching someone else’s child at the soccer fields, 
Driving in the car alone 
& no one next to me in the passenger seat. 

But I learned to stay on the balance beam, 
Handle those moments of pain and loss, 
Keep my composure, let the tears fall, 
but let not my steps falter, 
Turn the corner without tripping, 
Keep life in balance and in perspective 
With a huge void on the other side. 

Now, almost five years later,
I’ve nearly perfected this trick,
Can’t compete with the professional athlete, 
They have the physical, 
visible aspect of this performance down pat,
I’m still working on the emotional, mental portion, 
But doing quite well. 

Till I hear my young niece gets to be a mom, 
Or my sister-in-law moans that her son is away for a week and the house is so quiet, 
Or yet another friend has become a grandmother, 
Someone else we know is graduating or marrying, 
My nephew turns 16 and gets a license, 
All the reminders of who I’m missing, 
What James never will accomplish, 
The opportunities that James missed out on, 
The life I wish I could see James experience 
and be a part of. 

It’s all a matter of balance, 
Keeping the stride, 
maintaining a sense of normalcy, 
Balancing, in spite of a broken heart 
And an emotional handicap. 
And learning  that when falling below, 
There are friends to help me back up 
Memories to give me smiles, 
Determination to live the life James would have wanted… 
for both of us. 

Meg Avery, TCF Gwinnett 
In Loving Memory of James R. Avery, III 
July 15, 1983 – September 22, 1997 

What is a memory? 

It is the faculty of beholding the golden rays of the sunset after the night has fallen. 

It is the ability to bear in mind the sweet melody after the instruments have ceased playing. 

It is a conversation with someone who can no longer speak and seeing a smile on a face no longer here. 

By Karen Russell 
National Grief Support Services and

Hiding behind the Mask
~lovingly lifted from Bereaved Parents USA

I think we as bereaved parents wear masks 12 months out of the year, not just on Halloween….perhaps on Halloween we should just wear our own grief stricken face and not be noticed. 

How many masks do you wear - even in a week … or a day. Do you wake up in the morning feeling the pain, with the knowledge that your child is no longer here? Do you "mask" that face with your old normal face to say good morning to your spouse? You can take the mask off and cry in the shower….it somehow feels so good to release some of those tears. Time to wake the children for school, put on the cheerful, positive mom mask. After dropping the children off at school you can once again remove the mask and feel. Soon you will be pulling into the parking lost at work….get the next mask out….the mask of the competent professional. WOW! That's a lot of mask changing in a short time. 

Strange isn't it how the MONSTER pain of grief makes us put on masks to cover the pain often to those who really care and who perhaps are putting on their masks to cover their pain when they see us.  Maybe we could all be so much better off if we removed our masks and let the monster pain out. 


Your Anniversary date in Heaven is growing near, 
And I miss you so much with each passing year. 
I think of you and my heart constricts in pain, 
And I question whether I'll ever be whole again. 

I wonder if you count the time as I do. 
Since you left us for Heaven - is it still new to you? 
Or does time count in Heaven like it does for us here? 
Do we seem far away to you? - or do we feel near? 

So many questions arise in my mind. 
Questions like:
"Do you miss us since you left us behind?
Is it possible for you to be sad? - for you to feel pain? 
Do you question why this happened? 
Do you feel the same? 

The answers to my questions will be mine someday, 
As I cross to where you are – 
through Heaven's pearly gates. 
Then I will know the joy that you experience there, 
And we will be together, forever in Heaven so fair! 

Oh, how I wished God had made a plan, 
Where loved ones in Heaven could reach down to man. 
Just one simple word - just one gentle touch - 
But who am I fooling?  Once would never be enough! 
There are no words to describe the unspeakable pain, 
Of losing a child - Our loss is God's gain! 
So, Happy anniversary in Heaven, 
my precious child, so dear. 
I'm so glad you're there with God --- 
if I can't have you here. 

-By Faye McCord, 
(Newsletter editor, Jackson, MS TCF) - 
~in loving memory of my son, Lane McCord 
 (1/26/65 - 9/13/98) 

And also in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11/01 

Not long ago I read in the sharing group about the upcoming 9/11/01 anniversary of the Attack on America...and that you were looking for poems, articles, etc that would reflect on this anniversary.  I have also been reading messages on this sharing line from other bereaved parents who, like me felt that the 911 tragedy was almost an anti-climax in comparison to their own personal tragedy........and while none of us wants to belittle the Attack on America, our 911 tragedy was/is so personally painful, that we found it hard to be as upset as most of our associates were at the time.  For me,  it seemed especially so, because the 3rd anniversary of my son's heaven date was 2 days later on 9/13, so on this up-coming FIRST anniversary of our American tragedy, and also on the up-coming 4th anniversary of our personal tragedy of our son's Heaven date, I submitted the poem “Anniversary Date In Heaven” in remembrance of all those who died on 9/11/01 and also in loving remembrance of my son, Lane McCord ~ (1/26/65 - 9/13/98) 

~-By Faye McCord , Jackson, MS TCF


There's an elephant in the room 
It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it. 
Yet we squeeze by with "How are you?" and "I'm fine"... 
And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter. 
We talk about the weather. 
We talk about work. 
We talk about everything else -
except the elephant in the room. 
--There's an elephant in the room.
We all know it is there. 
We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together. 
It is constantly on our minds. 
For, you see, it is a very big elephant. 
But we do not talk about the elephant in the room. 
Oh, please, say her name. 
Oh, please, say "Barbara" again. 
Oh, please, let's talk about the elephant in the room. 
For if we talk about her death, 
Perhaps we can talk about her life. 
Can I say "Barbara" to you and not have you look away? 
For if I cannot, then you are leaving me... 
In a room... 
With an elephant 
~by Terry Kettering 

Through the Heart of Grief

By Scott Mastley, TCF, Atlanta, GA

Jim Dirr, a bereaved parent and a surviving sibling, has been involved in the sibling group of the Tucker, Georgia, Chapter of TCF for years. He is a caring and generous individual, and he understands the difference between grieving the loss of a child and grieving the loss of a sibling. He also has enough experience to know what is important in the bereavement process. Jim says, "You can go around grief, over it, or under it. You can even choose to ignore it, but the only way to successfully survive it is to go straight through it." 

The question is: How does one go straight through it? 

How do you face your grief and bravely suffer through it and continue to live a positive life? You get up every day and let the sun shine down on your head. Tell yourself that you cannot change where you are now. You can only affect the future. Internalize this and learn to live with it. Be honest with yourself. Ask for help when you need it. Talk to your parents or a friend or a counselor. Don't be afraid to cry. There's no shame in grieving. Go straight through it. 

There are times when you wish to ignore the grief. When you sense the tears welling up in your eyes on the way back to work after lunch, you try to force them back. When you're afraid you might ruin a happy moment for your friends, you keep your sadness to yourself. When you stop in front of a photograph and quickly 
try to refocus on cleaning your desk, you're attempting to go around grief. Why not take a moment to look at your sibling and reflect? 

Avoiding the intense emotions seems more practical than crying at work or at school. Confusion is normal when you're battling with yourself for control. Not knowing what's appropriate is normal. Forgetting your phone number is normal. Worrying about forgetting your sibling is normal. Wishing that the events of your sibling's life had played out differently is normal. Feeling isolated is normal, and being unsure about your future is normal. Anything that seems abnormal is now normal for you, as a newly bereaved sibling. 

Allow yourself to focus on your grief. Feel the helplessness. Let it out. Write about it. Become absorbed in your grief, but don't let it consume you to the point that you have no will. Keep getting out of bed. Let time work on your grief by staying active. Is there 

an opportunity to do something positive? You could create a memory book or plant a memorial garden or support a new cause in memory of your sibling. 

We grieve as individuals, and there is no standard plan for it.  Do what you need to do to survive, but don’t deny the presence of your grief.  It’s a part of you now.  Ignoring it will not help.  Your life will gradually improve as you learn to acknowledge your grief without letting it take control.  You are a new you in a new world.  Your perception of the world has changed, and it takes a long time to learn to live in a new world. 

Scott Mastley enjoys speaking on sibling grief to groups. His book, Surviving a Sibling, Discovering Life After Loss, can be purchased directly from Scott’s web site: 

or order from

Absent Window
by Eric Sisson 8/7/02 

Pass by avoiding your eyes~ 
pictures still framed~ 
absence of you. 
I look to the sky~ 
something says to look for you~ 
I always do. 

Sitting outside the window~ 
I've gotten cold and closed it. 
I feel you still know me~ 
emotionless~ I wonder if I am through. 

Despairs on the move~ 
as the traditions end~ 
absence of you. 

Content, I've gained new love~ 
recycle the seasons~ 
my void still present~
you sit outside the window of my life~ 
as I'm still frail. 

September 11th
by Michelle Kissman

I have started this article three times now, each time sitting at the key board typing away only to become dissatisfied with the limitations of words to express all that should be expressed about horrendous experiences. 

I was there, at Ground Zero. Not that Tuesday, but two months later, on a beautiful autumn day in early November. I saw the physical devastation first hand, felt the weight of personal devastation heavy on my own heart. Looking up, I saw the damaged buildings around me, the insides spilling out where the building had been sliced away like a piece of concrete and metal cake – leaving wiring, pipes, and broken concrete exposed. Pictures were still hanging on wallpapered walls.  These faceless buildings, standing sentinel, surrounded me, as I stood on hallowed ground amidst the rubble, unable to make sense of it all. I couldn’t stop thinking “this just can’t be true”. 

I was there to conduct interviews for a book to help people cope with this new grief. One interview was particularly poignant. 

His name was John. He was on the subway that morning, making his way to the office like thousands of others. When the doors of the train opened into the mall below the Towers, he was assaulted by complete pandemonium. Port Authority employees yelling at the passengers “Get out, get out”, pointing frantically at the exit doors. People running. John wondered what he was running to and what he was running from. Once at the doors, someone advised him to watch out for falling debris. He raced across the street with hundreds of others. Other than full-sized sheets of flaming “confetti”, John didn’t see falling debris. What he did see was far worse. Horrified, he made his way toward the building where his offices had been. The front of the building no longer existed. He didn’t know where to go. Eventually, he walked 16 miles to his home on the Jersey side. 

When I met him, he was sitting in a bar in the middle of a business day. On the bar in front of him lay a folder containing pictures of the events of September 11th, his cigarette swirled smoke, his beer half empty. He seemed to have become part of the place. He told me that he still got up every morning, dressed, and “came to work” because he didn’t know what else to do with himself. When they finally reopened his business, he was notified his first day back that he was being laid off. That was a week before I met him. He hadn’t told his wife yet. He was still “coming to work” everyday. 

He offered to show me around. As we walked the newly reopened streets, he pointed out the missing parts of his life. “There is where I bought my coffee every morning on my way in, here my groceries, over there I caught the subway. Everything I have known for 15 years of working days is gone.” He went on to tell me that every year, during the December holidays, a huge, lighted PEACE sign was placed between the Towers. He had always planned to go over and have his picture taken with it to use as his Christmas card. Now the chance had slipped away. The irony of the Peace sign wasn’t lost on him. He didn’t know if he would send Christmas cards this year. We continued walking, with John telling me the details of the tragedy. Tears slipped down both our faces as he shared the horrors he had experienced. The nightmares. The loss of the life he had known interwoven with the insanity of the deaths of so many – one phrase recurring over and over again. Life will never be the same. 

The similarities in his grief over his lost life and the grief of bereaved parents was not lost on me. 

I have studied that day – held it up in my mind’s eye, turning the events this way and that, trying to fathom what meaning can be drawn, what consolation I might offer, what insight there might be. I looked for the gift in the tragedy for I believe that eventually, if we become better people after a tragic loss, it happens only after we find some positive result that would not have been realized without it. 

In my reverie I was reminded that for the first time in a long time, people who have not survived the death of a beloved child got a glimpse into the world of a bereaved parent on that fateful day. And I discovered that there is a universal need that transcends all needs – to be accepted for who we are, where we are in our lives, what we need to believe to survive. A need to experience genuine empathy and compassion, to have some one care enough about us to lend us their ear - and, after the conversation is done, to feel better for the release of the gamut of emotions that we live daily. 

I rediscovered that in our humanity, we respond universally to the violation of the natural order of things – whether from of the death of a child before a parent or in the deaths of thousands. As a nation, we rediscovered the meaning of real heroes – of character and integrity and courage. We discovered 
September 11th Continued 

that normal people are heroes everyday… not just when tragedy requires unfathomable sacrifice. 

We openly called upon God, rediscovering our need to believe that there is a heaven… Until that day, we avoided talking about God and religion to avoid inflicting judgment on others. Suddenly we discovered that it didn’t matter what name we called out, just that we were comforted. We weren’t talking about God to judge each other. 

I found something I wasn’t expecting. In the quiet actions of thousands outpouring their hearts, their hands, their help, their support, their love, I found hope. It was a welcome, heartwarming surprise. 

And now, another anniversary looms, this one felt by an entire nation. In New York, a hole has been ripped out of the heart of the city, much like the hole that has been ripped out of each of our hearts. 

The deadline for this article has come and gone. I don’t know if this missive will find its mark. But I have finally realized that it is appropriate that I could not find the right words. What we feel cannot be described or compared. Love and compassion cannot be bound by words. 

Miracle of miracle, I discovered that there is one great gift for each of us - an opportunity to turn to friends and family who haven’t been supportive of our struggles and become their hope, guiding them through the minefield of this anniversary. Offering all the compassion, nonjudgmental acceptance, support and love they need. And in the process, we just might help them better understand and accept us. 

Michelle Kissman, TCF Atlanta

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 975 active members and are growing at a rate of 2 per day. 

We have recently added several new features to our Online Sharing….Cyberfriends Database for those new parents and siblings who want to have a cyberfriend to talk with and Birthday/Angel Date Web sites for our Children.  For More Information and all the new additions, please visit our web site: 


Memories of the past will forever be woven with threads of hope & peace, providing a quilt of spiritual guidance & everlasting warmth of those whom we love, who are wherever we are.  By Meg Avery, TCF Gwinnett
What about Elvis?

With all the hoopla over the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, I wonder if anyone else feels like me. Society seems to think it is okay for the general population to mourn and honor and weep and wail over dead celebrities such as Elvis, John Lennon, Princess Diana, etc. years and even decades after their deaths. The majority of us only knew them through their music or fame. No one tells them that they should "get over it", "move on with your life", "stop going to the cemetery so much" or that it is "weird to take the day of your daughter's death off - my God, it's been seven years!" (these are only a sample that I have heard in the past 7+ years and I know each of you could add many, many more.) 

Yet, those of us whose child (or sibling or grandchild) has died, someone we loved deeply from the moment we learned of their very existence; who we gave our hearts and souls and every fiber of our being to, who we, if we were lucky enough, got to hold them in our arms and watch even a few (yet never enough) of the milestones of their lives - fed them, nursed them, spent almost every waking hour invested in loving them, caring for them, and giving them the best life we could - we are supposed to stop remembering and honoring these same children on their birthdays and their death days, and any other day, for that matter!  I don't understand - can someone explain this to me? 

Love and peace to all, 

Cathy Seehuetter, Nina's forever mom, St. Paul, MN 
~reprinted from TCF Atlanta Online Sharing 


Why is Remembering 911 Different?

I pray that this posting will not sound the way that many of us feel that society has treated the loss of our children. 

I am approaching the 2nd Birthday without Ryan.  He died 6/30/01.  His birthday is September  3.  He would have been 26.  As all of you know, most people feel very uncomfortable about discussing our children.  I am renovating Ryan's home near Atlanta.  Last week I went to dinner with friends and family.  The discussion centered around 9/11 and Elvis.   It was commented how awful the surviving families must feel with the approaching anniversary.  I was invited to join a service on that day.  I listened choking back the tears.  I try hard not to bother others about this unbearable grief.  Finally I replied.  "I think that all of you are kind and I feel terrible pain for all those families.  You see on 9/3 the sun won't be as warm, the welcome of a new day won't be inviting and what was the happiest day of my life has become the saddest day  of my life." 

I pray that this does not sound awful.  I am pleased that our society is giving the appropriate attention to this horrific loss.  However, those of us ,know the loss, the isolation, the search for meaning and ultimately the acceptance of there are no answers to such a horrible  assault against those precious people who died. 

So, on 9/3 , I will  miss my only child as I do daily.  I will also weep on 9/11 just as all of you will. Unfortunately, we have not been treated with such empathy by this society. 

I pray that this posting is viewed with the understanding that I too am a parent grieving. 
Pat, Mom of Ryan, 9/3/76-6/30/01 
~reprinted from TCF Atlanta Online Sharing 


Back to School …………….. 

To All My Special Friends, 

I read about how hard it is to face the first day of school for some of you. This was a hard year for me, too. This would have been Erica's first year in the classroom as an elementary teacher. (I think it would have been in the 1st or 2nd grade) As the first day started here in our county I envisioned her welcoming her new students into her classroom. The classroom she had been preparing for their arrival/she started gathering things for that classroom her Freshman year in collage. She had built an extensive library...I still see her sitting on the living room floor meticulously covering each book with clear contact paper and stamping them with "LadyBug Library".  I want to let each of you that have an elementary student in Heaven, know that she is teaching them today....I know she was on her way to getting her Master's Degree at the time of her death...but THE MASTER needed her in Heaven to teach the little children. 

This past weekend we had a tragedy in our town...a 7 year old little boy was killed by a drunk driver as the mother was taking him to his day soon I hope to talk to this mother and let her know that my Erica was at Heaven's Gate to greet him and take him to her classroom. Thanks for letting me share. I hope this finds each of you having a 'gentle day in your journey."             Barbara Coffey, Mother of Erica 8/1/78 – 8/31/00   ~reprinted from TCF Atlanta Online Sharing 


Halloween Magic
Halloween has always been a special holiday time. I regret that our son only had a one time experience at this magical time of year. I remember as though it were yesterday, the wonder in his face, how he tried to eat the candy through his mask, how he said thank you without coaxing. Then I think of all the parents whose child never had the opportunity and I am grateful for that one time. It's hard watching all the other children trick-or-treating and yet there is something special about this season that comforts me. As I watch the trees around me, I am reminded that there is a beauty even in their drying leaves. There's a special aroma, a breath-taking color scheme, and if you listen, a rustling in the air. I believe there is a message in fall. I believe God wants us to know that death is like a change of season, that our children now know far more beauty than we can ever imagine. Like the tree that lives on through the barren winter and comes alive again in spring, our children are not gone. THEY LIVE! 
Nancy Cassell, TCF Momnuth Co., NJ

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