To Our New Members .....Welcome to TCF Atlanta Online E-Newsletter
We at TCF Atlanta Online hope you will find comfort and healing from our
e-newsletter. We will share articles, poems and messages from other bereaved
parents and siblings. Our hope is to give you "hope" and let you know you
"Need Not Walk Alone".
TCF Atlanta Online Editor/Moderator
The change of seasons is difficult. It reminds me that I must change if I am to live again. We can become stuck in our grief, full of self-pity and overwhelmed with pain. I do not believe our children would want us to live the rest of our lives in pain and misery. It is so easy to fall into the "black pit" and never have the strength or courage to crawl out – because crawl out we must - on our bellies.
We are different now, with different priorities and goals. We must find a new purpose for going on, and we must accept the changes in our lives - including ourselves, for we are different now. We cannot go backward, though there are times we yearn to. We must move forward. If we don't, we stay stuck at the point that our world changed. I used to say "ended."
Change is difficult. To accept the loss of our child is the most difficult of all. Our comfort comes from believing that the love we shares will go on for all eternity and that we will be reunited again - and each day brings us closer. We must learn to live again, love again, feel joy and peace again - or our survival will be without value to ourselves or others.
Renée Little Fort Collins, CO
~reprinted from the TCF Colorado September 2007 Newsletter
Sibling Grief - Certain Words
By Scott Mastley, Duluth, GA
My mother paged me while I was at work this afternoon, and I called her at home. She asked if I would like to go see a movie. Her question triggered many thought waves. I wanted to go with her, to be with her, but I couldn’t just leave work. I wish I could have protected her from the loneliness. She was having a rough day like me, and I needed to talk. How was dad at work? Was he struggling to perform like me? Did he have to concentrate to finish anything?
I regret not doing what is most important. I should have talked with my boss and left work to be with my mother when she wanted to spend time with me. I feel great sympathy for my parents, but I have to admit that I don’t grieve with them. We don’t grieve together. We talk about it, but we usually grieve on our own. I’m guilty of trying to protect them in the same way that my friends try to protect me.
My parents say, “We are here for you. Call us when you need us.”
I say, “ I know. I will.”
They say, “You haven’t. You know we think about it every day, all the time. We can talk about it.”
I say, “I don’t want to be depressing.”
They say, “You can be depressing with us. It is depressing.”
I say, “I know. I know. I’m here for you too. I just don’t want to come out there and cry. I want to be positive.”
I think about how I always say “it” referring to the car accident, to Chris’ death. I should say “him.” I say “it” because the accident took his life; it was the turning point. I am really talking about Chris, his life, and his absence. I’m tired of thinking about the accident, picturing the scene, remembering Chris’ last words, and imagining him as he arrived at the hospital. These things are too painful. It is hard to say that Chris died or that he is dead. If I say that he died, in my mind, it implies that he was sick or weak and that he could not sustain himself any longer. He was vibrant and healthy and full of life. The life didn’t leave him on its own; it was knocked out of him in a car accident.
I know that there are people who are walking along the street when they suddenly die. They were also vibrant and full of life. This is just an example of one of our little struggles. I hear surviving siblings say, “My brother was killed in a car accident. A tumor killed my sister. My little brother lost his life to an accidental drug overdose. My big sister didn’t make it through surgery.” We generally prefer to say that something is responsible for taking the life of our sibling. Saying that he died on a Monday doesn’t place accountability for his death on any event. If the event had not occurred, our siblings would still be here, so we feel a need to mention the event in connection with the death.
It is difficult to say that my brother is dead. It is shocking to hear myself say it. The word is final and leaves no questions. It lets you know that Chris is gone forever. He’s not going to show up later in the evening. He is not going to call. He is not going to write a letter. He is dead. I hate to say it. He did die and he is dead, but I squirm when I say it like that. It is so matter of fact.
~reprinted with permission www.survivingasibling.com
~reprinted from TCF Atlanta June/July/August 2003 Newsletter
Scott Mastley will be the sibling speaker at the Atlanta Chapter Candlelighting....please plan to join us that evening.
27th Annual Candlelight Remembrance Service
Let Their Light Shine…
Saturday, December 1, 2007 – 7 p.m.
First Christian Church of Atlanta
For additional information, contact one of our chapter leaders or go to: http://www.tcfatlanta.org/
Cindy Durham – 770-938-6511 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ghakarhi Btembke – 678-291-9935 – email@example.com
Tamie Dodge – 770-982-2251 – Dodgecat2001@yahoo.com
Joe Hobbs – 770-879-0023 – firstname.lastname@example.org
A butterfly came to me today
and landed upon my knee
His wings were heavy from the rain
I knew you had sent him to me
Only an Angel such as yourself
would care about these things
so I dried him with my breath
and sat him on some leaves
As I sat there watching him
soaking in the Sun
I thought how great it must be
to fly it looks like so much fun
My Angel now you have your wings
Don’t let my tears weigh them down
I know someday I will see you again
Until then keep sending the butterflies around.
by Mary Woody
~reprinted from TCF Atlanta June/July/August 2003 Newsletter
By Annamaria Hemingway
How can we defi ne what it means to enter the dark underworld of grief? We can use words such as pain, anguish, misery, shock, loss, and fear, but language itself cannot articulate the complex set of emotions that are experienced during a time of great loss. How is it possible to describe a metaphorical tidal wave that throws you onto the shore of a deserted island with no compass or adequate provisions, and leaves you stumbling, lost, and confused as you try to fi nd your bearings? How can one give voice to the way the ice-cold arms of grief wrap themselves around you and penetrate your deepest defenses, leaving you shivering and numb? Grief is a land of shadows that speaks its own universal language – the language of suffering and sorrow that embodies the enormity of loss.
For every individual, “little” deaths can be experienced in every day life. The loss of a relationship, a job, or a cherished dream can bring great heartache, but none can equal the devastation of the death of a loved one. Nothing can remind us more of our impermanence in earthly existence, and that we have no control over the forces of nature that govern our own unique destiny.
Less than a hundred years ago, it was impossible to escape the reality of death and loss as epidemics of childhood diseases, shorter life spans and limited medical knowledge resulted in death and dying as being a part of everyday life. Support for those in the grieving process was offered by family members and the community.
Grief was acknowledged as an integral part of life and those in the mourning process openly displayed symbols of their grieving – as demonstrated in the Victorian and Edwardian eras when a black arm band or wearing “mourning” clothing for a certain period of time were a part of the rituals of grief.
In contemporary Western cultures, the disintegration of the family unit and local communities, combined with advancements in health care and a longer life span have resulted in society adopting the concept of ignoring death, the dying and the bereaved. This approach leads to fear and alienation and leaves us traumatized and feeling alone when the inescapability of death that can claim those of any age or circumstance touches our lives. Grief has its own timetable and is unique to each individual. When we enter the dark abyss of grief, the world we thought we knew becomes an alien planet, and life has no meaning. Time freezes and becomes suspended in a series of flashbacks that replay past cherished memories. They are entangled with an ache so deep that it threatens to submerge you. Often feelings of guilt accompany the loss, guilt for all the things unspoken, and all the things left undone.
Even the world of dreams offers no respite for the pain that invades our psyche, rarely sleeps, and leaves us tossing and turning through so many dark nights of the soul. Our only companion is often fear, an uninvited guest that accompanies the fl oods of tears that prick their way through hollow, smarting eyes.
Grief refl ects not just something or someone that has been lost from the outer world, but can also mirror a similar death in the inner world of the individual, as hope and faith become victims to the ravages of some invisible force that silences the voice of God or a higher power, which surely has abandoned and deserted us.
The author, C.S. Lewis, described his own similar feelings in a diary that he wrote following the death of his beloved wife. These writings were later published in the book "A Grief Observed," in which Lewis recounts his painful journey and his struggle to reconcile the death of his wife to his strong religious convictions. He commented: No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid…at other times it feels like being mildly drunk of concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. What does everything matter now?
C.S. Lewis eventually emerged through the stages of grief and loss to fi nd that his religious beliefs had strengthened and that he had become a radically changed person through his profound experience.
Grief has a timeless quality and although the pain will lessen, the memory of a great loss becomes forever etched within our deepest being. Rather than trying to escape or ignoring the inevitability of grief touching our lives, we can become strengthened through understanding that grief, like love, ultimately has the power to transform and can offer us the chance to learn what it means to be most authentically human.
The Buddhist scriptures illustrate this teaching in the story of a woman who came from a poor family, and was looked upon with contempt by her husband’s relatives. When she gave birth to a son, their disdain changed to respect. However, a few years later, the son died, and the woman became distraught with grief.
She searched everywhere for a cure that would bring her dead son back to life, but could find none. In her despair, she visited the Buddha, to see if he could help her. The Buddha told her to go back to her community and collect a mustard seed from a household where there had been no death. The woman searched for days, believing that if she could fulfill the Buddha’s request, her son would be returned to her. But she eventually returned to the Buddha empty-handed, and realized there was no cure for death; it was an irrevocable part of life that everyone had to experience. As he lay on his deathbed, the Buddha reminded his followers of the impermanence of life, and how all things would eventually decay and perish. He encouraged people to accept death as a motivating force that provides a foundation for living life consciously and well.
Grief is the most painful experience we can suffer in this lifetime. It is a deeply emotional struggle to become reconciled to the reality of loss. No conciliatory words or advice can make it any less agonizing. The hand of grief will change your life forever but for those in the grieving process, perhaps some comfort may be gained from the notion that grief can enable an inner strength to emerge in each of us, and can ultimately make us more fully conscious human beings.
Author of Practicing Conscious Living and Dying:
Stories of the Eternal Continuum of Consciousness
~reprinted from MissFoundation July/August newsletter
The Alliance of Grandparents a Support After Tragedy (AGAST) has officially merged with the MISS Foundation as a program outreach to grieving grandparents.
AGAST, founded by SIDS grandmother, Sandra Graben, began as an outreach to grandparents after the death of a grandbaby from SIDS. It quickly morphed into an outreach to all grandparents after any grandchild's death.
Because their mission of overall family support was so well aligned with the philosophy of the MISS Foundation, Graben and Joanne Cacciatore, MISS Foundation CEO and founder, met and determined that the unification of the groups would be beneficial for families experiencing life worst tragedy: the death of a child/grandchild.
The merger became official last week.
The name of the outreach will be: MISS Foundation's AGAST Outreach Program and will include the newsletter, memorial cards, grandparent-to-grandparent mentoring, and family support packets.
If you have any questions about this important merger, please contact email@example.com.
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