Bring soup, be there & other ways to help a bereaved friend

January 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 6 Comments
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In a few different posts I have written about what people have said to Evan and I after Jake and then Sawyer‘s deaths.  There seem to be endless opportunities in life to say the wrong thing.  It is hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes and separate out your own feelings.  We all have different experiences.  We start from a variety of places.  Who is to judge what is right and what is wrong?  All we can do is try our best.

My mom recently sent me an article called The Art of Presence by David Brooks.  It is about a family who has suffered enormous tragedy in their lives (including the death of one of their daughters).  The family gives very practical advice such as:

  • Be a builder.  I had not read/heard this analogy before and I like it so, I am going to share:

“Firefighters drop everything and arrive at the moment of crisis. Builders are there for years and years, walking alongside as the victims live out in the world. Very few people are capable of performing both roles.”

A few other pieces of advice I have heard about but are also worth sharing (I may have also written about these before . . .):

  • Do be there.

Even if you do not know what to say it does not matter.  Just show up.

  • Do not compare, ever.

There is no comparison contest with bereaved parents.  Everyone has lost.

  • Bring soup.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
The Dali Lama

  • Do not say you will get over it.

Grief changes over time but in my experience there is no “healing” from the loss of your child.

  • Do not say it is all for the best or try to make sense out of it.

The death of a child is not for the best and there is no making sense of it for any parent.

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9/11, The End of the World as We Know it: Anniversaries (repost again)

September 10, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 2 Comments
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The tragedy of 9/11 and its’ anniversary are kinds of grief.   It is of course, an enormous source of grief for all of the families and friends who lost loved ones.  It is also the kind of grief in which you realize that the world as you knew it will not ever be the same.

Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans the week that Jake passed away.   A very close friend of mine took her 5-year-old son in for his check up and the pediatrician found a rare heart condition.   My grandmother had died.  I felt like the world was coming to an end.   So, I asked the rabbi who presided at Jake’s funeral about the possibility that the world was ending.   He replied with an analogy.   He said that it is like when you decide you are going to buy a certain kind of car.   Once you make the decision you start seeing the car every where.   So, my take away from his explanation was now that I was grieving I would start to see grieving every where. . . Turns out you don’t have to look too far for grief in this world.   The record 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti shortly after Sawyer died.

I know that 9/11, where close to 3,000 people died; Hurricane Katrina, where 1,500-1,700 people died; and the earthquake in Haiti, where almost 230,000 people died are tremendous losses compared to the death of two babies.   But, those babies were mine.   And, my world will never be the same as it was before they had died.

There is not a contest for who has the most grief.   I am not trying to compare my losses to these catastrophic tragedies.   There are not any winners here.  In grief we have all lost.   However, there is still the next day and the day after that.  And one day, there is a point where we will realize that our loved ones are dead but we are still alive.

posted the above last year at this time.  On the anniversary of 9/11 and every day, my heart, prayers and thoughts go out to not only the victims but to those who they left behind in this world.

A Letter to People with Guns

August 22, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Posted in life after loss, venting | 2 Comments
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Dear People with Guns,
Please, please do not go into any elementary schools with your guns.  In fact, please do not go into any other schools or public places and threaten innocent people.  You see I have already buried 2 of my sons.  I try to get up every day and live in this world without them.  However, sending my 6-year-old twins to school and then hearing about a gun man in a local school does not help.

No parent should have to live in a world without their child/children so do not shoot any one.  There is no explanation that you can give to the families left behind that will justify shooting their loved one.

I am so thankful to Antoinette Tuff for reasoning with the gunman.  She told him “You don’t have to die today.” Not every one has the choice of which day they die.

So, people with guns please do not make the choice for other people.  Keep your guns to yourselves.

Thanks so much.

Tears in Heaven

March 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Posted in after death?, Love | 5 Comments
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In my 20’s I went to see an Eric Clapton concert.  He sang “Tears in Heaven.” I knew that he had written the song for his young son, Conor, who had died.  Below are the lyrics in case you have not heard the song:

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you feel the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven

Eric Clapton wrote in his autobiography that “Tears in Heaven” did not have a big budget but “If you really want to know what it cost me then go visit my son’s grave in Ripley, England.”  He went on to write that this song was originally not meant for the public.  It was part of his grieving process.  What finally convinced him to release the song was the hope that it would help others.

In my 20’s I had no way of identifying with this enormous loss.  I just enjoyed the concert.  Now when I listen to the song I know all too well the heartbreak and sadness.  If I could have warned my 20-year-old self, what would I say?

No words

December 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, mourning | 6 Comments
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Gandhi peace buttonEvery morning since Friday I have woken up hoping that the senseless deaths in Newtown were a horrific nightmare.  After Jake’s and Sawyer’s deaths I had similar experiences.  The moments before I was fully awake everything seemed alright in the world.  And then an instant later it shattered.  Reality.  And, the world seems as if it is forever broken.

There are so many families left behind.  New members of the club.  Filled with endless questions.   Why?  How?  Guns?  G-d?  There are no answers that will bring them back.  The 20 children will never grow up.  The families will be missing pieces for eternity.

I so wish I had the right words but since I do not, I will again borrow wisdom from Gandhi.

quote

Anniversaries (repost)

September 12, 2012 at 12:12 am | Posted in Anniversaries, Grief, life after loss, mourning | 2 Comments
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The tragedy of 9/11 and its’ anniversary are kinds of grief.  It is of course, an enormous source of grief for all of the families and friends who lost loved ones.  It is also the kind of grief in which you realize that the world as you knew it will not ever be the same.

Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans the week that Jake passed away.  A very close friend of mine took her 5-year-old son in for his check up and the pediatrician found a rare heart condition.  My grandmother had died.  I felt like the world was coming to an end.  So, I asked the rabbi who presided at Jake’s funeral about the possibility that the world was ending.  He replied with an analogy.  He said that it is like when you decide you are going to buy a certain kind of car.  Once you make the decision you start seeing the car every where.  So, my take away from his explanation was now that I was grieving I would start to see grieving every where. . . Turns out you don’t have to look too far for grief in this world.  The record 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti shortly after Sawyer died.

I know that 9/11, where close to 3,000 people died; Hurricane Katrina, where 1,500-1,700 people died; and the earthquake in Haiti, where almost 230,000 people died are tremendous losses compared to the death of two babies.  But, those babies were mine.  And, my world will never be the same as it was before they had died.

There is not a contest for who has the most grief.  I am not trying to compare my losses to these catastrophic tragedies.  There are not any winners here.  In grief we have all lost.  However, there is still the next day and the day after that.  And one day, there is a point where we will realize that our loved ones are dead but we are still alive.

I have previously posted this on 9/11.  On the anniversary and every day, my heart, prayers and thoughts go out to not only the victims but to those who they left behind in this world. 

I Heart the March of Dimes

April 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, parents | 2 Comments
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As I mentioned in my last post, our family supports the March of Dimes.  We have walked every year since Jake died.  Our team was named Jake’s Journey.  After Sawyer died we renamed it to Jake’s Journey & Sawyer’s Strides.  This year we are excited because the March of Dimes contacted us to let us know our donations are being matched by the hospital where all 4 of our children were born. 

The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  I believe that the March of Dimes is making a difference and saving babies.  

I cannot do anything to bring back Jake or Sawyer but maybe just maybe I can help spare other parents the heartbreak of having to live in world without their child/children. 

Thank you to all those who supported our team this year and in past years.  Thank you also to the hospital for matching funds.  We appreciate all of your kindness and generosity.   If you would like to support Jake’s Journey & Sawyer’s Strides please click this link.

My Real World (part 2)

January 26, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons | 5 Comments
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Throughout history children have predeceased their parents.  Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln had 4 sons.  Only 1 lived to adulthood.  No wonder Lincoln was always characterized as being depressed.  After the death of their 3rd son, Willie, Mary Todd Lincoln wrote, “when I can bring myself to realize that he has indeed passed away, my question to myself is, ‘can life be endured?”.

Here and here I posted a quote by Robert Frost.  He had a brilliant response to Mary Todd’s question.

In three words I can sum up every- thing I’ve learned about life. It goes on.  ~Robert Frost

I may have studied the life and work of Robert Frost in high school English class but I do not remember learning that he and his wife had 6 children.  Only 3 of those 6 children outlived their mother and only 2 outlived their father.  Frost and his wife both (not surprisingly) suffered from depression.

I have always known that Evan and I are not alone in this club.   There is tragedy, loss and grief throughout history and the world.  It is everywhere.  Or maybe it seems that way to me.  The rabbi who presided over Jake’s funeral told us an analogy which made a lot of sense to me.  He said that death/grief/loss is like when you decide you are going to buy a certain kind of car.   Once you make the decision you start seeing the car every where.

Regardless of how common or uncommon death/grief/loss is in the world I have a different perspective since Jake died in 2005.  I did not think that my child or now my children would die before me.  I thought it was something that happened a long time ago or to other people now it is my reality.

No matter how far the distance you have traveled nor the failures that  have gathered, hope would still meet you anywhere.  – Dodinsky

Dear Sawyer

November 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Grief, mourning | 7 Comments
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Dear Sawyer,
It is difficult for me to believe but in 2 weeks you would have been 2 years old.  We should be planning your birthday party.  The invitations should have been sent.  I should be running last-minute errands to Party City and Michaels. Instead your dad and I are trying to finalize your headstone.  It is mostly your dad.  I am not so good with the headstones.  It should be finalized soon.  I saw Maureen from the cemetery the other day.  I asked her to call me before they put your stone in the ground.  I know it has been ordered and it will arrive one day soon.  I am going to try to prepare myself.  I am going to be extra strong so that I do not lose it when I see your name in stone.  It is just so permanent. 

Your daddy and I are also figuring out your unveiling.  I wish more than anything we were discussing how many cupcakes to order for your birthday party.  People have told me that we do not have to have an unveiling.  I know.  When your child dies there are very few rules you have to follow. But, in my heart it feels wrong not to do anything (not nearly as wrong as you dying).   We will figure it out.  Sometimes it is just so hard. We have to move forward.  We have to breathe.  We have to live in a world without you and your brother

I miss you so much sweet Sawyer.  Where are you?  Wherever you are please know how much your mommy loves you.  I like to think that you are playing with Jake.  Mom Mom and Grandmother are taking care of you.   I love you baby boy, I will see you in my dreams.  

Love always,
Mommy

A Band & A Baby

October 18, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, mourning, silver lining | 3 Comments
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I joined a band.  Not the musical kind of band but a different kind.  The mission of Band Back Together is below or click on the link to read more about it:

Our Mission

Band Back Together is a group weblog that provides educational resources as well as a safe, moderated, supportive environment to share stories of survival. Through the power of real stories written by real people, we can work together to destigmatize mental illness, abuse, rape, baby loss and other traumas so that we may learn, grow, and heal.

All are welcome.

Not sure what I am doing in the band but I will figure it out. . . .

I also wanted to welcome my new nephew, Ethan, to the world!  I cannot wait to meet him.  And introduce him to his big cousins.

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