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Jesse David & Taylor Mom, October 15, 2013
Posted April 30, 2015
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Posted May 2, 2015
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I found these videos last night and thought I would share. The first one is the Dalai Lama leading a breathing exercise. In times of extreme stress, most of us probably don't recognize that we are taking in shallow breaths. I tried to do it like him, but I think it would take more practice. The purpose of the exercise is to bring one into a more relaxed state, so it would probably be good for those of us who suffer from anxiety attacks.
Posted May 24, 2015
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Carol Kearns: Grief Counselor trained under Elisabeth Kubler-Rosshttp://www.carolkearns.com/Another one of the grief counselor's that spoke to my heart was Carol Kearns, who was mentored under Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I emailed her shortly after my son's passing and she emailed back. I also was sent a blue crystal butterfly which I still have. She was also one of the grief counselors that responded to the tragic Sandy Hook shootings in the Connecticut.
Here is Carol Kearn's background and info on her book that is now posted online:Book Overview: Thoughts Behind Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare
Life challenges everyone. My greatest challenge was the drowning of my seven-year-old daughter, Kristen. In 1976, Krissie was swept out to sea by a rogue wave while playing with her nine-year-old brother, Michel, and other children on an Oregon beach. I never saw Kristen again. The unique hope for "Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare" is not only to describe the process of my journey through grief and the lessons learned; I also want to share an added perspective from my years as a psychologist specializing in crisis counseling and tragic lossCarol’s Columns Writtten for Compassionate Friendshttp://www.carolkear...ns/columns.html
Text below retrieved from Carol 's Kearns website:
I have found great solace volunteering for The Compassionate Friends, a hard-working group that supports families seeking "the positive resolution of grief following the death of a chlld" (www.compassionatefriends.org ). My columns discuss topics of continuing concern in the Marin County CA newsletter.
Grief and the Creative Process
Many of us after the death of our child, find words are inadequate when trying to describe our feelings. To say we feel devastated, empty, hollow, hopeless, helpless or desperate still may not get to the core of what we're experiencing. That said, I know several of you were non-poets before the death of your child, yet found words flowing from your heart after. These poems have allowed you to creatively or analogically describe your experience. They have not only helped you to heal, but they have helped others to understand. To reach beyond words, whether we are trying to explain to someone what we're feeling or to help ourselves heal by tapping into the depth of our grief, the creative process can be the answer. ... read more»
Honoring the One Year Anniversary of My Daughter's Death
I thought that I would share an excerpt from my book Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare about the one year anniversary of my daughter Kristen's death. Kristen died in November and for all of us, the day our child was taken from us is a day we'll never forget. There is never an easy way to acknowledge that day. I felt it was important on the one year anniversary to return to the ocean and the spot where Kristen was pulled out to sea. The following is from a letter I wrote to my son who was 10 at the time. We had climbed down some rocks that projected just above the beach at the same time of the day that she drowned. Our plan was to have a quiet, meditative moment where we would each reflect on Krissie in our own way. ... read more»
How Can We Care For Ourselves After The Death of Our Child?
This is a frequently asked question and most important. We all know how lonely we feel after our child's death. For others, life continues on and we can't even figure out what to buy at the grocery store. Our life must go forward as well but how? We may have other children to care for and yet we can hardly get out of bed. Just getting dressed is a struggle. I would like to offer a few suggestions that have helped me and some of my bereaved clients. ... read more»
More On Surviving Siblings
I gained a greater understanding of how powerful guilt can be for surviving siblings observing my son Michel after the death of his sister, Kristen. As parents, it is our role to support, nurture, and protect. This is not the role of siblings, yet it gets twisted into their grief as well. As a result, it is common for brothers and sisters to feel that they failed in some way. ... read more»
Moving Beyond Grief
Recently I went to the wedding of my niece, who was born a few months before Kristen. Most likely, my daughter would have been one of her bridesmaids. Kristen's absence was obvious and felt by many. So many years, yet so many tears, and again those crazy mixed-up emotions emerged all at once. I was so joyous for my radiant niece on the happiest day of her life, and yet so sad. ... read more»
Trapped in Pain
After my last article, "Suicide and Loss," I received this question from a mother whose 19-year-old son, "Paul" (not his name), was killed instantly when his truck rolled over: “I can’t live with the pain of losing Paul, but I feel so caught. His death is the last memory I have. If I lose the pain, will I lose a part of him also?” This is such an important question because so many who are grieving the loss of a child feel the closeness and the constancy of pain. But here are some other things to consider. ... read more»
Suicide and Loss
I was asked the question, “What do you tell parents who have suicidal thoughts after their child dies?” As you all know, the death of a child is one of life’s greatest pains. I think the only pain greater is losing more than one child, and too many of you parents have. ...read more»
GUILT: The Bereaved Parent's Unwelcome Visitor
In my twenty-five years of trauma counseling, I can't remember ever counseling a bereaved parent who didn't, at one stage or another, experience guilt. No matter the age or cause of their child's death, the "could haves, should haves and wish I would haves" seemed to creep in. ...read more»
How to Deal With Friends You Lose After the Death of a Child
True friends don't leave us. Circumstances and miles may separate good friends for years with the only contact being the annual holiday card. However, when finally together, close friends soon find that cozy place of their friendship. ...read column»
How Many Children Do You Say You Have?
What was once an easy question becomes very difficult after the death of a child. This is especially true in the first few years following our child's death. ...read more»
Making the Holidays Meaningful After Your Child's Death
For most of us the holidays are a time for family and close friends. There is no way after our child's death to make these times easy. We can't pretend that everything is the way it once was, yet we can't ignore them. ...read more»
The Dance of Life and Death
I just became a grandmother for the first time. Early Saturday morning our son called to say his wife was in the hospital with labor pains that were five minutes apart...read more»
A Grandmother's Grief
My mother, diagnosed with lymphoma, died just before Mother's Day in 2008. Only two months prior, she had been a high spirited fun-loving woman, the heart of our family who was looking forward to her 90th birthday celebration that fall...read more»
PTSD and the Bereaved Parent
I was once asked by a bereaved parent if the death of a child can cause PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). My answer was, "ABSOLUTELY!" The essential feature of this disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor....read more»
Treatment of PTSD in the Bereaved Parent
In a previous newsletter we looked at the diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the bereaved parent. Briefly, there are four categories of criteria needed to make this diagnosis...read more»
Not So Unusual After All
The Dreams and Unusual Happenings workshop, sponsored by Georgia Alioto and her husband for our local Compassionate Friends chapter, was a great success. We all felt this even before reading the enthusiastic evaluations from workshop participants...read more»
Holidays: Memories and Meaning
After the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a most painful time. They come despite our best efforts to avoid them, but they don't have to be avoided. It is up to us to make them meaningful. ...read more»
Healing While Dreaming
When in a crisis one often dreams more intensely than usual. Freud speaks of dreams as being "the golden highway to the subconscious." They can help us to heal...read more»
Our role as parents is to love, nurture and protect our children. However, when our child dies, this role produces a powerful backlash experienced as guilt. Our children are not supposed to die before us. This is not the natural order. Survival guilt is fostered by this unnaturalness, no matter the age of the child...read more»
This Might Sound Strange, But...
Often in my counseling practice I would hear these words. ... "I know you will think this is strange, Dr. Kearns but..." Then I might hear her say that she wondered if there was a way her loved one knew before his death that he might die. For example...read more»
How Can We Care For Ourselves After the Death of a Child?
This is a frequently asked question and most important. We all know how lonely we feel after our child's death. For others, life continues on and we can't even figure out what to buy at the grocery store. Our life must go forward as well but how?...read more»
Lunch With Michelle
In the many years that I counseled bereaved parents in my private practice and in my work with Compassionate Friends, I had never met another mother with a similar situation to mine. But today I had lunch with Michelle Miller. Michelle's experience was uncannily like my own....read more»
How Can I Handle This Anxious Recurring Situation?
A bereaved parent said, "Memorial Day weekend eight years ago was the 'beginning of the end' for my son who had a terminal illness. Each year, even though this weekend signifies the beginning of summer, I become anxious and depressed without even thinking about the time of year...read more»
Finding Meaning In Our Grief
After the death of a child, when we are in the depths of grief, it is hard to believe we will ever be happy again. We are overwhelmed by what used to be the simplest of tasks, yet we still have to function. Life continues on never missing a beat...read more»
Carol's Dissertation Papers on Grief
The sudden death of a child is not only excruciatingly painful for the parent but also potentially disruptive for the corporation employing the parent. The parent must find a way to cope with life's most painful loss. The corporation faces the dilemma of responding compassionately to its employee while at the same time maintaining departmental morale and productivity. That dilemma is explored in this study from the perspective of the bereaved parent and the institution.
Posted June 23, 2015
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Post about the Hidden Chronic Pain of Grief...from the blog of John Pavlovitz
Article retrieved from: http://johnpavlovitz.com/2015/09/22/the-hidden-chronic-pain-of-grief/
My father died two years ago and as it is with loss, lots of calendar milestones are tough. Yet as difficult as birthdays and anniversaries and holidays are, those are predictable trials. You sort of see those breakdowns coming and you prepare for them.
In fact, people are usually much more sensitive to your grief during those times; much more mindful of what might be going on beneath the surface. Your discomfort then seems expected, called for, natural in their eyes.
The really horrible moments are those other ones; the random, unexpected, unspectacular times when the pain comes out of nowhere and sucker punches your soul.
It might be a song or a word or a time of day or the smell of something on the stove or a place you drive past that rips you open again, that brings the flood of tears, that ushers in the heaves and sobs.
And during many such times it just isn’t convenient or socially acceptable to flat-out lose it; at a bus stop with your son or in a staff meeting or paying at the drive-thru or in the middle of a board game with a group of friends.
On so many of those occasions, to save yourself the embarrassment or to prevent an awkward moment for those you are with; you grit your teeth, ball up your fist, force a smile and force the tears back down from where they came.
You fall apart in places no one can see—and all the while you look perfectly fine.
I’ve grown to accept that so much of grief is destined to be a solitary road. Even when well-meaning people care deeply and truly desire to share the journey with you, they will never be privy to the frequency and severity of your suffering.
This is partly because your loss is so very individual, and partly because you simply never reveal it all to them. You couldn’t possibly.
I would have preferred to never have had to walk this road at all. Traveling through the Grief Valley has largely been a big slice of Hell, but it certainly hasn’t been without its hard-earned treasures too.
One of those has been the realization of just how much hidden, chronic pain there is in my midst; of how many of people I cross paths with on any given day might be smiling and silently falling apart.
That kind of awareness doesn’t come until you too have many moments of deeply buried hurt, but once you receive it your eyes see people differently. They look more intently. Empathy becomes easier. Compassion is involuntary.
To all those who will willingly suffer in secret today, as memories and sadness surprise you in the most inconvenient of moments: I see you.
I know your pain doesn’t have to be visible to be real.
Posted August 28, 2015
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Ben Bredlove's final message to the world:
(His original videos)
Posted September 13, 2015
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I found this article from Dr. Alan Wolfelt to be very helpful, especially in the beginning:
Companioning the Bereaved from Dr. Alan Wolfelt
During this time, while many have been helpful, there are always those who just don't know how to respond, or ignore you because they can't deal with it or worse start telling you how to manage your grief...and they don't have a clue...The following advice on how to help someone in grief by Dr. Alan Wolfelt really spoke to me on how to help those of us in deep mourning....especially the listening of stories, told and retold...His idea of truly being a companion to those in grief is what I have needed in my own journey through losing now my second son...." To companion our fellow human beings means to witness and learn as opposed to playing the 'scientific expert.' My 11 tenets of companioning the bereaved are as follows:
You’ll note that a central role of the companion to the mourner is related to the art of honoring stories and being taught by the true expert—which is the person going through the experience.Yes, I realize that the art of honoring stories sounds soft to scientists, but the good news is that it seems to work, and I plan to keep on teaching about the long-held understanding that telling and re-telling personal stories of love and loss are essential elements of supporting people in grief."
Posted September 15, 2015
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For Christmas posted 12.15.15
Kyle Daniel's son Hayden died last year from a congenital heart defect.
This year will be the first Christmas without his son, and so he approached Athens, a Georgia man, Caleb Ryan Sigmon – playing Santa at a mall – with a particularly heartbreaking request: He wanted a picture of Hayden and Santa to give to his wife Sasha.
I said, 'Absolutely.'
Without anyone saying anything, he handed me the frame with Hayden's picture and I placed it on my knee. In the photo, I could see on the little boy's armband that his first name was Hayden. I didn't ask any questions but I am guessing that this is his first photo with Santa.
The camera snap was the only sound I could hear through the entire mall.
Sigmon and the photo team gave Kyle Daniel his photo package for free. "He grabbed my hand and pulled me in and hugged me, then turned around and left," Sigmon recounted.
"I'm sharing this to remind us all that Christmastime is unbelievably hard for some families," Sigmon concluded.
"Pray for the brokenhearted. Smile at people. Just be kind. Love one another."
Posted October 3, 2015
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I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm new to this. I lost my son on Aug 28 2015 .he was 44 in car accident. His name is Corky. I posted under the name of onelessbenglas .my prayers go out to you. I hope to get to know you. I go to chat room in afternoon. I'm all so new at computer s. Please have a great bless day. Corky s momma
Posted October 23, 2015
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OnelessBengals...thank you for the kind reply. I am sorry for the loss of your son, Corky. It is so difficult and raw in the first year. I now mainly post in the Loss of an Adult Child section.
There are lot of good people who post there and they have helped me so much in this journey through loss.
Note: I am editing some of my entries here to reflect new thoughts I have or other resources. So the stamped date of the entry may be different than the post.
Posted December 23, 2015
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Posted June 4, 2016
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Jesse David's Mom,
Thank you for sharing the poem. It really touched me this morning. I just recently lost my baby, 4-15-16. I'm having a very difficult time coping. He was only 23 and taken away far too early. We as parents are not suppose to bury our children. I've just recently been turned on to this site by my son's girlfriend. I'm not sure how to navigate around it yet but I've been reading allot of the comments. I'm not even sure what I'm looking to get out of this site. I'm so confused. Day to day tasks seem hard to complete. Sleep is not capable. Eating makes me sick. I have no joy anymore. I'm expecting my first grandchild and can't even be excited about that. I don't know what to do, think our say anymore.
Posted June 17, 2016
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I noticed your post on this thread. I just wanted to say that it is very difficult, and to take baby steps, especially when in the beginning you are so raw. I think you have been on the Loss of an Adult child thread, I had met many kind people there who helped me along. I have realized after this long, the pain may have eased, but my life as I knew it is changed forever. Somehow the days keep moving forward though...
Posted July 24, 2016
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From David Kessler's web site on grief. David Kessler is a grief counselor who trained under Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:
Sheryl Sandberg’s post on Facebook gave us much insight into how those in grief feel about the responses of others to loss. Many of us have said “The Best” and “The Worst.” We meant no harm, in fact the opposite. We were trying to comfort. A grieving person may say one of the worst ones about themselves and it’s OK. It may make sense for a member of the clergy to say, “He is in a better place” when someone comes to them for guidance. Where as an acquaintance saying it may not feel good.
You would also not want to say to someone, you are in the stages of grief. In our work, On Grief and Grieving, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and I share that the stages were never meant to tuck messy emotions into neat packages. While some of these things to say have been helpful to some people, the way in which they are often said has the exact opposite effect than what was originally intended.
1. I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in anyway I can.
4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
5. My favorite memory of your loved one is…
6. I am always just a phone call away
7. Give a hug instead of saying something
8. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you
9. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything
10. Saying nothing, just be with the person
1. At least she lived a long life, many people die young
2. He is in a better place
3. She brought this on herself
4. There is a reason for everything
5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for awhile now
6. You can have another child still
7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him
8. I know how you feel
9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go
10. Be strong
When in the position of wanting to help a friend or loved one in grief, often times our first desire is to try to “fix” the situation, when in all actuality our good intentions can lead to nothing but more grief. Knowing the right thing to say is only half of the responsibility of being a supportive emotional caregiver. We have comprised two lists which examine both the GOOD and the NOT SO GOOD traits of people just trying to help.
Posted September 11, 2016
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Posted January 20
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It has been a long 4 + years since my beloved son has transitioned to his new home. I have found that still after all this time, not much makes sense to me in my life. I would say the raw terrible pain has faded...however, I still have not returned. A faded version of me exists and I have improved my skills at carefully hiding behind a mask -- very well crafted to hide the heart pain from the outside world.
I now travel The Road Not Taken.
I love that you guys share books or commentaries on grief and the journey and items you have found helpful. These resources can be very enlightening and offer a starting point to those of us who are "stuck" or don't know where to look for help. Thank you
Posted January 21
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You're welcome. Hugs.
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