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Jesse David & Taylor Mom

Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong

06/03/2016 02:20 pm ET | Updated Jun 07, 2016

After nearly seven years of personal experience surrounding loss, I can tell who is going to read, share and comment on this article and it’s not necessarily the audience I’ve intended. Those who have walked the horrific road of loss will shake their collective heads “Yes” at many of my points below and share with pleads for the rest of the Western World to read, learn, evolve and embrace these concepts. Unfortunately, my words will fall short for my intended audience because the premise does not yet apply to their lives...yet. In time, my words will resonate with every human on the face of this earth, but until a personal journey with loss takes place, my words will be passed over in exchange for articles about gorillas and fights over public bathroom usage.

There is nothing sexy or exciting about grief.

There is nothing that grabs a reader with no personal interest to open my words and take heed to my writing.

I’m here to say that the West has the concept of grieving all wrong.

I’d like to point out that we are a culture of emotionally stunted individuals who are scared of our mortality and have mastered the concept of stuffing our pain. Western society has created a neat little “grief box” where we place the grieving and wait for them to emerge fixed and whole again. The grief box is small and compact, and it comes full of expectations like that range from time frames to physical appearance. Everyone who has been pushed into the grief box understands it’s confining limitations, but all of our collective voices together can’t seem to change the intense indignation of a society too emotionally stifled to speak the truth. It’s become easier to hide our emotional depth than to reveal our vulnerability and risk harsh judgment. When asked if we are alright, it’s simpler to say yes and fake a smile then, to be honest, and show genuine human emotion.

Let me share below a few of the expectations and realities that surround grief for those who are open to listening. None of my concepts fit into societies grief box and despite the resounding amount of mutual support by the grieving for what I write below, many will discount my words and label us as “stuck” or “in need of good therapy.” I’m here to say those who are honest with the emotions that surround loss are the ones who are the least “stuck” and have received the best therapy around. You see, getting in touch with our true feelings, embracing the honest emotions of death only serve to expand the heart and allow us to move forward in a genuine and honest way. Death happens to us all so let’s turn the corner and embrace the truth behind life after loss.

Expectation: Grief looks a certain way in the early days. Tears, intense sadness, and hopelessness.

Reality: Grief looks different for every single person. Some people cry intensely, and some don’t cry at all. Some people break down, and others stand firm. There is no way to label what raw grief looks like as we all handle our loss in different ways due to different circumstances and various life backgrounds that shape who we are.

Expectation: The grieving need about a year to heal.

Reality: Sometimes grief does not even get started till after the first year. I’ve heard countless grieving people say year two is harder than year one. There is the shock, end of life arrangements and other business matters that often consume the first year and the grieving do not have the time actually to sit back and take the time to grieve. The reality is there is no acceptable time frame associated with grief.

Expectation: The grieving will need you most the first few weeks.

Reality: The grieving are flooded with offers of help the first few weeks. In many cases, helping the grieving six months or a year down the line can be far more helpful because everyone has returned to their lives and the grief stricken are left to figure it out alone.

Expectation: The grieving should bury the dead forever. After a year, it is uncomfortable for the grieving to speak of their lost loved one. If they continue to talk about them, they are stuck in their grief and need to “move on.”

Reality: The grieving should speak of the dead forever if that’s what they wish to do. When someone dies, that does not erase the memories you made, the love you shared and their place in your heart. It is not only okay to speak of the dead after they are gone, but it’s also a healthy and peaceful way to move forward.

Expectation: For the widowed - If you remarry you shouldn’t speak of your lost loved one otherwise you take away from your new spouse.

Reality: You never stop loving what came before, and that does not in any way lessen the love you have for what comes after. When you lose a friend - you don’t stop having friends, and you love them all uniquely. If you lose a child and have another, the next child does not replace or diminish the love you had for the first. If you lose a spouse, you are capable of loving what was and loving what is....one does not cancel out or minimize the next. Love expands the heart, and it’s okay to honor the past and embrace the future.

Expectation: Time heals all wounds.

Reality: Time softens the impact of the pain, but you are never completely healed. Rather than setting up false expectations of healing let’s talk about realistic expectations of growth and forward movement. Grief changes who you are at the deepest levels and while you may not forever be in an active mode of grief you will forever be shaped by the loss you have endured.

Expectation: If you reflect on loss beyond a year you are “stuck.”

Reality: Not a day goes by where I am not personally affected by my loss. Seeing my children play sports, looking at my son who is the carbon copy of his Dad or hearing a song on the radio or smell in the air. Loss because part of who you are and even though I don’t choose to dwell on grief it has a way of sneaking in now and again even when I’m most in love with life at the current moment. It’s not because we dwell or focus, and it’s not because we don’t make daily choices to move forward. It’s because we loved and we lost, and it touches us for the remainder of our days in the most profound ways.

Expectation: When you speak of the dead you make the griever sad, so it’s best not to bring them up.

Reality: When we talk about our lost loved one we are often happy and filled with joy. My loss was six and a half years ago and to this day, my late husband is one of my favorite people to talk and hear about. Hearing his name makes me smile and floods my mind with happy memories of a life well lived. It makes the grieving sadder when everyone around them refuses to say their name. Forgetting they existed is cruel and a perfect example of our stifled need to fix the unfixable.

Expectation: If you move forward you never loved them or conversely if you don’t move forward you never loved them.

Reality: The grieving need to do what is right for them, and nobody knows what that is except the person going through it.

Expectation: It’s time to “move on.”

Reality: There is no moving on - there is only moving forward. From the time death touches our lives we move forward, in fact, we are not given a choice but to move forward. However, we never get to a place where the words move on resonate. The words “move on” have a negative connotation to the grieving. They suggest a closure that is nonexistent and a fictitious door we pass through.

Expectation: Grief is a linear process and a series of steps to be taken. Each level is neatly defined and the order predetermined.

Reality: Grief is an ugly mess full of pitfalls, missteps, sinking, and swimming. Like a game of shoots and ladders, you never know when the board might pull you back and send you down the ladder screaming at the top of your lungs. Just when you think you’ve arrived at the finish, you draw a card that sends you back to start and just when it appears you’ve lost the game you jump ahead and come one step closer to the front of the line.

Expectation: The grieving should seek professional forms of counseling exclusively.

Reality: The grieving should seek professional forms of counseling but also the grieving should look strongly towards alternative modes of therapy like fitness, art, music, meditation, journaling and animal therapy. The grieving should take an “active” part in their grief process and understand that coping comes in many different forms for all the different people who walk this earth.

Expectation: The grieving either live in the past or the present. IT is not possible to have a multitude of emotions.

Reality: The grieving live their lives with intense moments of duality. Moments of incredible happiness mixed with feelings of deep sadness. There is a depth of emotion that forever accompany those who have lived with a loss. That duality can cause constant reflection, and a deeper appreciation of all life has to offer.

Expectation: The grieving should be able to handle business as usual within a few weeks.

Reality: The brain of a grieving person can be in a thick fog, especially for those who have experienced extreme shock, for more than a year. Expect forgetfulness, a reduced ability to handle stress and grayness to be commonplace after a loss.

I’ve just scratched the surface above on the many areas where grief is misunderstood in our society.

One hundred percent of the people who walk this earth will deal with death. Each of us will experience the passing of someone close that we love or our personal morality. It is about time we open up the discussion around death, dying and grief and stop the stigma that surrounds our common bond. Judgment, time frames, and neat little grief boxes have no place in the reality that surrounds loss. Western culture asks us to suppress our pain, stuff our emotions and restrain our cries. Social media has given many who grieve the opportunity to open up dialogue, be vulnerable on a large scale level and take the combined heat that comes with that honesty. As a whole, society does not want to hear or accept that grief stays with us in some capacity for the rest of our lives. Just like so many other aspects of our culture, we want to hear there is a quick fix, a cure-all, a pill or a healthy dose of “get over it” to be handed out discreetly and dealt with quietly.

The reality is you will grieve in some capacity for the rest of your life. Once loss touches you-you are forever changed despite what society tells you. Stop looking at the expectations of an emotionally numbed society as your threshold and measuring stick for success. Instead, turn inward and look at the vulnerable reality of a heart that knows the truth about loss. With your firsthand knowledge escape the grief box and run out screaming truth as you go. If we make enough noise maybe someday societies warped expectation will shift to align with reality.

Follow Michelle E. Steinke on Twitter: www.twitter.com/OneFitWidow


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Jesse David & Taylor Mom

Originally posted by Dianne, Michael’s mom, thought I would include this insightful post on this thread. Thanks Dianne for sharing.

64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief

I wish someone had told me . . .

1.     No matter how prepared you think you are for a death, you can never be fully prepared for the loss and the grief.

2.     You can plan for death, but death does not always comply with our wishes or plans.

3.     “Stop avoiding and be present”.

4.     “Dying is not like you see on TV or in the movies.  It is not peaceful or prepared.  You may not have a spiritual or meaningful moment . . . It’s too real”.

5.     A hospital death is not always a bad death.

6.     A home death/hospice death is not always a good death.

7.     “There will be pressure from others to move on, even minutes or hours after a death, and this can lead to regrets”.

8.     “Death is not an emergency – there is always time to step back and take a moment to say goodbye”

9.     Death and grief make people uncomfortable, so be prepared for awkward encounters.

10.                        You will plan the funeral while in a haze.  If you aren’t happy with the funeral you had, have another memorial service later.

11.                        When people offer support, take them up on it.

12.                        People will bring you food because they don’t know what else to do.  Don’t feel bad throwing it away.

13.                        People will say stupid, hurtful things without even realizing it.

14.                        People will tell you things that aren’t true about your grief.

15.                        Death brings out the best and the worst in families, so be prepared.

16.                        There is no such thing as closure.

17.                        There is no timeline for grieving.  You can’t rush it.  You will grieve, in some form, forever.

18.                        “There will always be regrets.  No matter how much time you had, you’ll always want more”.

19.                        Guilt is a normal part of grief.

20.                        Anger is normal part of grief.

21.                        “The pain of a loss is a reflection of love, but you never regret loving as hard as you can”.

22.                        Grief can make you question your faith.

23.                        Grief doesn’t come in 5 neat stages.  Grief is messy and confusing”.

24.                        Grief makes you feel like you are going crazy.

25.                        Grief can make you question your life, your purpose, and your goals.  And that isn’t always a bad thing.

26.                        We all grieve differently, which can create strain and confusion between family members and friends.

27.                         “However badly you think it is going to hurt, it is going to be a million times worse”.

28.                         You may find comfort in very unexpected places.

29.                        “You should go somewhere to debrief after care giving”.

30.                         “The last 24 hours of their lives will replay in your mind”.

31.                        Trying to protect children from death and the emotions of grief isn’t helpful.

32.                        “It’s sometimes necessary to seek out new ways to grieve on your own, find new guidance, if the people who are supposed to be supportive simply haven’t learned how”.

33.                         “You grieve your past, present, and future with that person”.

34.                        Big life events and milestones will forever be bittersweet.

35.                        Grief triggers are everywhere – you will see things that remind you of your loved one all over the place, and it may lead to sudden outbursts of emotion.

36.                        “You lose yourself, your identity, meaning, purpose, values, your trust”.

37.                        Holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays will be hard forever.

38.                        People will tell you what you should and shouldn’t feel and how you should and shouldn’t grieve.  Ignore them.

39.                        “The grief process is about not only mourning the loss, but getting to know yourself as a different person”.

40.                        There is no normal when it comes to grieving.

41.                        Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

42.                        “It is normal to feel numb after it happens.  The tears will come. They come in waves”.

43.                        Grief can make you feel selfish and entitled, and that’s okay (at least for a while).

44.                        Meeting new people, who never knew the person who died, can be hard and sad.  But eventually it can be nice to “introduce” them through stories and photographs.

45.                        The practice of sending thank you notes after a funeral is a cruel and unusual tradition.

46.                        “People love to judge how you are doing.  Watch out for those people”.

47.                        You can’t compare grief or compare losses, though people will try.

48.                        Any loss you grieve is a valid loss, though people will sometimes make you feel otherwise.

49.                        “Just because you feel pretty good one day it doesn’t mean you are cured of your grief”.

50.                        There are many days when you will feel totally and completely alone, whether you are or not.

51.                        Grief can make you do stupid, crazy things.  They may be what you need at the time time, but you may regret them later.  Cut yourself some slack.

52.                        Grief can make you a stronger person than you were before.

53.                        Grief counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy or weak.

54.                        It is okay to cry sometimes.

55.                        It is okay NOT to cry sometimes.

56.                        “Time does NOT heal all wounds”.

57.                        “Grief re-writes your address book”. Sometimes the people you think will be there for you are not.  People you never expect become your biggest supporters.

58.                        “You don’t get over it, you just get used to it”.

59.                        It is okay to tell people when they are not being helpful.

60.                        Watch your drinking– alcohol can quickly become an unhealthy friend.

61.                        You will have to face your emotions eventually – you can avoid them for a while, but they will catch up with you in the end.

62.                        Talking isn’t the only way to express and process emotions.

63.                        You will never go back to being your “old self”.  Grief changes you and you are never the same.

64.                        Nothing you do in the future will change your love for the person who died.  Eventually you will begin to enjoy life again, date again, have another child, seek new experiences, or whatever.  None of these things will diminish your love for the person you lost.



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I have been on my journey of grief slightly over a year now...I lost my son, Jesse, October of 2012...

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:

  • Companioning is about honoring the spirit; it is not about focusing on intellect.

  • Companioning is about curiosity; it is not about expertise.

  • Companioning is about learning from others, it is not about teaching.

  • Companioning is about walking alongside; it is not about leading or being led.

  • Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.

  • Companioning is about discovering the gifts of sacred silence it is not about a filling every painful moment with talk.

  • Companioning is about listening with the heart. It is not about analyzing with the head.

  • Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about judging or directing those struggles.

  • Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain; it is not about taking away or relieving the pain.

  • Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing order and logic.

  • Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.

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."

Jesse David's Mom,

Just read your posting on "Companion". Thank you for sharing. The past two days, have been grueling. I have been in a very dark place. The pain and hurt have been intense. More than any other time. Tears invite themselves...remain for untold time. Early part of the week, I did well. I'd cry, dry my eyes and continue with "Yana Projects." I've not return to them for some days now. I know this will get better as time passes. So hard though--when you lose a child, you lose a piece of yourself. I'm merely trying hold on aware of that piece never will be restored.

Today's Daily Word, offered a message: "Let GO. Let God." I attempt to do just that; and ask for His guidance and support and comfort, as I cannot do this alone. And, I appreciate all on this site bringing words of comfort to ease the pain as well.

I shall make a copy of your "Companion" and refer to it often. My prayers go out to you and your family. We, in time, will heal. The heart will hurt, but the hurt will lessen (at least this is what I tell myself).

May God be with you.



Ayanna, I love and miss you dearly. Your human spirit was filled with courage and hope. And, I shall display those same attributes in kind. Continue to sit on my shoulder and help in my guidance, please. Love. Love. Love you much.

Mommy (You're my Earth Angel...Now Heaven's Angel

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Jesse David & Taylor Mom

Jesse David's Mom,

Just read your posting on "Companion". Thank you for sharing. The past two days, have been grueling. I have been in a very dark place. The pain and hurt have been intense. More than any other time. Tears invite themselves...remain for untold time. Early part of the week, I did well. I'd cry, dry my eyes and continue with "Yana Projects." I've not return to them for some days now. I know this will get better as time passes. So hard though--when you lose a child, you lose a piece of yourself. I'm merely trying hold on aware of that piece never will be restored.

Today's Daily Word, offered a message: "Let GO. Let God." I attempt to do just that; and ask for His guidance and support and comfort, as I cannot do this alone. And, I appreciate all on this site bringing words of comfort to ease the pain as well.

I shall make a copy of your "Companion" and refer to it often. My prayers go out to you and your family. We, in time, will heal. The heart will hurt, but the hurt will lessen (at least this is what I tell myself).

May God be with you.



Ayanna, I love and miss you dearly. Your human spirit was filled with courage and hope. And, I shall display those same attributes in kind. Continue to sit on my shoulder and help in my guidance, please. Love. Love. Love you much.

Mommy (You're my Earth Angel...Now Heaven's Angel

Barbara, you may like this article from Guideposts...it is from a Mom of the Columbine shootings:


Here is a poem I wrote for Jesse early on:

Hopes and Dreams Lost

Today I touched what you left behind,

Oh, so many memories attached to it all.

I gently rub my fingers across the last shirt you wore,

And try to inhale your remaining scent embedded in the fabric.

Packing and sorting your life, your hopes and dreams that will never be...

What am I searching for among this earthly stuff?

Perhaps trying in vain to recreate that which is lost,

And I want to pretend so hard that yesterday never happened….

I remember the words of Jesus, “In my house are many mansions…”

Prepare my heavenly place next to you, oh so close,

Where you will always be within the reach of my embrace…

Your Mom forever…


Prayers to you...

II Cor 5:1

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Jesse David & Taylor Mom

I found this Article written by David Kessler who is a grief counselor mentored under Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I find these stories of how consciousness and the spirit continues after our physical death provides me some measure comfort and reassurance of seeing both of my sons when it is my time.


What We Can't Explain at the End of Life: Who and What You See Before You Die
When a loved one is dying, chances are he's experiencing more than we can see. Grief expert David Kessler offers insight into what your family member is going through—whether you can understand it or not.
Article By David Kessler


Throughout my years of working with the dying and the bereaved, I have noticed commonly shared experiences that remain beyond our ability to explain and fully understand. The first are visions. As the dying see less of this world, some people appear to begin looking into the world to come. It's not unusual for the dying to have visions, often of someone who has already passed on. Your loved one may tell you that his deceased father visited him last night, or your loved one might speak to his mom as if she were there in the room at that time.

It was almost 15 years ago that I was sitting at the bedside of my teacher, Elisabeth Kübler Ross', when she turned to me and asked, "What do you think about the deceased visiting those on their deathbeds to greet them?" I replied quickly, showing my knowledge back to her: "You're speaking of deathbed visions, most likely caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain or a side effect of morphine." She looked at me and sighed, "It will come with maturity."

I thought to myself: "Maturity? What did maturity have to do with anything?" Now, years later, I look at the events we still can't explain that happen at the end of life and realize what Elisabeth was saying. It would be arrogant to think we can explain everything, especially when it comes to dying.


My mother died when I was still a preteen. My father remained an incredible optimist his whole life, even when he was dying. I was busy trying to make sure he was comfortable and pain-free, and at first didn't notice he had become very sad. He told me how much he was going to miss me once he was gone. And then he mentioned how much he was saying goodbye to: his loved ones, his favorite foods, the sky, the outdoors and a million other things of this world. He was overcome by sadness I could not (and would not) take away from him.

My father was very down-hearted for the next few days. But then one morning he told me my mother, his wife, had come to him the night before. "David, she was here for me," he said with an excitement I had not seen in him in years. "I was looking at all I was losing, and I'd forgotten that I was going to be with her again. I'm going to see her soon." He looked at me as he realized I would still remain here. Then he added, "We'll be there waiting for you." Over the next two days, his demeanor changed dramatically. He had gone from a hopeless dying man with only death in front of him to a hopeful man who was going to be reunited with the love of his life. My father lived with hope and also died with it.

When I started compiling examples to include in my book Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die, I was surprised by how similar they were. In fact, it was hard to pick which ones to use because they were all so much alike. Now I realize the very thing that makes them repetitious is also what makes them unique. As someone who has spent most of my life writing, teaching and working with the dying, I can't prove to you that my father's vision was real. I can only talk about my experience as a son and about countless other occurrences that take place every day. I used to believe the only thing we needed to alleviate was the suffering of the dying by providing good pain management and symptom control. I know now that we have more—we have the "who" and "what" we see before we die, which is perhaps the greatest comfort to the dying.

Some interesting and unexplainable items about deathbed visions:

Visions people experience at the end of life are remarkably similar.
The dying are most often visited by their mothers. It shouldn't be too surprising that the person who is actually present as we cross the threshold of life and take our first breaths once again appears at the threshold as we take our last breaths.


- Hands passionately reaching upward to some unseen force is witnessed in many deathbed encounters.
- Visions mostly occur toward a corner of the room.
- Those family members at a deathbed are not able to see the vision or participate in the conversation.
- Visions usually occur hours to weeks before death.
- Visions don't seem to appear in other frightening situations where death is not likely, such as stuck in an elevator, lost in a foreign city or lost hiking.
- Unlike traditional healthcare, the law treats a dying person's last words as the truth.

Comment from a user on this article:

Article Comment posted August 3, 2014 by user
2 days ago


About two months before my father passed away, he had a very clear and detailed deathbed vision. I was visiting him in the hospital on a Sunday and we were both reading the Sunday paper. I was sitting in a chair by his side. I glanced up from the paper to see that he had laid his paper and his chest and was intently looking at something on the wall slightly beyond the foot of his bed. I asked him what it was that he saw, and he responded "don't you see her?". I replied that I didn't, but pressed him for more information. I asked, "is it anyone you know?" and his response was that he didn't know her but that she was very pleasant looking. He went on to describe her in vivid detail; she was an older woman with long silver hair, glasses, and wearing a sweater. In her hands she held a book. At one point, my father spoke and said, "look at her now, she's as tall as the room!".


I got up and walked across the front of his bed, but his gaze never broke from what he was staring at. I walked out into the hallway and then came back into the room. I asked my father if the woman was still there and he said she was. He then added, "she watched you as you went out of the room". This made me realize that my dad was very much aware of everything going on, including the fact that I had just walked out of the room. I told him I was going to the cafeteria and would be right back. When I returned a few minutes later, my dad informed me that the lady had left with me and had also returned with me. I sat down and said nothing more on the subject to him. I left for the evening and he didn't mention the woman again.


The following day, I met his doctor in the hallway and shared the experience with her. She was quite candid in her response, stating that while I would not find evidence of these deathbed visions in any medical journal, that in her experience they were quite common. She said" prepare yourself, because the end is near for him".


Two months later, my dad passed. I was sadly not with him at the moment of death, but when I came to the hospital, I noted that he had a look of incredible peace on his face, almost a smile. I had never seen that look on his face ever. I can only surmise that he was indeed accompanied at the moment of transition by an angel or some other spiritual being. These deathbed visions are very comforting and a phenomenon that mere science cannot explain.
Article retrieved August 5, 2014

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I know Renea and I plan on attending the Compassionate Friends meeting here in Carson City at the end of the month. They only meet monthly, but one time is better than "no times." It will be good to meet others in person. This site is fantastic, but I think I also need the comfort in person. Thank you for the reminder...:)

And you are so right about "honoring stories." That seems to be the most helpful for me. I want others to see Brooks as I saw him...always giving...always caring...always smiling. I had him for 24 years, but I want others to have him for longer. You have been a Godsend Laurie...thank you.


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Do forgive me. Prior to going to bed, I returned to my quote to read and mull over. I noticed when sharing with you,

I did from memory and omitted (which to me) were important words, "from the hand." Allow me to requote if I may:

If we have have been pleased with life...we should NOT be displeased with death, since it comes from the HAND of the same MASTER.

Sorry for the boo boo :(


Good night all!


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Jesse David & Taylor Mom

Books I have found especially helpful


A Grief Observed
C.S. Lewis
"And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness."

Entering the Healing Ground
 In the Healing Ground¸ author Francis Weller, offers a new vision of grief and sorrow. He reveals the hidden vitality in grief, uncovered when the heart welcomes the sorrows of our life and those of the world. We are ripened in times of loss, made more human by the rites of grief. Through story, poetry and insightful reflections, Francis offers a meditation on the healing power of grief. 


Life After the Death of My Son: What I'm Learning
Dennis Apple
Life After the Death of My Son shares a glimpse of the unspeakable pain, helplessness, frustration, and eventual healing that Dennis and his wife, Buelah, have experienced since losing their son. Using excerpts from his journal—which he began the day after Denny died—Dennis explores the dark, lonely road of grieving for a child. He discloses his anger and disappointment with God, discusses his frustrations with friends and family, and shares how he’s dealt with the grief attacks, which continue to sneak up and surprise him. His painful, yet promising story offers comfort and connection to those walking similar paths. Dennis is now a grief counselor.

Understanding Death


Diane Komp

In the early years of her practice, Dr. Diane Komp reported to the bedside of dying children out of duty. But one day the scene that followed changed her life. Just before seven-year-old Anna died, she mustered the strength to sit up in bed and cry: “The angels–they’re so beautiful! Mommy, can you see them? Do you hear their singing? I’ve never heard such beautiful singing!” Then she lay back on her pillow and died, reports Komp in her book Images of Grace (Zondervan).


A Window to Heaven


Images of Grace (collection of her three books)



Final Gifts
Patricia Kelley and Maggie Callanan
"Dying people often interact with someone invisible to others— talking to them, smiling or nodding at them. Sometimes, more than one invisible person is involved. The unseen person’s identity often is clear to the dying. Generally they recognize someone significant from their lives— parent, spouse, sibling, friend— who is already dead. There is often a sense of pleasure, even of joyful reunion, in seeing that person again."



Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
"After sitting at the deathbeds of children and old people for many years, listening intently to what they are conveying to you, you will recognize that they know when death is approaching."



On Children and Death: How Children and Their Parents Can and Do Cope With Death
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Chapter 3 on sudden death was especially helpful.

"One couple shared the story of their eight-year-old girls who died by a freak accident during a trip overseas....After the death of their little girl, they found "evidence" that their little daughter had prepared things to leave behind, as little messages of love.



Special Topics


Premonitions can occur when a loved one is close to death, even accidental. Here is one book I found on this topic. It is written by Erin Linn who lost her 6 year old son, Micheal. Talking with many bereaved parents, this topic would surface quietly. It is still very relevent today though it was published in 1991.


Premonitions Visitatations and Dreams

Erin Linn, published 1991.

Collection of real stories by the author. Recommended by Compassionate Friends


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Thank you for creating this thread. I've never seen the list on companioning before. I shared it on my facebook page because I thought it was perfect. I also have watched one of the videos. I think it is so helpful to have all these things in one place. Thank you for sharing all you do.


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Mermaid Tears

  • Guilt becomes a powerful companion as you blame yourself for the death of your child. Rationally you know that you were not to blame—you most certainly would have saved your child if you'd been given the chance.
  • You feel great sadness and depression as you wrestle with the idea that everything important to you has been taken from you. Your future has been ruined and nothing can ever make it right.

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I found a book that has been helpful for both my husband and I. It is:

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

by Martha Whitmore Hickman

Thank you for supplying other resources. I found I could do some work myself in the Companioning area with my husband.


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I found a book that has been helpful for both my husband and I. It is:

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief

by Martha Whitmore Hickman

Thank you for supplying other resources. I found I could do some work myself in the Companioning area with my husband.


Jill, thanks for sharing the book, I will have to look it up on Amazon...

Jesse David's Mom,


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Very touching post someone left for me on this image:


God bless you Jesse David's mom. I am Brian's mom, Chris, love love this angel and the love you have for your son, as I do mine..I believe we will get up and breathe and do our duties...then go Home too. I remind myself, as well as others, to...breathe...John Brian mums is with David, Brian told me "mom, im free, its Amazing"...before the Dr. gave me words I couldn't understand.


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Over the Rainbow Bridge

True story about Cory Enebrad who passed at age 9 from cancer. Book was highly recommended by Elisabeth Kubler Ross.



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"When loss is a story, there is no right or wrong way to grieve."


SIDS death

Grief and its Integration


By PATRICK O’MALLEY JANUARY 10, 2015 1:16 PM January 10, 2015 1:16 pm


By the time Mary came to see me, six months after losing her daughter to sudden infant death syndrome, she had hired and fired two other therapists. She was trying to get her grief right.


Mary was a successful accountant, a driven person who was unaccustomed to being weighed down by sorrow. She was also well versed in the so-called stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To her and so many others in our culture, that meant grief would be temporary and somewhat predictable, even with the enormity of her loss. She expected to be able to put it behind her and get on with her life.


To look at her, she already had done so. The mask she wore for the world was carefully constructed and effective. She seemed to epitomize what many people would call “doing really well,” meaning someone who had experienced a loss but looked as if she was finished grieving. Within a few days of the death of her daughter she was back at work and seemed to function largely as before.


The truth of her life was something else. Six months after her baby’s death she remained in deep despair. She was exhausted from acting better than she felt around co-workers, friends and family. As is so often the case, she had diagnosed her condition as being “stuck” in grief, believing that a stubborn depression was preventing her from achieving acceptance and closure.


Was she in denial, she wondered. She also wondered if she was appropriately angry. The bottom line was that she knew she was depressed — a psychiatrist had prescribed an antidepressant — and that is what she wanted me to treat.


Earlier in my practice, I would have zeroed in on that depression. Was there a family history? Had she been depressed before? Was the medicine helping? What were her specific symptoms? Knowing the answers might suggest why she was stuck. Or I would have reviewed the stages of grief, as she had, looking for one in which the work remained incomplete.


But I had begun to operate differently by the time Mary showed up, which was 10 years after my own loss. My firstborn child had also died before he was a year old. It was why Mary had chosen me.


In our first session I put Mary’s depression aside. I asked her to tell me the story of her baby rather than describe the symptoms of her grief. Though she was resistant, she eventually started to talk.


Like most other things in Mary’s life, the baby, whom she named Stephanie, was planned. Mary was delighted with her pregnancy and had wonderful dreams for her daughter. After a routine delivery, Mary stayed home with Stephanie for the first three months. Returning to work had been difficult, but Mary was comfortable with the child-care arrangement, and managed to balance motherhood with her busy professional schedule.


Then Mary told me about the Saturday when she went to check on her napping daughter and found that Stephanie wasn’t breathing. She began C.P.R. as her husband called 911. There were moments of surreal focus as she and her husband tried to save their baby. Then this woman, so accustomed to being in control, had to surrender her daughter to an emergency crew. Her husband drove as they followed the ambulance to the hospital.


She described the waiting room in great detail, down to the color of the furniture. When the hospital chaplain walked in with the doctor she knew her baby was gone. She and her husband were taken into a room where they held the baby for the last time.


At this point in her story Mary finally began to weep, intensely so. She seemed surprised by the waves of emotion that washed over her. It was the first time since the death that the sadness had poured forth in that way. She said she had never told the story of her daughter from conception to death in one sitting.


“What is wrong with me?” she asked as she cried. “It has been almost seven months.”


Very gently, using simple, nonclinical words, I suggested to Mary that there was nothing wrong with her. She was not depressed or stuck or wrong. She was just very sad, consumed by sorrow, but not because she was grieving incorrectly. The depth of her sadness was simply a measure of the love she had for her daughter.


A transformation occurred when she heard this. She continued to weep but the muscles in her face relaxed. I watched as months of pent-up emotions were released. She had spent most of her energy trying to figure out why she was behind in her grieving. She had buried her feelings and vowed to be strong because that’s how a person was supposed to be.


Now, in my office, stages, self-diagnoses and societal expectations didn’t matter. She was free to surrender to her sorrow. As she did, the deep bond with her little girl was rekindled. Her loss was now part of her story, one to claim and cherish, not a painful event to try to put in the past.


I had gone through the same process after the loss of my son. I was in my second year of practice when he died, and I subsequently had many grieving patients referred to me. The problem in those early days was that my grief training was not helping either my patients or me. When I was trained, in the late 1970s, the stages of grief were the standard by which a grieving person’s progress was assessed.


THAT model is still deeply and rigidly embedded in our cultural consciousness and psychological language. It inspires much self-diagnosis and self-criticism among the aggrieved. This is compounded by the often subtle and well-meaning judgment of the surrounding community. A person is to grieve for only so long and with so much intensity.


To be sure, some people who come to see me exhibit serious, diagnosable symptoms that require treatment. Many, however, seek help only because they and the people around them believe that time is up on their grief. The truth is that grief is as unique as a fingerprint, conforms to no timetable or societal expectation.


Based on my own and my patients’ experiences, I now like to say that the story of loss has three “chapters.” Chapter 1 has to do with attachment: the strength of the bond with the person who has been lost. Understanding the relationship between degree of attachment and intensity of grief brings great relief for most patients. I often tell them that the size of their grief corresponds to the depth of their love.


Chapter 2 is the death event itself. This is often the moment when the person experiencing the loss begins to question his sanity, particularly when the death is premature and traumatic. Mary had prided herself on her ability to stay in control in difficult times. The profound emotional chaos of her baby’s death made her feel crazy. As soon as she was able, she resisted the craziness and shut down the natural pain and suffering.


Chapter 3 is the long road that begins after the last casserole dish is picked up — when the outside world stops grieving with you. Mary wanted to reassure her family, friends and herself that she was on the fast track to closure. This was exhausting. What she really needed was to let herself sink into her sadness, accept it.


When I suggested a support group, Mary rejected the idea. But I insisted. She later described the relief she felt in the presence of other bereaved parents, in a place where no acting was required. It was a place where people understood that they didn’t really want to achieve closure after all. To do so would be to lose a piece of a sacred bond.


“All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them,” said the writer Isak Dinesen. When loss is a story, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no pressure to move on. There is no shame in intensity or duration. Sadness, regret, confusion, yearning and all the experiences of grief become part of the narrative of love for the one who died.




Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth.


This is an essay from Couch, a series about psychotherapy at nytimes.com/opinionator. Some details have been altered to protect patient privacy.

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Trudi Harris

Deathbed Visions


Trudi Harris was a Hospice nurse for more than 22 years and former president of the Hospice Foundation for Caring. She shares her patient's end of life stories.

Columbine Mom shares Experience with Angels


From the Guideposts web site, a mom of one of the victim's from the Columbine shootings shares her supernatural experience with angels.




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Compassionate Friends Meeting: Speaker Carol Kearns. She is a grief counselor who lost her little girl Krissie at age 8. Carol was mentored under Elizabeth Kubler Ross

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Rabbi Harold Kushner


Author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," Rabbi Harold Kushner offers his perspective on coping with personal tragedies.

His own son, Aaron, was diagnosed at 3 years old and was afflicted with a rare and baffling disease and would not live beyond his teens. "I couldn't make sense of what the doctor was saying," Kushner remembers. "After all, we didn't deserve to be punished."


Aaron suffered from progeria, or "rapid aging."



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This is one of my favorite songs by the late Rich Mullins who passed away in a tragic accident, September 1997. 

This image is from an old bookmark that came from my grandmother's bible. It helped me especially in the first raw grief when those moments would come where I felt I fell off a cliff...and lay at the bottom broken...
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Author Stephan Grellet

There are times when, we as bereaved parents say things like, "I wish my child hadn't died" or "I wish I had him back." Those wishes, unfortunately, can never come true.

Another wish we may ask for is "I wish my friends (or church, or neighbors, or relatives) understood what I am going through and were more supportive." What do we wish others understood about the loss of our child?

Here is a partial list of such wishes:

I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was important and I need to hear his/her name.

If I cry or get emotional if we talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me; the fact that my child died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and thank you. Crying and emotional outbursts are healing.

I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by removing from your home his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances.

I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn't think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or that if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling.

I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separately. It is the ultimate tragedy and I wish you wouldn't compare it to your loss of a parent, a spouse, or a pet. (or a relationship breakup)

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't shy away from me.

I wish you knew all of the "crazy" grief reactions that I am having are in fact very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child.

I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. The first few years are going to be exceedingly traumatic for us. I will never be "cured" or a "former bereaved parent", but will forevermore be a "recovering bereaved parent".

I wish you understood the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a host of illnesses and be accident-prone, all of which may be related to my grief.

Our child's birthday, the anniversary of his death, and holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you would tell us that you are thinking about our child on these days, and if we get quiet and withdrawn, just know that we are thinking about our child and don't try to coerce us into being cheerful.

It is normal and good that most of us re-examine our faith, values, and beliefs after losing a child. We will question things we have been taught all our lives and hopefully come to some new understanding with our God. I wish you would let me tangle with my religion without making me feel guilty.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was before my child died and I never will be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to "get back to my old self", you will stay frustrated. I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values and beliefs.

Please try to get to know the new me - - maybe you'll still like me.

Instead of sitting around and waiting for our wishes to come true, we can teach people some of the things we have learned about our grief. We can teach these lessons with great kindness, believing that people have good intentions and want to do what is right, but just don't know what to do with us, or we can sit and wait, I believe our children would want us to help the world understand.

Article authored by Stephan Grellet

"I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

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The second image in memory of my infant son, Taylor James. 




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In my case, two boys, Jesse David and Taylor James.

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Recent article on DeathBed Visitations. The comments posted on this article are worth the read

When people are dying, they are often ‘visited’ by visions of dead friends and relatives - which offer comfort in our final hours.

As death approaches, the visits become more and more common.

The phenomenon has been widely reported, but up until now, has rarely been studied - although scientists are still unaware of what causes the visions.

Scientists from Canisius College, New York interviewed 66 patients receiving end-of-life care in a hospice.

The research – into a common, but little-studied phenomenon – found that most patients reported at least one such vision per day.

Many patients said the visits ‘felt real’ – and that visions involving dead friends and relatives were the most common.

The researchers write, ‘As participants approached death, comforting dreams/visions of the deceased became more prevalent,

‘The impact of pre-death experiences on dying individuals and their loved ones can be profoundly meaningful…

‘These visions can occur months, weeks, days, or hours before death and typically lessen fear of dying, making transition from life to death easier for those experiencing them.’
Some of the comments posted on this article from Yahoo:



On the day my dad died he told me that he had seen his mother, my long dead grandmother and that she had come to take him home. In many respects it was a comforting thing for me and the family to hear. He wasn't frightened about dying and shortly after seeing his mum and once we had given our 'permission' for him to 'go to sleep and rest now dad', he slipped away. Only 59 and my hero. Made me cry writing this.



My mother was in a rehab unit for Congestive Heart Failure. There'd been no discussion of death, but one day when I visited her, she said to me, "I've a feeling I'm going to be in heaven, soon." I asked why she had such a feeling, and she said her sister, Florence--who passed away in 2004 (this was early 2013)--had come to her with the news. Within two weeks, my mother died. I have absolutely no doubt that she saw her sister. Before she died, my mother also told me that the one person she was looking forward to seeing the most in "heaven" was her dead father. He passed in 1936.




Many years ago when I was in 20s my Granddad was in Hospital but was due to be sent home the following week as he was deemed ok by the Doctor. So I visited him on the Saturday with my wife.   After about an hour he asked me if he could speak to me on my own, my wife went off and got herself a coffee whist we had a chat. To my utter surprise my Granddad said that he would not be here after Tuesday as his friend Jack who he worked with before the 1st world war in Winnipeg Manitoba  Canada was coming to fetch him.   Now I had heard my Granddad talk about jack and when they both worked for he Canadian Pacific Railroad in the early 1900s but I also new that Jack had been Killed in action in 1916 when fighting at Pachendale  and that my granddad was there when he got shot.


So I thought he may be going a bit senile at first or just forgetful, so I reminded him about the fact that he had seen Jack shot dead, but what he said next I have never forgot.  Yes he said I know that don't I as I was there but he visited me last night and said it was my time and he would come for me at 2am Tuesday  morning and would look after me and take me with him to make sure I was safe. Anyway I went home and on the way told my wife what he had said, we both thought it weird but took no notice.

   So it was with shock that on Tuesday morning at 8-30am I had a call from the Hospital to say that my Granddad had passed away in his sleep and the nurse on duty had found him while checking the patient in the next bed at 2-10am.  I'm now 65 and still bemused by this but I sure as hell will never forget his words to me that Saturday night when I just thought he was going a bit senile.


I  have been a nurse for many years and seen hundreds of patient's experience what appeared to be talking to a relative. The first time ever I experienced this was as a young nurse of 18. I was sitting with a dying lady holding her hand when she said her husband was at the bottom of the bed, he had come for her.  I thought she was delirious however learnt later her husband and her had been married for over sixty years. He had died the week before. Since then I have witnessed many many of the same experiences.





About a week before my beautiful Mum died, she said her Mum and Grandmother came to her and she said to them she was not ready to go yet..

But then a week later, she started sleeping a lot more and her final day she woke up and looked in the corner of the room and said yes twice.. And then she went...

This was 9 years ago and i still cry everyday, my heart is broken.. But at least i know her Mum and Grandmother came for her...

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I am currently reading Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's book, "On Life After Death". She was a psychiatrist that specialized in care of the dying, especially children.

Here is a passage from the book on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's own Near Death Experience.

In my own personal experience it was a mountain pass with wild flowers simply because my concept of heaven includes mountains and wild flowers, the source of much happiness in my childhood in Switzerland. This is culturally determined.

After we pass through this visually very beautiful and individually appropriate form of transition, say the tunnel, we are approaching a source of light that many of our patients describe and that I myself experienced in the form of an incredibly beautiful and unforgettable life changing experience. This is called cosmic consciousness.

In the presence of this light, which most people in our western hemisphere called Christ or God, or love, or light, we are surrounded by total and absolute unconditional love, understanding and compassion. This light is a source of pure spiritual energy and no longer physical or psychic energy. (Spiritual energy can neither be manipulated nor used by human beings.) It is an energy in the realm of existence, where negativity is impossible.

It is also in this presence, surrounded by compassion, love and understanding, that we are asked to review and evaluate our total existence since we are no longer attached to our mind or physical brain and our limiting physical body.

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth (2012-12-01). On Life After Death (Kindle Locations 705-708). EKR Family Limited Partnership. Kindle Edition.

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These excerpts are taken from an online pamphlet put out for the National Kidney Foundation. I found the information written to be realistic and honest as the pain regarding the loss of an adult child.


Full Version of phamphet:


Title: Your Child, Your Friend

"Jesse, my son, had grown to become my best friend and I miss him every moment of every day."

Beginning of excerpts:

Problems with Acknowledging the Death

You may be unable to believe that your child's death has occurred. This is because it seems unnatural for a child to die before a parent – and, it can also be the result of the circumstances of the death.

If a death is sudden, it is more difficult to grasp and to cope with emotionally. This is because you are unprepared for it, since you did not expect it to happen. When a sudden death occurs, not only do you have to cope with the loss of your loved one, but with the trauma of it happening without warning.

If you are coping with a sudden death, you will have more intense and longer-lasting reactions as you struggle to understand what has taken place. You may be in shock, and it will take you a long time to absorb the reality of your loved one's death. You need to learn to live in a new world without your loved one. It takes time to learn that he or she is no longer present as before, and that changes must be made to deal with this reality.

After a sudden death, it takes a long time to teach you that, despite your most fervent wishes to the contrary, your child has
died. It is a long and painful learning process for your heart to accept what you already know “in your head."

Don't be surprised if there are times when you temporarily "forget" that your child has died before you finally come to the point of "knowing" it all of the time. Often after a sudden death, it takes years before you finally register your child's death completely and are able to grasp.

Why wasn't it me?

Some parents ask, "Why wasn’t it me?", especially if they are older. Your child's death seems even more unnatural. If you have grandchildren, how can you answer their question, "Why didn't you die instead of my parent? You are so much older" when that is the precise question with which you struggle?

And, while you are coping with other personal transitions and losses, the death of your adult child can rob you of a significant source of pride. It can interfere with your ability to feel a sense of continuity, productivity, meaning and concern for the future and future generations.

Depending on your age and the resources available to you, you may have lowered strength, abilities and options that would have distracted you from your pain and provided a place to focus your emotional energy. For instance, you may be retired and not have a job to distract you; you might be unable to walk or drive and thus be unable to visit others; or you might be limited by your physical difficulties, such as poor eyesight that could make it difficult to read.

You might not have a social support system to help you with your grief. This is especially true if you are socially isolated or live in a community where friends and neighbors never knew your child. They may not see the changes in your life and may not react to your loss. Or they may want to respond but be uncertain about how to do so.

You might lack support if you already have lost a number of friends and relatives through illness, relocation or death. Some people may acknowledge your loss, but just not reach out to you enough, or in ways that you find helpful.


Suggestions to Help You Cope

The death of your child brings unique issues and demands to you. Here are some specific things that can help you cope:

- Learn about general self-help strategies for coping with grief.

- Make sure that you have appropriate information about what to expect as a grieving parent.

- Remember that while the loss of a child is very difficult, parents can and do survive meaningfully with sufficient time, support and personal work.

- If you have surviving children, adjust your role with them if needed. Recognize the limits of your control as a parent.

- If you are married, recognize that each partner has experienced a different loss, and that you can expect conflicting needs, different coping styles and impacts that may demand a revamped marital relationship.
Single, divorced, widowed and remarried parents may encounter additional stresses that require attention.

- Work to develop coping skills that enable you to take life one small step at a time; mourn in healthy ways; be appropriately assertive; find support; be aware of the importance of taking breaks from grief, with the knowledge that this is not a betrayal of your child; and ultimately reestablish some sense of meaning.

- Recognize the unique issues that you face in the loss of your adult child. It can cause great distress to have unrealistic expectations about your experience, or to incorrectly judge yourself as “sick.” Adjust your expectations and seek assistance.

- Don’t let anyone make you feel that you are not entitled to mourn this loss.

- Your child may have become more independent or lived further away from you. You might have been more emotionally distant from each other as they grew up — remember that this is natural and normal. Work to accept that there are limits to your control when it comes to a child of this age.

- Understand that your current lifespan and developmental issues will influence your bereavement too.

- If your physical, emotional, social and/or financial well-being is compromised in your child's absence, seek help to find ways to meet your needs.

- Look for emotional and social support that legitimizes your particular loss and can nurture and assist you in your mourning.

- Do not think that there is anything wrong with you if you have difficult feelings about all the adjustments you’ve had to make after your child's death.

- Do what you can and ask for help with the rest.

- Know that you will experience some degree of trauma when your child dies suddenly. Understand that this affects your grief and mourning, and that it will take a long while before you are able to comprehend the reality of his or her death completely in your heart and mind. You will only achieve this after being taught the reality of this loss by sufficient experiences of confronting your child's absence.

- Appreciate that you may have some additional difficulties acknowledging the death or grasping its implications if your child had been residing outside of your home, particularly if contact was not on a regular basis.

- Discuss your deceased child and your bereavement with appropriate others, even if these individuals never personally knew your child.

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Mermaid Tears

Oh Laurie...I have read a 'few'  of what you have written....first time....

am so overcome with the grace and beauty of what you have written...

thank you....

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Compassionate Friends


The Compassionate Friends Facebook Page. It is open to the public without having a Facebook Account. You can read ongoing conversations about specific questions on loss, and the responders are those who have actually experienced child loss.




Compassionate Friends Youtube Channel that has many videos to help parents with loss, address specific issues of loss; it is a very useful resource:





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Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


I just purchased her book on Grief and Grieving and have found so much in to be true. So much of what she says about grief, and the hurdles one faces,  I have said myself.  This is the 10th anniversary ed from her death. It was written during her final days.




I am placing this out on this post since anger about losing someone is so common, yet many are so uncomfortable with it and often want the grieving person not to fully express him/herself. I found myself saying "yes" to so many things. (except in my case my son got ran over by someone in his own lane while driving to his doctor's appointment, so he was trying to take care of himself. This will forevermore be a double-edged sword to me).


Excerpt from book regarding Anger and Loss:


This stage presents itself in many ways: anger at your loved one that he didn’t take better care of himself or anger that you   didn’t take better care of him. Anger does not have to be logical or valid. You may be angry that you didn’t see this coming and when you did, nothing could stop it. You may be angry with the doctors for not being able to save someone so dear to you. You may be angry that bad things could happen to someone who meant so much to you. You may also be angry that you’re left behind and you should have had more time together. You know intellectually that your loved one  didn’t want to die. But emotionally , all you know is that he did die. It was not supposed to happen, or at least not now. It is important to remember that the anger surfaces once you are feeling safe enough to know you will probably survive whatever comes.


At first, the fact that you lived through the loss is surprising to you. Then more feelings hit, and anger is usually at the front of the line as feelings of sadness, panic, hurt, and loneliness also appear, stronger than ever. Loved ones and friends are often taken aback by these feelings, because they surface just as you were beginning to function at a basic level again. You may also be angry with yourself that you   couldn’t stop it from happening. Not that you had the power, but you had the will. The will to save a life is not the power to stop a death. But most of all, you may be angry at this unexpected, undeserved, and unwanted situation in which you find yourself.


Someone once shared, “I’m angry that I have to keep living in a world where I can’t find her, call her, or see her.

 I can’t find the person I loved or needed anywhere. She is not really where her body is now. The heavenly bodies elude me. The all-ness or one-ness of her spiritual existence escapes me. I am lost and full of rage.”


Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.


Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth; Kessler, David (2005-07-19). On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss (pp. 11-12). Scribner. Kindle Edition.


Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation 

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This is a personal Near Death Experience of Jason's Grandfather, Raymond, I found his story to be of comfort in the first months. He sounds like an ordinary person that happened to have this spiritual experience to assist his wife who was very ill with cancer at the time.


When Jason's grandfather recorded this the internet wasn't even around as this was a recording for his bible study group and later shared with his family. The older gentleman's words were so kind with a vivid description of his NDE. 


I think you will enjoy listening....Wishing everyone peace and comfort...


Heaven Experience starts about 20 minutes in after the background story of his illness and his wife's.

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From Compassionate Friends: Understanding Grief When Your Child Dies


When your child dies, the pain and devastation of your loss can feel overwhelming. Some of the immediate emotions in grief are shock, numbness, denial, confusion and disbelief, all of which can act as a cushion against the full impact of your loss.


As time passes some of these early emotions may begin to wear off as others emerge including guilt, anger, loneliness, despair, sadness and regret. Because of the intensity of all of the emotions you are feeling, you may not be fully able to comprehend all that you are experiencing. These feelings and emotions are all a normal and natural response to the death of someone you love.


Every individual will process grief in their own unique way. Some can and will express their pain easily and openly, while others will keep their feelings locked inside. While there is no "right" or “wrong” way to grieve, many bereaved parents have found it helpful to have some guidance and support along the way.


The following information has been prepared by bereaved parents to help you on your grief journey.


Emotional Aspects of Grief

The grief journey has many emotional peaks and valleys and lasts far longer than society in general recognizes. Because each person's grief journey is unique, you may find that you, your spouse and your family are all processing their grief at different speeds and in different ways.


The loss of a child isn’t something you will get over; it is something you will learn to go through. When your child dies, the grief journey does not end in a month or even a year. Don’t let others’ expectations be a guideline for your own progress. Be patient with yourself and with your family members.


It also helps to be tolerant and accepting of the different approaches others may take.


Common emotions experienced by bereaved parents:


  • Guilt and regret are common emotions of grief. Many bereaved parents feel that if only they would have done or said something different, the death might not have occurred. By openly sharing your feelings of guilt and regret with others who understand your loss, you may come to a place where you can forgive yourself or come to an understanding that you could not have prevented your child’s death.


  • Despair and loneliness are common emotions of grief. You may still feel alone even when you are with a group of people. Few people can truly understand how deeply a bereaved parent hurts unless they have experienced a similar loss. People usually understand grief to the level they have experienced it. Finding support from others who have experienced a similar loss can help.


  • Anger is a common emotion in grief. Anger is often aimed at a person that is believed to have caused the death, at others who cannot understand your feelings, at God and sometimes at the child who died. Anger is not always expressed in negative ways. Many bereaved parents have directed their anger in positive ways, by working to change laws, build foundations, raise money, fund scholarships and other avenues as a catalyst for positive change.


  • A wish to join your child who died is a normal and natural reaction to the pain you are experiencing. If these feelings become overwhelming and you begin to consider taking action, it is imperative that you seek professional support immediately.


Physical Aspects of Grief


Grief will often manifest itself in physical ways. You may find yourself unable to sleep or eat; or you may want to sleep or eat constantly. Feeling tired, walking in a fog, long and short term memory loss and an inability to concentrate are common. When you are grieving, your body is going through stress.


Eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water combined with walking and light exercise can help. It is especially important to avoid the abuse of drugs and alcohol in hopes of making the pain go away. Prescription medication should be taken sparingly and only under the supervision of a physician. Many substances are addictive and may lead to a chemical dependence that stops or delays the necessary grieving process.


Spiritual Aspects of Grief


Reexamining priorities and questioning your belief structures is normal. Many in grief find their faith to be a source of great strength, while others are mad at God. Allowing yourself to fully feel and openly express the changes you may be experiencing in your belief structure can be helpful. It is important to be patient with yourself as you sort out your feelings.


Making Decisions


When a child has died, parents are often faced with decisions affecting the future. Changing jobs or moving away are two major decisions that bereaved parents often face and may falsely believe "if we do this, we will feel better. "Hold off on major decisions until the time is right. When you move, you may lose the very support system that you need the most.


Do not be rushed or forced into doing things by others who may be well-meaning but misinformed. Cleaning out a child's room and their belongings is very personal, take your time and do this when YOU are ready.


Some find that going through their child’s belongings is a natural part of the grieving process and helps them with processing their loss. Smelling their child's clothes, for instance, can bring a feeling of nearness. Others may find it impossible to tackle this job. Trust your instincts as you will know when and if the time is right.


Sibling Grief


Surviving siblings are often referred to as the "forgotten mourners" because so much attention is placed on the parents and the child who died. Making certain your surviving children understand that this is a shared family experience can help them to feel included and important.


Frank and open communication is the key to keeping the family together. Assure surviving children that you recognize they are grieving too and that you love them just as much as the child who died. Appropriate grieving on your part will act as a guide for them and confirm their own feelings.


Grief is a Journey


It is important to understand that grief is a journey, the sharp and jagged pain you feel right now will eventually begin to soften. In time your focus can shift away from your child’s death toward your child’s life.


It is important that you tell your story and are allowed to say your child’s name as you move forward in life. You will never forget them; you will always love them and if your life is to be good again you must continue to fully express that love. Many grieving parents find that helping others, in honor of their child who has died, can be a healing and helpful way to express that love.


While every parent will ultimately have to find their own road through grief the support of others who have experienced a similar loss can help you more fully understand the grieving process and give you hope that if others can survive this loss, so can you. Let others who can lend a hand help you by cooking the meals, cleaning the house or running errands for you. The help of others can give you the needed space to do the hard work of grieving.


Many parents turn to The Compassionate Friends for support, finding hope and comfort through sharing their story with others and being able to say the child's name without fear of others turning away when the tears do come.


Sharing your thoughts and feelings eases the loneliness and allows expression of grief in an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding.




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Mermaid Tears

Laurie...thanks for sharing.....I joined that last year....had candles and photos of John David all around....it gave me a feeling of holding other parent's hands from all over the world.....grief is the same all over the world....we are more alike than different.

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Online Grief Magazine: Still Standing

A real magazine for bereaved parents – who just like any other community and walk of life – want to feel normal, connected by a common thread. Though tragic, it is somewhat comforting that we don’t walk these dark paths alone.




Recent Loss


Child Loss




Multiple Loss


Marriage & Relationships


Over the Rainbow (Parenting After Loss)


Beauty Marks


Finding Hope


New Normal




Doing Good


Returning to Work


The Sisterhood of Loss and Support


Resource Page


Ways to Honor Your Child





One of the mom's on this Child Loss forum had recommended a book called "Entering the Healing Ground" -- I read it early on and found some of the thoughts/insights what I needed at the time.


About the Francis Weller,  he has been a grief therapist for over 30 years




Excerpt: “Where there is sorrow,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “there is holy ground.” These gatherings are an invitation to enter the sacred ground of grief and encounter the ways it enables us to walk in this world with its attendant harsh realities of loss and death. We discover how sorrow shakes us and breaks us open to depths of soul we could not imagine.


As with any materials or resources, I just take what I need and leave the rest behind. That is the advice my mom gave me. She also has lost two children, one infant and one adult.


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Mermaid Tears

for you, Laurie......I know you must feel sandwiched in at times.....for you have to carry the layers of grief that have gone before losing your Jesse David....and of course....feeling the heavy grief of your Mom for her daughter...and you...being there for her when you were grieving your sister.....and then....having to feel as if you had to 'hurry through' the grief of your infant son.....you may limp with the heavy grief at times....but I want you to know how very awash I am with your insight and courage...and also....how you let us know that you struggle and groan with the grief journey. I applaud you in your research and seeking knowledge...and letting us know what you have learned....and how you share with all of us. I know this grief journey with your Jesse David is just shattering...but you are 'there' for your family and friends and all of us here on this site.

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This is a video from the Aftermath of a Murder Series. This particular story is about a woman's daughter who was killed by a drunk driver.



“I believe when someone chooses to put the public at risk and drive while impaired that they have made the choice that it does not matter who comes in their path of destruction. Unfortunately my daughter paid the price with her life”

–Markita Kaulius


In 2011 Markita Kaulius’s daughter was taken from her unexpectedly when a drunk driver slammed into her car at over 100 km/hr. Kassandra Kaulius was only 22 years old when she was on her way home from coaching softball in Surrey BC. Kassandra was turning left at a popular intersection when the drunk driver accelerated and slammed into her.


Through this horrific event Markita has directed her energy to starting a support group with other families who have lost a loved one to an impaired driver called Families for Justice. Families for Justice now supports people all across Canada and is petitioning to change drinking and driving conviction laws as well as advocating for tougher sentencing for impaired driving causing death.


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Article below from the Still Standing Magazine which deals with bereavement issues, mainly of child loss.



The Complete List of Do’s and Don’ts When Supporting the Bereaved


Author: Nathalie Himmelrich


On rare occasions, I had ‘friends’ tell me versions of: “Wouldn’t it be time to move on?” or “You’ve got such a beautiful daughter, don’t you think it would be better for her to stop mentioning her twin sister or the topic of grief and loss?” Who hasn’t heard some version of the above? Have you?


I find it hard when people tell me to change the way I feel. Especially when it’s people that haven’t experienced what I have.


Every person surrounding us has their version of what healing after loss looks like. My version is called healthy grieving: I believe in integrating loss into my life, which allows for joy and sadness, reminiscing in the past and full present day laughter, remembering with mindfulness and gratitude.


The Art of Presence

There are lots of words written about what not to say in response to grief but not enough about how to respond to grief. Remember that this always needs to be applied with respect to the person’s culture and traditions.


Things to say or do


~ Gavin Blue, President of Heartfelt Australia


"Things that made most difference: dropping food at our door, taking Harry out to play… just being ok with how we were."


First and foremost bereaved parents have shared with me that supporters should not feel obligated to say anything. What some call the “Art of Presence”, being there is all that is needed.


However, should you feel compelled to say something, here are the three simplest things to say:

  • I am sorry for your loss.
  • I am here for you.
  • I don’t know what to say, I’m at a loss for words.

Whatever you do or say, remember these things:

  • Acknowledge the parents
  • Listen but do not try to fix
  • Encourage and give them hope
  • Practice the Art of Presence.

The following points are an excerpt of my blog I wrote twenty months after Amya’s death. These are suggestions that help to acknowledge the grieving parents’ pain, journey, and responses. Use your own words or way of saying things.


Asking questions

Inquire how I’m doing, what I’m feeling. Don’t tell me “it must be hard” or “you must feel so awful.” Ask me, but don’t tell me. Ask again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Be gentle when asking, it needn’t be an interrogation.


  • How are you coping?
  • What kind of help would be supportive for you? (Make a couple of suggestions)
  • May I bring some food over tonight?
  • Would you like me to just be there with you?
  • What did the doctor say?
  • Do you have anyone you can talk to?
I’m so sorry

This is the simplest and most appropriate sentence. It bridges any “I don’t know what to say” or “I’m lost for words” moment, any awkward silence that you might be tempted to fill with clichés. Don’t. Just say, “I’m sorry for your loss”.


Show you care

The little messages “I’m thinking of you” on the anniversary of my daughter’s or my mother’s death mean a lot.

  • I hear you
  • I’ve been thinking of you
  • You are not alone – I am here for you
  • I read your blog
  • My heart goes out to you.

Recently I received a touching message from someone I don’t even know who told me how much my blog touched her. She was a 38-year-old identical twin who had lost her twin sister when they were 10 days old. I would have never known whom my writing touches if she hadn’t told me.


Continue to interact

I must have stunned many people into silence with my grief spell. It is okay to be contacting me again and again, even if I might not have the energy to hold long conversations. Social interactions are more tiring, yet I still crave to be with people. I am no longer the person I was pre “date with death” and as much as I sometimes want that person back, I have to deal with the New Me. Please try to do so, too.


Accept me

It’s hard enough to be sad and depressed. I am learning to accept being what I am in any moment. If you can accept that too, you won’t need to make me feel better, offer me advice, solutions, or try to tickle me with humour. Please accept me as I am.


Be with me

There doesn’t need to be much talking. Knowing that you are not afraid of being in my presence, no matter what, counts. Offer your presence even if by just holding my hand.


Respect my space and my beliefs

You might believe in God or that, “It was meant to be this way.” Whatever it is, keep it to yourself. You cannot know where I stand in relation to your beliefs. Leave me with mine. Respect where I am with regard to what I believe or even where I might have lost any faith and trust.


Acknowledge my child

I do understand that you might fear my reaction if you speak about my child. Do trust that by acknowledging or talking about them you honour their memory. Say their names.


Respect that I won’t get over it

I didn’t really understand the depth of grief before my personal experience. You do not need to understand it to accept and respect that holding my child in my arms as she passed isn’t something that I will get over. I am learning to live with it, whatever that means. Anything can and will trigger the grief and I don’t always know when or why…


Tact and respect

By all means tell me about what is going on your life, no matter how trivial or devastating it might be. I can handle it if you handle my response with tact and respect. What I do not need at this moment are trivializations of women who got pregnant and didn’t even want to have another child or mothers who abort their baby because of its gender.


Physical contact – hugs

There are times when I am very sensitive and do not want to be touched. Please consider asking before you want to give me a hug.


The Art of Presence

Be there, not merely in the moment of crisis. Walk alongside me in the months and years to come. Allow me my process of healing. Sit with me in the moments of painful emotions and the darkness of depression. It is an illusion that in times of crisis people need space. Respect someone’s wish, if they tell you so. Otherwise, be present.


¸.•´*¨`*•✿ ✿ ✿•*´¨*`•.¸


The things not to say or do



It does not matter whether you allow the grieving parent more or less time than they need or make suggestions on what should be difficult or not – comments like those mentioned below are unhelpful as they lead to self-judgment or guilt about the situation experienced.

  • Time heals all wounds.
  • It will get better with time.
  • The first year is the hardest.
  • Take your time.

Any suggestion on where or how the baby is now or what his or her destiny should or shouldn’t be are wild guesses or assumptions. For any mother or father there is no better place for their child than in their arms now and for eternity.

  • He is in a better place.
  • She was not meant to suffer any longer.
  • It was for the best.
  • Better it happened now than in x amount of time (days, weeks, months, years).
Parent’s feelings

Refrain from assuming you know how the grieving parent feels. You can’t know that. These comments cut like a knife. There is nothing that compares to parental grief.

  • I know how you feel.
  • It must be hard.
  • You must feel terrible!
Beliefs and spirituality

Do not share your beliefs even if you think you follow the same religion or spiritual practices. The grieving parents might not be in a place to feel the same way about their religion or spirituality following the loss. Keep your religious beliefs, spiritual ideas, or ideologies to yourself.

  • God needed a special angel.
  • It was God’s plan.
  • It was meant to be this way.
  • It was his life’s plan.
  • She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go.
How to grieve

Suggestions on how to grieve and/or heal are ill-considered. They are based on the assumption that you know better on how to deal with the grief than the parents. Even if you have lost a child yourself, remember that every parental grief is based on their individual story, the meanings, and beliefs they have.

  • You just need to get back to your old self.
  • Chin up!
  • Distract yourself.
  • You need to… (followed by any suggestion).

Each trauma needs to be respected in its uniqueness. Every parent’s loss needs to be heard as its own story and with full attention. There is nothing that compares to the loss of a child.

  • I know how you feel, I lost my grandmother (or dad or pet).
  • I can imagine how hard it must be.

Say nothing or “I don’t know what to say” instead of any platitude.

  • Life goes on.
  • It will be all right.
  • There is a reason for everything.
  • It’s all for the best.
You should…

References to what they should be happy about, think about, or do instead are uncalled for. Whether it is fact or not is unimportant. The fact is the parents are mourning the loss of their child.

  • You have two other children.
  • At least you had your child for x number of years.
  • You should think about your husband.
Thoughtless phrases

Be mindful of what may slip out of your mouth without thinking. You might be shaking your head in disbelief at these statements below. Trust me, we have all heard them. Better to say nothing at all.

  • How are things at home?
  • Was she in pain?
  • Have another baby!
  • You can have other children!
  • You’re kidding!
  • That’s not good!

Over-interpreting, trying to make sense of the inexplicable or finding reasons why the baby or child has died are not helpful. Every parent experiences the why question looping in their mind. Don’t add your thoughts; leave them to work on that.

  • Maybe it was because… (filling in your reasons why).
Let me fix you

Please do not try to fix, or make suggestions on what to do. The grieving parent only knows what it means to lose a child and what they want or do not want to do or be at this specific time in their grieving journey.

  • You need to keep yourself busy.
  • Distract yourself!
  • You need some time to yourself.
  • You need to look after her (said to the husband).
Silver lining

Leave any silver linings out of conversations with parents. If the grieving parent speaks them, it is their prerogative. It is not yours.

  • It’s all for the better.
  • At least . . . did not suffer.
  • You have 3 other beautiful children.
  • You’re lucky it was early on (in case of a miscarriage).
  • You are so strong.

¸.•´*¨`*•✿ ✿ ✿•*´¨*`•.¸




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Posted 12.15.2015



Gloria Vanderbilt on the death of her son, Carter.



On Talking about her mourning over son, Carter.

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Dr. Lloyd Rudy, a pioneer of cardiac surgery, tells stories of two patients who came back to life after being declared dead and what they told him when they were resuscitated.

He relates these experiences just like they occurred. It is experiences like these that tell me that there is more than this physical world and a life beyond.

Click on Link to view video on Youtube:

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On Anger

Posted Nov 26, 2015


There are times of anger...those thoughts and emotions that are present, deep within, often unspoken. But they are part of grief, and it is okay to acknowledge this. Child loss is a rite of passage so many of my associates and friends never had had to face...I want to give an realistic portrayal of what it can be to those other parents enduring this.


So here is a posting by Dee Incollingo who lost her 27 year old daughter Amy Marie. This post is reposted from her WordPress site:




My Personal Memo To The Universe

Posted at 10:40 am by deeincollingo, on November 13, 2015


The spiraling started in July and has been relentlessly taking its toll. Finally, I stop and look the arrogant dragon of grief in the eye and it bluntly spits out the fire of truth at me knowing full well I will be scalded if I accept the tragic news once and for all. Amy has died it screams at me and I find myself screaming back “no, no, no — please rewrite this ending.” But the universe once again coldly responds with “its a done deal.”


Then the world grows quiet as the darkness prevails as if to shelter me from what is now and what will never be again. I don’t know what to do with this honest layer of truth which I am now experiencing so I crumble. The long nights give me more time to think and that is not helpful.


There is a whisper that urges me to create a magic potion to sprinkle over the burns from the wrath of the seemingly cruel dragon the universe sent to destroy my life. Will this potion also work to change the colors of an alien whom no one knows how to deal with now? Should I hitch a ride with Dorothy to ask the Wizard for this magic potion? Surely I cannot find it here.


The distractions are wearing me out and no longer help.


Dee Incollingo's Full post can be found here: http://deeincollingo.com/2015/11/13/my-personal-memo-to-the-universe/

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