Our Children - Gone Too Soon


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Bereaved Parent’s Spring

A Bereaved Parent’s Spring
By Terre Belt, BP/USA , Anne Arundel County Chapter

Regardless of the calendar or the meteorologists, April marks the beginning of spring for many of us.  The world outside begins to awaken from its winter slumber and the sights and sounds and smells of spring abound, from the flowers peeking out of the ground to the birds chirping merrily outside our windows to the smell of the blooming trees as we venture out for our first walk of the season.

This is what spring is all about unless, of course, you are a “newly” bereaved parent and then you might just be oblivious to it all.  In fact, you may even resent the reappearance of spring and its symbolic rebirth.  The message to you from an “old timer” on this grief journey is to be easy on yourself…it won’t always be this hard and just fell whatever you feel.  Don’t let anyone tell you how you “should” feel this spring (or next.)

Like all seasons, spring will have its share of emotional triggers for the newly bereaved – graduations, Mother’s Day, planning for summer vacations, favorite flowers and just waking up.  But just as April showers bring May flowers….the tears of grief will ultimately sow the seeds of hope and someday you too will see the beauty of spring again.

For those of us who have been on our grief journey for awhile, not only do we recognize (and welcome) the beauty of spring again, but we also see our children in everything that is beautiful in spring.  It is our way of carrying them with us through spring and through all of the seasons.  

So, as spring unfolds, here’s wishing each of you peace and whatever joy you are able to find.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Is Crying a Requirement in Grieving?

I just came across this article that I'd cut out some time ago.  So many articles we've shared like this one, are just simple reminders that "grief is unique" the way in which we grieve is different for each and every one of us.  There are so many variables (who we lost, the circumstances, who've we've lost before, our past experiences with grief - yes there are so many variables)

Grief and the grieving process will also change along the journey - like each river that flows - grief charts it's own course - there are no hard & fast rules, and there are no right or wrong ways to grieve.  Like it or not, we will each find our own way and when it's someone else's turn remember that love and patience is what they need most - just being there for them is what counts...  Cherie Houston

Question - My 34-year-old son died last year after a three-year bout with cancer. I miss him terribly, but I haven't cried about his death. Is this normal?

Response from Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Grief is a universal human experience. Your response to grief may be highly individual, however. Crying is an important part of the grieving process for many people, but a lack of tears doesn't necessarily indicate that the grieving process has gone awry.

Many factors affect the grieving process, including:
§  The nature of the relationship with the person who died
§  The quality of the relationship
§  The time you had to prepare for the loss
§  Your own personality

It's OK if you don't feel like crying. You may simply need time and space to grieve your son's death in your own way. It's important to make sure that you're dealing with your feelings appropriately, however.

If you're isolating yourself, you're having trouble completing your usual daily activities or you feel like crying but can't, consider seeking the help of a grief counselor or other mental health provider. A counselor may suggest various behavior therapies to help you re-establish a sense of control and direction in your life. You may find comfort through a support group as well. In a few cases, short-term use of antidepressants or other medications may be warranted.

The grieving process commands respect and requires time. However, unresolved grief can lead to depression and other mental health problems. If you're concerned about reaching a healthy resolution to your grief, seek the professional help you deserve.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On a Child's Death

There are so many poems I keep in my nightstand for those nights when sleep is illusive and the stark reality of a future that is changed forever, you know that heartbreaking reality that we re moving forward in the time "after a child's death" - yes those nights that seem to hold me in their grip.. it is poems like these that help soften the pain and heartache  and sadness of losing my children... I hope that when we share poems like these, that you also will find them a source of peace..  Cherie Houston

~ BY Virginia Ellis

All heaven was in mourning,  The day that young man died;
When He closed His eyes, they said, Ten thousand angels cried.
The angels shed their many tears, Because He was God's Son;
But there is a special sadness, When God takes the very young.

At times like that, I question God, Why let a child die?
I cannot understand it, And I need to ask Him why.
I, too, have heard the angels cry, I've heard them cry first hand;
For I, too, gave up a child, And I've tried hard to understand.

Yes, I received God's comfort, Though I'm grateful, I want more;
I want reasons;  I want meaning, I am a parent who's heart-sore.
God can give, and God can take, I am well aware of this;
But, why my baby ... why my child?
Why did God put him on His list?

Did I love my child too much? Was he too good for this old earth?
Had his purpose here been filled?  Was that why he was taken first?
I awake each day with questions,  I fall asleep at night, the same;
So many times I ask God why,  I'm both saddened and ashamed.

But then, in reflective moments, When my prayers are most intense,
One word keeps going through my mind, Patience ... patience ... patience.
Maybe now is not the time, To explain this great heartache;
Even if I knew God's reasons, What difference would it make?

Can't I just be grateful, For any time we had?
Accept God's action without question? Why is that so very bad?
What's my hurry ... why my pressure? Is my faith not strong enough?
God will explain it when He's ready,  Surely I can trust that much.

God understands my broken heart, He, too, gave up a Son;
He knows the pain of one lost child, He weeps with me, and we are one.
Just as I talk to God each day,  I talk to my precious child;
I blow him kisses, and I say,  "See you, honey, in a while."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A new of "grieving"

~ shared from Susan Leemont - Boulder, CO (BP)

No doubt since the death of our child, someone has been kind enough to share with us that we must all go through the “normal stages of grief” and then kindly list them for us.…  These “stages” were defined as a result of many studies, but the most popular seemed to be based on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's which resulted in her book: On Death and Dying (Scribner), which was published in 1969.

Although much of that is probably still true, more recent research seems to suggest – as we very well know from experience, that for most people, grieving is rarely a straight passage through discrete phases ending in healing.

To those of us who have gone thru this, we know that it is a constantly changing pattern, that seems to jump out at us when we least expect it, catch us off guard and then retreat again so we can catch our breath – some say similar to one of those scary houses we may walk thru in Disney or at a carnival… 

I came across this article and I want to share it with you because I think it helps to validate how grief really feels – not nice and neat in a fixed set of “stages” like those we heard about when we got pregnant – but the reality of what we feel and experience. 

Dr. Holly Prigerson states that grief it tends to occur in fits and starts, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a number of years. The way it unfolds varies dramatically, too, depending on whom you've lost and the nature of your relationship. Perhaps more surprising, research suggests that whomever a person is grieving for—a well-loved parent, spouse, friend or child—human beings are surprisingly resilient.

Holly Prigerson, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and as a result of a study she has done with hundreds of mourners, she discovered that while nearly all people go through a very rough period where they cry, long for the loved one, have difficulty eating and can't concentrate, 85 percent start feeling somewhat better in about six months. Even more hopeful, there are steps everyone can take to help the recovery process along, regardless of whom you're missing.

A new view of grieving - Like life itself, grief isn't something that unfolds neatly, starting on cue with denial and continuing until the mourner reaches the final stage, accepting that the person is gone. In Dr. Prigerson’s  two-year study of mourners, Prigerson found that rather than denial or anger, most mourners feel an acute sense of yearning and sadness throughout that fades and eases as time passes.

"There's no orderly progression of Kübler-Ross's hypothetical phases," Prigerson confirms. "It's more accurate to say that the emotions associated with grief exist simultaneously, then slowly decline as feelings of acceptance rise," she explains.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Winds

~ Lovingly shared from ~ Betty Davis, Marion Ohio BP/USA

As the winds blow, often violently, it is as if there is an attempt to wake us from our winter lethargy.  The birds began to sing, calling to us.  The dormant trees begin to move in the breeze.  We see the first buds.  Witness a crocus peeping through the encrusted ground.  

Regardless of our griefs and regrets, life goes on, whether we participate or not.  This can be a season of renewal.  We can symbolically plant a flower, a tree, or a bush, and nurture it as we loved our child.  As the plant flourishes and adds beauty to our lives, we can experience a sense of creation just as our child added meaning to our lives.  

It’s time to sort out the good memories when we do our spring cleaning.  Discard the anger, regret, disappointment and sorrow.  Shake it out and throw it away.  Hold on to all that is good.  Cherish it forever.  It’s time to make a constructive effort to restore ourselves.  

We hope the gales of the March winds will awaken you to a new beginning.  May the ‘winter of our discontent’ disappear.  We wish for you to live in the future with your happy memories.      

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hope for the Day

Spring, a time of renewed and hope arrives in just a few weeks  on March 20th.. we hope you can find some joy in the small signs of new life, as well as a sense of renewed hope & peace about the future..  We are hoping that by sharing this story from Clara Hinton, you can begin to move from that black hole of grief...Cherie Houston

~ by Clara Hinton of  www.silentgrief.com


     When grief is new and so raw, it takes up all of our time and energy.  We forget what day it is, and worse yet, we don’t even care.  We stop going out, we forget appointments, and we withdraw from life as we once new it.  Grief affects every part of our being!

     At first, we expect this kind of response to our grief.  We need to do so much adapting to a new world, a new place to call home, and a new way to find joy.  We can’t rush through this process!

     But, there comes a time in our lives when we will be faced with the most difficult choice of all.  Do we stay in our deep grief, or do we make a conscious effort to take one step at a time and try to move forward into a place of hope!

    Most of us make the choice to move on because we know that’s what is best.  If we stay in that deep black hole of grief for too long, we’ll miss another spring.  And, we don’t want to miss the blue skies, the budding of the flowers, seeing the first robin plucking his work from the earth that is beginning to unfold with so much life and beauty!

     Even though grief will always be a part of our lives, there comes a time when we can move it from a place of everyday top priority, to a place of subdued recognition.  Spring comes once a year, and it’s full of hope.  Give yourself permission to enjoy the beauty of this coming season this year!          

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I'm There Inside Your Heart

~ author Unknown


 Right now I’m in a different place,
And though we seem apart,
I’m closer than I ever was….
I’m there inside your heart.

I’m with you when you greet each day
And while the sun shines bright,
I’m there to share the sunsets, too…
I’m with you every night.

I’m with you when the times are good,
To share a laugh or two,
And if a tear should start to fall…
I’ll still be there for you.

And when that day arrives
That we no longer are apart,
I’ll smile and hold you close to me…..
Forever in my heart.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Introducing "Open Arms for Empty Hearts" in Lake Havasu City, AZ - Please Join Us

We are pleased to introduce "Open Arms for Empty Hearts".   As many of you know, Joyce Floyd gave the Lake Havasu City, AZ community and Mom's years of her help and support and we could never fill those shoes, so thank you Joyce for all your dedication and support.  As Joyce moves on to other endeavors, our goal is to take up the gauntlet and continue with the idea of Mom's helping Mom's. 

We are so pleased to announce that as of this Thursday, February 13th, we will begin meeting on the 2nd & 4th Thursday mornings of each month at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center from 10am-12N.  Our meetings will be open to all Mom's, new and old that wish to participate in celebrating their child's life and memories.  As you all know, the loss of a child is probably the most painful loss one can suffer.  Only those who have experienced that loss can offer their support and comfort to others.  This will be an open forum, members taking turns hosting the meetings...bringing their own experiences and knowledge to others..

We are also pleased to introduce our Facebook page "Open Arms for Empty Hearts" and would encourage all moms to go to the site and feel free to post any comments, suggestions or ideas - again our Facebook page is another work in progress...  

We are all looking forward to seeing all of you again and welcoming new members.  Beginning this week, registrations forms will be available so that we have up-to-date contact information and we hope you will pass the word, and reach out to moms who may have attended in the past and make sure they have our new meeting information. 

If you have any questions or suggestions you can also contact us at "openarmsforemptyhearts@gmail.com"

Charlyne, Debbie, Janet & SharonEmpty

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Struggling in the Valley

I remember very well the day that our founder, Joyce Floyd, gave this to me early in 2010 ..  I was really struggling with my son Bobby's death a few months before and truly wondering if I'd make it through this "process:"...  up one day for a few hours and then CRASH with a pain that was all consuming!!!! I'd traveled this road before in the early 70's when in 71 our daughter Randee Marie had died and then again the following year when our daughter Robin passed away.. But this time was worse, or so it seemed...  Grief is a mess and I'd forgottenhow long the roller coaster would last... but eventually the horrible pain does soften and peaceand joy will return to your life...I promise...  Cherie Houston

Frankly, grief is a MESS!  It’s like a never ending horrible nightmarish roller coaster ride, filled with horrifying twists and turns, steep drops and sheer cliffs.  It hurts so much that it leaves us gasping for breath and wishing for the comfort of a coma.  We wish we had died, but suffer the realization that we didn’t.  And that’s the trouble!  We didn’t die…we’re stuck in this living nightmare and we can’t see any escape route.  IT is a journey we never asked for and don’t want to explore.  Yet, we struggle in the VALLEY, hoping and praying for relief, only to discover that even our prayers seem to go unanswered.  It is a lonely and desperate time.

It seems endless and we grow weary of the storms and winds of grief.  Yet, the OTHER SIDE OF GRIEF sounds just as scary.  So many people have told us what we SHOULD and OUGHT to do in order to achieve recovery that it all seems to blur into emptiness.  They talk about ‘closure’ and we don’t even know what that means!  Does that mean you have to forever ‘close’ the story of your loved one’s life?  Or does it mean you should never again grieve?  Or maybe, it means you should not talk about your loved one anymore.  What does ‘closure’ mean and what does recovery mean?

NO ONE UNDERSTANDS although many think they do.  It is easy to grow tired of breathing and of coping creatively with the thousands of footsteps that have to be taken.

You have discovered that Death is an injury…..a severe and devastating psychological wound that causes great pain and trauma in the early weeks and months and years.  Yet, eventually, and over a great period of time, that injury does heal and you must then learn to live with the scar that is left.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February - It's Time for Love

~ Written by Rosalie Baker, Rochester, NY 

February has fewer days than most months, and that may be of a special significance to us, as our children had fewer days than most.  When we think of this month, the most outstanding day perhaps is Valentine’s Day.  It is a time for love.  When we were school-aged, we had a special chance to give and receive cards in those decorated boxes in our primary classrooms.  Perhaps it is the one holiday that children can really do something for everyone.  Addressing a card to each and every classmate made you think of how you felt about each one and wonder about how they felt about you.

Love is found in every day of every year, but February and Valentine’s Day are very special.  I wish I could remember just how it felt to get a “nicer” Valentine from someone I had sent a “nicer” one to.  It is so long ago, and there have been so many much more significant happenings in my life.  But sometimes, I’d like to remember just how it felt.

I am sending along this Valentine’s Love Note to you right now and hope that you know it is one of the “nicer” ones, because you are very special to me.  Somehow I don’t wonder how you feel, somehow I know.  As we grieve the loss of our children and one another’s we begin to find a different kind of love than we ever expected to experience.