I guess when I hear these kinds of things I wonder, “Exactly how is that any different than national chocolate cupcake day,” which, by the way, two years ago my colleague and I celebrated by baking for the entire team.
And some would say that I’m not showing the proper reverence for this day, but, I must tell you, quite the contrary.
You see I don’t believe that declaring something as significant as the grief of grieving children to only one day of the year is quite fair. It’s not as frivolous or as carefree a day as enjoying a favorite cupcake, or taco, or dance class. No, it’s far more serious and, well, frankly, it bothers me.
I don’t think of this ‘day’ as something to celebrate. I don’t think of this day as something that happens once a year. And, to a certain extent, I think it’s misleading.
Grief, when we are in the thick of it, lasts every day and all moments of that day and, then, many, many days and months and years onward.
It’s not something we only recognize once a year. Because when you love deeply, you grieve deeply and that pain should never only be acknowledged today. Not for grieving children and not for adults. It should be an awareness every day.
Over 2.5 million Americans alone die each year leaving millions more folks to grieve their deaths. If you consider 100 people for each death who will be affected, that’s 250 million grieving people each year and many of them are children, and teens and young adults.
Do we really know the correct statistic of how many children grieve? Absolutely not and we never will. They can never be recorded properly so if you see stats flying around today, discount them.
How would you count the grieving siblings, classmates, teammates, neighbors? You can’t. So don’t try.
So although well intentioned, giving a ‘day’ to such an incredibly wide-reaching topic, seems quite superficial to me.
Today on Veterans Day in the United States, we honor those who have not only served in our military through war times as well as peace times, or those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home, but to the families whose lives were irreparably changed either through loss of life or loss of limbs, emotional stability, or other impairment that changed who those men and women are now compared to whom they were when they first left their loving families.
War changes everything. No one comes home the same. And no one lives their lives in quite the same manner ever again.
Some of the highest rates of suicide and PTSD are among the military, yet our Veterans Affairs Department hasn’t put the level of importance on these issues as I believe they should.
These men and women have given so much to us; it seems incomprehensible that we would not offer them the same high level of care that we afford our congress members.
And if a life is lost, what care do we give to those who have survived…the spouses, children, parents? Is it enough and over a long enough period of time?
The priority of our constitution tells us that it is the government’s job to keep us safe and free. So it stands to reason that those who insure that mandate should be our highest priority.
Hopefully now that housecleaning and demotions have been imposed on many in the VA by a new leader with guts, perhaps now we will see the proper care and concern for those who gave so much.
Yesterday, in my own community here in Lake Mary, Florida, not even a mile from me, a 14 year-old boy in our middle school went into a bathroom stall and shot himself to death. With the recent death of Robin Williams and the suicide deaths of so many whose parents and siblings I have worked with over the years, there is a great need to truly understand how depression wreaks havoc on an individual’s ability to reason.
Nothing comforts me more than when another writer has the guts to truly put it all out there. I have done this many times on my blog, telling the good, bad and ugly of the aftermath of death and, while it’s difficult to read and comprehend that humans feel and live through such crisis, it is very, very real and very honest and should never be taken lightly, either by family, friends and especially business colleagues, who are usually so busy they dismiss many emotions.
I know how difficult it is for those who love you to grieve a death by suicide. There are countless questions, self-blame, years of trying to recover, if it’s even possible, and the guilt, shame and anger. If you are even considering this and find yourself in a deep depression either because you yourself are now grieving the death of a loved one, or you are dealing with what seems like insurmountable challenges, please read Therese’s work below.
If you need to speak with someone, please go to “Crisis Connections.” Click on there for help in your area. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. You can remain anonymous. Let someone listen. You deserve to be heard. Read more…
With the recent news of the beheading of two American journalists, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that, just like 13 years ago, we are still fighting a group of terrorists who are intent on killing Americans and cowardly hide behind scarves and rags to hide their identity.
I remember when Christians were being slaughtered in the Sudan because they wouldn’t convert to Islam. Our government did little to help until it got so serious a handful in Congress finally shouted loudly enough.
Over the last 13 years, radical muslims in and out of our Country have increased their intent to kill Americans and fly their flag on our White House. They are demanding Sharia law in our courts and expect us to reconfigure our lives around their wishes. Nonsense. Read more…
And while there are happy days I can recall, like when I completed both my degrees, when I was given wonderful awards for my work, when my books were published, there are several difficult days that I’ve lived that caused me and those I’ve loved great trauma.
One was the death of my beloved grandmother, who lived, almost exclusively, a healthy life till her death at 93. She was my anchor when life handed me difficult times while growing up.
Another was my little dog, Daisy, who brought me so much joy every day for almost 13 years. My constant companion, she was always there to snuggle with when I needed her most.
But there was one particular day that, when I look back on my life, shaped and changed who I was and, even though I had helped so many in my life before who had struggled with bereavement, it was her death that catapulted me into leading support groups, writing books, speaking, and starting a national foundation for grieving children.
A 10 year old who came into my life when I met her father. Her older brother was then 13 and younger just 9.
I remember her bubbly personality, her courage to ask me those most pressing questions you’d never think would come out of the mouth of such a young lady. But I answered every one and she went away satisfied.
I specifically remember how much she loved shopping together. How she couldn’t choose between the pink or blue cotton candy.
Or the last holiday she and her younger brother spent with us. It was Easter, 1984 and I made a special dinner for us.
At one point after dinner we took a long walk together. I wanted to purchase film that day to take a few pictures but we didn’t pick it up. And that moment was lost to me forever.
And what followed were 18 years of an unsolved murder.
It took until 2002 to have enough evidence to charge the initial suspect and another two years to go to trial.
We endured a six-week emotional rollercoaster from the time they began picking a jury for her 20 year old murder, to the time he was convicted.
I often wonder what life would have been like if she were still here with us. Would she have been in my bridal party when her father and I married?
Would she have studied for a college degree? And what career might she have chosen?
Would she have married and had children? How many would she have had and what would they have looked like?
But today, I guess there is a part of me that, as my stepson texted me today, which says “I can’t believe it’s been 30 years.”
And he is so right.
Rest in Peace, Angela. You were with us for far too short a time, but the impact you had on our lives, both in life and death, will remain forever.