Category Archives: Grieving Children

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What About the Other 364 Days?

www.F4GC.com
www.F4GC.com
Someone has declared today the National Children’s Grief Awareness Day. Lovely.

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.

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What Suicidal Depression Feels Like – Therese Borchard

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. Continue reading What Suicidal Depression Feels Like – Therese Borchard

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30 Years Ago Today…

101When I look back on my life, there are a few days that stand out with such significance that I can’t help but acknowledge them, regardless of the pain.

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.

107She is Angela.

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.

Many who knew her longer than I described her as a firecracker. And for the short time I knew her, they were right.

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.

Angela at 11; her last school picture.Because just a few short months later on this day in 1984, that bright, bubbly young girl was murdered on Long Island.

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.

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Sandy Hook, Newtown, CT: One Year Later

The first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT holds difficult emotions for the families, friends and school staff, as well as its community. Dealing with the pain of loss for the first full year is never easy.

When we approach an anniversary, we relive all the little moments before the tragedy and try to trick ourselves into thinking that person is still with us. On the days leading up to the anniversary, we, at least, get to think “the week before we were baking Christmas cookies” or “the day before we were decorating the tree.”

But once the actual first anniversary occurs, we don’t get to have that luxury any longer and we can’t fool ourselves. We can no longer say, at this time last year we were doing this or that. And that reality bring sorrow.

The first anniversary is never an easy day to live through but sometimes the anticipation is much more stressful than the actual happenings of the day itself.

I’ve known so many families (and I’ve had this experience, too) tell me they made the experiences of the day so much greater in their head than they turned out to be.

They thought they’d be devastated, but somehow it turned out to be a lot lighter than they thought it would be. It became a day of remembering the person, than how they died.

It became a day of thinking of all the fun times they spent together and being grateful for those times instead of allowing themselves to succumb to the events of that day.

So my thoughts are with the families of this small Connecticut town today and do hope that they can look for the happiness they held in the relationship they shared with their loved one and not the way they died.

Yes, it can be hard, but moving toward gratitude for those happy years spent together, will always outweigh a moment in time that can never be changed.

To read my blogs from last year when this tragedy occurred, go here. As a stepmother of an 11 year old who was murdered, I wrote them from the perspective of a grieving mother of a murdered victim.

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Holiday Grief: To Tree or Not to Tree

holiday_grief_hi_res JPG Cover FINALHoliday Grief – Tip # 2

Often times when we are facing Christmas without our loved one, especially if it’s the first holiday season since their death, we ponder whether it is worth our time and energy, and sometimes our money, to put a tree up with all the decorations.

Perhaps you want to simply skip the holiday all together…after all, it would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

But when it comes to deciding on a tree or to forgo this tradition, at least this year, you’d want to consider whom that decision might impact the most.

If you have children who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling, it might be wise to have a family meeting and softly discuss what you are thinking and get their feedback on your ideas. You might be wildly surprised to learn that they want Christmas to remain exactly as it has been in years past because they don’t want any traditions changed.

They might be feeling that the person who died would want them to celebrate just as you did in the past.

And if that is too much for you, there are options.

Maybe the compromise is a smaller tree with fewer lights and ornaments.

Maybe you can use a plant, instead, and decorate it with a strand of tiny white lights and instead of ornaments use red silk ribbon tied in soft bows that you just lay on the leaves.

Maybe the children would like to put up a small tree in their room and decorate the way they wish.

There are so many options. Put your thinking cap on, get ideas from your family and friends and, most of all, don’t discard the feelings and wishes of your spouse and children.

My book Holiday Grief: How To Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Depression After a Loved One’s Death is available now by clicking here.

Let us know how you’ve remembered your loved one during the holiday season by commenting below.