Tag 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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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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Review: May He Rest in Peace

menorah-star-15686513There are a lot of sites online dealing with grief; some are written by people who truly have lived through a personal crisis and will share their experiences, and others who just try to teach you in a professorial mode.

When I found www.mayherestinpeace.com, I was so happy to see that here you are welcomed to make a memorial website for your loved one. And I was additionally grateful to know it was created by a man who has experienced grief on several levels.

David Goldshtein began this site about a year ago to help others through the grieving process. His father, Michael, died at the age of 84 after ten years of illness, having struggled with cancer, kidney disease, etc. And although the doctors told him several times he was at the end of his life, he never gave up, instead pressing on. As a holocaust survivor, he understood the meaning of fighting to live.

His mother has been struggling with Alzheimers for the past ten years. At the young age of only 17, her parents were sent to a labor camp in Siberia by the Russian Government, leaving her to learn to survive as the daughter of political prisoners.

David’s family’s journey has made him sensitive to grief and as he moves into his forties, he had a desire to celebrate their lives and the challenges they overcame by building a wonderful website that would not only house his memories of his Dad, but to give all of us a place to honor our loved ones who had died or were killed.

I am delighted, as Hanukkah, the festival of lights, begins for the Jewish people this year, to share May He Rest In Peace, for you to honor your loved ones.

In addition, David shares articles (which I will contribute to), books on grief (he’s graciously added my Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death), and several other areas which will help you on your journey.

Take the time this weekend to visit his site and look around. David Goldshtein has developed a lovely place to not only learn about the grieving process, but to share the life of those we’ve lost and loved.

My newest book, Holiday Grief: How to Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Depression After a Loved One’s Death is now available on amazon.com.

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Remembering JFK 50 Years Later

John F. Kennedy / Source: White House Historical Association
President John F. Kennedy / Source: White House Historical Association
I had started Kindergarten a few months earlier and I was getting myself acclimated to my new school in New York City. Since both my parents worked and it was my grandmothers who took turns being at the house after I arrived to take care of me and my brothers, I walked to and from school with a babysitter.

On that day, it was after lunch when the principal came on the speaker system and declared that the President had been shot and school would be let out early. I remember my teacher started to cry and myself and my classmates really didn’t know what was going on. It was my first experience with death.

Before I knew it, my babysitter found me and I was walking home with her. What I do remember distinctly and can picture in my minds eye so well is all the people who were out on the streets in the middle of the day running around, gathering children, and the elevator ride when I arrived in our apartment complex.

Since I was so tiny, I was surrounded by very tall adults in that elevator car, both men and woman, all of whom were weeping. But no one said a word. Usually at that hour, the elevator was empty but that day it was filled with mourners who were all in shock just as I was.

My next memory is sitting on the sofa watching the television with my grandmothers and later on with my parents. I didn’t thoroughly understand it all, but I knew at the tender age of 6 that something major had happened.

I remember watching the funeral and thinking that President and Mrs. Kennedy had children the same ages as myself and my brothers. Caroline and I were born the same year and “John John” was my brother’s age. For some strange reason, I tried to feel what it would be to lose a father, as they did, at that young age.

And as I watched them I seemed to emotionally connect with Caroline from that point on and as the years went by, I would often think of her and how difficult it must have been growing up without her Dad, regardless of his position in the world.

That was the first death that truly impacted my life and I found myself glued to the television. I can’t believe it’s been 50 years since his death, but even now, I can still see myself in that elevator looking up at all those tear-stained faces.

What do you remember about the Kennedy assasination? Share your thoughts below.

Mary Mac’s new book Holiday Grief: How To Cope With Anxiety, Stress and Depression is available now. Click here for more information.

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9/11…We Will Always Remember

Source: Jean-Pierre Ely 2013
Freedom Tower / Source: Jean-Pierre Ely 2013
When this day approaches each year, I always think to myself, “It can’t possibly be 12 years since 9/11.”

But it is…and I find myself shaking my head again. Same as I do each year…shaking my head in amazement.

Yet it’s a day anyone who was an adult then, will always remember.

They’ll remember where they were, what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks, and mostly, who they knew who was either killed or affected by this tragedy.

Sometimes people who weren’t deeply affected by this day will often wonder how the families can keep coming back for more pain, especially by the reading of the names at the World Trade Center.

And my answer is that when a loved one is taken so suddenly, it takes many years to let it sink in. And in this case, many more.

But regardless of how long ago a person has died, when the anniversary of their death comes around, it triggers memories and there isn’t anything one can do to act like those emotions don’t exist.

They do and they hurt. And while a person may feel very emotionally stable the other parts of the year, when that day comes, sometimes a flood of emotions come with it.

And there is nothing to feel guilty about; it is all natural.

So on this day, to the family members and friends of those who were killed…whatever you are feeling…feel it. Embrace it. And after the pain has softened…begin again.

We all love you regardless of how you express your pain on this 12th Anniversary. You are entitled to it all.

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If you need help after the death of a loved one, start by picking up your copy of my best-selling book Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death, available on Kindle and in Paperback.