Tag Archives: grieving

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When a Moment Changes Your Life Forever

When I reflect on the devastating plane crash near Buffalo, New York that killed 50 people this past Thursday evening, I tend to notice how fragile life can be. We go about our business each day anticipating that we’ll wake up with all our family and friends in tact, and go to bed with the same understanding.

We enjoy their company, organize life plans with them, graduate schools and colleges, get married, have babies, raise good children, see them get married and have babies and raise good children all the while believing it will continue this way in perpetuity.

But for some people, like the families who suddenly and so unexpectedly lost their precious loved one in such a horrific tragedy, their ‘normal’ lives were shattered in one single moment. Just one. A moment that will forever change how they see life, how they adapt to life, how they cope with change and how they will rebuild all they’ve ever known.

Nothing is more disconcerting that change. We fight it in our everyday life, but we aren’t far from it. We fight it on our jobs, we fight it in relationships with family and friends, we fight it within ourselves when we realize something better could become available to us if we’d only allow ourselves to change.

But with changes come fear. Fear that we won’t get it right. Fear that it has to come out perfect. Fear that when all is said and done, it won’t be the same as before. And you know what…you’re right. It won’t be the same.

And when tragedy strikes, somehow all that nonsense that came before seems so completely trivial. That was baby stuff compared to this. This is serious. This is sudden. This is shocking. This is real.

So when I meet folks who are so concerned about money and stuff and games they play with other people’s emotions, at this point in my life it’s almost laughable. When you have lived through such tragedy as I have in the past and the families of this flight will now endure, you instantaneously get an entirely new perspective on life.

Right now for them, absolutely nothing else matters. The only thing they are now consumed with is dealing with the shock and disbelief that this is happening to them. That the person who they loved so much is no longer here. That they won’t get to call them to share good news anymore. That they won’t get to share in all their future accomplishments. That they won’t be able to hug and physically love them any longer.

So let us be especially mindful that life is incredibly short. In a blink our lives could change forever. Let us be kind toward others. Let us be loving. For one day, it will be our turn to endure a painful loss.

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Jett Travolta – Death of a Young Son and Brother

No one will ever convince me there is a magical formula for healing from the death of a child.

Regardless of whether it was anticipated or not, there is a struggle to understand it. Parents don’t expect to outlive their children. It’s just the way it is.

When someone so full of life is taken from his family at the tender age of 16, we wonder how something like this could happen. How could such an accident occur; how could he die so young.

One of the most difficult challenges about children dying is there are few answers. It just doesn’t make any sense. We can’t get our heads wrapped around the tragedy regardless how it occurred.

I chose this particular photo of Jett because I just loved his tender expression. From the little I have learned from the news reports, it is clear his parents John and Kelly, and his sister, Ella, loved him dearly and completely.

Everyone should know that level of love in their lives. Everyone should be part of such a dynamic family who, even with their celebrity, seemed to really understand and know that family was the priority.

I send my condolences to the Travolta and Preston family today and also hugs to Jett’s sister, Ella, whom I’m sure misses her big brother very much.

May your family be comforted by the many families worldwide who send their love and concern.

And may you know in your hearts, which is obvious for all to see, that Jett moves on now knowing he was deeply, amazingly and demonstratively loved by you in a way that few of us will ever experience.

Blessings…

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After the Family Meeting

So you’ve gathered everyone together and you’ve courageously listened to all the viewpoints about whether to ‘Christmas or Not to Christmas’.

You got more than you bargained for…some want the whole works, some want a condensed version, some want nothing at all. Now what?

It’ll be somewhere in the middle.

Those who want it all, will understand it’s just too overwhelming for you. Those that want nothing will need to honor that the person who died would want you to still live your life. And those who wanted something less than was ideal, are the compromisers of the bunch and thank God for them.

Now consider the list:

  • Tree
  • Decorations
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Shopping for gifts/food
  • Entertaining
  • Invitations/Events in the community
  • Cleaning/Painting
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dinner

Take this list, and add to it if need be, and separate into four columns.

First column is the task (above), second column is how you usually handle this task, third column (most important) is ‘How could I do this differently’ and fourth column is ‘Who can I get to help me with this?’

Now that you have a sense of what everyone in the household wants, develop the answers to these questions on paper, let it sit a bit, then revise again. It’s a very interesting exercise which will soon show just how much time and energy we normally put into our traditions. It may be the cause of unnecessary stress at this point in our grieving process, so please take that into account.

Once you see it on paper, it can be much easier to reevaluate with family just what is ‘do-able’ this year.

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To Always Remember Their Sacrifice

Memorial Day, 2008

In America, today we honor the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice by fighting in battles all around this globe, to keep our citizens free. Sometimes we forget that ours is an all volunteer military. We have no draft. We train these brave ones to kill the enemy so you and I can know that our existence in the United States is a safe one.

Yet, it is important to not only remember those killed, but the first-hand and second-hand survivors who are grieving as a result of those deaths.

If you consider any one person’s passing will have upward of 300 people who loved and cherished them, it is a staggering number of people who remember them today.Just think of their family members, friends, neighbors, the military, classmates, teammates, business colleagues, people they knew from church, synagogue, social circles, clubs, etc. And what about their parents’ and siblings’ friends who knew them. They are also affected.

So there is much I want to say here…

First, I’d like to address the grief of the spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents, children, other family members, friends and loved ones of a man or woman killed in the line of duty. Your loved one gave the ultimate sacrifice and every American citizen owes you a sincere thank you for enduring the pain you feel now, for the good of our citizens’ safety.

Secondly, are the needs of military families. Their spouses have been raising children on their own, with little support both financially or personally, and doing a great job at it as well. They struggle to make ends meet and it is beyond me how our Congress cannot make it easier on these active duty families.

They are going into credit card debt, as many citizens, just to survive. But they shouldn’t have to. Banks are foreclosing on homes, ruining credit ratings because credit cards haven’t been paid in a timely fashion. When you expect to be deployed for one tour, which turns into two and three tours, it sort of turns your life upside down.

It’s hard to worry about paying a credit card bill when your main mission today is staying alive and keeping those around you alive, all while in a foreign land. Do the people at these banks get it? Obviously not.

My solution…their debts should become frozen once they are deployed, not to gain a cent of interest or penalty nor become due again until six months after they’re home.

Exactly when will some Congressman or woman step up to the plate and make this right… Senator McCain – how about you?

And if this family experiences the death of their spouse in the line of duty, now they lose their homes, support systems, and more. They must leave the military bases and return to wherever they originally came. In the process they and their children lose their home, friends, classmates, neighbors, other military family’s support. They lose more than just their loved ones. Additionally, they lose income so it is now doubly hard for the surviving spouse to readjust to raising a family alone.

Next…the first hand survivors are also military; those who knew the soldier directly.

Prolonged deployments overseas only delay the grieving process. Wisdom says we must help these brave men and women achieve mental stability all along the way.

Yes, it is only natural that we repair their physical bodies, but we must treat their mental symptoms as well. Seeing multiple deaths during repeated tours overseas is something that stays with you. It is not easily released.

And when someone returns to the home they once knew, they are changed. And they need time to acclimate themselves to their old lives. One thing is certain – they are different now. They have seen too much and are not the same. How could they be?

This weekend I wish us to remember how difficult it must be to trade in a machine gun, grenade, and HumVee, back to a laptop, blackberry and IPOD. I can’t even imagine how that’s done.

And, lastly, second-hand survivors are the family members of these surviving military buddies who will come home, grieving their fellow soldiers’ deaths in combat, and their immediate family members here in the US are scrambling how best to help them through this grief, not to mention their need to acclimate themselves into society back here once again.

So I find it unconscionable that our elected officials do not make it a higher priority to have premier bereavement services available to the surviving families of the military personnel who have been killed and to every active duty soldier overseas and later, upon their return home, to serve them and their families as well.

Military death touches so many lives and we rarely acknowledge all the people affected. Let’s begin to better understand the domino effect of grief caused by war…and let’s effectively deal with it from the onset.

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Melancholy Mother’s Day

Today’s a day to pack up the car with favorite foods and baked goods we lovingly prepared and head over to our Mom’s house to enjoy the family’s company. Maybe she’s a little older and now it’s our time to welcome everyone to our home.

But there are many who will not have the pleasure of their mother’s company this year. Children, teens, young adults, mid-life and even older adults all long for the days when they were held by, kissed by, loved by, consoled by, fed by, taught by, and even sometimes scolded by their Moms.

There are also mothers who will not have the pleasure of their children’s company this year because they have pre-deceased them. No mother ever believes she will live longer than her children.

There are still other wonderful women who have almost become Mommies but have lost children through miscarriage and stillbirth.

There are women who strive to become pregnant and haven’t yet achieved this goal.

There are also women who chose to release children from their lives through adoption, all in the name of a better life for them, yet they still long for them.

And lastly, there are incredible women, who all their lives believed at some point they’d become mothers and now in their latter years still wonder what it would have been like had their lives’ circumstances been different, had life taken a different turn, and they would have been called “Mommy.”

All these folks feel a melancholy Mother’s Day.

I’d like to celebrate all these families and women today. Each live with a sadness in their soul today, but if we look around, there are many opportunities to fill that sorrow for someone.

If our Mom has died, we can always find another older lady who has no one and adopt her as your own. Bring her to the movies, bake with her, take her for walks. Get her out of the house. Laugh with her, cry with her. She might be as close as our neighbor up the block or down the hall.

If you experienced the death of your own children, you can reach out to a new Mom and help her in special ways with wisdom only you can give her. Especially if her mother has died, she will feel so fortunate for the motherly counsel.

If you’ve experienced miscarriage or stillbirth, I am here to validate your loss. They will always be your child, always. And for those who are working on becoming pregnant…Reach out to friends who have young ones and get involved in their lives. Being around little ones will help raise you up from the feelings of despair that it will never again happen for you. Envision how it will look when you’re bringing your little one to the playground and changing their diapers and watching them laugh as you talk baby talk to them.

Watching “The Secret” will give you hope and help you see possibilities all around you and you need that now.

For my adoptive Mothers…you are truly special. Do you realize how selfless it is to make sure your little one was cared for properly. I can’t think of anything more touching. You should feel such peace that you did the right thing, when perhaps the right thing wasn’t happening in your own life back then. You put your feelings and concerns aside to insure your little one would have a better life. Feel peace in your soul for that, on this day.

And lastly, for all us ladies who were not blessed with little ones. We are a rather large bunch it seems. We are the ones who dote on the nieces and nephews and others children. We have fun text messaging, emailing, calling, sending photos, and laughing over funny jokes. Sure, it took us years to settle within ourselves that this dream would probably not come true.

We struggled with it for a long time and eventually we figured out another way to celebrate all the maternal passions we had. We volunteer for children’s causes, we raise money for them, we become mentors for younger women (as a few precious ladies have for me), and we make sure we’re busy making others’ lives better.

So on this Mother’s Day, I wish you peace above all else. That no matter what stage of life or motherhood, or potential motherhood you may be, that you will find peace within your soul right now. That you may know gratitude for the place you find yourself right now.

Because you deserve this…