Tag Archives: Mary McCambridge

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Gratefulness During Painful Times

In the United States today we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a tradition that dates back to when the pilgrims shared a meal with the native indians when the first settlers came to this country from Europe.

Later, President Abraham Lincoln would declare this day as an annual opportunity to thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on our people and our great land. And, yes, in the politically correct environment we live in, he specifically asked all Americans to thank ‘God’.

But for my readers, who are often those who are grieving a loss of some kind on this day, it can feel difficult to really find anything that we could be grateful for when we are in such pain. And this is a place where I have been in the past, too.

But I’d like you to know that just because you are hurting so deeply from the death of someone close, or the divorce, or the financial loss, or whatever you are dealing with, it is acceptable to still feel times of happiness.

Sometimes we won’t allow ourselves to delve into the happy bucket for fear of how others might judge us (“How can she look so happy when her father just died?”). Or when we ourselves feel guilty because we’re not grieving properly.

Well I’m here to tell you that there is no ‘right’ way to grieve. There is no ‘right’ timing when grief is finished. There is no ‘right’ way you can please all your family and friends and I don’t want you to try, because, quite frankly, if they are putting guilt on you, nothing you do will make them happy anyway. It’s time for them to get their own life and build their own happiness after someone’s death.

The only person’s grief you are responsible for is your own. You can help soothe another family member and listen to them, but ultimately it’s their journey and they will undoubtedly walk it in a different manner and timing than you, but that’s just fine. We aren’t all the same and we don’t all grieve the same as another family member.

So on this Thanksgiving, take some time to value what you do have in your life. Honor the great memories you shared with your loved one who is no longer here. Share those memories with those whom you will spend this day…aloud of course.

And even if you think it will be painful to even bring up their name at dinner, it probably will be and tears may be shed and, guess what, it’s absolutely ok. And, yes, even if it’s been a dozen years, holidays can be hard thinking how you’d really love for them to be sitting at the table next to you just one more time.

So shed the tears and raise a glass to their memory. Talk about them, share what makes your life great at this point in your life. Share how they shaped your life for the better.

And mostly realize just how far you have come in your journey. You are still moving forward, you are still moving toward your dreams, and you can still find things to be grateful for.

I wish you a memorable day. They are with you in spirit and nothing and no one can ever take that away.

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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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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.

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Mary Mac’s Amazon Best Selling Grief Book – Free till Sunday

Amazon Kindle Best Selling Book by Mary Mac
Amazon Kindle Best Selling Book by Mary Mac

To honor those directly affected by the blasts in Boston and the citizens of their great city, I’m offering a gratis copy of my Amazon Kindle Best Selling book, “Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death” until Sunday evening, April 21st.

Having experienced the murder many years ago of my stepdaughter and all the trauma that accompanied her death, I understand what is going on in the background which few others get to see.

For your free copy, click here.

Please share often with the social media links below. Available free now through Sunday night, April 21st, 2013.

Sending peace,

Mary Mac

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Veterans Day 2011 – 11/11/11

On Veterans Day I have the great honor of remembering all the wonderful people in my life who have served in the United States Military both here and abroad.

I think of my Dad, who served in the Army in France during the Korean War, my one Uncle who was a Marine in the Pacific during World War II and witnessed great horrors, my other Uncle who was in the Marines and was an honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery in DC.

I also think of all my friends who lost brothers during Vietnam. I was in high school when their older brothers were coming home in caskets. Those thoughts don’t leave you.

Now I admire those close friends who have voluntarily given of themselves in either active duty or in the reserves here at home.

A college friend whose husband is a Lt. Commander in the Navy, flying helicopters off aircraft carriers and she a Naval Surgeon. A Captain in the Army National Guard in NY, who I became friends with after her sister was murdered in Virginia. Another very close college buddy who served multiple tours in Bosnia and Iraq as a high ranking officer in the Army. And lately, a newer friend, who spent 23 years in the Marine Reserves as an MP.

I admire their courage, their sacrifice, their sense of duty to our citizens. Only honorable men and woman would dare step up for the benefit of their citizens.

They do this willingly with humility. They do so with integrity and faithfulness, devotion and great care. They live their lives with a sense of service to others, even when they leave active duty.

I guess that’s what I find so amazing…because a person with such high character is rare. And I am so grateful to call them my friends.