Suicide: Changing the Language

by Cathy Seehuetter
The Compassionate Friends
St. Paul, MN Chapter

Police Officer Christopher Seehuetter
10/6/1972 – 6/02/2012

Once in a while I write a post regarding the language of suicide. I really hope that people will read it because it is very important for us to spread the word on how we speak of suicide. I’ve been thinking about it a lot again lately, especially since the two-year anniversary of my stepson’s suicide was just on June 2nd, and wanted to share my thoughts in the hope that someone will read it and that that someone will also educate someone, when given the chance, to help us with the mission to change how we say it:

SUICIDE: It is a death that has so many layers and agendas that it adds another whole level of difficulty to an already terrible loss. Using the word “committed” before suicide is like fingernails down a chalkboard to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. We are trying to change the language around suicide and no longer say “committed”…and I don’t care for “completed” suicide myself (we wouldn’t say that someone “completed” cancer or “completed” a car accident. (more…)

Hospice House: My Daughter’s Place of Comfort, Peace, and Beauty

by Debbie Berry

keepin on.jpgOn Mother’s Day 2012, my 33 year old daughter was once again taken over by horrific pain. The cancer she had been battling for 3 1/2 years was showing no mercy. We went back to the emergency room with her doubled over and begging for the pain to stop. She was admitted and on May 18th my daughter was told that there was nothing more the doctors could do for her. Those words, and the look in her eyes, will forever haunt me. She had fought so hard, endured unspeakable pain and many weeks in the hospital. She never once gave up hope that she might beat the cancer and see her children grow up.

Kylee made the decision to go to Hospice with the intention of getting the pain under control and going home to be with family. The whole time the plans were being made, I was screaming inside saying No! If she does, she is going to die. Hospice is The House of Death and I don’t want her around all those dying people. What if she gives up the fight? We have a very strong faith and believed that God would not take such a young, beautiful mother. I never voiced my fears, my job as her mother was simply to be there, to comfort and give strength. Just before the ambulance arrived to transport her to the Hospice House, I sat there looking at her as she slept. (more…)

HEAVEN’S CHILD receives a 5 STAR review from IndieReade

heavens childHEAVEN’S CHILD receives a 5 STAR review from IndieReader, making it officially “IndieReader Approved.” Judged by top industry professionals not as merely a great indie book, but as a great book, period! I was excited and wanted to share that review with you because it crunches into the core of the story and gets to the inspirational message we must never forget.

HEAVEN’S CHILD: A true story of family, friends and strangers
By Caroline Flohr (Book Publishers Network, 2014)
5 Star

Caroline Flohr’s searing memoir of loss of her first-born twin teenage daughter Sarah in a car accident in August 2004 is a difficult book to review. Nothing can even describe the emotional trauma of a parent who has to bear – and live through – the agony of a child’s death, a vibrant sixteen-year old, to a freak accident. Yet, Flohr has written a sensitive memoir that makes catharsis possible in the quest to understand her loss without turning death into a tear jerker. (more…)

Armen Bacon: My 10-year tour of ‘Griefland’

The Fresno Bee
July 19, 2014

Alex and Armen Bacon

Alex and Armen Bacon

On the street, there are only a few signs of life this morning. I am awake early, a night of tossing and turning. Insomnia, I guess. It’s “that” time of year. I walk outside to get the morning paper, greeted by a pair of doves collecting twigs to build a nest. This gives me reason to smile on an otherwise uncertain day.

Caught in my annual grief relapse, tethered to that moment in time when everything in our lives changed, I wonder how can it be 10 years, an entire decade since we lost our son, Alex. Friends have been especially kind lately, knowing the day was approaching, going out of their way to send cards filled with love messages, texts that read, “Thinking of you.” Many, I imagine, are silently quizzing themselves about how we will cope, manage, on such an unhappy anniversary. (more…)

Join the Voices of Recovery: The Mind and Body Connection

Editor’s Note: I will be presenting a workshops entitled: Addiction and Post Traumatic Stress: Avoiding Crisis in Your Home, Workplace and Community. Open to everyone, but target audience is firefighters/EMS/Corrections/law enforcement/dispatchers. Peggy Sweeney

guidingheartswhopeRecovery is possible and that people recover. Whether you are an individual in recovery, a family member, a friend, a professional in the field, a co-worker or an employer of a person in recovery , we need YOU there. Our message is simple: Recovery Works!

September 2014 marks the 25th Anniversary of the observance of National Recovery Month—a time to reflect on the impact of disease of addiction and mental health, the lessons learned, the lives saved, lives lost and that RECOVERY is possible. Each day of the year is a call to action to continue to build upon our efforts to teach, educate, support and encourage RECOVERY. We are energized because we truly feel that someday we will change how society sees the illness of addiction and the beautiful gift of recovery, so the time is NOW! TOGETHER, we can and must do whatever it takes to ignite the NEW RECOVERY MOVEMENT!

(more…)

Spring is in the Air…and It Feels like a Million Knives Hitting Me All At Once

by Nancy Miller

Nancy MillerSpring is already here again, the sixth one since my daughter Rachel died on Christmas night, 2008 of a drug overdose. It’s one of those seasons that smells of renewal, life moving forward, death falling away, and the whole world is reborn.  But those of us who are continually grieving don’t find solace in spring…it often accentuates our heartache, magnifying the feelings of loss and yearning. That wanting, wanting and never having again. The emptiness, the ever-present longing. 

This last weekend my husband took me to a nursery to buy annuals to plant in our garden. A simple and fun journey that we look forward to every spring. When we got there, I wandered in and out of the aisles of flowers, and into a gift shop that had angels and plaques for sale, saying, “Beloved Daughter.” People do this more frequently now, create shrines in their gardens commemorating the person who is lost to them, but it sent me spiraling like an out of control Frisbee. And not in a good direction.  I felt lost, panic stricken. My husband found me and tried to calm me down.  (more…)

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Speaking of the Unspeakable (child drowning)

by Melissa Dalton-Bradford
Familius Publishing

The Parker Bradford Memorial Hike is taking place
this Friday, July 25th at Sundance in Utah.

Melissa Dalton-Bradford

Melissa Dalton-Bradford

Early October. Two months and two weeks after burying Parker. The shock of major loss has crash-landed our family on an island of pain. We’ve also literally landed in a foreign country: just days after the funeral, we’ve moved with our three surviving children, catatonic with grief, to Germany. We’re doubly shipwrecked.

And still we’ve had no word from Grandma and Grandpa.

No phone calls. No emails. No messages in a bottle. Nothing.

I need my parents now more than ever. But do I call them?

No.

Why not?

Because I’m overwhelmed with sadness. I’m soaked through with our three children’s sadness and with my husband’s sadness, which sad saturation is compounded by the demands of an international move managed under extreme physical and psychological impairment. The vacuum of no familiar anything or anyone is gaining suction with each day that passes. (more…)

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Bullied: This Was My Childhood

by Shelly Spivey

Someone once said that when you are bullied its like breaking a glass mirror. The pieces shatter and are very hard to reassemble, but no matter how much glue or tape you use the breaks are still visible and some pieces are forever lost. I believe this is true. Those that have been bullied and tormented for years like I was aren’t ever really whole again.

Shelly Spivey

Shelly Spivey

There was a time in my life when I was carefree and believed in myself. I was young, smart, and when I looked in the mirror I saw a beautiful person. I was a kid, and I was happy in my body, I was happy to be me. I had friends. I had a lot going for me. Then it all changed. Bullies, both adult and peer, worked hard to sap my soul away with their words and actions. I can’t possibly write about everything that ever happened, it’s too long, and no one wants a novel. So these are the highlights. This is my story, this was my childhood.

Sometime in the second grade, my teacher recommended me for the gifted program in our school district. I was tested, accepted and shipped off the following year to a more suburban school. I made a few friends and really enjoyed the third grade. I didn’t do as well as my peers in a few areas, such as handwriting and spelling, and although they noticed, no one really said much. We played and had fun, as kids do. Fourth grade started and I was assigned to a teacher, Mrs. Shawshank, who I found out later, picked one kid each year and picked on them without mercy. (more…)

10 Reasons Why You Need to Give Yourself Permission to Heal from Grief and Loss

by Maurice Turmel, PhD

maurice-turmel1) You will feel better knowing you are not alone with this experience of grief as a result of losing a loved one. Many individuals have traveled this path successfully and, those of us who study these processes, have been hard at work creating the tools and strategies necessary to help you safely negotiate the recovery experience.

2) You will feel better as you become aware of how manageable the healing experience can be while you grow accustomed to using tools that will help you get in touch with your feelings. Once aware of what you are feeling, you will be encouraged you to express those feelings and see for yourself how your stress level will begin to recede. Strategies of denial, anger, withdrawal and repression will be abandoned as they should because you are now aware of what’s necessary to safely manage your recovery experience. (more…)

Singing Noel (ectopic pregnancy)

by Peggy Sweeney
The Compassionate Friends
Kerrville, TX Chapter

December 22, 1983

There were no words to describe the gut-wrenching emotions I felt. As I awoke from the anesthesia, I pleaded with the nurse to tell me that my baby was alive; that my body had not killed this child of mine. She stroked my face and as we both cried she explained that my tiny baby had died due to an ectopic pregnancy. The child was not viable and I could have died had they not performed the surgery. To me, what died that day was not a medical term, an embryo or a fetus. It was my baby.

heart.jpgI knew it was my fault. I knew I had done something wrong and God was punishing me. I tried to withdraw into a protective shell, but they wouldn’t let me. I sobbed uncontrollably. I screamed, cursed, and rejected the comfort of loving arms. I wanted to die. When I returned home from the hospital, my family and friends calmly ignored the fact that my baby was very real to me and had died. They stressed that, because it was Christmas time, it was imperative that I be happy and joyful and feel blessed in spite of this tragedy for the sake of my three living children. I faked it. I pretended that they were right and went about my life as if nothing was wrong. Nevertheless, deep inside my heart a tiny hole burned with a passion.

Several years later, I attended a professional workshop about neonatal and infant death by Joy and Marvin Johnson (Centering Corporation). The focus of the workshop was to educate the hospital’s obstetric doctors and nursing staff as well as bereavement educators and counselors about the best practices for helping bereaved parents whose child had died before birth or shortly after birth.

As Joy and Marvin gave us pointers on how to help those grieving an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, I slowly felt the pangs of those horrific days in 1983. Without warning, I began to sob. As the tears streamed down my face, I was asked to share my story. It suddenly occurred to me that I had never grieved for this child. I was encouraged to give my baby a name, something I had never thought to do. Since I did not know the sex of my baby, I chose a name the name, Noel, that could be used for either a boy or a girl. A name that would always remind me of their short life and the special day they were born during the Christmas season.

Copyright Peggy Sweeney

The Sweeney Alliance
peggy@sweeneyalliance.org

R J Smiles (car accident death)

by Margaret Jackson
R J Smiles

In October of 2010, I was awakened by the barking of my dog and an incessant knock at the door. I was “greeted” by a representative from the Sheriff’s department. No words were needed… I knew my life was experiencing a horrible turn. The Love of My Life, my 20-year-old son, Richard Jackson, had been hit by a car and killed.

Richard and I lived most of our life together, as just the two of us. We had a very special bond, and he was my world. If you knew me, you knew him (whether you had met him or not). He was truly a blessing from God.

There were no “terrible two’s”, and the teenage years seemed a breeze. Richard was growing into the most wonderful awesome young man. He had a personality that was kind and genuine, and drew people to him. His smile was infectious and was ever-present, spreading from his heart without thought or purpose.

(more…)

Join The Voices of Recovery

Guiding Hearts

Click here for 2014 conference registration

Addiction and Post Traumatic Stress: Avoiding a Crisis in Your Home, Workplace and Community

Presenter: Peggy Sweeney, The Sweeney Alliance

Program Description:
Depression, addiction, and post traumatic stress are today’s hot topics. National, state and local leaders scramble to find a “fix” for these problems, but are coming up short on results. Budgets are being stretched, medical costs are increasing, and family cohesiveness is being strained. The numbers of those most in need are growing at an astounding rate. Sadly, too many waiting for help are turning to suicide to cope. This workshop addresses these issues and provides valuable resources available to every person, including our community first responders – law enforcement officers, 911 dispatchers, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel.

Ten Hard Truths About Grief

by Thom Dennis

#1 Some things are beyond our control

We would all prefer to live with the illusion that we are in control of our own lives, but a sudden change in the weather, an unwelcome diagnosis or a random act of violence reminds us that no one is the master of their fate. The truth is: In this life there is very little of real consequence that we can control. The challenge is to accept this reality and refocus attention on what is within our power to change. We can acknowledge our feelings and choose how we will respond to whatever life has thrown in our direction.

#2 There are consequences to being mortal

In our office there is a beautifully illustrated book called, Lifelinesby Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen. We use it to explain death to children. When it comes to grief, we are all little children needing comfort, reassurance, and gentle age-appropriate explanations. The sad truth is that people die. In fact, everything dies. Death is a natural part of life. As much as we would like to believe our parent, spouse, sibling, child, fried or loved one will live forever, they will eventually die. In the end, even you and I will die. It’s not fair, but it’s part of being mortal.

(more…)

911, What Is MY Emergency?

by Angela Beaty 911 Dispatcher Marshall County, Iowa Communications

Angela Beaty

Angela Beaty

My journey learning about PTSD begins with my marriage. This is where the initial trauma happened. My marriage was a nightmare for the most part. I called my ex-husband the AAA asshole. Alcoholic. Addicted. Abuser. He over drank almost every night and was addicted to many things, but mostly alcohol. He abused me physically, verbally and emotionally for years. I kept it hidden. Or so I thought. Funny, but what you don’t realize is that people know. They wont ask you or talk to you about it, but they know. I moved on with my life, and took my children with me to safety. Became ferociously independent. Felt wonderful. New life, new home, new job. My new job was as a 911 operator. I knew that the job would be stressful, but I was an old pro at stress. Or so I thought. I had no idea the extent of stress that was heading my way. (more…)

On Loss and Living Onward

Following the devastating loss of her oldest son in 2007, Melissa struggled for years to find her way out of the darkness of overwhelming grief. Now, nine years later, Melissa has reached a place of relative calm and has found her passion in providing comfort and guidance to others who are wrestling with the pain and devastation of loss.

Melissa Dalton-Bradford is the author of two books: Global Mom: A Memoir and On Loss and Living Onward: Collected Voices of the Grieving and Those Who Would Mourn With Them

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Grief and Running, You Taught Me Well

by Jenny Rainone

Jenny

Jenny Rainone

Hello!  My name is Jenny Rainone.  I am 36 years old.  About three years ago, I found myself at an all-time low.  I had a failing 2-year marriage to someone I’d dated for 7 years, compounded by fertility challenges. I had lost a job that I’d seemingly invested much effort, time, and heart into. I had a brother, whom I’d been very close to growing up, that I hadn’t spoken to, heard from, or seen in over a year. About 6 months later, during a routine doctor’s visit, I was told that I could be put on medication for high blood pressure, plus I was borderline diabetic. I was also 50 lbs heavier than average. I’d never thought of myself as being depressed. I’d always been athletic in high school, and was a casual exerciser throughout college, so during the drive home, I reflected on how I’d gotten to this point.

Grief is interesting, because there’s no definite beginning or end. It can appear, go away, and re-visit without warning or reason. I was grieving for a failing marriage, for children I’d always wanted and hadn’t had, for a job I’d lost, and for a brother that was, for all practical purposes, gone. When we don’t address large looming life stresses, they have a way of reminding you that they’re still present. (more…)

Avoiding the Clichés of Grief

by Sasha J. Mudlaff, M.A.

“I know just how you feel.”
Possible Alternative
If you have had a similar loss, you can give tremendous support to the grieving person, but don’t suggest that you know exactly what they’re going through.

“Time will heal.”
Possible Alternative
Moldy oldie! To the bereaved, each day can seem like an eternity. Besides, how do you know that “time will heal” them? Time alone doesn’t heal, but what one does with their time can help the healing process.
Alternative – “You must feel as if this pain will never end…”

“Life goes on.”
Possible Alternative
“Life has dealt you a terrible blow. I know it will be hard for you in the months to come to live with this pain.” (more…)

Breathe…….with T’ai Chi

by Mary Cuchna

T’ai Chi (or Taiji) is a mind-body practice that originated in China with a philosophical basis……The words “T’ai Chi” are literally translated as “Supreme Ultimate”, or in other words, to become the best that we can be – reaching our full potential as human beings by balancing the positive and negative aspects in our lives. Tai Chi is characterized by slow, fluid movements in a choreographed pattern called a “form.” It is considered a martial art, but daily practice of this beautiful exercise art reaps many benefits.

One of the major benefits T’ai Chi is noted for is stress reduction. Most of us live fast-pace, overworked, stress-filled lives. But when something radically changes in our lives, such as the loss of a child, spouse, parent, or a close friend, normal stress is magnified as we are left to deal with such immense changes in our world; we can easily become overwhelmed.

(more…)

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