One Day My Life Was Completely Normal And Then…”
by Radha Stern THEN article submitted 2014
One day my life was completely normal. I was making lunch for my brother, Abram, who was visiting me from New Jersey, and my best friend, Bettina, when the doorbell rang. I answered it, with my apron on, to a man from the Sheriff’s department. He informed me that another officer needed to speak with me, and told me to call a number he handed to me.
With the Sheriff’s officer looking over my shoulder, I phoned and heard someone say “coroner’s office” on the other end. I could barely speak. A voice informed me that my son was dead…that he had been shot four times by his school roommate during an argument about dishes. Continue reading ““21” “21””→
In April of 1975, my best friend died. Not only was he my best friend, he was more importantly my dad. He died suddenly; a massive heart attack. The paramedics assured us that he had not suffered. But the pain and suffering our family was to endure over the next several months was monumental.I remember thinking, at that time, how I wished I could ease mom’s hurt just a little. I wanted to give her the ability to forget for a short time her visions of dad’s last moments with her. Seeing him die before her eyes must have been so traumatic. Not being able to save him caused her much guilt. I felt so helpless. There was nothing I or anyone could do or say to fix the problem. He was gone. It was so final. I believe it was at that time in my life that I started on “the road less traveled”. In years to come, I chose the path that led me eventually to funeral service. Continue reading “The Road Less Traveled”→
Adults frequently associate grief with the death of someone loved. However, this is not the only reason we grieve. We confront grief whenever we experience a loss or traumatic event: a divorce, retirement, a debilitating illness or injury, addiction, abuse, the aftermath of a fire, flood, or an earthquake. The list of grief-generating experiences is endless. Healing our grief is a life-altering event and a very personal experience.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a world-renowned expert in the field of death and dying, is credited with the development of the five stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Her studies, often thought to define the stages of grief following the death of a family member or friend, actually focused on terminally ill patients. This revelation changes the dynamics of how we perceive healing the grief we experience after a loved one dies or an unexpected or unpleasant event happens in our life. If we try to follow Kübler-Ross’s stages in succession, we are led to believe that our grief will be permanently resolved. Unfortunately, for those of us who have experienced a loss or traumatic event, this is not necessarily true. Grief is not just the emotions and feelings we have during or immediately following a loss. Grief has no set time pattern nor does it ever go away completely. We don’t get over itas some people want us to do. Grief can, however, be an instrument of learning about love, life, and living. Grief can have a positive or negative impact on our life. Grief is choices. We can choose to journey through our grief and, at the end of our journey, emerge a better person for having experienced grief (positive) or we can stuff it within are very being, try to ignore it, and fail to receive its rewards (negative).
We greet one another with “Happy Holidays!” but for some it’s not. Those who have lost a loved one during the year may find there is little to cheer.
Widowed at age 40, I couldn’t face my first Christmas without my husband, David. My 10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter and I accepted my youngest sister’s invitation. We packed up the stockings, gifts, and holiday treats and headed for her charming country home in upstate New York. We returned two years to spend the holidays with her family.
The fourth year, we tackled the seasonal festivities at home by ourselves. Knowing I could not recreate the past, I started a new tradition. The kids decorated in their own style a second, smaller Christmas tree in the sunroom. Their creativity provided lots of laughs.Continue reading “Support Someone Grieving During the Holidays”→
It is December and I am approaching my third Christmas without my baby girl. People tell me that I have to “move on” and “get over” the tragedy of my newborn’s death. These people have never held a still baby. They have never been pregnant with a baby that would die, but they have lots of opinions. The bereaved do not need opinions. We need truth.
My truth is that I am forever changed by my daughter, Mary Rose. Her brief life has broken my heart open – shattered it so that I am no longer the woman who naively thought that her second pregnancy would guarantee a second healthy child. The pain that I have experienced – walking through grief thick as molasses – has allowed me to help others going through an unspeakable loss. I started a blog and wrote a book about my pregnancy to comfort others. Mary Rose lived for one hour, and in that one hour transformed me and my beliefs about motherhood. Even without my living baby girl, I am her mother still.Continue reading “Small Gestures with Great Love: Supporting the Bereaved Throughout the Year”→
• Your relationship as a couple is the most important relationship. Let it take precedence over all others.
• When a baby dies, the grief affects both of you at the same time. Other stresses in a relationship usually do not impact both individuals simultaneously. Therefore, your closest support is not always able to respond to you because he/she is trying to cope with his/her own grief.
• Each person in the relationship will grieve in individual ways. Learning to understand your partner’s ways may take some time and may be difficult.
I am going to describe my journey as a stepfather over almost two decades, from August 1980 to the present. I am a step-parent who has experienced the death of a child. My story may be different from many of yours in that the death was a long-term illness, which, while it had some very difficult aspects, also offered some unique opportunities for really developing a very close relationship and for closure. Continue reading “A Stepfather’s Journey (no surviving children)”→