Holiday Stories, The Road Less Traveled

Support Someone Grieving During the Holidays

by Kim Meredith

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”

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Bereaved Parents, Child/Teen Sibling Loss, Grieving Children, neo-natal/infant death

Those We Often Forget (young sibling grief)

by Jennifer Radosevich

Shining in bright yellow lights, it read, “The Bereaved Parent Club.” Every night, my dream of the club was always so vivid. Upon each morning awakening, I knew it was not a dream, but the reality my life had become. Continue reading “Those We Often Forget (young sibling grief)”

Bereaved Parents, suicide

Not A Matter of Choice (adult child suicide)

by Carol Loehr

Keith and Carol_1Our son Keith was 29 years old when he decided to end his life. Keith’s death was a suicide. Suicide is a frightening word and it is not only ignorance but fear and stigma that keep people from understanding why someone would take their life. In a way it is easier to think that a person made a “choice”, freeing us from knowing the truth.

The word, “choice”, continues to perpetuate the stigma of suicide. The definition of “choice” is “the freedom in choosing, both in the way one chooses and in the number of possibilities from which to choose.” In a presuicidal state an individual is overwhelmed in a given situation. They suffer extreme mental anguish and a painful sense of hopelessness. Their sense of judgment is distorted, and they do not have the ability to make “choices” or options. They literally want to kill the pain and not themselves. Continue reading “Not A Matter of Choice (adult child suicide)”

Bereaved Parents, drug overdose

The (Formerly) Silent Men and (Formerly) Talkative Women of My Grief Group

by Fran Gerstein

I facilitate a group for parents who have lost children to drugs and alcohol. The stated purpose of this group is to offer support and insight regarding the grief process.

Fran Gerstein and her son, Daniel
Fran Gerstein and her son, Daniel

Initially, my group had only one member named Annie. It seemed it might just be the two of us indefinitely. Each week I would greet her by saying “Hello Group” and she would greet me in kind. She and I had a contract – I agreed to run the group if she showed up and she agreed to show up if I ran it. Because it was only the two of us, we got to know each other pretty quickly. Rather than my taking a classical group therapist role with her, I opted for a supportive role since we were in the same boat. She shared her grief experience and I shared mine. We talked our heads off like many women do. Continue reading “The (Formerly) Silent Men and (Formerly) Talkative Women of My Grief Group”

Bereaved Parents

Finding Connection

by Deedra Climer

My only son, Joshua Muñoz, 23, died on April 30, 2014 in a motorcycle accident. He was truly a light that shined on all who knew him.

Deedra Climer
Deedra Climer

Social gatherings when you’re grieving can be overwhelming, but I looked forward to a day with friends, beers, and a pig on a spit to usher out summer. Over the seventeen months since Joshua died, I’d developed a ritual to help me figure out whether a new person is someone who will pass quickly through my life or someone who can handle a woman who is teary, forgetful and more than a little angry. Grief is not everyone’s cup of tea, after all, and my energy is sparse. It’s only fair to get it out of the way early on.

Here’s what I do: I simply tell them my kid died, then stand back and watch. Continue reading “Finding Connection”

Bereaved Parents, suicide

Does It Get Better? (a child’s suicide)

by Sue Endsley

Ryan Mitchell Endsley

It has been almost 14 years since my youngest of three sons, Ryan, took his life at Niagara Falls. I definitely remember those first days, weeks, months, the first year. Three years after Ryan’s death I started a support group for suicide survivors. When people new to the grief of losing a child attend the support group their first questions are does it get better? Will I survive this? Helping others survive and get beyond those first years is what also helped me in my healing and moving forward. So the answer is yes, it does get better.

But it does take a while and you do have to want to move forward. Most important of all is that moving forward does not mean leaving the memory of your child behind. I have moved ahead and keep Ryan’s memory with me always. And I do still get knocked over by a wave of emotion now and then, but it is much less often than at first. Continue reading “Does It Get Better? (a child’s suicide)”

Bereaved Parents

rare birdOn an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How could God let this happen? And, Can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace. In Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother’s story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. Visit her blog, An Inch of Gray