Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter & Passover - A Time for Hope...

Thank you to Susan Blaison from Birmingham, Alabama for sending this article to me-Susan commented that she had received a copy of this article from a dear friend after her 29 year old son died suddenly 2 days before the birth of his first child-her first grandchild...  I totally agree with the author, Margaret Gerner's, comments that each and every article read through the years since the deaths of my own children, which recounted the most horrific life event "the death of a child" have also always left me with a sense of HOPE.  HOPE that eventually I would smile again, be happy again, and gave me HOPE that the tremendous heartache I was feeling would ease and become bearable...  HOPE is something that helps us survive this Journey from Mourning to Joy - I want to wish you all a joyous Passover & Easter and HOPE that you too can find HOPE and PEACE ..  Cherie Houston

HOPE, ~ By Margaret Gerner
Bereaved Mother and Bereaved Grandmother
St. Louis, MO -BP/

I sat down regularly to read the many newsletters that I receive from the chapters (BP/ across the county. Most of the time there were articles in them that made me cry a little. I read about children who are dead and parents who were hurting, but never did I come away from those reading sessions depressed.

I came away with hope, hope that the searing torment does lessen and eventually give way to warm, loving memories of our child.

When we are in the deepest throes of our grief, when our beloved child has just recently been snatched from life by a tragic accident or succumbed to a fatal illness, or died in some other way, can we believe we can ever be happy again? When to simply get up in the morning is a major accomplishment, can we believe that we will ever be able to function with enthusiasm or purpose?

When every thought of our children brings excruciating pain, can we believe that we will someday be able to think of him/her and smile? I know it is hard to believe that this will ever happen, but it will.
Words used in defining HOPE are expect, trust, anticipate, wish, desire and confident.  These are the key words.

If we expect, trust and anticipate feeling better, we will in time.  If we wish it and are confident, the day will come when we will feel better. Of course, it doesn’t just happen. It takes long hard grief work. It takes many painful hours of allowing ourselves to go through our grief.

It takes patience and it takes time. But know you will come to the light at the end of the tunnel.  Know that there is hope. Know that many many bereaved parents who have been in the same painful place that you are now have found life meaningful again.

Know that you will too.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


~ by Lynn Hughes - "Hello Grief"

"Certain things need an expiration date. Milk, eggs, mayonnaise, meat, fish… there is a time we need to be done with them, and throw them away… I get all that. But does grief have an expiration date? For some reason, there seems to be an acceptable shelf life..6-12 months, and then grief should be off the shelf, out of the home and permanently removed with the weekly trash service.  If it was only that simple…

The “grief expiration date” myth must come from people who have never experienced a close death – otherwise they would know the truth. Everyone fears facing such a loss. They are hopeful that should death touch their world, it will only take 6-12 months to recover. No one wants someone they love to die. So, until faced with the reality, it’s easier to think ‘this won’t happen to me, AND if it does it will only be bad for a finite, short amount of time and then…there’s an expiration date and it is magically all gone.’ What a wonderful world that would be.

I've heard time and time again there is a societal expectation to “get over” grief in 6 months, and at the longest, a year. Those who aren't grieving believe it, and often those who are also believe it - this sets grieving people up for false, and ultimately disappointing, expectations.

The one year mark looms like some golden carrot over the heads of those who are grieving. It is a symbol of hope that if they make it to the one year mark they will be in a much happier and pain free place.

The reality is they won’t be over it, nor should they be. If someone spent years loving another person, the pain of that person’s death simply will not be removed due to a date on the calendar.

The opposite actually might happen – people who are grieving may feel even more pain in year two because the initial numbness, which often serves as a protective barrier at the onset of loss, has worn off and they begin experiencing the full intensity of their feelings and grief. This is accompanied by the realization that life with loss  is their “new normal.”

I lost my mother at 9 and father at 12. I remember feeling the expectation of a grief expiration date myself. I remember being 15, five years after my mother died and three years after my father died. If I had a tough day missing my parents, people looked shocked, or avoided the subject, or avoided me. Sometimes I would hear insensitive comments, like “ aren't you over that?” Or when someone experienced a more recent loss, I would get “Oh, poor [so and so]. What a tragic loss.  Aren't you glad you are over that now?”

I remember beating myself up and doubting how well I was coping. If you allow yourself to believe there is an expiration date for grief, you will start to think you aren't doing well if you still miss your loved one 5, 10, 20, 40 years after the loss. In reality – it’s normal. And it’s okay.

This is what I know to be true:  Grief is a life-long journey. 

Grief is an emotional handicap you get up, and live with everyday. It doesn't mean you can’t lead a happy life, but it is a choice, and takes work. The frequency and intensity of those grief pangs/knives should lessen over time, but the reality is every now and then for the rest of your life, you will feel those pangs. Everyone grieves at their own pace, and in their own way. There is no one way to grieve, and no certain order, and no timeline. There is definitely not an expiration date.

Grief will take on different forms in different people. Not everyone cries; others cry all the time. Some exercise a lot. Others talk about it a lot. Many seek counseling or join a support group, and enjoy the company of a good and understanding listener.

If years after your loss, thinking of your loved one missing a special day or milestone in your life, makes you sad, puts you in a funk, or makes you cry, don’t beat yourself up. Allow yourself the ability to grieve the loss of memories not created. As long as the frequency and intensity of grief eases—even if it is slowly over time—you are coping in positive ways. 

Alternatively, if years after the loss, you can’t bear the mention of your loved ones name, you sleep all day, you aren't participating in your normal everyday activities, you do things to “numb” or escape your grief, those are warning signs that you are not coping well, and should seek the assistance you need to begin healing.

Grieving in a healthy manner, taking steps to move forward, and rebuild your life with a new normal, doesn't mean you won’t have those tough days or tough moments.

There is no expiration date. Grief never fully goes away. That doesn't have to mean you can’t and won’t live a happy and productive life. What it does mean is the love you shared with loved ones lost, doesn't have an expiration date either"

Monday, March 18, 2013

On A Child's Death

I'm not sure who sent this to me when my son Bobby died a few years ago, but it is in with the many cards we received and I thought I'd share it... Cherie Houston

~ Virginia Ellis ~

All heaven was in mourning,
The day that young man died;
When He closed His eyes, they said,
Ten thousand angels cried.

The angels shed their many tears,
Because He was God's Son;
But there is a special sadness,
When God takes the very young.

At times like that, I question God,
Why let a child die?
I cannot understand it,
And I need to ask Him why.

I, too, have heard the angels cry,
I've heard them cry first hand;
For I, too, gave up a child,
And I've tried hard to understand.

Yes, I received God's comfort,
Though I'm grateful, I want more;
I want reasons;  I want meaning,
I am a parent who's heart-sore.

God can give, and God can take,
I am well aware of this;
But, why my baby ... why my child?
Why did God put him on His list?

Did I love my child too much?
Was he too good for this old earth?
Had his purpose here been filled?
Was that why he was taken first?

I awake each day with questions,
I fall asleep at night, the same;
So many times I ask God why,
I'm both saddened and ashamed.

But then, in reflective moments,
When my prayers are most intense,
One word keeps going through my mind,
Patience ... patience ... patience.

Maybe now is not the time,
To explain this great heartache;
Even if I knew God's reasons,
What difference would it make?

Can't I just be grateful,
For any time we had?
Accept God's action without question?
Why is that so very bad?

What's my hurry ... why my pressure?
Is my faith not strong enough?
God will explain it when He's ready,
Surely I can trust that much.

God understands my broken heart,
He, too, gave up a Son;
He knows the pain of one lost child,
He weeps with me, and we are one.

Just as I talk to God each day,
I talk to my precious child;
I blow him kisses, and I say,
"See you, honey, in a while."

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Marcia Ali; Reprinted from the BP/USA St. Louis Chapter Newsletter

“It will never be the same.  Never.”  As a bereaved parent you have often heard or said these words to express grief’s profound feelings of sorrow and disorientation.  Your life has suddenly taken an unexpected course and that appears both uncharged and endless.  Bewildered you vainly search for pathways back to your former life, until you confront the reality that there is no way back.  Your child is dead forever.  It is then that you may say, “never the same.”

This is the aspect of the grief that Simon Stephens calls the Valley of the Shadow.  It is that very long time between the death of your child and your reinvestment in life.  Between.  It is not supposed to be a permanent resting place.  Although some people do take up residence in the Valley, it is a transition from the death of your child to life with renewed purpose.

The key to this transition is yourself.  You must choose between life and the Valley.  You and only you can decide.  And you must make that decision again and again, each day.

Giving in to the hopelessness of the Valley is tempting.  Choosing to move on toward life requires a great deal of work.  You must struggle with the pain of grief to resolve it.  It is a daily struggle full of tears, anger, guilt, and self-doubt.  But it is the only alternative to surrendering yourself to the Valley.

Little by little you choose to move on.  Little by little you progress toward the other side of the Valley.  It takes a very long time, far longer than your friends or relatives suspected.  Far longer than you had believed – even prayed – that it would be.  When one day you find yourself able to do more than choose merely to live…but also how to live, you will know you are leaving the Valley of the Shadow.  There is more work to do, more struggles and choosing.  The Valley, however, stretches behind rather than in front of you.

When you have resolved your grief by reinvesting in life, you will be able to realize that nothing is ever “the same.”  Life is change.  We would not have it be otherwise, for that is the Valley of the Shadow.  Change has the promise of beginning and the excitement of discovery.
LIFE is never the same.  Life is change.  Choose life! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Rushing River

These words were written by a Mother as she was attempting to comfort another newly bereaved Mother at the loss of her son. 

~written by JoAnn Farrell~

I thought this morning about where you are and where I am in all this.  I feel it’s like I’ve been thrown into a rushing river.  At first it is DARK and I can only come up for air enough to keep from dying.  Then as the days go on, I feel rocks or the bottom bumping against my feet, but I can’t get any footing.  I keep on going under, gasping for air, then for a moment my feet feel the bottom and I can brace myself for a few moments.  Each time this happens, I can stand longer, but each time I get swept off my feet again.  

Then I notice each time that I stand, I can take a step toward the shore.  I am going to get pulled under a lot of times before I reach the shore, but I will make it…..I have to.  If not for me……for my family.  The one thing that I don’t know, is do I ever get to step out of the river?  I have a feeling that I will always walk along the shore with water to my ankles, occasionally falling into a hole.  Because I will never not miss my son.  But I will be able to stand and breathe.  

I am sure that I will fall into a deep hole occasionally as I walk the bank of the river, but God will take my hand and help me out.  I will be able to feel joy again… again….and do the things that God has for me to do.

I would guess that you are still gasping for breath…..and I am beginning to feel some footing.  We will make it… is just hard swallowing so much water…..and I miss my baby.