Danielle cherished family, friends and life. She had her whole life planned
out; her husband, number of kids, two dogs and would be a dermatologist, a career
where she could help others but have time for her family.
Christi had just enrolled in college. She just began taking First Baptist Church
shuttles downtown every Thursday to befriend the homeless. Just chit chatting
with them and letting them know they had a friend. In her journals, she was
determined to turn her life around and she started by helping others. She volunteered
often for the M.U.S.T. Ministries to help set up their clothing shop for the
homeless and the children's center. She helped cooked their meals. She helped
do their laundry. She wanted to go into a field helping others. She would have
changed at least one person's life, for the better, when they thought there
was no more hope. She didn't show up last Thursday. She died.
In the months before she was killed, 21-year-old Anke Furber had been acting
scared and she seemed to know she was in danger. Several days after Furber's
charred remains were discovered in a small vineyard in Norcross, Anke's mom,
Ria, found a note in Anke's desk at home in Marietta. In it, Anke seemed to
foreshadow her own death. She wrote, "My parents would surely grieve the loss
of their wonderful daughter whose craziness would soon lead to her slaughter".
Ria isnt sure exactly when the note was written, but believes it was written
in a close time frame to the actual murder.
At 22 years old, Levi had goals and ambitions of being a business owner, a husband
and a father. He loved his family and friends with everything in him and would
do anything for you. His shyness and manners we're a shining attribute to who
he was. Unfortunately, Levi befriended someone who for nearly three years took
advantage of his kindness and when asked to leave his home, he killed him. If
he would have just walked out the door as asked, Levi would still be here today.
We'll never know all the wonderful things that Levi would have accomplished,
but we know he was a "Friend" till the end.
Ephraim was 21 yrs old when he prematurely transitioned to the other side. He
was a very warm hearted young man. And was always available to help friends
and family. As his cousin Ben said about him: "You can lay a 1,000. on the table
and know completely that Ephraim would have never taken it". He spent most of
his days at Antique World in Clarence , NY which was owned and operated by his
Uncle. That was my sons world. A world he will no longer be able to participate
in. He is sorely missed by his family and friends.
Mark suffered a brain injury at the age of 19 the night of a high school prom.
Mark died at the age of 25. Life was hard for Mark, he lived an aphasic life.
Mark struggled to relearn his alphabet and to speak again. Neuro rehab, drug
rehab, jails, institutions and death. Mark was disabled and a fighter all at
the same time. College, heavy equipment operator, volunteering were all part
of these six years. Mark loved kids and wished he had one. Due to the selfish
reasoning of his so called friends, Mark will never be able to achieve his dreams
that he fought so hard for. Mark's struggle is over !! PEACE..........
His friends describe him as a kind, warm hearted, full of energy, always smiling,
and a very silly young man. They also said that whenever Sean walked into a
room that he had the ability lighting up the room because he was full of life
and energy! He loved his dad, his mom, and his sister very much. He had a very
special bond with his great grandma Efford and his great aunt Charlene whom
also up in heaven with him. A warm hug from Sean was just another way that he
showed his affection to his family and friends
When Cayte was in the middle school she was on the track team, she was a cheerleader
for the Nor-Roc Vikings, she was on a soccer team, and she loved attending the
dances at the Sad Cafe. When she went to high school, all of those activities
stopped. The sad reason was because she was too old. All the kids have, once
they reach high school, are the woods and the homes of friends when the parents
are at work. If she had activities to do after school when she went to high
school, maybe this wouldn't have happened.
From her birth to her passing Katty touched so many lives. Not only did her
family have the joy of watching her grow from a 6 pound baby girl to a beautiful
young woman, but so many others did as well. The lives she touched are too many
to fathom. Her beauty and grace preceded her where ever she went. Her heart
was made of fine gold and she cared for others always before herself. She was
not just special to all of us but to the Lord who saw fit to call her home at
such a young age. Her mansion was ready! When we think of Katty now we all can
be at peace because we know she is with her Lord, never to face this harsh world
we live in day to day. She is with us always when we remember her smile, her
touch, and her kind words. We all had the pleasure of being touched by an ANGEL!
We want our son's name to be Remembered and to bring hope and joy out of something
that has been the darkest and heartbreaking days of our families life. JP was
very out spoken and we have decided to be that way on this site and to be his
voice about the drug companies and the public official's that sit back and do
nothing. If we could save one person from what our family had to go Through
and is still going Through, it would be all worth it We will not stop until
the truth gets out. We want his memory to live on.
Time has gone by so quickly and it seems like we haven't seen your face in forever.
Our hearts are broken, our tears flow so freely and our souls feel empty. Michael,
you left us with so many happy memories but the memories can never take your
place. We know you and your uncle Sam are saving a place for those who cherished
you the most.
Two weeks before he died, Chuck called me on the phone. He was excited to tell
me he was joining the National Guard. He had begun to think about being a History
Teacher. He planned to attend school after basic training. He also mentioned
a new girlfriend. He was pretty crazy about her but wanted to give things a
little more time before making her "meet the parents". Still, we made plans
to meet for lunch once July wound down. He thought we might all get together
and told me not to worry, he had a job and would help pay the check. The first
time I met the young lady he was so crazy about was as she cried herself senseless
over his casket. She laid a broken heart chain and necklace across his hands.
She wore the mating half around her slender neck. Her courage in court helped
to solidify the deal that sent a drug dealer to prison. I hope she, and Chuck's
other friends, make the right decision and swear off drug use so we may never
see their faces on these pages.
Everyone ever touched by Miranda. This will be a tribute to the life she lived.
She was the most remarkable and inspirational woman I have ever known. I was
in awe of my own daughter. Even as her mother, her beauty took my breath away,
and as she walked this earth from her crawling stages to adulthood her beauty
from the inside amazed me. Miranda loved about every living thing and each friend
she had she made her relationship with them special and unique.
Jamie was a very loving son, brother, grandson, nephew, boyfriend and friend..
Most importantly he was the best father anyone could have asked for.. Even though
he was only 16 when he was taken away from us from his so called friend, he
did everything for his daughter and mother of his daughter that he had
asked to marry him when he turns 18.. Jamie was the type of kid that would take
his shirt off his back for anyone that needs it.. Jamie died on April
23, 2008.. If only his so called friend (29 yrs old), his mother and the other
people at the home called 911 instead of waiting 3 hours, he would still be
here with us today.. Jamie's dad passed away Nov 2005 and he had a hard time
dealing with loosing his father and could not believe he was gone.. Well now
Jamie is at home with his dad..Until we meet again... I am proud of you my son..Love
you always and forever, Mommy
Kaylin Marie Mathews was born on a Tuesday March 1, 1988. Kaylin was my oldest
child and my only daughter. She could play the piano, guitar, and drums and
loved to sing. She had been "spinning records" the last few years and loved
to mix music. She had been working as a d.j. at the time of her death and was
very good. Kaylin was an only child for 71/2 years. She has one brother and
one sister. She was a talented writer. She made jewelry and she could draw.
There was nothing that my baby couldn't do, if she wanted to. Kaylin was left
to die in a ravine on June 30, 2008. She was found on July 1, 2008. Her date
of death is listed as a Tuesday July 1, 2008. She was 20 years old. I miss her
every second of every day. The world lost an amazing talent and an amazing young
woman. I lost a part of my heart.
R.J. was truly a blessing in our lives. He was the kind of son that most parents
only dream of having. He always respected and obeyed his parents and never got
in trouble. RJ was never in trouble in his life RJ always called home to let
us know where he was and when he would be home. When he was missing and we couldn't
reach him on his cell phone, we knew immediately something terrible was wrong.
This is a nightmare that no parent should have to go through and we are living
it. Our concern is not what we are going through, but what our son had to go
through in his final moments of life.
William Michael Grandchamp better known as Billy, was born Nov 7,1979. HE was
a only child. Billy had many friends. Billy often told his friends that his
MOM was his best friend. Billy liked to collect sports attire like jerseys and
sports caps.Everything he wore had to match. He was meticulous with his clothing,
car, and home. Although, Billy had no children of his own he loved children.
He told me his greatest wish was to find a good girl and settle down and have
a family. That seemed to be very important to him. Even at a young age he had
a gift with children. Billy's friends have always commented on how good he was
with their children and how their children loved him. Billy was loved by so
many people. He had over 800 friends and family members at his wake. Billy will
be greatly missed by all his family and friends.
Chase lived life spontaneously with the freedom of a butterfly – a free spirit
& soul – no one could hold him down, except his baby girl. She was his LIFE.
There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for her, including getting clean. Chase
was clean 1.5 yrs, after 6 months in residential rehab in New Orleans, continued
with NA meetings, substance abuse group counseling, and sought out a Navy recruiter
who told him all he would have to do to be eligible. He seemed to be on his
way, until he fell off the wagon 12 days out of jail. Turning to heroin again
to deal with stress was the mistake of his life. “Chase’s Story” is shared with
you on his main page. Thanks for taking time to read it. Sincere and heartfelt
thanks to the FDLFD Family for taking us under their wings. “They will sing
me to them, and I will hear.” ~RIP Chase~4evrYng~1985-2009
Katelynn Lillian Porter, 16, of West Elgin, was killed in a car crash on Dunborough
Rd. in Elgin County. “In loving memory of Katelynn Porter. 12/12/09. 9:40 p.m.”
is written between two hearts on the roadside memorial, a makeshift cross. Porter
was a student at West Elgin secondary school, where officials are trying to
come to grips with the news of her death, especially so close to Christmas.
Tony passed away 10 days after his 16th birthday. He asked permission to spend the night at his friends and I told him yes. I told him" I love you" and he replied "I love you too Mom. Tony was the kid who wanted to make everyone laugh. He had such a wonderful sense of humor and a big heart. He would talk to his friends for hours trying to help them solve their problems. He was a loving big brother, and a wonderful son. He would help you with anything without even being asked. Tony was an extremely intelligent child. He was always placed in advanced classes. A week before he passed we received a letter from Columbine informing us that Tony was nominated to participate in their advanced English Program. He had a gift for writing stories.
She loved all things technical and mechanical with her older brother Ian and fashion and decorating days with her older sister Genevieve. She loved Gothic country art, the workings of the human body, video games, driving and her new tattoo machine. She loved swimming and surfing. She loved all things living and loved her dog Timpleton and her parrot Thermopolis. She had a strong heart and soul, was an independent and progressive thinker, open minded and a will power like no one else. Her favorite place to go was Barnes and Noble.
Vivianna Satterfield was 15 years old! Vivi was the type of young lady that put other people in front of herself. She would always say "Peace and Love".
Kelli Laine Lewis is my only daughter. Kelli died when she was 18 after attending a party hosted by 3 adults who offered a $5.00 entry fee to come and drink all you wanted. A pretty tempting offer for teens not old enough to buy alcohol.
Growing up – she had it all. She was smart and witty - she could come up with a jovial comeback in almost any conversation or situation. She wShe was smart and witty - she could come up with a jovial comeback in almost any conversation or situation. She was always photographing everything and always laughing. She had an infectious laugh, loud and squeaky, but incredibly endearing. Taylor was a huge fan of Tyler Perry’s Madea. She owned every play and knew every word to every gospel song in the plays. She would sing them at the top of her lungs to anyone that would listen. as always photographing everything and always laughing. She had an infectious laugh, loud and squeaky, but incredibly endearing.
He went out THE FIRST TIME to celebrate being "LEGAL" with a creep he considered a friend (even though we warned him this guy was not a true friend). My son did not drive so he was picked up about ten thirty. Even when it was obvious my son was having difficulties this creep brought him to his own house , which is 4 houses away for a few hours, and dropped him off here at home in the middle of the night WITHOUT KNOCKING OR CALLING OR WAKING US UP. We found Ben in his bed the next morning when we tried to wake him.
We've barely made it through the holidays of December and
January, and now the stores are filled with hearts and flowers
and candy, all of it in celebration of the gift of love. But
February 14 can be a difficult day for those of us
who are grieving, and for some it will be the first
Valentine's Day since our precious Valentine died. For us there
is no celebration; there is only grief.
Sometimes, for fear of "letting go," we may find ourselves
"holding on" to our pain as a way of remembering those we love.
Letting go of what used to be is not an act of disloyalty, and
it does not mean forgetting our loved ones who have died.
Letting go means leaving behind the sorrow and pain of grief and
choosing to go on, taking with us only those memories and
experiences that enhance our ability to grow and expand our
capacity for happiness.
If our memories are painful and unpleasant, they can be hurtful
and destructive. If they create longing and hold us to the past,
they can interfere with our willingness to move forward in our
grief journey. But it doesn't have to be that way. We
can choose which parts of life we shared that we wish to keep
and which parts we wish to leave behind. We can soothe our pain
by thinking of happy as well as sad memories. The happiness we
experienced with our loved ones belongs to us forever.
If we decide to do so, we can choose to embrace Valentine's Day
as a special day on which to commemorate our loved ones and to
celebrate our love for them. Death ends a life, but it does not
end the relationship we have with our loved ones who have died.
The bonds of love are never severed by death, and the love we
shared will never die either. For Valentine's Day this year, we
can find a way to honor our loved ones, to remember them and to
show them that our love is eternal.
We can build a piece of "memory time" into that particular day,
or we can pack the entire day with meaning. Think of it this
way: It's much easier to cope with memories we've chosen than
to have them take us by surprise. Whether we are facing
Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, an
anniversary or birthday, or any other special day of our own
choosing, we can immerse ourselves in the healing power of
remembrance. We can go to a special place, read aloud, or listen
to a favorite song. We can celebrate what once was and is no
Personal grief rituals are those loving activities that help us
remember our loved ones, and give us a sense of connectedness,
healing and peace. Creating and practicing personal grief
rituals can also help us release painful situations and
unpleasant memories, freeing us to make our memories a positive
influence in our lives.
What follows are just a few examples of personal grief rituals.
(See also the
Memorials ~ Funerals
Rituals page on my
Grief Healing Web site.) The ideas are as unique and as varied
as the people who invented them; think of ways that you can
adapt them and make them your own. You are limited only by your
If you're a writer, write.
It could be an article, an anecdote, a story, a poem, a song, a
letter, an obituary or a eulogy. If you don't want to write for
someone else, keep a private journal and write about your
feelings as you journey through your grief.
Buy a very special
candle, decorate it and light it in honor of your loved one.
Purchase a book -
perhaps a children's book - on coping with the loss of a loved
one, and donate it to your local library or school. Ask the
librarian to place a label inside the front cover inscribed "In
memory of [your loved one's name]."
Plant a tree, bush,
shrub, garden or flower bed as a permanent growing memorial to
your beloved. Mark the site with a memorial plaque, marker,
bench or statue.
Write a special
note, letter, poem, wish or prayer to your beloved, go outside,
attach the paper to a balloon and let it go - or place it in a
vessel and burn it, and watch the smoke rise heavenward.
If you are
harboring bad feelings or regrets, gather symbols to represent
those hurtful or painful situations, events, or feelings from
your past, place them in a container and hold a private burial
or burning ceremony, saying goodbye and releasing them as you do
friends, co-workers and neighbors to gather their contributions,
and put together a scrapbook or box of memories containing
mementoes, letters and photographs of your loved one.
Celebrate the life
of your loved one by continuing favorite traditions or eating
Select a Valentine
card that you wish your beloved would have picked for you, and
mail it to yourself.
Give yourself a
gift from your loved one that you always wished he or she would
have given you, and think of your beloved whenever you use it or
Dear Father in heaven...
Please join our family on this Thanksgiving Day
And bless each one as we sit down to pray,
As we remember those who have joined you above,
So dearly missed and deeply loved.
Please provide us strength on this Thanksgiving Day
Bless us with memories of those faraway...
Please grant patience to family and friends as we grieve
And help us reach out to others who are bereaved.
We give thanks to You on this Thanksgiving Day
For your presence in our lives each and everyday.
For your comfort, guidance, and never ending love...
And for taking care of our loved ones...in Heaven above.
As we light this candle on this Thanksgiving Day...
And it glows in memory of those in Heaven today.
May their light always shine on us and give us light...
And may we feel their presence along with Yours tonight.
May the peace and tranquility of this Thanksgiving Day,
Be an everlasting light within each of us along the way...
Let's bow our heads and give our thanks to God above...
For our blessings, whether on earth or in heaven above.
Valentine's Day, a day when love is officially celebrated in
the United States,
can be a day of increased pain and sadness for the bereaved.
Many individuals report images of their heart being shattered or
smashed as they describe the pain their loss has created. They
find it hard to assemble the pieces back into the beautiful
wholeness they once knew.
Others feel frozen and disconnected from those they love.
Their feelings no longer flow freely, and they carry a sense of
emotional isolation. It is hard to keep ones heart open when it
has been hurt and traumatized by a loss, and yet staying open to
the sources of love in your life and remaining a source of love
for others is one of the best paths to healing.
One way of turning the difficulty of Valentines Day around is
to re-label it as a time of opening the heart. Take some time to
identify your feelings and openly accept them. It is likely that
a variety of feelings are crowding together, making it hard to
feel much of anything. Sometimes making a list of the different
feelings you are aware of can help to them out. Noticing what
problems the negative feelings stem from and thinking of
possible solutions may help to release some of the worries and
negative emotions that are present.
Focusing on the greatest source of love currently in your
life is another positive way to reconnect with loving feelings.
The source could be anyone or anything: a memory, a poem, a
painting, an old letter, and spiritual or religious writings,
whatever has positive meaning to you. Try relaxing and letting
the positive feelings that this inspiration creates fill your
mind. What colors does it bring to mind? As you relax see if you
can notice a warm feeling in your chest and let it spread slowly
throughout your body.
Connecting with friends and family can be helpful too. You
might create a buddy system and agree to exchange flowers or
candy with a friend, just for the fun of it. Send a card to
someone whom you care about. Call a friend or relative. Go out
for lunch or dinner. Let those close to you know that you love
them even if its been hard to show it recently. Reach out to
someone who might need your attention.
Some people find it comforting to write a note to the person
they have lost, and let the person know how they are feeling and
what they are doing. Others might honor the person they have
lost with a ceremony in their honor.
If Valentine's Day feels too big to handle, it may be a good
time to find a counselor or therapist who can help you through
it. Connecting with a support group of other bereaved people may
be a great way to open up in a community who understands your
experience and is able to offer support.
While the blues might well be a realistic part of your
Valentines experience, taking steps to reconnecting with your
feelings and with others will allow other colors to flow in, and
keep open path of healing.
and Father's Day - two holidays which parents often anticipate
with great joy. Days designated to celebrate the special
relationship between parents and children. For those who have
lost a child, these dates can be filled with painful reminders
of the child who is not there to share the day with them.
As these dates
draw nearer, many bereaved parents find themselves filled with
anxiety as they contemplate how they will get through another
Like many other
holidays, parents find themselves having to watch others who are
enjoying the festivities of the day. Those who have lost their
only child question whether or not they are still parents. Often
times they are not recognized as parents by others on these
some suggestions which might help you get through Mother's Day
and Father's Day:
1. Light a
special candle or buy a special flower in memory of your child.
changing or adding a tradition to that day. If you always have
your family over, make plans to go out for dinner. Take a day
trip and plan a picnic.
3. Some people
find it comforting to visit the child's grave.
4. Do something
special for yourself. Treat yourself to a movie. Start reading a
book you've always wanted to read.
friends may be confused and unsure of what to say or do for the
bereaved parent on these days. Some suggestions that may help
1. Since it is
often difficult to find an appropriate card, make a card for the
parent letting them know that you remember they are still a
mother or father to the child that has died.
2. Don't ignore
the situation. Allow parents and other family members the
opportunity to talk about their feelings.
I am writing to you from heaven, and though it must appear
A rather strange idea, I see everything from here.
I just popped in to visit, your stores to find a card
A card of love for my mother, as this day for her is hard.
There must be some mistake I thought, every card you could imagine
Except I could not find a card, from a child who lives in
She is still a mother too, no matter where I reside
I had to leave, she understands, but oh the tears shes cried.
I thought that if I wrote you, that you would come to know
that though I live in heaven now, I still love my mother so.
She talks with me, and dreams with me; we still share laughter
Memories our way of speaking now, would you see what you could
My mother carries me in her heart, her tears she hides from sight.
She writes poems to honor me, sometimes far into the night
She plants flowers in my garden, there my living memory dwells
She writes to other grieving parents, trying to ease their pain
So you see Mr. Hallmark, though I no longer live on earth
I must find a way, to remind her of her wondrous worth
She needs to be honored, and remembered too
Just as the children of earth will do.
Thank you Mr. Hallmark, I know youll do your best
I have done all I can do; to you Ill leave the rest.
Find a way to tell her, how much she means to me
Until I can do it for myself, when she joins me in eternity.
On the evening I type this,
the nip in the October air is a reminder that the major holidays
are just around the corner. Halloween decorations have been in
the stores since July and Christmas decor even as early as
August. For those of us who are bereaved parents, siblings
and/or grandparents this means the sooner they are "in our face"
the longer we have the constant reminders that we will be facing
the holidays without our child. Whether it is your first
Halloween following your child's death or years down the road,
such as in my situation, the holiday season stirs the emotions
bringing varying levels of sadness, anxiety and sometimes even
anger. With Halloween, there is the sorrow of no longer having
to find that perfect costume or witnessing the delight in your
child's eyes when you found just the right one.
Many parents find Halloween
a particularly hard one to get t through. In the past, I always
thought of it as innocuous enough; there were the costume
parties with bobbing for apple, children excitedly dashing
door-to-door trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and the
occasional harmless prank. However, after my daughter Nina died,
I became acutely aware of things that I never gave a second
thought to in the past. For instance, my former neighbor made
her whole front yard into a graveyard scene, complete with fake
headstones that said R.I.P. with scary or silly epitaphs as well
as hideous ghosts coming out of the earth with bony bloody
fingers. Before Nina died, I too found the cemetery "creepy',
but now I look at it differently, even with a sort of
reverence, and no longer have a problem going out to my
daughter's grave-site, even in the middle of the night. I find
the solitude of the historic countryside graveyard where she is
buried peaceful and dignified and worthy of respect, and I was
hurt by what I felt was apparent ridicule and distain for the
final resting place of our loved ones' physical bodies to the
point of tears and anger. Moreover, some of the masks and
costumes portrayed faces of death in a way that I found highly
offensive, especially since I knew many who lost their children
to some of the means depicted. I took it personally and didn't
appreciate what I perceived as a mockery of death.
Though I still don't
pretend to understand the allure of the above-mentioned
Halloween depictions, they aren't as painful to me as they were
the first few years after Nina died. During the early grief
years, we become very hypersensitive to our surroundings and
more keenly conscious of anything related to death. It is pretty
hard to look past the general non-bereaved population's seeming
nonchalance about something we take so personally. Though we
wish there was more empathy and understanding, we also know all
too well that they cannot truly sympathize unless they also have
walked in our shoes. It is easy to forget that we too, before
our children's deaths, may have shown the same indifference. I
believe that we would like to think that we wouldn't have been
so callous because we now personally know how much this hurts
those affected; however, before we lost our "innocence', truth
be told, we probably didn't give any of it much thought. That
being said, oftentimes it is still easier said than done.
On this last Halloween
without Nina, I pretty much ignored all the ghoulishness
surrounding this time of year. If I do find I am having
difficulty, I try very hard to focus on positive and precious
memories of Halloween's past, such as her belated birthday /
Halloween party where our basement became a makeshift
haunted house where giggling blindfolded costumed witches and
princesses plunged their hands into bowls full of peeled grape
'eyeballs' and wet macaroni "brains" to the shrieks of "Yuck",
or the photo taken of Nina on her last Halloween. No longer of
trick-or-treat age, she stayed home to pass out the candy and
carve an awesome Jack-O-Lantern that she is pictured
proudly along side, with her ever-present smile and that
wonderful twinkle in her brown eyes. Or the photos I have of her
in her costumes over the years from Care Bear to Punk Rocker.
Because of my photographs and precious memories, I also realize
that I was one of the "lucky' ones in that regard. There are
those whose children died before they ever had the opportunity
to create memories, there is the sorrow that they were
never able to experience even one holiday with that child, yet
alone several, and that saddens me very much.
For those with a missing
trick-or-treater this Halloween or the conspicuous empty chair
at Thanksgiving dinner this year, the first ones are the most
difficult. Though I find they are easier to bear as time goes
on, you never really forget the absence from the family holiday
gatherings of one loved so much, nor do you want to forget,
really. Please try to remember that this roller-coaster grief
ride each year brings different feelings. It is important that
you just allow those feelings and let them happen, Try not to be
waylaid by other's expectations of you. Trust your instincts and
go with them. Truly, only you know what you can or cannot
As we light these five candles in memory of and in honor of you, we
light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, one
for our love, and one for our hope.
1) This candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense.
It reminds us of the depth ofour love for you.
2) This candle represents our courage - to confront our sorrow, to
comfort each other, and to change our lives.
3) This candle is in your memory - the times we laughed, the times we
cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you
did, and the caring and joy you gave to us.
4) This candle is the light of love. As we enter this holiday season,
day by day we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always
be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to
each of us.
5)This candle is the light
of hope. It reminds us of the love and the memories of you that are ours
forever. May the glow of the flame be our source of hopefulness now and
forever. We love you.
When you have lost someone very dear to you, the most
difficult obstacle to cross is getting through the holidays. Surviving
the days where everyone around you is celebrating and spreading good
cheer, while your mind is filled with memories and your heart is heavy
with loneliness. Its difficult just making it through what used to be
the happiest days that were once shared with a soul mate, and today
carries only emptiness. The greatest challenge is to remain in the
company of others who love you, when you really want to be alone with
It makes no difference whether the loss took place last week, several
months ago, or even last year. The holidays always send those deep
emotions flooding right to the surface.
Just as how you deal with grief is personal and individual, so is the
way you handle the holidays. Remember to be true to yourself, and dont
take on too much responsibility. Let people know that your plans may be
subject to change, and you cant make long term commitments just yet. Be
honest with yourself and with your friends and family about how youre
Some people find it best to start new traditions, because the past ones
hold memories too difficult to deal with. Talk with your family about
setting expectations. Plan together any modifications you will all make
to the normal holiday festivities. You may want to have a church
service dedicated to the memory of your loved one. Or make an annual
donation in his/her name. Perhaps join the Hospice Tree Lighting
ceremony. Bring joy to another child by purchasing a special toy for the
Angel Tree in memory of your child.
Its a great idea, for both you and your family, for you to write a
letter to them asking for their understanding. There is a terrific
example of this at the following Web Site:
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Woods/4671/holidays.html. I encourage
you to take a look at it.
Be honest about how youre feeling, but when ever possible, try to
include a positive twist into your thoughts. Instead of :
I miss my beloved so much, there is no Christmas without him/her.
I do miss my beloved. Christmas will be different this year, but I will
try to enjoy it.
I HATE this time of year. I cant wait until its over.
This is a difficult time of year for me. But it does give me an
opportunity to become closer to my family and friends.
Some people heal best by helping others. Try volunteering at an
organization who help people with a greater need than yours. i.e. A soup
kitchen, a homeless shelter, orphanages, etc. Often the best therapy is
helping others. Aside from the obvious benefits of keeping your mind
occupied and seeing that there are others in worse situations than
yourself, charity work gives you a tremendous feeling of fulfillment. It
can give you a renewed sense of purpose, so important during times of
Above all else, give yourself permission to enjoy yourself, to laugh,
and to find peace. Each of these things are part of healing. Your life
will never be the same, but it will go on, and it can still be good. I
want you to close your eyes for just a moment. Bring into the room with
you the clearest image of the person that you have lost. Now say I love
you and I miss you. You will always be in my heart. I need to know... is
it okay for me to be happy again?
Now, imagine the answer that you receive. If you remember your loved one
in their true light, Im confident the answer will be YES.
Find peace over the holidays, and be good to you.
About the Author:
Brigitte Synesael is recognized as an authority on Alternative Medicine
A published author, her latest release "You've Got Nothing To Lose But
POUNDS!" was inspired by outrage at society taking advantage of a
frustrated, overweight population. This well researched ebook gives more
than 10 reasons that could be responsible for your weight problem
besides overeating. This book is available at http://w
Grief is an unwanted journey. It is a journey that demands
tremendous energy, self-discipline, fortitude, courage and a
boatload of patience. Especially at the holidays, when you have
mental pictures of how things should be and then in a stinging
towel snap, you are flung back into the present reality. No
sooner do you think you have it all under control when the
gripping vigor and unrelenting stress of the holidays unsteady
you. Holidays often magnify the feelings of grief. It is
important and natural to experience the emotional, physical and
spiritual aspects of it. It is unhealthy to block those avenues
of expression. Therefore, the balance beam of the holidays on
one side and grief on the other needs to be reckoned with.
Trying to keep your sanity while dealing with your grief and the
stress of the holidays is difficult. Now what do you do?
Holiday time rates high on the stress scale
under normal circumstances. Add in a pinch of grief and you have
a whole new standard of stress. If the grief is new, the
holiday's can be excruciating. Most of us, under normal
circumstances, spend our holidays trying to remind ourselves it
is all about giving and getting along. It is the time of year
when we try to rise above the Aunt who still pinches your 50
year old cheeks on any area of the body, the Uncle who drinks
way too much and the other naughty family members who may have
assigned themselves as the official family gossip or the
critical doomsdayer. Yet, when you have grief or shadow grief
overwhelming you, this situation becomes unbearable. It is sort
of like being a Bopper Doll. With every unwanted comment,
unwanted touch or demand you feel the full blow of a punch.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to take an active role
in getting through the holidays and not feel like an emotional
punching bag. The following are important for maintaining some
kind of sanity while dealing with everyone else's joyful or bah
humbug holiday spirit.
time for yourself.
Dont over burden yourself with too many chores. Take time
to plan and time to prepare for the day. Be careful not to
isolate yourself. Don't cut yourself off from the support of
family and friends.
Practice relaxation techniques to help the stress level.
Trying to weave your grief into your life is a difficult and
a formidable task. You need rest to help you make it though
tough times. Emotionally, physically and psychologically,
the holidays are draining. You will need your strength.
Shield yourself. Protect
yourself from events and gatherings that are too much to
handle. When asked to a gathering, ask who will be there and
what they will be doing. Plan as much as you can for the
approaching holidays. Be aware that this may be a difficult
time with difficult people. The additional stress may affect
you emotionally, mentally, and physically. It is important
to be prepared for these feelings. Do holiday shopping early
or give IOU's out and do the shopping when you feel more
yourself to back slide. You cant always be making headway.
Sometimes grief comes in waves. One week you feel like you
are doing great and then the next you feel like you did when
the loss first happened. Give yourself a break and dont
demand too much from yourself. It takes time and backsliding
is part of working your way through your grief.
about goals shows you are healing. Set small goals just for
a day and then move on to setting a goal for next week and
then next month. Goals are avenues of hope for tomorrow.
pleasure in the small delights of the day as often as you
can. Laughter is a wonderful delight. Remembering a
wonderful time with your loved may bring tears and laughter
at the same time as well as warm your heart.
of the decisions that come up in your life. Do like Ben
Franklin and make a list of the pros and the cons for each
decision. Also prioritize and determine if there are any
things you can delegate. Imagine your decisions will affect
no one but you. If you isolate the decision to that level,
it will make it easier to understand the direct impact the
decision will have on your life.
that to choose something, you are usually giving up
something. So decide which would you least mind sacrificing?
Once you have made up your mind become committed to yourself
and the decision.
on to your wallet.
Sometimes grief can play havoc with the purse strings.
People will spend more in times of depression so be careful.
It is satisfactory to give IOUs to people and you can shop
under better circumstances. If shopping is overwhelming, try
using catalogues or shop during off hours.
Changing traditions may be helpful. It doesn't mean you toss
out the old completely. Small changes may make you feel more
in control and less stressful. Recognize that holidays won't
be the same. If you try to keep everything as it was, you'll
be disappointed. Doing things a bit differently can
acknowledge the change while preserving continuity with the
past. Open presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas
morning. Vary the timing of Chanukah gift giving. Have
dinner at a different time or place. Let the children take
over decorating the house, the tree, baking and food
Certain memories will pop into your head that may bring
tears of sadness or joy but definitely memories. A
particular ornament may trigger a memory. A particular
gathering, food or song may bring teardrops. Think if you
can handle the responsibility of the family dinner, etc. or
should you ask someone else to do it? Do you want to talk
about your loved one or not? Should you stay here for the
holidays or go to a completely different environment?
The holidays may affect other family members. It is wise to
discuss holiday plans with others and make sure there are no
surprises. Respect their choices and needs as they should
respect yours. Try to be open to the possibility you may have to
compromise if necessary. It is important to share your concerns,
feelings, and apprehensions. Allow them to know that this is a
difficult time for you. Allow yourself to accept their help and
let them know you appreciate their love and support at this
The more you understand about the complexities of grief, the
better you will be able to make decisions for what is right for
you. Grief affects you on an emotional, physical and mental
level. The following symptoms let you know that you are reacting
normally to your grief. That doesn't mean that you don't need to
seek outside help from a medical doctor or counselor. It is
always beneficial and necessary to check on your health and to
find a non-judgmental person to talk with.
physical symptoms you may experience include crying,
shortness of breath, muscle weakness, tightness in the
throat and chest, digestive problems, dry mouth, empty
feeling, disorientation, numbness, sensitivity to noise,
change in sleeping and eating patterns and an inability to
emotional symptoms include depression, anger, guilt,
sadness, relief, anguish, isolation, and loneliness. Many
times the emotional pain is more difficult to deal with
during the holidays. It is not uncommon to see dramatic
changes in behavior at this time such as more outbursts.
When activities become to frenzied, it is not uncommon to
want to isolate yourself. Things become more confusing.
There may be a tendency to increase negative behavior. Too
much eating or drinking or taking over the counter
medications will create more problems. It is important to
talk with your doctor if you are feeling too overwhelmed. It
is not a weakness - it is strength to know yourself and to
ask for help.
mental symptoms may include, confusion, inability to
concentrate, numbness, can't make decisions, nightmares,
increased anxiety, irritability and loss of self-esteem. It
has been proven that the immune system is compromised by
Keep in mind that if the loss has been over a year many people
will expect you to be "over it". They don't understand how
shadow grief creeps up at special times such as holidays and
anniversaries. Be prepared to educate those who expect the
impossible. Let them know you will never be "over it", but
assure them you hope to eventually enjoy the holidays again. Let
them know that you have been trying hard to weave the life that
was to the life that now exists. Always share the vision you
hold for the hope of moving forward to live a life of radiance.
Don't forget that anticipation of any holiday is generally much
worse than the actual holiday.
Some people find it helpful to be with family and friends,
emphasizing the familiar. Others may wish to avoid old sights
and sounds. While others will find new ways to acknowledge the
Holidays are a time to re-examine your priorities. Ask yourself
what you really delight in doing and what should you delegate or
change. Enjoying yourself is not a betrayal to your loved one.
Laughter and joy are not disrespectful. Give yourself and your
family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the
The holidays always a offer a way to escape yourself by doing
something for someone else, such as volunteer at a soup kitchen
or visit the lonely and shut-ins. If you are up to it you might
ask someone who is alone to share the day with your family. You
could provide help for a needy family or donate a gift of money
in your loved one's name.
Be mindful not to build a relationship to your pain but instead
focus on your memories and your goals for the future. Recognize
your loved one's presence by burning a special candle or hanging
a stocking for your loved one in which people can put notes with
their thoughts or feelings. Think about listening to music
especially liked by your loved one. If you are comfortable share
photographs with family and friends and remember your memories.
Most of all be true to yourself. It is your journey and only you
can walk the path to a life that is vibrant with your memories
and hopes aimed toward all the tomorrows.
Holidays are a time when the world seems to slow down. We concentrate
on what is important. Time is typically centered on relaxing and
enjoying ourselves with family and dear friends. We nurture and
celebrate our relationships, undistracted by everyday life.
Consequently, any losses are felt more acutely during this time. If the
pain is related to the loss of a relationship, the holidays can make the
hurt more painful.
It is not unusual to feel as if we are "going crazy," especially if
we have lost someone we love. However, any loss may turn our world
upside down: that of a pet, a job, or a physical ability; any kind of
broken relationship; possessions; or a sense of safety and security.
Other occurrences can cause upheaval, including miscarriage or abortion;
life plans gone awry; missing an important event; or the loss of hope,
freedom, or even sobriety. Missing anything that has become familiar to
us, even alcohol, cigarettes or an unhealthy relationship, can be very
Loss causes many changes in our lives and can alter how we perceive
the roles we play. If my child is dead, am I still a mother? Am I half a
person without my life's partner? If I have lost my job, am I still a
valuable member of society? Our self-esteem may plummet and we may
question our identity.
If we are mourning the death of someone we love, the circumstances
surrounding the death have an important effect on our grief experience.
If the death was due to an illness, we may have watched the one we love
suffer many debilitating changes. Terminal illness typically steals
bodily functions as well as the ability to move, swallow, and
communicate. It is not uncommon to have difficulty at first recalling
what our loved one looked like when they were healthy.
If the death was sudden, unexpected, traumatic or violent, we are
wrenched into a new reality. How can we ever feel normal again? How can
anything, including the holidays, ever feel special once more? If we
believe we were somehow responsible for the death, every morning is a
painful reminder. While we may not be truly suicidal, we may wish for an
end to our pain, because we cannot imagine ever feeling differently than
we feel right now.
As we struggle to find meaning connected to our loss, we may find our
faith battered. Why is it that something so unfair has happened to us?
How could our God let something this painful occur? If we feel this way
during a holiday that is set up around our faith, bitterness and anger
Holidays are often a time of great beauty. Everything glitters with
the richness of light and love. When we are in the depths of anguish and
despair, we may find it hard to experience beauty. It seems that
everyone around us can enjoy the festivities and this magnifies how
alone we feel.
Our experience with grief is unique to us. No one else can feel
exactly what we feel. Also, as individuals, every loss we have will be a
different experience from all our other losses. Another person cannot
completely understand how we feel.
When we lose a loved one or abilities, dreams or
possessions, we must eventually learn how to move on. Somehow, we must
get through our everyday routines despite the absence of this person or
this thing. Similarly, the holidays make us revisit the mourning
process. We must adjust, once again, to this "hole in our lives" at what
previously may have been a very special time.
Food, the centerpiece of many holiday gatherings, is a nurturing,
life-sustaining celebration of our relationships. But in the wake of a
great loss, even if we can taste the food we eat, we may have neither
the appetite nor the energy to come to the table.
Just as we cannot anticipate the extent of a loss, we cannot be
completely prepared for how fragile we may feel during the holidays.
However, just knowing it may happen and not being surprised by this can
We must be gentle with ourselves and with each other. We may have
lost a piece of ourselves, but chances are that, in that death or
change, we have been given something as well. If we can find out what
that is, we can honor it. It is our own priceless holiday gift to
How to get into the spirit of the season. Holidays or not, it
is important for the bereaved to find ways to take care of
themselves. The following guidelines may be helpful:
1. Plan ahead as to where and how you will spend your time
during the holidays. Let yourself scale back on activities if
you want to. Redefine your holiday expectations. This can be a
transition year to begin new traditions and let others go.
2. Select a candle in your loved one's favorite color and
scent. Place it in a special area of your home and light it at a
significant time throughout the holidays, signifying the light
of the love that lives on in your heart.
3. Give yourself permission to express your feelings. If you
feel an urge to cry, let the tears flow. Tears are healing.
Scientists have found that certain brain chemicals in our tears
are natural pain relievers.
4. Shakespeare once said, Give sorrow words Write an un-sent
letter to your loved one. expressing what you are honestly
feeling toward him or her at this moment. After you compose the
letter, you may decide to place it in a book, album or drawer in
your home, leave it at a memorial site, throw it away, or even
burn it and let the ashes rise symbolically.
5. When you are especially missing your loved one, call
family members or dear friends and share your feelings. If they
knew him or her, consider asking them to share some memories of
times they shared with your loved one.
6. If you live within driving distance of the cemetery,
decorate the memorial site with a holiday theme. This could
include flowers, garlands, ribbons, bows, evergreen-branches,
packages, pinecones or a miniature Christmas tree. Decorating
the site yourself can be helpful in remembering and celebrating
your loved one's life during the holidays, and may free you to
cherish the present holiday with your remaining family.
7. Play music that is comforting and meaningful to you. Take
a few moments to close your eyes and feel the music within the
center of your being.
8. Give money you would have spent for gifts for your absent
loved one to a charity in your family member's name. Consider
donating money to the public library to buy a particular book.
Have the book dedicated to your loved one's memory. Buy a
present for a child who would not otherwise have a gift during
the holiday season.
9. Read a book or article on grief. Some suggestions are:
Don't Take My Grief Away From Me by Doug Manning; The Comfort
Book For Those Who Mourn compiled by Anna Trimiew; and A Grief
Observed by C. S. Lewis.
10. Remember the reality that the anticipation of the
holidays without your family member is often harder than the
actual holidays themselves.
Adapted from Ten Ways to Cope with Holiday Grief By L. B.
Schultz, Carmel, Indiana. Reprinted with permission from
Bereavement Magazine 5125 North Union Blvd., Suite #4, Colorado
Springs, Colorado 80918-2056.
For more information about coping with the holidays,
bereavement support services, and community holiday events to
honor loved ones, please contact the Sutter VNA & Hospice
Bereavement Program at a location near you
As you walk through the malls and see the
lights or look down the street and see the trees, do you know if
its going to be Ho Ho
Ho this year - or - is it going to be
No No No!
Chances are if youve lost someone you loved,
No No No
might be the phrase ringing in your ears. Dealing with any
holiday after the loss of a loved one can be an unnerving
As you move into the future, its easy to
look behind and see what youve missed but the reality is that
you now have to look ahead and see what you can find.
One of the first steps in dealing with grief
during the holiday season is to be aware that you are going to
most likely have to redefine what the holidays mean to you.
If you cant be with the one you loved then
love the one you are with YOU!
Take steps to be kind to yourself and to know
that whatever you are feeling right now is normal and is to be
Dont think you have to go through the days
ahead with a smile plastered on your face when your heart is
If this is the year you dont put up a tree,
send out cards or bake cookies thats OK! With time,
youll regain a sense of the holidays but this year again,
just take care of yourself.
There are a lot of things you can do to do
just that..and some of those are listed below.
foremost, be kind to yourself and avoid stress! Take the
time to do the things you want to do, not what others think
you should do. If staying home and taking a hot bath is
more appealing that a neighborhood get together enjoy the
calming waters as they wash over you.
Pamper yourself! One of the first ways to take care of
yourself is to make sure you are eating correctly,
exercising and sleeping well. Dont mask your pain with
pills and alcohol. Instead, get out a journal and start
writing. You have no idea what a cathartic experience
writing can be until you put pen to paper.
Open your heart and your mouth dont
be shy! Be willing to talk about your loved one. Put their
pictures out feel free to laugh at the memories. With each
spoken word you are helping your heart to heal.
Throw away the would-ofs, should-ofs,
and could-ofs of days gone by. Throw away the guilt of
lost opportunities and focus on the celebrations you shared
Be good to yourself, but more especially
be kind to yourself. Be sensitive to the fact that you are
not alone in your pain and that others around you are
feeling blue too. The first year of holidays after a death
are times that can incite old feelings and if you think that
being away from those situations is best for you then do
Dont overdo! Dont put up a tree or
bake cookies or plan the meal at your house just because
people expect it this year! Be firm in what you are
comfortable doing and let others take care of you for a
change! Being a guest rather than a host might be a whole
new wonderful world you can now take advantage of!
Have you thought about lending a helping
hand where its needed? Whether its a turkey drive, a
financial donation, or doling out dinner to the homeless,
you just might feel better by giving to others than sitting
home alone. What feels right to you?
Most importantly, celebrate your own life! Take comfort in
your own emotions. Be thankful for the gift of memories and
for times you shared.
longing for our child always becomes more pronounced on special family
holidays. These days there is much talk about alternate families,
blended families, traditional families, global families...the list goes
on and on.
Those of us who have lost a child don't care very much about the
interpretation of a family; all we want is to have our family intact,
every head accounted for, every set of feet under the table at family
celebrations. The empty chair at family functions is intensely visible
to us. We always wonder why others cannot see its glaring presence
because sometimes it is all we see. We mark time by "occasions," and
each occasion without our child is a sharp reminder that life is no
longer what it used to be. Sometimes, in our despair, we would like to
abolish them all: these occasions that have such power to haunt and hurt
Probably one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, of
these occasions, is Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is supposed to be
one of all-pervasive peace, joy, and love. Even the scrooges of the
world manage to fan their tiny, grudging flame into a roaring fire of
Unfortunately, parents who are grieving the loss of their child are
so preoccupied with the empty chair in their lives that they probably
wouldn't notice if the fire burned their house down. For them, peace has
become pain, joy has turned to ashes, and love is a perpetual longing.
They are still "in" this world, but don't feel a part "of" this world.
At the same time, Christmas, being no respecter of persons, indomitably
marches on with its carols of hope, its timeless traditions, and its
glitzy decorations. Since it will not go away, it seems we must learn to
live with it.
If we want comfort and encouragement, we must not be afraid to make
ourselves vulnerable. Therefore, it is also important that we allow
others to occupy the empty chair from time to time so that they can
learn to identify with our pain and heartache.
For every insensitive individual who fails to understand the deep
sorrow we feel, there are two more who want to help. Search them out and
accept the comfort and encouragement they have to offer. If your friends
fail you, seek out other bereaved parents or a grief support group. They
may be searching for you while you are searching for them.
Finally, if the old Christmas traditions cause us unbearable pain,
let us create new traditions, or dispense with tradition altogether.
Nowhere is it engraved in stone that we need to celebrate in a certain
way. Each of us needs to find our own comfort zone, and that comfort
zone may be radically different from previous years. Our concern should
be for ourselves and our immediate family: how we, together, can get
through the season with a minimum of pain. We appreciate our extended
family, our friends, and our colleagues at work, but we do not need to
make our plans around their needs. We will just assume that they
understand our present frailty.
Some bereaved families have received much gratification from giving
the gift that they would have given to their deceased child to a needy
child in the community; others have decided for several Christmases in a
row not to shop at all. Some have decided to replace old, sentimental
ornaments on their Christmas tree with new ones; others have decided not
to have a tree at all. Some choose to have Christmas dinner with "the
clan," as usual; others know they cannot handle that this year. It is
healthy to cushion ourselves in practical ways.
Although we don't deliberately want to hurt anybody, we cannot afford
to let anyone place guilt trips on us or push us beyond our level of
endurance. This year, we may have both eyes steadfastly fixed on that
empty chair, with the result that there will be far more tears than
laughter, and that's quite all right. Our child is worth it. Next year,
we might have one eye on the chair and one eye on the rest of the room,
and thus, healing begins.