Welcome to the "LOVE NEVER DIES" newsletter. Please e-mail me after perusing this issue with any ideas, submissions, or questions for the February issue. Thank you!
You are receiving this newsletter because you expressed an interest in it. If you would like your name removed from this mailing list, please see the instructions at the end of the newsletter. This subscriber list is not made available to other companies or individuals. I value each of you and respect your privacy.
IN THIS ISSUE
=> From the Editor
=> News and Tidbits
=> Tips and Ideas
=> From our Readers
=> Inspirational Quote(s)
=> Copyright and Subscribe/Unsubscribe information
FROM THE EDITOR
I can remember when Christmas was all about shopping and baking and parties. By this time back then, the first week of December, I was well into the season. With a come hell or high water attitude, I had already rushed through all the local stores, decorated a perfect artificial tree, ran my credit cards up to their limit, and penciled in all the school programs and social gatherings on my calendar. I was exhausted, but triumphant.
If memory serves me correctly, and it's not often it does, my to-do list looked something like this:
1. Make a list of who to shop for (those who get us something)
Black and white, unfeeling, organized. But don't misunderstand me. I have many happy memories of the Christmases before . . . before Jason died. I loved the season and navigated through it with little trouble. Our family dinners were complete with no empty chairs, and laughter was a prevalent sound. It's just that the holidays were simpler then. Not very difficult, not very unique, just simple. Holidays were simple, my to-do list was simple, and life was simple . . . before Jason died. But now it is after.
2. Send out cards (to every Tom Dick and Harry who sent me one last year)
3. Shop (charge it and worry about money in January)
4. Wrap, mail, or deliver gifts
5. Decorate outside and put up the tree (impress neighbors and guests)
6. Attend open houses (even if you don't want to) and have one (for those who invited you to theirs)
7. Unwrap gifts, cook, eat
The first few Christmases after Jason's death were desolate and raw. Behind my "I'm fine thank you" mask that I wore for the rest of the world, I cringed at everything that resembled joy. I thought that I was doomed to feel that way forever and that what I was feeling was a sign of weakness. I know now that what I was feeling was normal and that the grief I felt would soften and change as I worked through it.
My search for meaning came back into the season of peace and love some time after the fourth or fifth year of "missing Jason". I began wanting to feel the old holiday juices flow and yearning for something new, something different. I think I finally named it "the magic" and in craving it, I found myself creating it. And therein lay the secret. I could not expect a wave of joy and warmth to envelop me when I was behind a wall of negativity. I could not curse the holiday season as if it had come to personally attack me in my anguish. If I truly wanted to experience "the magic" I had to create it, or at least allow it into my life.
Are you wondering the heck I'm rambling about yet? Here, let me show you what I mean. Look at my to-do list for 2005:
1. Hug those I love and those who need love. Thank them for being in my life.
2. Stop DOING and just BE at least once every day. Create and then touch the magic.
3. Make a list of who to shop for (those we want to touch during this season of love)
4. Send out cards with candle lighting announcements (to those we want to touch)
5. Purchase candles to burn throughout the month (to remind me of love's immortality and to celebrate the lives of those I cannot see)
6. Prepare and mail out newsletters to those who grieve and those who love them
7. Decorate Jason's Park (to make sure he and others honored there are remembered)
8. Decorate Jason's Rock (because it is healing)
9. Plan and carry out a huge random act of kindness (one that Jason would have loved doing)
10. Shop (spend only what I have)
11. Wrap, mail, or deliver gifts
12. Decorate outside and put up a real tree (that makes people smile and makes our house smell of nature)
13. Attend open houses of those we feel a connection to
14. Light candle at Jason's Rock (to pierce the darkness)
15. Light candles at Jason's Park with my compassionate friends
16. Unwrap gifts, cook, eat
I am sure you can see the difference. The "soul" of my Christmas has changed in the nine and a half years since Jason died. It is not difficult to see that it has changed in the direction of good, it has moved toward love. This will be our 10th Christmas without Jason's physical presence. Life, the holidays, this list...none of them are simple any more. They have taken on meaning, they can no longer be taken lightly. This morning, while scrutinizing my current emotional state and the items on my list, I realized that I have to go there again. I have to go to that place where I admit that I am a better person after surviving the death of my child. I have to confess that while his death was horrific, the ensuing grief was transforming. I have to swallow any self-inflicted guilt, look to that which is greater than I, and say, "Thank you. Thank you for this gift of love." For it is only in gratitude that I will find what I need to create "the magic."
Your Birth Day
there were tears
and a bleakness
i had not visited in a while
your grave was cold
the rose beside your rock dead and brittle
bubbles meant to send love your way
one day closer
the sun shines timidly
and I pull my thoughts
out of myself
and share them with those who know
i light candles
say your name
touch your picture
your silly grin warms the chill
i will find my way
around the fear
and come to the place
where I can celebrate
your first breath
rather than mourn
Love Never Dies Forum
John Edward's Newsletter-Evolve (it was called Bridges and his website has not changed the name yet)
TCF Chat Schedule for Grieving Parents, Grandparents, and Siblings
My friend, AND an incredible Medium
Suzane Northrop's new book: A Medium's Cookbook: Recipes for the Soul
Shrine of Hope Free online readings
NEWS AND TIDBITS
The Worldwide Candle Lighting® -
In loving memory of all children who are no longer with us, The Compassionate Friends extends an invitation for you, your family, and friends to join tens of thousands of persons around the globe for the eighth annual Worldwide Candle Lighting. The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting is held every year on the second Sunday in December at 7 p.m. local time for one hour in each time zone around the globe-a 24-hour wave of light for all children who have died.
There's not a lot of news this time. Just a couple of things. I have sent in a workshop proposal for The Compassionate Friends National Conference next summer in Dearborn Michigan. Hopefully I will be invited to present and will meet some of you there. I am going to be writing for John Edward's newsletter, Evolve, in 2006. I am especially excited about the new forum on my website and hope that those of you who register use it as a tool for healing. Jason's birthday is Monday and if you feel inclined to do a random act of kindness in his honor, I think he would be pleased.
TIPS AND IDEAS
If you have lost a loved one . . . no, wait. I promised myself I wouldn't say that anymore. We haven't lost them, they have died. Losing means they are gone, no longer with us, missing from our life. Dying means a change in form, no longer physical, but still a part of our lives. So, if your loved one has died, I hope you are being gentle with yourselves during the holidays. It doesn't matter if it has been a year or thirty years, the season of joy can trigger anger and resentment, sadness and pain, guilt and blame. Preparing sometimes helps. I'm not going to list any tips here because the guest editorial by Alice Wisler (below) is excellent and covers the bases. I am simply going to remind you that as you walk your path, there are three things you need:
to find words for your loss
to say those words often and aloud
to know that the words have been heard
Now, if you know someone who has lost a significant person in their life, I hope that you will give them the gift of compassion. Ask them about their loved one, ask them if they need your support, let them know that YOU KNOW they may be struggling. Some gift ideas for you:
a wreath for their loved one's grave
a live Christmas tree to plant
gifts to charity or books to your library, given in their loved one's name
warm throws or afghans
teas and coffees
your time and concern
I sat at Jason's Rock yesterday and tried to convince him that he has been quiet for far too long. I explained that I needed to hear from him and that I specifically wanted him to go to "someone" who should then contact me and tell me that he had shown up because I asked him to. I explained to him that even though I know he is "here," I still need to know that he can hear me and understand my need to connect. I also asked him for some help with this newsletter, and with a couple other writing projects I am working on. I think he heard me. It felt like he was listening. However, he apparently isn't in any hurry to comply, because my PONDERING section is going to remain empty. I have no pondering beyond what I did in the first article. Now . . . if I were to ask him what he wants to say, I think he may say this:
Hey. Merry Christmas and all that. I know my mom is not believing that what she is typing is really from me, but most of you believe it and that is what matters. I don't have a lot to say either, but one great thing is better than a bunch of metiocre ones, right? So here it is. We aren't lost. We didn't leave. We changed. We changed from infants to toddlers and to little kids and to snotty teenagers. Some of us even became adults (thank god i wasn't one of them) and then husbands and wives and then parents. And when we changed, you parents kept right on feeling like you had before. Then all of a sudden we did the big "D" thing and all hell broke lose. Just learn to Love us again, without a body and you've got it covered. Over and out. HO HO HO.
FROM OUR READERS
Guest Editorial - Surviving The Tinsel
Published at: How to Make a Family
By Alice J. Wisler
Daniel's House Publications, Tributes editor
Writing the Heartache
That holiday-pang hit my stomach the first October after Daniel died. Greeting me at an arts and craft shop were gold and silver stockings, a Christmas tree draped with turquoise balls and a wreath of pinecones and red berries. What was this? And was "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" playing as well? It was only October.
I had anticipated that Christmas and the holidays would be tough. In fact, I'd wake on those cold mornings after Daniel died in February and be grateful that it was still months until his August birthday and even more months until Christmas. I dreaded living both without him. I would have preferred to have been steeped in cow manure. At least then I could take a hot bath with sweet smelling bubbles and be rid of the stench. But bereavement isn't that way. As those who had gone on before let me know, you have to live through it.
Christmas came. I did live through it. It continues to happen as do the other significant days of the calendar year. Daniel never arrives at any of them although his memory lives on. By incorporating him into these days of festivity, I can cope.
Some of you have your child's birthday and/or anniversary day within the November through January season. These days, in addition to the holidays everyone else is celebrating, make the season even more complicated and painful, I'm sure.
I offer eleven tips I've used to survive the holidays. Some are my own suggestions and some are borrowed from the many who walk the path of grief.
1. Know you will survive. Others have done it and you will, too. Keep in mind that your first Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day will not be easy.
2. Find at least one person you can talk to or meet with during the holiday season. Perhaps this person has gone through a few Thanksgivings and Christmases before and can give you some helpful ideas that have worked for her.
3. Things will be different this holiday season and perhaps for all the rest to come. Don't think you have to do the “traditional” activities of years past when your child was alive. Your energy level is low. If no one in your household minds, skip putting up the tree. Forget spending hours making your holiday cookies.
4. Spend the holidays with those who will let you talk about your child. You will need to have the freedom to say your child's name and recall memories, if you choose to do so. Your stories about your child are wonderful legacies. Tell them boldly again and again.
5. If going into the mall or stores brings too much pain, shop for gifts online or through mail-order catalogs. Thinking everyone is happily shopping at the malls with intact lives while your heart is crushed is terribly tough. Go easy on yourself.
6. Getting away from the house is an idea that worked for my family. The first Christmas without Daniel we went to a nearby town and lived in the Embassy Suites. The kids enjoyed the indoor pool and breakfast buffets. Christmases that followed were spent at a rented cottage on the shore and the Christmas we rented the beach house, we were able to invite extended family to join us. We all shared in the cooking.
7. Create something to give to those who have helped you throughout the year. I made some very simple tree ornaments with “In Memory of Daniel” stamped on them and gave them to friends that first Christmas.
8. Decorate the grave. Put up a plastic Christmas tree with lights. Sometimes being busy with decorating the grave gives a feeling of doing something for a child we can no longer hold.
9. Do something in memory of your child. Donate to a charity or fund in his memory. Volunteer. My oldest daughter Rachel and I volunteer at the Hospice Tree of Remembrance each December and share memories of Daniel as we spend this time together.
10. If your bereavement support group has a special candle-lighting service to remember the children in your area who have died, attend it. Doing something in memory of your child with others who understand the pain these holidays hold can be therapeutic.
11. Spend time reflecting on what the season is about. Everyone around you may be frantic with attending parties, services, shopping and visiting relatives. Perhaps you used to be the same way. Now you may want to avoid some of the festivities. Give yourself permission to excuse yourself from them. Light a candle in your favorite scent. Record some thoughts in a journal. This is great therapy, too.
One day you will wake up and it will be January 2. The holidays will have ended. You will have made it. If you are like me, you will find that surviving the tinsel has made you stronger and although you may cry, somewhere within you, you will feel that core of new steel.
From Deb Kosmer:
Sometimes at the End of a Stream
Sometimes at the end of a stream
Of dark and cloudy days
The sun peeks through
And gently shows its face
Sometimes it bursts out
In splendor across the sky
Embracing everything within its reach
In a blanket of warmth
And we know again
That our world is
A good place
As its glow
Gently around our heart……
And a request from a reader. If you have suggestions for her, please reply to her here
I am a recent bereaved parent of an adult child. I have read many books and attend meetings of Compassionate Friends - I never heard of discord in a family that shares love and grief for a lost family member. Is there anyone in our group who has the added grief of family resentment for any number of reasons? Prayer and counseling have not yet helped. Any suggestions? Terri
"Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean."
Wishing you peace and good memories this holiday season. Merry Christmas . . .
Copyright 2005, All Rights Reserved
Please pass this newsletter on, in it's entirety, to your friends.
Subscriptions to this newsletter are free. Love Never Dies is a quarterly newsletter. If you have
received this from a friend, and you'd like to Subscribe, or you wish to Unsubscribe, simply visit my websiteand fill out the short form at the bottom of the page. Online issues can be found here.
Love Never Dies