A Newsletter about the Journey from Loss to Love
Welcome to the "LOVE NEVER DIES" newsletter. Please e-mail me after perusing this issue with any ideas for the February issue.
IN THIS ISSUE
=> From the Editor- Gifts, Garlands, and Grief
=> Poetry- First Holiday,
=> News and Tidbits
=> Tips and Ideas
=> From our Readers
=> Copyright and Subscribe/Unsubscribe information
Gifts, Garlands, and Grief--Sandy Goodman
I remember our first Christmas after. It began the first week of November in 1997, three short months into our worst nightmare, but a lifetime into missing our child of eighteen years. He had died suddenly, one of those "in the wrong place at the wrong time" things, and he took our hearts with him when he left. Summer screeched to a halt and autumn came and went without our participation.
Still standing in confusion at the threshold of grief, we were stunned when the stores replaced the gloomy ghosts and goblins with sparkling ornaments and cheerful decorations. Neighbors strung lights on their houses, friends sent cards wishing us joy filled holidays, and not one person mentioned Jason's name. Closing our drapes, we huddled in our cocoon, waiting for his return.
Thanksgiving passed. I recall the empty chair, the unbroken wishbone, and more turkey than three of us could eat. There was an unwatched football game and a failed attempt at gratitude. That was our day, and it was good enough. It was inconceivable that we would ever enjoy another holiday, much less be thankful for it.
Snow fell. Carols rang out, lights twinkled, church bells pealed. Our thoughts were of Jason, fixed more acutely on his departure than on his arrival eighteen years before. Memories of prior Decembers pervaded our present. Jason ice fishing. Jason sledding. Jason's birthday. Jason opening gifts. Jason throwing tinsel on the tree, on his brothers, and on the dog. Every memory brought tears but every tear brought Jason closer to us. We found him in the pain, the only place we knew how to get to. I believe that first Christmas had to be that way. Showing up was the best we could do.
But now it is six trees, six silent nights, and six collectable ornaments later. I've learned a few things about this path I'm on and found a few crutches for when the road gets too rough. Holidays can be disabling for those who grieve. I'd like to share some things that might help:
---Talk to THEM. They hear your thoughts...and if you listen, you can hear their replies.
---Light candles. For six years now I have lit a special candle for my son. This year I will light five, one for each of us, living or not. Why perpetuate the myth of separation? Jason is still a part of this family.
---Do good things in celebration of your loved one's life.Random Acts of Kindness bring smiles to everyone involved. Buy anonymous gifts, scoop snow from a stranger's sidewalk, or light candles at unmarked graves.
---Connect with your loved one who has died. Buy yourself a holiday reading with a reputable medium, take a meditation class, create a special place to go to where you can feel their presence.
---Call a newly bereaved friend or neighbor and invite them to reminisce with you. Cry with them, listen to them, share your journey.
---Give to an organization that your loved one supported. ---Make a memory tree. Buy a small tree and decorate it with tokens of their life.
---Don't worry about what others will think. You are solely in charge of this journey. It's all yours.
Love someone who is grieving? Lost as far as how to help them through this upcoming season? Any of the above suggestions can be adapted (i.e. give money in celebration of their loved one's life and tell them about it, make them a memory tree, buy them a reading with a medium) to fit your needs. However, there are two gifts that you can give to a person deep in the pit of grief that will mean more than anything else:
2. Unconditional acceptance of their journey, wherever it leads them
I won't end this with a wish that you have your merriest Christmas ever. I know that for some of you that is not possible or even desirable. Instead, my wish for you is this: That you find a quiet moment during the sometimes magical but often horrendous season upon us and relax. That you take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and envision your friend, child, parent, sibling, spouse, grandparent, or partner. That you accept that dead doesn't mean GONE. That you send out a "Merry Christmas" and "I love you" and then BELIEVE when you hear his or her whispered reply of "I love you, too. Merry Christmas."
FIRST HOLIDAY, Sandy Goodman
We lit a candle today,
To fill the empty place
where you should be
I stood with my hands cupping the flame
and felt the heat....
Empty space between the fire and flesh
Nothing to see...
And yet I knew it was there-
the energy touched my skin.
And so it was with you today.
Nothing visible-nothing to see.
And yet I knew you were here.
Your energy touched my heart.
RESOURCES (Books, Links, etc.)
I seldom recommend fiction but this book was so good I can't let you miss it. Get it. You'll be as surprised as I was.
NEWS AND TIDBITS
Love does not end with death. With that understanding, members of The Compassionate Friends (TCF), an international self-help support organization for families grieving the death of a child, will join tens of thousands of people worldwide in lighting candles at 7 p.m. Sunday, December 8. The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting is an annual event where persons around the globe, united in the loss of a child, light candles for one hour the second Sunday in December.
Candles are first lit in New Zealand at 7 p.m., local time. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are then lit in the next, creating a virtual 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world.
"The holidays are an especially difficult time for families that have lost a child," explains United States TCF Executive Director, Patricia Loder. "The Worldwide Candle Lighting is one way in which we can show we are united with bereaved families everywhere in the love we continue to carry for our children, even though they are no longer with us. This surpasses all political boundaries as we expect tens of thousands will participate in countries around the globe. Here, throughout the United States, members of our nearly 600 local chapters observe this day in many ways, some alone, some with friends and family, and some in an organized candle lighting ceremony," says Mrs. Loder.
In observance of the Worldwide Candle Lighting, the United States Senate has passed a resolution (S. Res. 109) proclaiming December 8, 2002 "National Children’s Memorial Day."
With the theme "…that their light may always shine," The Worldwide Candle Lighting is now in its sixth year, with each observance larger than the last. On the Internet, the national TCF Web site, www.compassionatefriends.org, will host extended chat room hours and a message board for families to post tributes.
To contact The Compassionate Friends, call toll-free: 877-969-0010 or visit the TCF Web site.
John Edward mentioned my book, "Love Never Dies: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Love" at his Philly seminar and again that same week on his syndicated TV show, "Crossing Over with John Edward". I was just a little excited.
I will be presenting a workshop at The Compassionate Friends 26th Annual Conference in Atlanta on July 3-5, 2003. If you've lost a child, grandchild, or sibling, this conference is a must. Attended by 1200 or more individuals, the support can't be beat. You can get details at the TCF National Conference, 2003 site.
I am adding a Christmas page to my website in December with poems, coping mechanisms, etc. for the holidays. Please visit!
TIPS AND IDEAS
Do you have someone on your gift list who is grieving? Suggestions:
Scrapbooks and materials
Flower seeds for spring (Forget-me-Nots?)
Your memories of their loved one.
As I drove home from my monthly TCF meeting last month, I suddenly felt Jason's presence. I had felt him on the way into town, and had talked to him most of the three mile trip. When I felt him again on the way home, my first thought was "WHAT??!! WHAT do you WANT??" I then immediately found myself turning on my brights and setting my cruise control to 35 for no apparent reason (yep, 35mph..you can't set it any lower). As I came over a slight hill, I was amazed to see two deer standing right in the middle of the road. I was able to stop easily, and as I sat in awe, the deer stood blinking at me, unafraid and absolutely beautiful. After a few minutes they sauntered off into a field and I drove home with a smile, thanking Jason all the way.
The next morning, as I sat drinking my coffee, I thought of the deer incident. I felt Jason nearby and told him "thank you" again for the heads up. I "heard" him say, "No, thank YOU. By allowing me to save those deer from injury, I was able to balance out some negative karma." BINGO. It all made sense. Jason had been an avid deer hunter when he was here, and he was able to "make amends"...with my help. I am so glad I was paying attention.
FROM OUR READERS:
If any of you have questions or advice for others, please send it to me so I can add it HERE!! I will also accept appropriate original articles, anecdotes, AND poetry for the newsletter. Send all correspondence to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and note it as a submission for the newsletter!!
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They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.~William Penn
Feb. 2003 issue
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