Thursday, April 24, 2014

In Loving Memory

In loving memory of my daughter, Sharon and all the beloved children that have died and left us so raw, baffled and a million other feelings.  I want to create for those left behind a safe place to grieve in honor of those children and their surviving families. 

The latest affront to our sensibilities and sense of purpose is the Korean ferry.  I noticed how quickly everyone turned away from those parents screaming and their intense distress.  They need to keen and wail, and a place to do their healing grief.

There are very few others that can tolerate and condone the intense pain and disruption that bereavement causes.  People mostly turn away, which makes the recovery even harder.

My idea is to have in every cemetery a place where families can grieve undisturbed by anyone.  I thought something on the order of a smoking booth that is designated especially for that purpose.

I found those times when I could grieve at her graveside undisturbed very healing over time.  I have talked to others who found each other at the cemetery and began to turn to each other for support and comfort. 

Comfort is in short supply after the funeral.  This is as it should be as life does go on.  So the best support is other bereaved people and a place to grieve. 

An important part of recovery iis making sense of the loss.  That actually takes a long time, as there is no sense in losing those we love and are deeply attached to. 

Reworking our life without that beloved person is a daunting task. It is also lonely and disrupts other relationships that must do the same work, like spouses, friends, and the whole world that is forever different. 

The phrase “I have to do it for myself, but I can’t do it alone” comes to mind.  It is that deep aloneness and alienation that is so hard to come back from.

Finding each other seems to hold the most solace.  I feel this is because we are so changed that the old rules, habits and expectations just don’t work anymore.  Everything is remembered in relationship to “Before the Death and After the Death”.
It is a strange new life.

If this sounds interesting to you and you have the energy to get back involved please contact me and we will start a new way together.

Monday, April 14, 2014


My journey back from a puddle by her grave has been possible because Morrie Shechtman wouldn’t allow me to die with her. He prevented that desire in me by caring enough to keep challenging me. That I chose to let that happen is why this story is thirty-plus years old. I am forever grateful for our partnership. Throughout these years we have been through many other challenges, losses, and hard times. All this has been easier with Morrie on my side and by my side. He has never wavered from his faith in my value and in me. He is the only person that has hung in with my terrible struggle to recover, year after year, decade after decade. He has insisted over the years that my poems and story can be helpful to others. This is my attempt to fulfill his faith in me.

I chose the casket
To bury my child in

Pink satin pillow
White velvet trim

Her hands folded on her breast
With my heart held entwined

I had to decide
What tomb, metal or wood

How can a mother be reduced
To raw, primal agony and ever get up again?

Strong arms hold me up
Brave hearts help me choose

And because I have you to come back to
I make it through

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ten Years Out

This has always been the tension; the terrible grief countered by the healing thrust. Ten years out was sort of nowhere land. The grief still dominated much of my thinking and feelings. I was beginning to back off from mentioning my bereavement with new acquaintances because it just didn’t come up as often. Time does make a difference. I had found Compassionate Friends and other support groups helpful for quite a while, but at some point I just moved on. I remember so many other parents during that time. One mother I got to know pretty well captured the longing of most of us. Her eighteen-year-old son was killed trying to beat a train at the crossing. She so wanted to go back and do that day over. She had a thousand things that, if she had done or not done, would have changed the timing and he would still be alive. I, too, have wished that, over and over, just one small thing done or said differently would have changed things. That was the topic of conversa- tions for years, the “if onlys” and the “what ifs,” the terrible pain of wondering if it could have been different, but knowing it never would be. We often clung to each other like we were drowning, and I guess in a way we were. We were always searching for relief and redemption.

Hanging in is the greatest gift you can give a bereaved person.  Everyone gets sick and tired of the same old story, the same old grief, including the bereaved.  Still it goes on, and on and on.  The other gift is honesty.  When you just can't hear it one more time, please tell the person that "not today, maybe tomorrow, but not today." I urge bereaved people to keep a list of ten or so  that you can rotate through.  There is always someone on that list that can listen today.