Your generous donations allow us to provide a safe place for families and individuals to share their story and process their grief.
We can all use some self reflection. Most times, what we are showing the world does not reflect the torment within. It's not about dwelling on negative emotion, but rather processing through the most difficult loss in our lives and finding the "attitude of gratitude" that remains. What better way to start than by #GivingTuesday in conjunction with www.thepanhandlegives.org.
Your generous donations allow us to provide a safe place for families and individuals to share their story and process their grief.
Recently, I told my mom I was excited to set up for Christmas. The only thing holding me back was that I really enjoyed my Fall/Thanksgiving décor. This wasn't the case not even 5 years ago, and it certainly wasn't the case 11 years ago. I had always pictured myself as being the mom with everything decked out, Christmas spirit abounding clear to my children's wardrobe. Then in September of 2006, our son Ethan died. Approximately, six weeks stood between the grief that overwhelmed me and the "wonder" of the holiday season. Humbug! I rallied myself just enough to decorate a tree and get a few presents under the tree, I wasn't quite ready to deal with the Holidays.
Earlier this month, Danny Mize came and shared with the families of HHP about how they can better prepare themselves for this time, that may not feel like the most joyous of seasons. Here is what he shared:
Some traditions will overwhelm you, others you'll hold so tight they might break and still there might be new traditions to implement (we'll talk on this topic soon). The point is, be kind... to yourself and those around you. Be willing to share what is too much, and ask for reprieve. It's not selfish, it's self care.
Wishing you all the ability to find hope this Holiday Season,
Please allow us to introduce HOPE the butterfly. She is the symbol of Children's Grief Awareness, which will be recognized on November 16, 2017.
Our request is simple, print out a copy of Hope, write a message.
In memory of…You may be holding on to HOPE in memory of someone you love. Who is that person, and what memories do you want to share about them?
In honor of…You may know a child (or an adult) who is grieving the loss of a loved one. You may be holding on to HOPE in honor of them. Who is that person, and what makes him/her special?
In support of…You may know someone that volunteers or works for The Hope And Healing Place. You might want to hold on to HOPE in support of them. Who is it at HHP, and what do they do to make you proud of their work?
From… Or you (individually or as a particular group) may simply want to hold on to HOPE in support of all grieving children and send out HOPE from yourself, your family or your group. Who are you, and what would you like to say to grieving kids?
Or any other message that you want to share and take a photo of while they "Hold On To HOPE".
Take a photo, share it, and let others know why this cause and our center is important to you!
As always, I am a few days behind on current events. I just can't listen to the steady stream of negativity the media slants. Don't get me wrong,
I know we live in difficult times. But, there has to be some good to report on, right? For myself, these stories are a part of "daily grief". It's something
can navigate with a touch of a button and even more easily with the lack of cable T.V. But I digress.
While scrolling though my FB feed, I saw a video and the click bait title drew me in. As I watched,
I was moved by Gen. John Kelly and his explanation of the difficult duty overseen by those that care for the remains and inform families of the loss of their beloved soldiers life. I was moved because of the strength it must take to day in and day out, deliver the most horrid news anyone is ever going to hear.
I feel it similar to the strength witnessed at The Hope and Healing Place... the courage of families and individuals walk through our doors for the first time. To see determination in our volunteers as they discuss emotional videos of the bereaved during our training. To watch as the relationships of our clients, volunteers and staff build throughout a program session. The way the edges soften and all parties leave a little more comforted and comfortable with this taboo topic. Perhaps that is why I found the Generals words so moving. It's a space not many are comfortable entering.
So, here we are... not to go on and on about ourselves, our products, and our services - but to create space for you. Those who didn't ask to be a part of this unfortunate club. Our goal is to provide you with a weekly blog directly from our hearts to yours. All we ask in return, is that you let us know - are we moving you, are we providing you a space in which your emotions are "normalized", do we instill hope, do you feel connected, are we giving you words to put to your experience and share with others, did you walk away educated and empowered, have we provided you with practical help and support?
I look forward to this journey we're embarking on, and am sure to be awestricken by the strength you all share.
October is recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. As it happens, infant loss is why I know about The Hope and Healing Place. Our youngest son Ethan, passed away at the age of 7 weeks. Without really understanding the need for "coping skills", we knew we wanted to provide emotional support for our young family. The then, "Family Program", would meet in what is now the "Library" for a pot luck meal, before dispersing into the various age groups throughout the house. That is about as much as this particular blog post has to do with our library, but I digress.
My recommendation today is not a particular book. It is simply to tell you that the reading, writing and singing of words is healing. And to offer a few insights about those book habits...
My battle cry, you ask? It is "It is well with my soul". It was sang in it's original hymn version at Ethans funeral. And, I love the story behind it.
"This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford's life. The first was the death of his son at the age of 2 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died."
- Per Wikipedia
The most common question from those in the inner circles of the bereaved is undoubtedly, "What do I say or do, to bring comfort?" Our intuition is that with a quiet hush we can ease the sob, or with a gentle swipe of our hand across their cheek, we will dry up of the tears. It's healthy for our loved ones to grieve. It's entirely possible all they want and need is your willingness to share the same space, to not speak in clichés and that you just offer your support.
Here's what our friends at Still Standing Magazine have to say on the matter.
This is a raw and emotional article written by our friends at "What's your grief". In it, the writer shares about the death of her father at the hospital verses the death of a friend in her home. She came to realize that it was memories of her fathers life that consumed spaces in the home. But, when it came to remembering her friend she was overwhelmed with visions of his death.
"But until John died, I hadn’t thought about how a death itself can live in a space. I didn’t realize how completely similar but totally different that is."
By Danny Mize, Advisory Council member for the Hope & Healing Place
Linda was eight years old when one of her brothers was diagnosed with cancer. He died when she was ten. That was back in the day when children under 12 were not allowed to visit in some hospitals. She was often left with friends while the adults in her family went to the hospital in a neighboring city to be with Ricky. When he died, they had no idea that Linda was dealing with feelings of guilt and rejection over her brother’s death. And, her confusion about life deepened over unresolved grief related to her adoption. Those feelings intensified over the years when another brother died, followed by the deaths of her grandparents, then her dad. Long before that last loss, Linda was acting out and acting up, finally running away from home. She was in and out of relationships, had children and abandoned them, worked as a dancer in nightclubs, and ran with motorcycle gangs. Now in her fifties, Linda can look back over a lifetime filled with challenges and disappointments. If we could interview her, I’m confident that she would point to her early losses as primary contributing factors in her life of turmoil.
Linda did not have a Hope & Healing Place to attend when she was growing up. She didn’t have caring group leaders to listen to her and help her process her grief. Linda didn’t have a sympathetic peer group to help her talk out, act out, and play out her questions, frustrations, and feelings of guilt. The losses she experienced caused a negative ripple effect in her life that continues to this day.
By contrast, during my decade of work with a grief center similar to Hope & Healing Place, I observed the positive ripple effect in the lives of adolescents and children who experienced the loving support of caring, trained adults. The Kids’ Place, which we began in response to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, offered safe and supportive groups and activities which helped the grievers have someone to confide in – and gave them an understanding peer group which helped normalize their grief experiences. As a result, we saw some of the kids return to the program to serve as group facilitators, helping others benefit from the kind of loving environment which had meant so much to them. Others have become productive leaders in society and strong leaders of their own families. Yes, a center like the Hope & Healing Place creates a positive ripple effect which will benefit generations to come!
By the way, I know the story of Linda first hand. You see, Linda is my adopted sister.
By: Tiffany Laur, Executive Director, MA, MT-BC
Many people, especially teens, are extremely emotionally connected to
their music. Certain songs can elicit overwhelming emotions and evoke
special memories in an instant. Every person experiences music
differently. Some are drawn to the lyrics of the song while others are more
drawn to a melody or the complexity of the music. Some are simply
drawn to specific song because of the emotion evoked by hearing it.
I remember hearing "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds Five play on my car
stereo on September 11, 2001. Every time I hear that song, it takes me
back to the overwhelming emotional experience of the events that occurred that
tragic day, and I often find myself in tears thinking about how "lucky" I am that loved ones were safe and secure that day.
Hearing a song that makes us think of our deceased loved ones can unexpectedly make our hearts stop as emotions flood taking us back to a significant moment in time. During our support group session at HHP, teens and adults are invited to bring songs that remind them of their deceased loved ones and share them with their group. In our support groups, we process these songs, and many in the group usually find they can relate to each other's songs in some way. It can be a powerful bonding experience.
For the individual, the selection of the songs facilitates a sense of connectedness to his/her deceased loved one. This connection assists in the healing process since grief is a lifelong journey. It can also be an empowering tool for the griever.
We often say that though the grief is painful, it is a necessary experience. Using music in grief gives the bereaved a sense of control over when some of the intense emotions are experienced. Many have used their drive home from work in the car to listen to these song and "get the grief out." Taking some time to grieve every day helps a person avoid it sneaking out on them at an inappropriate time.
Just a few of the songs people have chosen include:
Each time I hear any one of these songs, I think of that teen or adult
and his/her story of loss. When I've worked with people individually, I encourage them put together a playlist for their deceased loved one. Take a moment to identify a song or songs that makes you think of your deceased loved ones. It can be a song that the person loved, a song that perhaps was played at his/her funeral or memorial service, a song that describes his/her life, perhaps there is something in the lyrics that makes you think of your relationship with that person or simply a song that brings you comfort. Listen to the songs to remember them and honor those special lives.
As I see all of the “Back to school” photos and posts on Facebook, Instagram, etc. this morning, I cannot help but to wonder about those parents whose hearts are hurting as they are not joining the ranks of the proud posters boasting, “First day of ___ Grade! *Tears!” It is possible these parents have tears not of pride but of heartache because their child is not returning to school this year. Their child would have been going into 4th grade, or his first day of high school, but tragedy robbed this child and parent of that opportunity. Special days like this are often painful reminders for many. I hope parents experiencing this kind of heartache today can find a special way to celebrate their child to help them cope with this day. Perhaps writing a note to their child’s favorite teacher, visiting the grave site, or simply being with a close friend or family member that understands can help you cope with this day. Our hearts and thoughts are with you today.
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