Archive of ‘Children and Grief’ category

A Letter to My Father

By Christina Saunders

I have battled with losing my father since the age of 6. At 43 I finally worked up enough courage to share how losing him infected my life. I want to share a letter that I wrote him once I finished writing my book ” A Little Girl Broken.” I spent my life just going through the motions not realizing that the root went back to losing my daddy and not dealing with it. Not having him placed this void in my life and it was slowing killing me inside. Now understand this I am not over his death but I am able to navigate through life and live a happy and healthy life. And writing this letter was a way for me to finally move on and know that I am okay. As a child I always thought is he thinking about me? I wonder what he would say if he was here? I encourage others to write a letter/letters to their father and share where they are in this moment.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Dear Daddy,

There have been so many times that I wished you were here with me. So much that I missed out on  you showing me in this life. So much that you have missed out on seeing as I grew into a woman. As a little girl I never thought that one day you would be gone. I thought my daddy would always be there. I know that you didn’t want to leave me that was not the plan but here we are. No amount of words can express the pain that it caused me in this life. The words that you were gone and would never come back still has a sting to it right now today.

I didn’t have you here to show me how a man should love me. Honestly that missing relationship caused me to not understand how to have a relationship with God. I was so disconnected from feelings of love that I was stuck looking for it. I didn’t understand that I had value because it wasn’t something that I was taught. So I searched for that thing that I was missing in other men. That thing called LOVE left a big void inside of me. Not realizing that the void was getting larger every time I gave myself to someone who couldn’t love me the way I needed or deserved.

But this is what I want you to know that God sent a wonderful man to show me how a father should love his daughter. He lovely placed me into his hands to grow me. Not just in the area of fatherly love but in all areas of my life. He taught me so much in my time with him and his family. He showed me how to be in relationship with God. That was the most important lesson he could have ever taught me. The result of that was me learning how to love myself and let go of the hurt from the past. I’m thankful to you for giving me life. Please know that I am okay because I am finally walking in healing. I love and miss you daily.

Your loving daughter,

Angel

A Widow’s Reflection on Social Media Violence and Grieving the Loss of a Stranger

By Sabra Robinson

What cannot be said, will be wept – Sappho

Note: This blog is transparent about the emotional effects of witnessing a death on social media as a result of black market organ trafficking. My condolences are extended to the families of those killed online or by suicide by way of live or post video recordings. The opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone so please read at your own risk.

*******

You’ve seen them, you know, those violent and horrible videos of violence on Facebook; the ones that have several thousand likes, shares and comments and are not taken down until it’s too late.

I give myself a pat on the back for ignoring videos that display horrific crimes and suicides across the world. Nonetheless, one or two may come across my newsfeed that’s already set in motion and it meets the eye. Hence, the purpose of this blog.

I watched a video about two weeks ago that disturbed me horribly, so much so that it had me in tears. According to the caption, a young lady was lured unknowingly by the promise of a new job – a new life. Her journey was paid for in full but upon arrival, her dreams became a nightmare. She became a statistic out of the thousands of girls lured for the sake of trafficking, whether for sex, labor or for unintentional organ trafficking of human body parts. This lure was for the latter.

Why did I watch the video?

-I saw a young girl seemingly the same age as my daughter in an awkward place
-The start of the video intrigued me
-I was curious

There was no gore, no blood, no screams. She died a horrible death in a remote area electrified by the presence of her killers; she was their prized catch of the moment.

The video showed enough for me to realize that her death was unexpected, and she didn’t see it coming. My emotions got the best of me; I was infuriated that it was not removed sooner. I was infuriated that it was allowed to be shared over and over again. I was infuriated that Facebook had not yet removed this sadistic attack on a young life which accumulated thousands of comments tagging others to see.

Then I thought of her family and the other families of those whose deaths had not made it to social media. I thought about how the families may have provided a farewell party, anticipating their safe arrival and even much so, anticipating their portion of earnings to be remitted back to the household. But for this particular young woman, I asked myself, do they even realize she’s missing?

As a widow, what do you do when you’re faced with an assembly of emotions that you would normally reserve for those private grieving periods for your husband? You’ve already expressed your loss to a point which you’ve vowed to never weep like that again, but then this happens; a death is publicized publicly for the world to see.

I get that death happens and life continues on. But you try your best to move on and you can’t because you’re grieving the gruesome death of someone you don’t know, which makes it even more difficult (at least for me).

You can’t console them
You can’t touch them
You most certainly can’t help them

They’re alive one minute and the next they’re gone – permanently.

Depending on your beliefs, grief conditions us to prime the body for a burial or cremation of the loved one but in cases like this, it’s impossible because there is no body, there’s no visitation to view the body, there’s no funeral, no burial, no rites nor a procession.

How would you cope?
How do you cope?
How did I cope?

Since viewing the recording, I’ve changed how I allow my mind to receive and act on problematic online viewings:

I became aware of my surroundings, my social media, and email advertisements
I will be selective about what posts will flood my newsfeed and report violent videos and graphics if they somehow come through
I researched this horrific trend to see what I could do to help
I intend to speak to my therapist about it
I prayed for her family
I informed my daughter
I cried.
I wrote about it!

The video really shook my spirit. I kept reflecting on the young girl’s face of how innocent she appeared before her death. One moment she was alive and the next, she had her wings.

It could have been my child.

A few days after I reported the video, Mark Zuckerberg posted his plans to combat violent recordings and pictures posted on Facebook (I doubt if my reporting it was the cause of the post). Nevertheless, it brought a smile to face and gladness in my heart because it was acknowledged by a major social media company who vowed to do something.

I’m hoping that this young lady’s family and the families of the thousands of other men, women, and children can at least rest a little better in knowing that many of us care and we’re trying our hardest to do something about it, too.

My sincere condolences and prayers are extended to the family and I pray that justice is served swiftly to the murderers, deceivers, liars and cowards behind the cameras.

*****

Resources:

What You Need to Know About Human Organ Trafficking. 

Body Snatchers: Organ harvesting For Profit: Kidneys and other organs are selling to the highest bidder on the black market. 

The alarming number of children killed for black market organ trade

Raid on Illegal Body Part Selling Operation in Chicago, Warned In Hidden Colors 3

After Murders, Rapes Shown, Facebook Will Hire 3,000 to Check Videos

Feel free to visit more of Sabra’s writings at BlackWomenWidowsEmpowered.com

Does the Pain Ever End??

By Christina Saunders

I was watching this show and the father was dying, of course he didn’t tell the kids. They only found out when he passed out on the beach and was rushed to the hospital. As I watched this little boy fighting back his tears my began to over take me. At first I’m thinking why are you crying with your grown 43 year old self? Then I thought why can’t I cry? Sure it’s a movie but I know the pain to well. I was no longer 43 in that moment but I was 6 all over again. That little girl who was trying to hide how much pain she was really in. That same little girl that everyone overlooked. That same little girl who couldn’t understand why her father had to be killed. Oh how I hate that gut wrenching feeling that just brings me to tears every single time.

Then I think do people ever tell you the truth? They say things like I promise you it will get better with time. And what you want to say is come here and let me punch you in the face for saying something so stupid. I don’t think it gets better with time. I think in time you learn how to maneuver through life without letting the grief consume you. I wish there was a road map with how to grow up dealing with the loss of your father. There are times that I still wish someone would hold me and say it will be okay. But will it really ever be okay? I think the thing that aggravated me the most is that people who had never walked in my shoes were telling me how I should feel. They had the nerve to tell me when I should stop feeling sad about not having my father. Or that sadly I wasn’t the first to grow up without a father. Well you know what my father didn’t make a choice not to be there. So why don’t I have a right to be sad. He was taken from me. Not only was I sad but I was angry as well.

Often I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel the way I feel. That is the one thing I want all children to know is that it’s okay to be sad or angry. There isn’t a soul here on earth who should tell them how to feel. Yes, another can assist us on working through our emotions but don’t try to force us to be alright with the loss of a father!!

Mommy Can We Talk?

By Christina Saunders

As an adult I sit and think back to my childhood, I realized that we didn’t talk much. Well we didn’t talk about the things that would soon infect my life. Most importantly we didn’t really talk about the sudden death of my father. At the age of 6 it is hard to truly understand what death really meant. The one thing that I knew was that my father was gone never to return. Even though my mother was married to another man she was truly devastated. I can recall how she would cry at times or when I would ask about my father the look on her face as if someone was stabbing her in the heart. But most of the time as a child I missed her pain because I was drowning in my own pain. How could I get pass the pain when I couldn’t share how hurt I really was? I often wanted to know was anyone thinking about me? That thought haunted me for the greater part of my life.

See the way I was raised was to just keep things to yourself. If you were hurt get over it and move on. The one thing that I still hate to hear is that time heals all wounds. Who was the fool that came up with this saying?? Time did not heal my wound because even to this day it still hurts but I have learned to deal with it. What would have helped me to move forward a little better would have been the chance to share my heart with my mother or my grandmother. I would have felt a release if I could have shared just how angry I was. I was MAD AS HELL!!! I can recall a family member saying well you didn’t really know your father like that. Well guess what I knew that I had a father and he was gone. I also knew that all my friends had their father’s and I longed to have that in my life. People can be ignorant when it comes to death this is why I wished I could have been open about how I was suffering. I had an argument in school one time and this child told me, “that’s why your daddy is dead!” I punched the boy in the face and I didn’t want to stop. I was so angry as a kid. I never really shared with my family how the loss of my father was pushing me over the edge. How could they look at me everyday and not ask if I was okay? Did anyone ever think that there was a  war raging on the inside of me? Had we been open and honest with one another about how my father’s death was bothering me some things would have been different for me. A child should never have to walk around holding all of that pain on the inside. Now there were times that I couldn’t bring myself to talk to my mother because of the pain I saw on her face.

I wanted t know all about my father. Was he kind, what he liked to eat, what were some of the things he like to do? Was I in any way like him? How was he as a father in his short time with me? Did we spend a lot of time together? How did others view him as a man? What were some of his dreams? Why didn’t the relationship work? Just so many questions and I never felt like I could go to my mom with them. I wanted to share this with you because I will never know the pain that you are experiencing as the widow but I do know the pain of the child. It is hard for us to watch you suffer as mom trying to navigate your way through but it is also hard for us. Sometimes we don’t know what to say or if we should say anything at all as not to upset you. But just know that as children there are so many things that we would love to talk about when it comes to our fathers. Not all children will be ready to talk but it is always nice to know that the door is open.

 

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Daddy Did Something Called ‘Suicide’…and Other Things I Told My Children

By Michelle Miller

***DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or therapist of any kind. Deciding what you tell your children about suicide and/or the death of their parent is entirely up to you. What you decide to tell or not tell them is about knowing who they are and what they can and cannot handle based on their unique personality. The night my husband killed himself, I called our marriage counselor and discussed with him the best way to tell my children what had happened. The following blog is about the conversation I had with my kids (to the best of my memory), and is being posted with the intent to help others, not to judge what methods anyone else has used in regards to their children’s grief process.

The transcript of the conversation I had with my kids about John’s death is being shared with the permission of my children (now 10 and 14 years old). Certain parts that they found too personal have been left out, but the majority of the full conversation I had with them has remained intact. It is their desire to help other kids who have lost a parent to suicide feel less alone in their experience.

I believe talking to children about the death of a parent should never be a one-time conversation. I believe it should be a series of discussions that take place throughout their lifetime, and the following blog post was the first of those conversations.

 

THE “S” WORD

I remember when I thought the most uncomfortable conversation I’d have with my children was about sex; turns out, I was wrong. My husband John’s suicide in 2014 obliterated my fear of the sex talk; actually, his suicide pretty much obliterated everything in my life……and all of the things around my life.

And outside of my life.

And inside of my body, heart, and soul.

Ah suicide aftermath! The horrible gift that keeps on giving.

What I will not be discussing today, is the emotional environment that existed the morning I had to break the awful news to my kids. I am still (almost three years later) unable to put into words what it is and what it means to tell your kids what suicide is and that their father has just done it.

***shutter***

What I will be discussing today is the plain facts of what was said, and why I chose to tell my kids the truth. I know it is uncharacteristic of my writing, but I will be keeping humor and emotion out of it for now.

WHY I CHOSE TO TELL THEM THE TRUTH

I want all of you to know why I decided to tell my kids the truth about John’s suicide in the first place. I mean, I could’ve spared them the trauma of suicide aftermath and told him he accidentally shot himself during target practice, right?

Wrong. For our family, this would’ve been the wrong choice.

What I know about my son (who was seven years old at the time) is that he is curious, and what I know about my daughter (who was eleven at the time) is that she is highly intuitive, which is why there was no way in hell I could’ve lied to them about their father’s suicide. Not only was the term “self-inflicted” going to be on his death certificate (that they would be able to have access to one day should they ever want it), but I also knew that they would be able to tell that I was hiding something from them.

I feel like in general, we as a society tend to minimize not only the intelligence of children, but the deeply profound spiritual connection they have to their parents.

Kids know. 

Kids know more than we think, so I believe that we might as well tell them. My six years of working with elementary and middle school special needs students in addition to parenting my own, has assured me of this fact.

KIDS KNOW.

I feel like lying to my children would’ve invalidated their inner voices. It would’ve invalidated the thing whispering to them, “there’s something more to this story….” and as their mother, I’ve always believed it is one of my many jobs to teach them to not only listen to their inner voices, but to also trust those inner voices.

I felt completely confident telling them the facts about what had happened in short, easy to understand sentences. I told them a few facts that morning and answered any questions they had, while restraining (by some miracle) tears or panic in my voice.

Shock is a gift and it’s what made me able to tell my kids what had happened without having my emotions usurp their own.

 

WHAT I TOLD THEM

Setting: In their bedroom at my parent’s house, early Monday morning.

Me: We need to talk. Last night while you were sleeping, daddy died.

They: (hysterical cries)

Me: (physically comforting them without saying a word)

They: How did he die?

Me: His brain was sick. 

They: We saw him yesterday and he didn’t seem sick. 

Me: Brain sickness can be hard for other people to see. I think he hid it from us so we didn’t worry.

They: Did he just fall down and then you took him to the hospital?

Me: No. He died out in the middle of the desert. 

They: How did you know he died?

Me: He knew he was going to die, so he sent me a text message and then I called him and talked to him for a little bit before he died while Papa called 911, but by the time they found daddy, he was already dead. 

They: How did he know he was going to die? Did his brain just start hurting?

Me: Daddy did something called ‘suicide.’ His brain was so sick that it told him he shouldn’t be alive anymore. His brain told him to take a gun out to the desert and to shoot himself.

They: He shot himself?!

Me: Yes. But it wasn’t him shooting himself, it was his sick brain. If your heart stops working, you have a heart attack. If your lungs stop working you can’t breathe and you die. If your brain stops working it controls your thoughts, and your thoughts tell you that you should be dead so you do whatever you can to make yourself die.

They: (more hysterical cries)

Me: There is going to be a lot happening this week. There is already family in the living room and more people might want to come by to see us. You guys can do and say and feel whatever you want. If you don’t want people here, I’ll tell them to leave. If you want your friends here and you just want to stay in your room that’s okay too. Nothing you do will get you in to trouble except for maybe if you burn the house down (slight laughter and ease of tension). You don’t have to go to school this week unless you want to. You might hear people using phrases like, “passed away, funeral, casket, suicide, cremation” and other things that sound confusing. If you want to know what they mean, just ask me. If you have any other questions about what happened, just ask me. You will see a lot of adults cry. This might feel scary for you but it’s going to be okay. A sad thing happened and it’s okay for everyone to be sad and cry. 

*****

And just like that, their innocence was taken.

So many parents miss this. They wake up one morning to find that their children no longer exist in the realm of childhood, and they wonder when and how it happened. I got to witness the beginning of my children’s transformation into the heaviness of adulthood. They had responsibility now. They would have to learn to heal themselves. This is something I cannot do for them; this is something that cannot be taught.

I don’t remember if it was seconds or minutes, but that morning, in the presence of that unique kind of light that happens when it is still night time, but also morning, I watched my kids sleep. I watched and I savored their last moments as children before I had to teach them the one universal truth about life: that it is not fair. Dad’s die.

There will never be a greater privilege in my life than watching the last moments of their childhood.

And even with all of the darkness that took place after this, even after all of the screams and tears and coldness inside of my body that I still can’t seem to shake, this memory of them sleeping warms me.

Well, so much for me not getting emotional! I still held up on my promise to not use humor in this post though so I am half way winning!

Even after writing this, I still can’t believe this actually happened. Furthermore, I still can’t believe I have been given the gift of a forum and an audience to speak about these things on and to! Thank you all who continue to read my ramblings and commiserate with me through this train wreck called, widowhood.

© Copyright2017 Michelle Miller

A Father’s Love

By Christina Saunders

I often sit back and wonder what my life would have been like had I not lost my father at the age of 6. I was a little girl who needed her daddy. Why would God take him from me? What did I do to deserve this? Was I a bad child that didn’t deserve a daddy? I heard the words coming out of my grandmother’s mouth, “Your dad has gone to be with the Lord.” Okay but what does that really mean? So many questions and it seems that the adults around me are not telling me what I need to know. Everyone seems to be more concerned with my grandparents and my mother but what about me? Why am I just lost in this whole process? I’m angry not sad because I want my father to come back!! A lot of times the smaller children get overlooked in the process of dealing with death. I need people to remember that they have feelings as well. They may not understand the emotions that they’re dealing with but they are real emotions. All I wanted was the love of my father just like all of my friends had. That void in my life would eventually take me down a long dark road one that took me years to recover from. I was A Little Girl Broken which turned into A Broken Woman.

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My Wake-Up Call

By Cathy Nelson

Before my husband Ray died, I used to “go along, to get along.” In fact, I think I spent my life trying to please others. For example, I would do or say whatever I thought would make someone else’s life better or easier. If I took on the blame, or let someone else take the credit, I was making the ultimate sacrifice, which I believed would enable others to love and accept me.

My wake-up call came at the funeral home on the day I was to view my husband’s body for the last time. It was to be just me, my daughter, my son-in-law and my grandson. This moment in my mind was to be shared only with them. It was my desire that the four of us would have a very private, personal few moments together. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

An outsider decided to make his presence more important than my wishes. This person stayed in the room and took over tender conversations that I alone wanted to have with my grandson. Additionally, this person gave answers to questions not asked and offered prayers without invitation.

I stood in shocked silence while letting this all take place because I did not want to disappoint anyone. After all, even in that moment, everyone else’s feelings were more important than mine … I thought! After all, I was a people-pleaser. Hmm… does the word doormat come to mind?

A few days after the funeral home experience, I just woke up. It was like I had been sleeping my whole life. I became determined that I would never ever again allow someone to rob me of my power.

Speaking up for myself at times has not been easy. I must admit, as I master this new skill, I have made some mistakes. However, it is a skill worth learning, so I will keep trying because loving myself is what gives me the power to love others.

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Loving Me

By Cathy Nelson

I have been accused of not helping my friends and adult children through their grief. The truth is my accusers just might be correct. In retrospect, I was totally absorbed in my own grief and, after 6 years of caring for my husband, I felt I had no more left to give.

I had spent a lifetime of working at my own job to support my family, while my husband was starting his own business. Additionally, I worked alongside my husband in the family business, raised children, weathered disappointments and heartaches as I felt my husband’s pain along with my own, dealt with financial concerns, and rode the roller coaster of emotions as I traveled the ups and downs of being told by my husband’s doctors that he was doing well and there was hope that he would recover, only to have him relapse many, many times. After watching him die, my well was finally dry. In order to survive his death, I knew I had to take care of me, myself and I.

For the first time in my life, I got to fall in love with me!!!!!!

I had not abandoned my family. I had abandoned me….I was lost; I was that one sheep I got to go after. Only by loving me could I fully love others, including my children. Oh, how I love them all with my whole heart and being. In fact, I love them enough to learn to love me!!!!!!

My hope is that some day my friends and family will see me in a new light and we can come together in our healing. I have learned that there is no script. Neither is there a manual or a workbook that tells you how to handle loss step by step. However, I do know that if we do the best we know how at the time, that is all we can do. And, as we acknowledge that about ourselves and others, we can look past our own judgement about how we or others handled a painful and challenging situation. And by doing so we open the door for forgiveness, healing and building more connected, deeper and more fulfilling relationships with those we love!

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Healing Memories

By Cathy Nelson

I heard a crash and than a thud and I ran screaming from the bedroom. In that moment I felt out of control and that my whole world seemed to end. The thud was the sound of my husband Ray falling down the stairs. My heart seemed to stop, I thought I would find him dead at the bottom of those stairs. My screams woke my son who was able to get his Dad and me handled at the same time.

Ray was so ill at that stage of his illness. He had just come off of a very hard month of chemotherapy. I watched as he aged 30 years during that month of treatment. His doctors felt his immune system was working well enough for him to travel back east to visit our son and his family. He was fighting hard for his life and he wanted so badly to go back east. To this day I don’t have any idea where he got the strength to go.

My beautiful daughter helped make the travel arrangements. I am forever grateful to her for all her help during her fathers illness. I handled the bags, got Ray through security and made sure we got to board our flight with the special needs passengers. It’s about a 7 hour flight to South Carolina from Sacramento California. Ray made the flight even though most of the time he just sat very still, barely moving. He was using all his strength and determination to get to our destination.

We stayed a week enjoying our visit with our son and his wife, and their 3 children. In spite of his fall down the stairs in the middle of the night Ray soldiered on! I have thought a lot about that fall and what I felt was my out of control reaction that night. I have come to the conclusion that that fall brought everything to a head for me. I had cared for Ray night and day for almost 3 years. I had worked from home, telecommuting to pay the bills. I had been his medical advocate, chauffeur, nurse, and yes. the one person he could confide in….he was my most intimate life partner. I loved him unconditionally. If he expressed his emotions or became angry, or if he had medication induced mood swings I would still love him. So the night he fell down the stairs all the bottled up emotion came tumbling out in my screams.

The day Ray passed away he was in the hospital on a ventilator. I was with him, along with three of our children. I held his arm as he lay dying. I felt his spirit pass right through my body the moment he died. I felt him linger close by me. I felt totally drained of all emotion, it was as if I had also left my body.

Perhaps my emotional outburst when Ray fell down the stairs had somehow strengthened me, calmed me,and prepared me in advance for what was to come.

It has taken much contemplation during my grief to slowly put everything into perspective. Being patient with myself. Being able to talk to those closest to me, sometimes repeating the same story over and over again has been very healing for me. And I am realizing that in the last 2 1/2 years since Ray passed I don’t find myself sharing that story or others quite so much as the pain heals and peace replaces what once seemed a dark hole too painful to face. And, as that peace has overtaken the pain, I have also been able to connect back to the love and memories I have with my late husband at an even deeper level!

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Focus On Love

By Cathy Nelson

We as widows know all too well that life can be cut short, dreams don’t always work out how we thought they would, and tomorrow never does come. For this reason I have decided to focus on love in 2015, instead of making New Years Resolutions.

Before Ray died I believed I knew what love looked like, meaning there were rules for love. Rules for what we do or do not do, say and even for what we are supposed to think and believe, if we are to be considered a loving person. Now, I believe there are no preconceived rules of love. Love looks very different through my widow eyes. Love has no set of preconceived rules. Rather love is in the moment, guiding us in each moment as to what to do, say, think, believe, etc.! Love is an infinite concept that I used to confine to a finite with my set of rules about what I thought love is. Since being a widow I have said no out of love, I have lovingly left toxic friendships, I have been willing to teach life lessons from love, and I have stopped being a doormat.

By focusing on love this year, I hope to learn what it is to Be Love. Love is the foundation for forgiveness, joy, and hope. By Being love, I can have it all.image

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