Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sharing stories of your living children with me

I was asked today if it was unkind for other parents to share their living children's accomplishments and successes with me? Did it make me think about what their child had-a life and a future and what the parent had -the promise of a future with their child consistent with all expectations? And what Casey did not have and what I no longer have? When I hear about some one's living child, especially if the child is a contemporary of Casey, I occasionally do drift into "what if" and "what would Casey be doing now?" Yes, it does sometimes cause me to well up . But what is the alternative? To have that person who is a parent purposefully not talk of their child for fear of upsetting me? To treat me differently because of my loss and pain? That would be worse by far because it is not real and it adds to my perception of being isolated and different as a result of losing my daughter.

Each day I try to look for gifts I have received from others. My gift today was that a caring person thought to ask me how I wanted to be treated instead of making an assumption about how I wanted to be treated. To be asked is empowering and comforting.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I can't imagine ...

"I can't imagine what it is like ... without Casey." Someone I have known for quite a while who only recently learned of Casey's death said that to me. That was after they sent me an e-mail expressing their condolences, saying they just heard and they "dreaded" sending the e-mail but knew that they had to do so. What they did not say and which I infer is that they were afraid that sending me an e-mail about Casey's death would result in me becoming emotional or ruining a day when maybe I was functioning well and not thinking of my loss. I do have days that are ok-I do laugh and smile-and I can do so even with Casey on my mind virtually all the time. I used to say when I was emotional that I was having a bad day. I quickly learned that there is a difference between a bad day and an emotional day. So I stand firm that I, and all the other parents I have spoken with who have lost children, welcome becoming emotional if that is as a result of others' communications that refer to our children and that does not at all equate with "having a bad day." Some days I can imagine what it is like without Casey as I live that every day.... but I still can't imagine not having her around for the rest of my life, Di's life, Brett's life and what should have been her life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finding meaning in the lives of those we have lost

I received an e-mail from one of Casey's middle school teachers who just found out about Casey's death. The e-mail was very supportive. It was good to receive it and one of my gifts for today.The teacher was so kind to tell me her memory of Casey and also, at my request, to elaborate on the circumstances of the specific occasion. It did cause me to have a very emotional reaction--speaking of Casey's love for animals and people and the hope that the teacher and her young children would become more like Casey in terms of compassion for others and service. It has been a while since I thought about the unfairness of losing Casey-someone who had so much life and promise as any young person, but someone who was also kind, generous and compassionate. Yes I did in the past and today thought why couldn't it have been someone "less deserving to live," someone who was selfish, self-centered, etc. It was the loss to me, to my family, to Casey and the world that I was feeling when I broke down. I have not reacted this way in some time. Some of the articles and books I have read on grief speak of finding meaning in the death as necessary for moving through grief. I find no meaning in Casey's death and do not look for any. I cherish all everyone can tell me about my little girl, my wonderful young lady and I continue to find meaning in the way she lived and the example she continues to set for so many.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Anniversary of death

The first anniversary of Casey's death was July 17 th. We were surrounded by friends and family. Some had ventured to approach me before the anniversary of her death trying to find out what that would be like for me, assuming it would be horrible. After the anniversary many told me that they"did not want to intrude" on that date or around that time so they did not reach out. We spent the anniversary of Casey's death doing service at a no-kill animal shelter in her memory. It was a beautiful day that I, and I am sure, many of those who participated will never forget. For some of the students it was their first experience with performing service and they were inspired to do more.

Many friends and colleagues still ask me "what can I do for you?" I used to not request anything. That has changed. I now ask others to consider reaching out to someone who suffered a loss on the anniversary of the death, or the birthday or any other date that is significant. All that is needed is just to let someone know that you have not forgotten them, their loved one and their loss. That is what others can do.

Related Links:

A Day of Service and Remembrance on Casey Feldman’s First ‘Angelversary’ -July 17, 2010 (Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation news article)

Photos from the day