Thursday, December 22, 2011
The holidays are difficult and I have been somewhat emotional. That of course is not a bad thing but it is a fact. I count myself fortunate to work here , where everyone is so supportive and no one tells me to get on with my life and that Casey is in a better place-although the latter very well may be true. I am counseling family members in a hospice for my Master’s in counseling. Many of the clients do not have the support that I have received. My internship as well as Casey’s death has taught me to value life, value those that you love and care about and what is important. It has also taught me that so many family members have not told those that they love how they feel about them. I work with sons and daughters who desperately want to connect with a dying parent and have that parent tell them that they love them and that they approve of them. For many it does not happen before the death- “unfinished business.”
My wish for all of you is a happy and joyously reflective holiday and that you take the time to tell those who are important to you how you feel about them. Casey’s death has also taught me that there are no guarantees and that we must do what is important today and not put it off .
Saturday, December 3, 2011
At the hospice where I work part-time I recently did bereavement programs for the families to help prepare them for the first holidays since their loss. If we can try to plan ahead and think of what the holidays will look like without our loved one we can try to make decisions about what we want to do or not do as opposed to just letting the holidays happen. Will we do things the same to carry on traditions, or will we purposely alter how we celebrate so it will be less painful? Will it be too painful to be around many people who are celebrating when we may feel that to celebrate at all and enjoy ourselves is dishonoring our loved one? Will we welcome suggestions of friends and family how to celebrate or will we feel resentful and consider it an intrusion? Will we feel up to all the tasks that the holidays bring, and, if not, will we feel comfortable saying no or asking others for help when we did not need to do so in the past? One of my clients told me that her daughter-in-law did not set a place at the Thanksgiving table for her recently deceased husband and she became so angry and enraged and confronted her daughter-in-law with her lack of sensitivity and caring at the table before the meal. It is almost impossible to predict how one will react who is still mourning , but planning in advance and talking about what you need should help. While those in mourning may not know how they will react, well-meaning family members and friends most assuredly do not know either. If those who are in mourning can, it helps to tell others what you want to do and what you need from them, knowing that you can always change those plans if you need to. We who mourn loved ones need to care for ourselves and may need more care during the holidays.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Reprinted from August 24, 2010 (accidentally deleted):
Casey's death changed the way I look at loss personally and as an attorney. I have met with several families after Casey's death for the puposes of legal representation. I do so diffently now than I did before. I know that as a person suffering a loss I need support and that it is so dificult for others to provide that support. It seems that initially there can be a failure of support that was hoped for, then perhaps a withdrawal of support as time goes on and then just downright awful support-judging, criticism, unsolicited advice giving. It is becoming more evident to me that I need to take a role in helping others learn how to help me and provide the support that I need. The framework for providing/receiving/obtaining support could be as follows:
Let me tell you what happened to me.
It is ok and even helpful to talk about it and to bring up the subject of my loss.
Here is what you can do to help me.
These , again for me, seem to address the issues of what I need as a victim, the awkwardness and ignorance about loss, and directly communicating what I need to educate others about how to best help me. In applying these concepts to my legal practice I know I can better tell my client's stories.
Reprinted from 2010 (prior version accidentally deleted):
We continue to meet new people who have learned of our loss. We continue to meet parents who have also lost children. It is so clear to me that we need to talk about our children - we need to give their life meaning in whatever ways possible - we do not want our children who lived such very short lives to be forgotten. As I have said before, society does not make it easy sometimes for us to feel comfortable talking about our loss. Some of us have been fortunate to have those surrounding us who try to understand while many of us have not been so fortunate. Talking about our children is another way of keeping them alive. Many of us have also set up scholarships in our childrens' names and have tried to do something positive and lasting in their memory. We do this for them but very much also for us. What do we need to recover? What is recovery from this most awful experience? Someone recently talked to me about the difference between acceptance and peace. I have some measure of acceptance but little if anything in the nature of peace.
Reprinted from April 2010 (prior post accidentally deleted):
On April 1, 2010 a new law in New Jersey designed to protect pedestrians went into effect. With my wife we attended several press conferences across the state to announce the changes. Casey's story was part of the impetus to have the law enacted according to some traffic safety officials. There was an incredible amount of press, television and newspaper, and it was an emotional day, but overall healing. The thought that somone may not die as a result of a pedestrian accident in the future and another family may be spared what we have gone through is comforting.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
One of Casey's friends became engaged last weekend. She is a sweet, kind, compassionate young woman who has been so supportive to us following Casey's death. She said that she was actually wearing one of Casey's dresses that we had given to her when her fiancee proposed and that she felt Casey's presence and knows that Casey is happy for her. We are so happy for her and her fiancee.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The second anniversary of Casey’s death will be on July 17th. The night before she died I asked her if she was happy – I don’t know why, but I did and she answered “yes.” She said that she was happy in the moment but also with respect to her life as a whole. She had so much energy, excitement, vitality, compassion and love and, also a ton of self-confidence. She knew she would be a successful reporter and she knew she would make a positive difference in other’s lives. I knew it also. After telling me she was happy she smiled and that is the last conversation I had with her, the last time I saw that pretty smile and the last time I saw her alive.
Before her death I would often say I was blessed because my wife and children were healthy. I did know that life and health were gifts and not guaranteed. Now one of my children is dead and my wife is not so healthy as she grieves the loss of her daughter. Life has lost that comfortable rhythm and joy and I don’t look too far into the future anymore as it is too painful to contemplate all that Casey has lost and we who loved her have lost. I am no longer blessed with the good health of my children and my wife but I am blessed with the gift of the support, understanding , compassion and kindness from so many. That includes many being kind enough to ask me to speak to their groups-survivors of devastating injuries, family members of those who have died and young people in driving school/education classes about distracted driving.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I spoke at a recent meeting at Gilda's Club, a support group for those who have lost loved ones due to cancer. I told Casey's story-a little about her life and also about how she died and then talked about what the grief process has been like for me.I discussed how dificult it is for some to offer support and there was general agreement from all in attendance that something needs to be done to improve the dialogue of loss and that will not only help those who are grieving but also those who try to offer comfort. I took my grief support survey questions and statements and we chuckled over some of the statements that we had heard from others supposedly offered to console. We were able to laugh now but it was not so easy in the months following our loved ones loss. The researchers call it "social ineptitude." The experinece was very helpful for me and all who attended told their story of loss and something about their loved one so we could better understand and feel their loss. After the program was over an elderly gentleman told me that death is a loss but that there were so many others. He proceeded to list several-reduced eyesight and hearing diminishing independence, arthritis in hands preventing him from doing his hobbies, loss of friends who do not know how to treat him after his wife of more than 50 years died. He is right of course. I really had nothing to say except to nod and touch his shoulder. I hope as I age that I will be able to offset these losses with daily gains-a smile, a kind thought, a beautiful sunrise or feeling especially connected to another.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
This past week was as stressful a week professionally as I have had for many years. I had a securities case go to a three day arbitration, Di was away in Colorado and the night before the cross exam of the defendant's expert and the closings, little Hamlet, one of our rescue cats, had a bladder stone/blockage and needed to get treatment on an emergency basis. I wound up preparing for the next day at the vet's office until almost 1:00 a.m. After the case was over I was physically drained . It was great to not have to focus on the case as I had done for most of the last week around the clock. Slowly I realized that I had thought of Casey less than any time after her death. I am getting on without Casey and doing pretty well at times- The so-called reinvestment in life that grief specialists speak of. That became a very painful realization. I am not yet ready to admit or believe or accept that I can get on " so well" without her.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
On May 13th I participated in the every 15 minutes program at Notre Dame High School in Easton, PA. Every15minutes.com Students and their parents were involved in a two day recreation of the horrors and emotions of a traffic tragedy in their community. Students and parents were moved to tears when retelling what it had felt like to be cut out of a car with the jaws of life, flown by helicopter to a trauma center, be pronounced dead, placed in a body bag or to be told that their child had died in surgery. Another student, the drunk driver, told what it felt like to be subject to stares, scorn and hatred when being led through a real courthouse for sentencing in an orange jump suit and handcuffs. Parents received death notifications, wrote obituaries and selected coffins for their deceased children. Traffic safety experts believe that putting faces on highway tragedies may make us all think differently about how we drive. Clearly this program accomplished that for many students and their parents. I was asked to speak at the "memorial service." It was the first memorial service I had attended since Casey's. I was able to tell a Casey story or two that I did not tell at her funeral and was very warmly received. I played our 3 minute public service distracted driving video. It was "good therapy."I so very much love being with young people and speaking with them and learning from them as I did with Casey and continue to do with Brett and Casey's friends.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Yesterday was Mother's day. I gave Di a card-from a husband and the father of our two children with this wonderful woman-two children and one is still living. Mothers and their lost children. I have gotten a glimmer into what it means to be a mother-a mother whose dying child's last words were "I want my mom." A mother who will never forget that she could not be with her daughter in those last moments. A mother who was comforted by knowing that as her child was dying there was another mother present who was comforting her child. A mother who yesterday embraced another mother who had lost her son in another senseless traffic accident. An instant connection-mothers who had lost children.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Casey would be 23 on Wednesday, April 6th. This is from an e-mail I sent her on her 21st birthday:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Seeing Casey's face on the Cover of the Newspaper
The DOT Video has taken off more than I could have imagined. I was interviewed for the local County paper and knew there would be a story. I walked into the convenience store and headed to the paper display racks. Then I saw Casey’s face on the front cover- three or four papers across with her sweet smile and face. I was in shock and numb as I paid for the papers. By the time I got to my car I broke down and just sat in the parking lot and cried as I have not done for several months. I became angry at the driver and then just sad and empty. I sat in my car watching people pulling into the parking lot for about twenty minutes before I could drive. Many were on hand-held cell phones, and some of those were smoking cigarettes at the same time. In several of the cars there were kids in the front seat with their parent driving and talking on the cell phone and in one case eating something and talking on the hand held cell. I presume that each driver is a good person, is loved by their friends and family ,and loves their family and friends. I know they are just like the driver that killed Casey, the drivers that killed all the others who were too young to die .They all never thought that they would be in an accident and that it was just “bad” people or really unlucky people who kill or maim while driving.
Faces of Distracted Driving Casey Video
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Casey Feldman-The national symbol of the toll of distracted driving. That is the headline on the cover of yesterday's Daily Times. The distracted driving video featuring Casey's friends and Di has gone national: Faces of Distracted Driving: Casey Feldman, 21
A father asks: "Listen to Casey’s story,
share it, and commit to driving safer."
I worked so hard for this to happen and it was a very emotional day-seeing Casey's face on the cover of the local newspaper , speaking with reporters about distracted driving and Casey and our loss.... Gratifying but gut wrenching. All of the positive e-mails I receive are very helpful and promising ..perhaps people will change the way they drive.
What Will It Take?", Delaware County Daily Times, 2-25-2011
Faces of Distracted Driving: Casey Feldman, 21. U.S. DOT, 2-22-2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
The night before she died I asked her if she was happy. She asked if I meant then or with life generally. I said both. She thought a moment, tossed her hair, did one of her smile giggles that lit up her face and triumphantly said "yes and yes." Those were the last words that I recall Casey speaking and for that I am as lucky as any parent ever could be. I shared that with the mother and she slowly smiled as she realized that her son had been happy also-That smile was for me, for her, for her son and for Casey.