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Sunrise With Everett

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By Kurt Seckington This past June, I sat on a granite ledge fifteen feet above the crystal clear water of Ralston Lake, in the Sierra Nevada’s Desolation Wilderness, watching a driftwood “E” float lazily across the lake’s surface. In our family we have a tradition of celebrating our second son, Everett, who was stillborn at 38 weeks on May 22, 2012, by creating “E”s when we are out in the wilderness. We have drawn “E”s in the sand on deserted, windswept beaches, written “E”s with water on warm granite cobbles, and, like this day in the Sierra, placed 4 sticks…

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A Grieving Mother’s Manifesto

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By Dr. Joanne Cacciatore I am a mother. I am a bereaved mother. My child died, and this is my reluctant path. It is not a path of my choice, but it is a path I must walk mindfully and with intention. It is a journey through the darkest night of my soul and it will take time to wind through the places that scare me. Every cell in my body aches and longs to be with my beloved child. On days when grief is loud, I may be impatient, distracted, frustrated, and unfocused. I may get angry more easily,…

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Being the Mother of a Child Who Died — On Mother’s Day

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By Claire McCarthy, M.D. I am the mother of a child who died. And that makes Mother’s Day very hard. Recently I was talking to a mother whose child had just died. “What about Mother’s Day?” she asked, through tears. It was hard to know what to say, because it’s a terrible day for those of us who have lost a child. Other days of the year you can maybe make it a few hours without thinking about your loss; other days of the year you can pretend that you are an ordinary person and that life is normal. But…

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Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong

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By Michelle E. Steinke After nearly seven years of personal experience surrounding loss, I can tell who is going to read, share and comment on this article and it’s not necessarily the audience I’ve intended. Those who have walked the horrific road of loss will shake their collective heads “Yes” at many of my points below and share with pleads for the rest of the Western World to read, learn, evolve and embrace these concepts. Unfortunately, my words will fall short for my intended audience because the premise does not yet apply to their lives…yet. In time, my words will…

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Coping With Holidays and Celebrations

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By Sherokee Ilse Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years – celebrations that bring families together. A time to appreciate friends, God, family and the gifts of life. They also serve as reminders of who will not be with us when our family comes together. Holiday times can be bittersweet for families who have had a loved one die, particularly a child. There are ways for you to gain some control and minimize the difficulty of the often tense, yet special time. Long before the day, make plans, speak up about your needs and desires and follow your heart. In your decision-making…

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Creative Expression Healing Through the Arts

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Oscar Wilde once said, “It is through art and through art only that we can realize our perfection; through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.” I would go one step further and say that not only does art protect us from the jeopardies of the world, it teaches us, strengthens us, and allows us to participate in all the wonderful and excruciating emotions of our actual existence. We have seen this throughout civilization; artwork of all kinds, paintings, sculptures, poems, plays, etc., through the generations, depicting our deepest depths of…

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Befriend Courage

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By Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. What is courage? When you think of courage, images of bravery might come to mind—knights on horseback charging the line, firefighters risking their lives to rescue a family from a burning building, or hikers summiting Mount Everest. This is bravery, not courage. Bravery is loud and boisterous. Courage is soft and quiet. Without the steady, quiet resolve and unfailing commitment of courage, bravery would never happen. Courage is what fuels bravery. It is the bridge between fear and action. It is a still, quiet voice encouraging you to go on. Bravery is daring and doing,…

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Mustering the Courage to Mourn

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“Whatever you do, you need courage.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson Loss brings uninvited pain into our lives. In opening to the presence of the pain of your loss, in acknowledging the inevitability of the pain, in being willing to gently embrace the pain, you demonstrate the courage to honor the pain. Honoring means “recognizing the value of” and “respecting.” It is not instinctive to see grief and the need to openly mourn as something to honor, yet the capacity to love requires the necessity to mourn. To honor your grief is not self-destructive or harmful, it is courageous and life-giving….

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