Painting Your Own Masterpiece

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Lauren & her dad

Lauren Seago, Gregory Seago.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad

Contributing Writer: Lauren Seago

Introduced to the crowd as the daughter of the late Gregory Seago, my hands grasped both sides of the podium and I started to cry in front of hundreds of people. In that moment, I looked up to not only see a gym full of people, but to embrace the feeling of grief that had overcome me. I wiped my cheeks and apologized to the crowd because this ‘life’s first moment’ for me was hard — really hard.

I have always heard the first anything is the scariest.

The first moment you step in a classroom full of new faces.

The first time you ride a bike without training wheels.

The first time you jump into a pool without someone to catch you.

Your first date.

Your first kiss.

Your first heartbreak.

I could tell you those ‘life’s first moments’ without your parent get easier over time, but that would be a lie.

My high school graduation was one of my ‘life’s first moments’ that my dad would not be attending. I stood with my graduating class and watched as families flooded through the doors. Moms, dads, grandparents, siblings all filed in to celebrate their soon-to-be graduate and indulge in a huge life moment.

I went on to finish my speech and left the podium to return to my seat. But before I did, I realized that, my life would continuously be filled with many more ‘life’s first moments’ that my dad would not be at. And not just in my life, but my siblings’ as well.

This thought of my dad missing my whole life was extremely overwhelming and discomforting. It was a painful confirmation that my dad was really gone.

There have been so many different ‘life’s first moments’ my dad has missed. From graduations to first days of college, move in days, first days of middle school — the first of everything and anything my dad had missed.

Moving throughout the years, Father’s Day has become like any other day for me. But I don’t avoid it or pretend like it is not there.

One of the biggest things I struggled with was the idea that people paint this canvas of grieving as this terrible ugly picture. Filled with blacks and greys, grieving is portrayed as an emotion that when expressed is a weakness.

See here’s the thing, there’s power in the process of grieving and painting your own grieving masterpiece. You have the opportunity to fill a canvas with mistakes, doubts, and fears, all crafted by your own hand.

Those feelings and emotions come to life when you reach one of ‘life’s first moments,’ or when you finally let lose the words you’ve buried, and it hurts. But it also starts to paint your road to recovery and your very own masterpiece. The colors may bleed together, it may be dark, it might be sad, and anger could radiate throughout, but the thing is, it is not like anyone else’s.

It is your own.

For the longest time, I believed the lie that crying is a weakness, that grieving is a weakness, expressing how I feel is a weakness. Now I know it is apart of my masterpiece.

 Painted and crafted in my own time.

As you celebrate Father’s Day or any of ‘life’s first moments,’ just remember crying, talking about past memories are all different pieces of your own masterpiece, and it will be okay.

Lauren Fathers Day Profile


Be a pioneer in the fight against the debilitating trauma of childhood grief, DONATE to support children and teens whose mother or father has died.

Family Lives On is tremendously grateful to Lauren Seago for contributing to this blog. More than a million people viewed Lauren’s post An Open Letter to Every Kid Who Has Lost a Parent. Follow Lauren on Twitter at @llaureneunice

Family Lives On Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Tradition Program is entirely funded through charitable donations. If you would like to help support the grieving children and families we serve, please donate here. To learn more about the Tradition Program, please use this link.

Birthdays, Weddings, Bracelets…

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By Nicole Lyons

So, lately I have been thinking about my Mom and how much I have been missing her. It is October which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it would have been her birthday in a few weeks…My brother is getting married in a few months and his fiancés shower is this weekend. It hit me the other day that my mom wouldn’t be there for my wedding, or when I had kids and that’s when the water works started to come. I know that I have so many family members who will be there for me when it comes time for that but it is not the same and it will never be the same without my mom here. The other day I was at lunch with friends, and my one friend who I am not very close with was talking about how her mom got her a bracelet and she thought it was ugly. That set me off, and I was extremely upset when she said that. She knows that my mom passed away, all of my friends do, but I don’t think they realize what they say effects me. I would do anything to have my mom to give me bracelets, to have arguments with her, just for her to be there would mean everything to me. I understand she’s with me in spirit but it is not the same and it never will be. I am lucky enough to have a great support system, but I just want to have my mom and be able to hug her and talk to her when I am stressed out about school or boys or just life in general. You don’t know what you have until it is gone.

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Nicole Lyons

Nicole Lyons

About the Author:

Hi my name is Nicole Lyons and I am 21 years old. I currently attend Millersville University, studying Social Work. My mom passed away when I was a junior in high school and I had a really hard time. Family Lives On has a special place in my heart, they helped me remember all of the good memories of my mom. I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it.

Nicole is a member of the Family Lives On Alumni Advisory Group.

For more information about Family Lives On Foundation or to donate to help more children like Nicole celebrate annual traditions go to http://www.familyliveson.org or click here.

 

Chudney’s Story About her Mom

Chudney and her Mother

Chudney and her Mother

Alumni Wisdom by Chudney

My name is Chudney and I am 23 years old. My mom died when I was 14 years old. When she died I felt abandoned. I chose a shopping tradition to honor my mom because we loved shopping together and having “girl talk”. Family Lives On supported me and my tradition for 4 years. My tradition made me feel acknowledged and helped me to connect with the grieving emotions I was dealing with by doing something meaningful. I enjoyed the tradition because what girl doesn’t love to shop? This continues to be a healing activity for me to this day. THANK YOU Family Lives On.

Four Years Ago, I had the biggest loss of my life…

Nicole with her Mom and sister.

Nicole with her Mom and Sister.

Alumni Wisdom by Nicole Lyons

To me, loss and lost are two completely different words, which have very different meanings. Loss is the process of losing someone where as lost is denoting something that has been taken away. Four years ago, I had the biggest loss of my life. My mom who was my best friend, passed away from breast cancer. It was the hardest thing that I had gone through in my entire life. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I wasn’t sure how to move on. Every one of my friends and family, said, “sorry for your loss”. I said, “There is no reason to be sorry, those types of situations are not in my control”. I know the difference between loss and lost, where as younger kids may not know the difference because their living parents or whomever don’t want to tell them sorry for the loss of your parent. My mom is not lost, and she never will be. She always has a place in my heart, and she always will no matter what. I didn’t lose my mom, she is gone but one day I will be with her again. I believe that people should know the difference between lost and loss, especially younger children. “Goodbyes are not forever, goodbyes are not the end they simply mean I’ll miss you until we meet again.”


Nicole Lyons

Nicole Lyons

Hi my name is Nicole Lyons and I am 21 years old. I currently attend Millersville University, studying Social Work. My mom passed away when I was a junior in high school and I had a really hard time. Family Lives On has a special place in my heart, they helped me remember all of the good memories of my mom. I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it. Nicole is a member of the Family Lives On Alumni Advisory Group. For more information about Family Lives On Foundation or to donate to help more children like Nicole celebrate annual traditions go to http://www.familyliveson.org or click here.

My mother was alive. She smiled, she laughed, she impacted.

Alumni Wisdom

On the Theme: Loss vs. Lost by Jacki W.

Jacki & Mom Dancing in the Rain

Jacki & Mom Dancing in the Rain


I have always found a great deal of comfort in the law of conservation of matter. This concept, in its simplest form, states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. I find this fundamental physical law phenomenally elegant.
When my mother passed away, I heard the phrase I’m sorry for your loss repeatedly. It made sense at the time. My mother was certainly no longer physically present. I couldn’t see her smile, I couldn’t hear her laugh, I couldn’t hold her hand or have a conversation with her. She was, absolutely, out of the range of my senses. Her absence permeated my life. And so, I thought, she was lost.
But I could still feel her. I can still feel her. The term “lost” is defined as something that has been taken away and cannot be recovered. Based on this definition, and based on how I feel, I refuse to brand my mother as “lost.”
The law of conservation of matter informs us that the contents of the universe cannot be lost. It may take different form, it may move, but nothing is truly lost to us. Perhaps the universe is just a chaotic jumble of energy or perhaps it follows a more meaningful pattern. Regardless, I choose to interpret the laws that govern it in a way that does not allow for absolute loss.
My mother was alive. She smiled, she laughed, she impacted. I do not believe that an energy like that could ever really be lost. So to address loss, yes I’ve experienced it; my mother is no longer physically with me. But she’s not lost to me. Her essence is still very much present.

– Jacki Westenmark


Jacki

Jacki

My name is Jacki Westermark. I am a 19 year old student at the University of Washington and member of the Family Lives On Alumni Advisory. When I was 9 my mother passed away from cancer. I was benefited by Family Lives On. Every year they helped me recreate a tradition that I once held with my mother. Family Lives On has had an incredible impact in my life and I know it can do the same for so many others.

For more information about The Tradition Program or to fund a tradition go to http://www.familyliveson.org.