Painting Your Own Masterpiece

Status

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.

As Goes the Parent, So Goes the Child

Featured

Untitled1-1024x507

This is why Family Lives On Foundation supports the lifelong emotional wellbeing of children and teens whose mother or father has died. The organization also offers education programs to raise awareness of the impact of grief and loss on a child. Honoring the past, celebrating the present and building the future.

“An important part of grief is finding ways to continue a relationship with the person who has died even though they are no longer fully present.  We have written quite a bit on continuing bonds with deceased loved ones and we believe this is an important part of grieving.

When talking about a deceased loved one is discouraged or avoided, the child is denied the opportunity to continue their bond with that loved one within the familial context.  They may find ways to continue their bond on their own, but given the fact that the child is young, you will always be an important source of memories and information about the person who has died.”

A remarkable post by the very talented writers at What’s Your Grief about the profound influence adults have on the ways in which children learn to cope with their grief.

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. - James Baldwin


Donate to support children and teens whose mother or father has died and raise awareness of the impact of grief and loss on a child. Honor the past. Celebrate the present. Build the future. #givegriefwords

An Open Letter to Every Kid Who Has Lost a Parent

Featured

Originally posted by The Odyssey Online. Written by Lauren Seago

Written by Lauren Seago, reposted with her kind permission. Originally appeared on The Odyssey

A letter to tackle different aspects of losing a parent.

Dear Sweet Child,

First off, I just wanted to start by saying you are strong, even when it feels like the world is crumbling beneath your feet.

Secondly, I wanted to say how sorry I am for the loss of your parent in your most crucial years of needing love and words of encouragement. A piece of your world was stripped away from you, and that will never be replaced. Which I know personally, stings so deep.

As you continue to grow throughout your life, I wanted to address some aspects that I have learned on my own are not the easiest to conquer; that in most cases people do not understand.

1. It’s okay to cry, on the real: Forget those people who tell you crying is for the weak. You go ahead and cry; you probably need it.

2.Every holiday is like ripping a Band-Aid off over and over: Your family will laugh about memories from the past when everyone was all together. Reminiscing what your parent was like, their favorite desserts, or how they would laugh a certain way. With a smile plastered across your face, you’ll nod as family members tell you stories and you’ll think about what you would give to have them there with you.

3. Graduating, moving away to college, first date, first real job, any big event will cause a sting of pain: In the moment, you are so happy and excited as these new chapters open up. But later on, once alone, you think about how awesome it would be to have them carrying boxes into your dorm room, questioning your first date, looking out into the crowd at graduation, and seeing them with a camera recording you with a thumbs up. You’ll get chills as you think about how different life would be with them around.

4. You question everything and ask over and over why?: Whether it was a natural cause of death or some accident, you question everything you know and what you believe in (if you believe in anything). You will replay moments in your head questioning your actions asking what if? But if anything, the re-occuring question is why? An answer that is one to be continued.

5. You will be jealous of kids who have both their parents: You will see kids who have both parents and something inside you will stir; a sense of resentment. Because at one time; that was you and the world wasn’t perfect but it was lovely and everything you knew was great.

6. Watching your other parent heal is one of the hardest things you will ever watch: Though extremely challenging and frustrating at times, watching your parent cry to the point of exhaustion will be really hard, but the grieving process does get easier. So hang onto that small nugget of gold.

7. Family traditions will never be the same: Summers of camping and spending endless days on the water, baking rum cakes together, Saturday mornings spent watching cartoons just become a memory that you hold so close to your heart.

8. You become extremely protective of your siblings and whoever makes fun of them for losing a parent: No one messes with your squad but especially when someone brings up how you lost your parent; you go into protective mode. Just remember to breathe and walk in love. Kill ’em with kindness.

9. Heartbreaks hurt just as much, if not more: You will want that one parent to embrace you in their arms with snot running down your nose and tears streaming. You will just want to hear them say, You’ll be all right, kid. I love you and that’s all you need.”

10. The word “sorry” becomes numb to you: People don’t know your story and openly they don’t know what to do besides say sorry. After awhile, you smirk and softly whisper, “Thanks.” The word sorry no longer has meaning after you have heard it over a million times.

11. Pictures and old family videos are possibly one of God’s greatest gift to you: One day you will come across a tub filled with pictures, and as you sit on the basement floor looking through them, you’ll start to cry. Your mind will take you back to that exact moment and right there alone on the cold floor, you encounter a special moment of what life was like then.

12. Death will change you and your outlook on life: Seemingly the small stuff isn’t so bad anymore. You stop complaining and you really take a check of what is important in your life.

13. You wonder if they’re proud of you: When no one was looking and you did the right thing, or when you ace that test you studied so hard for. You stop to think I wonder

14. Hearing old stories from relatives and friends is a great thing: Shocked and trying not to laugh, you can’t believe what your uncle just told you about the one night they all snuck out and crashed a car. These stories will warm your heart, take the time to listen to them.

15. Lastly, you grow in ways you never thought possible: There will be moments where your whole family will be together and you’ll think to yourself how in a weird way everyone has a quirk of that parent. Then looking at your own heart, you realize how much you’ve grown.

As you continue to grow, just remember wherever you are in life, that parent is right there with you, cheering you on and flashing you thumbs up as you graduate throughout the stages of life.

All my love and tears,

A girl who lost her dad

Lauren E. Seago in 500 Words On on Aug 19, 2015

Authored by Lauren Seago

Author’s photo (Lauren Seago)


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 her kind permission to repost this blog in it’s entirety. 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.

 

If I Die Young

Image

If I Die Young

Reposted from Huffington Post Blog: Parents

by Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis

Author, columnist, and blogger at karikampakis.com

Posted: 05/15/2014 2:03 pm EDT Updated: 05/15/2014 2:59 pm EDT Print Article

Nobody likes to think about their mortality, but the untimely deaths in 2012 of two young moms in my city of Birmingham, Alabama, really made me consider mine.

I never met Laura Black or Elliot Williams in person, but they inspired me. They were the moms/friends/wives/amazing women everyone knew and loved. For months I followed their stories on Facebook, praying as our mutual friends posted updates and crying at my computer.

Whenever I started to complain about my life, I thought about Laura and Elliot. Compared to two moms losing their earthly battles to cancer, my problems suddenly seemed small.

What Laura and Elliot made me mindful of was that good health is a privilege. All the ordinary events I take for granted — driving carpool, grocery shopping, taking care of my kids — would seem like incredible blessings if one day I woke up and couldn’t do them. Because of Laura and Elliot, I became more grateful. I realized what an honor it is to be able to serve the people I love.

After these women passed, I sat down and did what I’d thought about doing for years: I wrote down long-term advice for my daughters. I thought about what I want them to know when they go to college… start working… get married… and begin a family. Just in case I’m not around.

Below is a list I’ve made as a starting point, something to add to over time. I’m sharing it to encourage other parents to do the same. While this was a little hard to compose, it was also a relief because with a written legacy comes a small peace of mind.

Please remember that you don’t have to be a writer to create a list. Should something happen to you or me, our families wouldn’t care about perfection. What they’d search the entire house for is anything that sounds like us and reflects our unique filter. What they’d want is a keepsake that keeps our memory alive as accurately and poignantly as possible.

With that said, here’s my list. Here are some basic things I want my daughters to know:

Genuine interest in other people will attract you friends quickly. If you learn to be a good listener, you can find friends anywhere.

Nothing done out of love is a waste. Love is the best gift you have to offer.

You’ll spend half your life waiting — waiting for a test result, waiting for a relationship, waiting for a chance. But remember: What happens to you while you’re waiting is often more important than what you’re waiting for.

The world is full of talent. It’s not a lack of ability holding most people back; it’s attitude.

People will push you as far as you let them. Set personal parameters and learn to say NO.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s okay to be the only person in the room not doing something.

Be grateful. This alone puts you ahead of the game.

Character is who you are in the dark. It’s doing right when nobody is there to monitor you. Character enables you to face yourself in mirror and like what you see. It’s essential to a good life.

You will make mistakes. You will feel ashamed. You will know the sting of regret. Own your choices and use the past to your advantage by learning from it so you wind up in a better place.

When misfortune strikes, see it as a chapter of your life, not the story of your life. A storm in one chapter can lead to a rainbow in the next.

Practice forgiveness daily so your resentments don’t build up. Forgiveness is about letting go and releasing anger. Not everyone who wrongs you will ask for forgiveness. Forgive them anyway and move on.

Don’t judge. We all need mercy, and you never know what someone is going through.

Be real, be authentic, be you. What makes you different is what makes you great.

Stay away from toxic people, and don’t enable or justify poor behavior. You can love someone without them being in your life.

Find a job that pays the bills. If it isn’t your heart’s desire, pursue that on the side. Not all passions immediately turn a profit.

Beware white liars. Small liars become big liars.

Trust your gut and value the opinions of your loved ones. When they all tell you the same thing, it’s time to listen.

Speak the truth regardless of what the consequences may be. Sweeping the truth under the rug creates a mess down the road.

Believe in goodness. Don’t let the bad seeds in your life ruin your hope for mankind.

Stay close to your siblings. Your sibling relationships will be the longest relationships in your life, so nurture the ties. Should the world desert you, I hope your sisters remain as your last friends standing.

Don’t keep score in love. Keeping score is exhausting and breeds competition. Nothing about love should be competitive.

In both friendship and love, it’s better to be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong reasons. If someone treats you poorly or puts you on an emotional roller coaster, distance yourself. A relationship is not about you keeping another person happy. It’s about two people helping each other grow and get better, being stronger together than apart. (Think of it as synergy, where 1 + 1 = 3.)

Say what you mean. It’s unfair to expect others to be mind-readers.

When you’re upset, ask yourself if the issue will matter in one year, five years, twenty years… Chances are it won’t.

Keep God first. He loves you madly and has great plans for you. Problems often begin when you drift away from Him. A strong prayer life can keep you anchored.

2014-04-21-huffpostDIEYOUNG.jpg

So how about you? Are you ready to begin your list? All it takes is a pen and some paper or time with your computer to get the ball rolling. Reflect on your past and empty your heart and mind until there’s nothing left to tap.

Don’t edit yourself either — not until the end. The point is to get your thoughts down. What your family wants most is YOU. As long as you capture that, you can’t go wrong. And whether you hold your list close or share it now, you’re giving your family a priceless gift. This slice of your existence will only become more valuable with time and more meaningful to the people who know and love you best.

This post originally appeared on karikampakis.com. Find Kari on Facebook or check out her upcoming book, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, to be released by Thomas Nelson in November 2014.

Follow Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KariKampakis