As Goes the Parent, So Goes the Child

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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

A Friend “Shows Up”

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The Friend, Esquire, May 2015

So incredibly powerful.

People who can sense the sorrow behind your smile, the love behind your anger, and the meaning behind your silence are your true friends in life.

Reposting this from The Dougy Center who included this introductory paragraph: “In this courageously honest story, Matthew Teague shares his struggle in caring for his dying wife, Nicole, and for their two young daughters. Not knowing what is in store, his friend, Dane, offers him a profound and unexpected gift: both his emotional and physical presence. Matthew and Dane’s friendship is an inspiring example of choosing to be present with one another in the most dire of circumstances.

Warning: Please be advised that the imagery content and language of this article is graphic and may arouse an emotional response.

The Friend (Esquire, May, 2015)

His wife was just thirty-four. They had two little girls. The cancer was everywhere, and the parts of dying that nobody talks about were about to start. His best friend came to help out for a couple weeks. And he never left.

Later that year, I remember him standing sentry at the hospital. He had driven from New Orleans—we were living in a small town called Fairhope, Alabama—to stand guard for hours in the hallway outside Nicole’s room so that she could sleep. One afternoon, a group of church ladies arrived. There is no force under heaven as mighty as a band of middle-aged Baptist ladies, and from inside the room we could hear Dane wage a battle of kind intentions.

“They are resting right now,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

“Well, we came by to pray for them,” one of the ladies said.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “But I feel pretty sure God can hear you out here in the hall.”


Family Lives On supports the lifelong emotional wellbeing of children and teens whose mother or father has died. Available anywhere in the United States, Family Lives On serves all children & teens ages 3-18, regardless of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status or cause of parent’s death. The Tradition Program is grounded in research and a number of clinically identified needs in bereaved children.   Here’s how it works.

If you know a family whose mother or father has died, please encourage them to enroll here.


Donate to Support the Tradition Program

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.

Being a Widower

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“One of the toughest parts of being a widower is doing the things that my wife did. After she passed I had to learn a lot of stuff.

My daughter is going away and I had to pack all her stuff. It was very stressful but last night my daughter said how proud of me she was. “You are bald and remembered head bands and elastics.” I think that was one of the best things she could have said. Not because I am bald but because she knows that my world is all about her and all the hard work I do she can see and loves me for it.

I am not saying this to be full of myself I am just trying to say if a bald widower can remember hair products than I am sure you can do anything.”

Family Lives On Foundation, supports the kids whose mother, or father, has died. Available anywhere in the United States, Family Lives On serves all children & teens ages 3-18, regardless of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status or cause of parent’s death.

The Tradition Program is grounded in research and a number of clinically identified needs in bereaved children. Traditions provide a more natural context for communication and connection, and help children to maintain a healthy emotional bond.  Here’s how it works.

To learn more about the Tradition Program, please use this link.

Donate to Support the Tradition Program

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.

17 Things I Miss About My Mom on the Anniversary of Her Death

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Re-Posted from Huffington Post Blog.

By: Jodi Meltzer

My mom died one year ago today. I somehow survived one full lap around the sun without my guiding light. Grief is an emotional vampire that, at times, sucked me dry of my reserve. I felt trapped in an endless, starless night… unable to see the dawn.

So, I faked it.

I smiled through the crippling pain. I laughed through the unrelenting heartache. I rejoiced through the hot tears that burned my cheeks. I didn’t curl up in the fetal position to mourn my mommy because she never gave me that example during her 11-year duel with ovarian cancer. She wanted more for me, and I wanted more for my son. Don’t get me wrong — I host pity parties for one — but I don’t overstay my welcome. Even though my mom’s no longer here, she showed me the way. And I still ache for her guidance every day.

Here’s 17 things I miss most about my beloved mom.

1. I miss her flip phone. She was the only person I knew who had one… and had her ringtone set to Abba’s “Take a Chance on Me” to complement her whole retro non-techie vibe. She had no idea how to text and, most of the time, she had no idea where her phone was. It was part of her charm.

2. I miss her reassuring smiles, her warm, comforting embraces, her unparalleled compassion for anyone fortunate enough to look into her soulful, doe-shaped eyes. When the doctor told her he wasn’t sure she would make it through the night, my mom consoled him. After all, he was the one who had to tell her she would probably die… and how hard was that? After the doctor, she comforted me the way only she could. And then she applied lipstick, brushed her hair, and cracked a joke about how she could at least represent well in the intensive care unit.

3. I miss her voice. I talked to her at least four times a day. How is it possible I have survived 365 days without her telling me what the f*ck to do?

4. I miss asking her questions only she can answer. Did I ever do [insert kid behavior here] as a child, mom? What was I like when I was 4 years old? How was I like my son? How was I different?

5. I miss her inappropriate humor, her ability to deliver 1,000 dirty jokes flawlessly. She didn’t forget punch lines, stammer or even warn you that she was about to tell a joke. She could have had a boo-free career as a stand-up comedian.

6. I miss telling her about my life. Mommy, I finished my children’s book. And, remember Jeff from high school? He’s illustrating it. I am going to make your dream of publishing a children’s book come true. I am writing my blog and for other publications. Can you believe some people actually give a sh*t about what your mouthy daughter has to say? But, enough about my writing. I separated from my husband after you died. I got pneumonia… oh, and basal cell carcinoma. I took myself to surgery and drove myself home (and managed to fit in some shopping while I waited for clean margins… yes, that butterfly necklace from Tiffany’s I bought was in memory of your beautiful spirit). I can’t bear to tell you about Alex the Great; you should be here to enjoy your grandson. But I will say his love sustains me, just as you knew it would.

7. I miss seeing her sitting across from my son, telling him made-up stories that kept him entranced. There was a magic about my mom. She was a hybrid of Mary Poppins, a fairy godmother and Marie from The Aristocats… but she could cackle better than the evil witch in The Wizard of Oz if need be. She was so animated she didn’t need any props. She was the one I wholeheartedly trusted with my son, who went out of her way to make me dinner and reorganize my spice cabinet during naptime (even though hers was a mess). She surprised me with things that filled my heart with pride (Mom, Alex still remembers how you both picked out flowers and planted a garden for me).

8. I miss strategizing about our Thanksgiving menu, beginning in October every year. I was so thankful for her… even when she got in my way in the kitchen. I wish I could bump shoulders with her just one more time.

9. I miss driving aimlessly with her, listening to her sing songs over the radio. I remember all of those “aha” moments — the ones where we discovered we both loved the same song. It happened with Al Jerreau’s “Mornin'” on our last trip to Story Land with my son for her birthday. And with Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet.” It reminded both of us of my son when I was pregnant. I hear so many songs, so many words… and they remind me of my mom. I do “the Mimi dance” with my little boy in her memory. I still blast the music, sing off-key with wild abandon and stick my hands out of the sunroof for a laugh. I do it all for her.

10. I miss her handwritten letters, her cards, even the annoying emails she forwarded. I miss that she took the time to “Elf Yourself”… and did it for me and pretty much everyone she knew.

11. I miss taking her to chemotherapy. I spent months of my life in the hospital. Literally… when you add up all of the hours I spent at her bedside, it adds up to months. No matter what we were dealing with, how dire the news or circumstances, how excruciating the treatment, how infuriating the commute home — we always managed to laugh. Sometimes, we’d even have belly laugh crying fits when she was attached to an IV. It was pretty funny when a nurse donned a hazmat suit to administer the poison that flowed through her veins.

12. I miss Christmas mornings at her house. The jingle bells on the front door, the cheesy Santa dancing on a motorcycle, the tree decked out with ornaments from my entire life. She stayed up wrapping all night long on Christmas Eve — every year — and would inevitably forget where she hid a gift. I would get it sometime in June of the following year. She was the most thoughtful gift-giver .. not only on Christmas or Hanukkah (yup, lucky me celebrated both), but also just because. I long for those little gifts. No one does anything like that for me anymore.

13. I miss the things that once drove me crazy. She would put me on hold to answer another call and talk to the person for 10 minutes. She ran late (“You wouldn’t believe it, but I got caught behind a family of turtles trying to cross the road, Jodi”). She called me out if I was being a b*tch. All of it was better than the horrifying silence I suffer through every day without my mom.

14. I miss her validation. She helped me believe in myself. She dared me to dream. She told me the truth. I hope she knew how much her opinion meant to me.

15. I miss her at grandparents’ day at my son’s school (just yesterday, my son said, “When Grammy Mimi died it broke my heart, Mommy”). I miss having a mom on Mother’s Day. I miss surprising her with things to make her smile, with impromptu day trips (she was always game), with movies on a rainy day. I feel so alone without my mom.

16. I miss her companionship. She was my very best friend. A part of me was buried right next to my mom.

17. I miss her love. No one loved me like my mom, and no one ever will again.

Follow Jodi Meltzer on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mommydish

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Family Lives On Foundation supports the lifelong emotional well-being of children whose mother or father has died. Our Tradition Program provides opportunities for intentional remembering, creating a safe haven for grief, communication, and celebration. To enroll in the program as a family in need, donate, volunteer or for more information visit the Family Lives On Foundation website or Facebook Page or follow us @familyliveson Twitter Account or @familyliveson Instagram. To check out our 30-second PSA click here: The Family Lives On PB & J PSA.

Family Lives On’s Tradition Program is a free (to the family enrolled), direct service for children that supports their bereavement process. The program takes place within the child’s daily family life, helping children continue the traditions they celebrated with their deceased parent.

Dad with Cancer Writes Daughter 826 Notes to Last After He’s Gone

article-2546987-1B03501800000578-350_306x423Re-Posted from Todaynews.com

By Eun Kyung Kim

Garth Callaghan started slipping notes into his daughter Emma’s lunchbox when she was in kindergarten. She could barely read at the time, so he kept the napkin notes simple with easy words, sometimes using drawings or symbols.

Today, Callaghan’s eighth-grade daughter has come to depend on those brief missives as a daily source of inspiration — and a reminder to never take her dad for granted.

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Callaghan, 44, has battled kidney cancer twice over the last several years and currently lives with prostate cancer, a slow-growing disease. Recent blood work shows “no evidence” of kidney cancer these days, but Callaghan said his oncologist has bluntly told him that people with his medical history only have an eight percent change of surviving the next five years.

“This isn’t a story about cancer, because any parent at any time could be hit by a car or have a heart attack,” he said, explaining to TODAY.com why he continues to write “napkin notes” to his daughter. “This is really about leaving a legacy so that she can understand some of my life philosophies and how much I love her.”

Callaghan is now striving to reach a goal of writing 826 napkin notes, one for each school day his daughter has left until her high school graduation. He came up with the goal after reading an article about “because I said I would,” a non-profit group that stresses the importance of keeping promises.

“That’s when I thought, I can write out napkin notes ahead of time, and have them ready if I can’t fulfill my own promise if something bad happens,” he said.

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Callaghan has only about 40 notes left to write — the finished ones are sitting in a cabinet in his home office in Glen Allen, just outside the Virginia capital of Richmond. But he hasn’t slipped any of the notes he’s banked into Emma’s lunchbox yet — he’s leaving those for his “just in case” pile. Every morning, he writes a brand-new note for his daughter.

Callaghan keeps all of his notes indexed on a spreadsheet. Sometimes he borrows a quote from a famous person, from Gandhi to Audrey Hepburn. His favorite quotes come from Dr. Seuss or childhood figure, Fred Rogers.

 

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“A good portion of the notes are literally just letters from me to her. They start out, ‘Dear Emma,’ and I say something, and then I say, ‘Love, Dad,’” he said. “ I try to mix it up because frankly, sometimes she needs to hear that yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s game, and that’s a Babe Ruth quote.”

Callaghan said his napkin notes didn’t become a daily ritual until Emma, his only child, reached third grade. Soon afterward, he started using the notes to provide her with motivation and support.

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“If she had a big softball game that afternoon, I’d wish her some luck at the game. It became less of a, ‘Have a good day,’ to more of a ‘I know you’re a strong person. Believe in yourself. Be who you are,’” he said. “And really, I wanted to help make sure she developed into this nice, well-rounded young woman.”

Emma said all of her friends have come to depend on her napkin notes just as much as she has. She tries to save at least one each week.

“I love napkin notes for a couple reasons, not just the obvious ones such as knowing my dad is thinking about me or learning a new quote,” she said. “I love them because they remind me not to take things for granted, because my dad started getting serious with them when he had cancer for the first time.”

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The notes also make her feel a lot closer to her father.

“Because during the school year it’s hard for us to hang out because of my sports and homework,” she said.

Callaghan said his wife supports him writing the notes as a way of expressing the special bond he has with their daughter.

“We’re geek oriented, we play video games together, we like to talk about technology, and we have napkin notes,” he said. His wife and Emma have their own connection, spending “tremendous amounts of time together” in the kitchen.

“Yesterday they spent hours making all sorts of treats and goodies, and I didn’t feel excluded at all,” he said.

Callaghan has compiled many of the notes he has written in a booklet (available on Kindle and sold on Amazon.com) after being contacted by parents through his Facebook page seeking help on how they can make similar connections with their kids. He said he doesn’t mind when others crib from his notes.

Callaghan has almost stacked up enough notes to last his daughter through the rest of her high school career.

“Even for me, and I’ve been doing this for such a long time, I know that staring at a blank napkin can be kind of daunting,” he said. “Think about how rushed parents are in the morning. My idea was just make it easy and help get them going and start that process. At the end of the day, does it help create this connection to your child? If it does, then that’s a success.”

Callaghan said he plans to release a second edition of his booklet, complete with 826 quotes.

“I wrote an epilogue to it,” he said. “It basically implies that I expect to be around long enough to write my grandkids napkin notes.”

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Family Lives On Foundation  supports the lifelong emotional well-being of children whose mother or father has died. Our Tradition Program provides opportunities for intentional remembering, creating a safe haven for grief, communication, and celebration. To donate, volunteer or for more information visit the Family Lives On Foundation website or  Facebook Page.

Building the Future.

How are we connected to Family Lives On? 

I found FLO. And FLO found me. Here’s how it happened. by Stacey Grant

There are many ways in which I was drawn to this organization. Here are a few:

1. My beautiful, sweet friend, who died too soon:

My beautiful friend and her 3rd baby a few months before she died of colon cancer.

My beautiful friend with her baby girl a few months before she died of colon cancer.

  • My dear friend was 37, and an amazing mother to 3 young children when she died.
  • She had 6 weeks to deal with the devestating knowledge that she might not see her children grow up.
  • She expressed to me that she was afraid that her 4 month old baby would not remember her.
  • Her death at such a young age was shocking and revealing to me .

2. My funny, healthy, young-at-heart Dad:

My dad with my youngest child, Sammie at a baseball game. He died in 2010 of Mesothelioma.

My dad with my youngest child, Sammie at a baseball game. He died in 2010 of Mesothelioma.

  • Blessed to have had him in my life until my later adult years, his death still haunts me.
  • I want to remember him with joy and celebrating an annual tradition would facilitate that.
  • His mother died when he was 13. What would’ve been different for him if FLO was part of his life every year, until he was 18?

3.  The positive influence of Family Lives On’s thoughtful, intelligent, forward-thinking Board of Directors.

There is a need.

There is a need.

  • I spoke to the President of the Board of Directors of Family Lives On, Jennifer Robinson and FLO’s co-founder Laura Munts when I was considering engaging with FLO.
  • Their vision- that the 2 million children who’s parents die in the United States could potentially have access to FLO services, helping them to grieve in a healthy way- inspired me.
  • They believed that my efforts through marketing and digital strategy could enhance FLO’s expansion nationwide.

4. Speaking with Bereaved Children:

The kids need light.

The kids need light.

  • In Volunteer training for FLO we spoke with a graduate of the program. She was so very thankful for FLO’s services.
  • I learned that children are surrounded by ‘walls of silence’ when a parent dies. It’s difficult learning how to speak with a child who’s parent has died. We worry about waves of emotion and discomfort. But there are healthy ways to remember and talk about it.
  • Family Lives On lets bereaved children grieve their parents in a way that fills them with joy sans the guilt.
  • Family Lives On Volunteers are compassionate, caring, straightforward, smart and just plain amazing people.

5. FLO’s Incredible Staff:

The Staff. (JJ - FLO's Business Manager with her 'unselfie'.)

The Staff. (JJ – FLO’s Business Manager with her ‘unselfie’.)

  • The Family Lives On Staff is an outstanding group of hardworking people who make me think and smile through tears every day.
  • I feel blessed to be in their prescence, talking about ‘real’ things and trying to make a difference for children daily.

And that is why I am here.

Stacey Grant, Marketing and Outreach Strategist

Stacey Grant
Marketing and Outreach Strategist
Family Lives On Foundation