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.

Holiday Traditions — Let It Snow!

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Re-Posted from The Huffington Post Blog

By Ronda Lee

My dad and grandparents are no longer with us. Now, more than ever, I try to keep holiday traditions going. My granny would bake and you could smell it blocks away. She was old school — sifting flour, everything by hand. Granny would make a separate “tea cake” just for me, plain Jane. The smell of real butter baking in a cake takes me to a happy place and revives the kid in me.

Christmas time meant a snowball fight with the first snow was always in order. We would rush home after school and start making our stash of snowballs to give us a head start over Dad. Even in college and later in law school, I would miss a day of classes on the first big snow. My nephews were born while I was in college, so I told them we had to be prepared to get my dad as soon as he got out the car then run into the house. It was our only chance for victory. We felt like war strategists, finding places to bunker and hide our snowballs. Dad arrived home and we commenced throwing wildly, but without precision. Danger!

He found a stash of our snowballs. I yelled, “Retreat!” We ran inside the house where we assumed we were safe, like Switzerland.

However, I forgot that Dad was a sore loser and defeat was not part of his vocabulary. He wanted to pummel us. We took off our coats and boots and sat comfortably at the kitchen table with hot chocolate musing over how we got him. At the time, my nephews were still preschoolers. All of a sudden, the basement door bursts open and out comes Dad snowballs in hand. He pelted each of us in the kitchen. Mom was not happy. We lost and had to clean up the wet mess in the kitchen.

I said, “Dad it is the kitchen — safe zone!” He replied that he did not know retreat.

It is a story that is told each year so that even now, my youngest nephew, born after my father’s death knows about snowball fights with grandpa. Since he cannot ambush Grandpa, he likes to ambush his older cousins. One winter, he anxiously waited for snow.

When it finally snowed, he giggled, “Auntie we’re going to get the boys with snowballs.” It is fun, but I have yet to claim victory. The older nephews are athletes and their aim is just as good as my Dad’s.

The only thing I have going for me is that I am Auntie – an adult – and they cannot violate Switzerland (the kitchen)!

Follow Ronda Lee on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Rondaisms

Share your special holiday traditions with us!!! Comment below or email your traditions to Family Lives On’s webmaster. We would love to create a blog post around your holiday traditions!

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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.

 

 

Grief doesn’t magically end at a certain point after a loved one’s death. Reminders often bring back the pain of loss. Here’s help coping — and healing.

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Re-Posted from Mayo-Clinic In-Depth

By Mayo Clinic Staff

When a loved one dies, you might be faced with grief over your loss again and again — sometimes even years later. Feelings of grief might return on the anniversary of your loved one’s death, birthday or other special days throughout the year.

These feelings, sometimes called an anniversary reaction, aren’t necessarily a setback in the grieving process. They’re a reflection that your loved one’s life was important to you.

To continue on the path toward healing, know what to expect — and how to cope with reminders of your loss.

Reminders Can Be Anywhere:

Certain reminders of your loved one might be inevitable, especially on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other special days that follow your loved one’s death.

Reminders aren’t just tied to the calendar, though. They can be tied to sights, sounds and smells — and they can ambush you. You might suddenly be flooded with emotions when you drive by the restaurant your partner loved or when you hear your child’s favorite song. Even memorial celebrations for others can trigger the pain of your own loss.

What to Expect When Grief Returns:

Anniversary reactions can last for days at a time or — in more extreme cases — much longer. During an anniversary reaction you might experience:

Sadness
Loneliness
Anger
Anxiety
Trouble sleeping
Fatigue
Pain

Anniversary reactions can also evoke powerful memories of the feelings and events surrounding your loved one’s death. For example, you might remember in great detail where you were and what you were doing when your loved one died.

Tips to Cope with Reawakened Grief:

Even years after a loss, you might continue to feel sadness when you’re confronted with reminders of your loved one’s death. As you continue healing, take steps to cope with reminders of your loss. For example:

Be prepared. Anniversary reactions are normal. Knowing that you’re likely to experience anniversary reactions can help you understand them and even turn them into opportunities for healing.
Plan a distraction. Schedule a gathering or a visit with friends or loved ones during times when you’re likely to feel alone or be reminded of your loved one’s death.

Reminisce about your relationship. Focus on the good things about your relationship with your loved one and the time you had together, rather than the loss. Write a letter to your loved one or a note about some of your good memories. You can add to this note anytime.

Start a new tradition. Make a donation to a charitable organization in your loved one’s name on birthdays or holidays, or plant a tree in honor of your loved one.

Connect with others. Draw friends and loved ones close to you, including people who were special to your loved one. Find someone who’ll encourage you to talk about your loss. Stay connected to your usual support systems, such as spiritual leaders and social groups. Consider joining a bereavement support group.

Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions. It’s OK to be sad and feel a sense of loss, but also allow yourself to experience joy and happiness. As you celebrate special times, you might find yourself both laughing and crying.

When Grief Becomes Overly Intense:

There’s no time limit for grief, and anniversary reactions can leave you reeling. Still, the intensity of grief tends to lessen with time.

If your grief gets worse over time instead of better or interferes with your ability to function in daily life, consult a grief counselor or other mental health provider. Unresolved or complicated grief can lead to depression and other mental health problems. With professional help, however, you can re-establish a sense of control and direction in your life — and return to the path toward healing.

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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.

Holiday Grieving: How to Best Support the Mourning This Time of Year

Spiced-Gingerbread-Man-Cookies-4-1Re-Posted from Huffington Post Blog

by Dr. Cara Barker 

The table is set. One chair is empty. Meanwhile, the rest of the world goes merrily on its way, as if nothing whatsoever has happened. Traditional songs are sung, festivities held, presents purchased, speculations made about whether the economy is “back.” But there is one group of people too-oft overlooked, not out of indifference, but really out of confusion. What do you do when someone you love is grieving, especially this time of year? Do you really know how to best support those who mourn during the holidays?

Intially, it is tough for those suffering profound loss to find their footing, much less connect with the hustle and bustle of what comes this time of year. Too often, those of us who are aware of the bereaved get tangled up in our efforts to help, feeling incredibly awkward. What follows is a simple guide that can boost your confidence, and their sense of being understood, and loved.

Bridge Building. Keep it simple. The real issue beneath loss is that love needs an outlet and a means of contact. When someone dies, physical connection seems broken. Love’s flow gets interupted. Now, you know what happens when a river gets obstructed: cess, turbulence, and disturbance. Holding back your compassion, for fear of “blowing it,” only makes matters worse. The bereaved are not looking for perfect. They are longing to re-establish connection with what heals their heart. Be this bridge.

What if you simply shared how grateful you are that your loved one is in your life? If you knew the person/s they lost, you could add a brief statement about your appreciation for them, as well. It helps to get specific. What we are “going for” here, is a means of bridge building across the chasm they are feeling, which tends to estrange them from life and living. They are where they are. This will shift, over time, if they are willing to take their time, be real, take themselves seriously, and open to growing forward through what’s happened. But, that is then and this is now. At this time, connection is what’s needed.

Let’s get real. It might surprise you to know, increasingly, what the grieving are finding annoying is the statement: ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ Believe me, privately, they tell me.

Listen in, and I’ll share some quotes: “Gretta”: This 47 year Old Dutch widow, who lost her husband four weeks ago, whispers the following:

I know that my friends are trying to be nice. But if I hear that statement one more time (“I’m so sorry for your loss.”) I’m going to scream. I know they don’t know what to say, so they are trying. I wish they wouldn’t try so hard and just be real. I have no idea how to be with myself, especially now with the holidays. I feel really isolated.

“Harvey”: Following a 4 year marriage to his “dream girl,” Helen is killed in an accident two weeks ago. Says he:

I have no idea what to do or where to go this year. I’m alone. Really alone. It’s too quiet. I like the quiet, and I don’t like it. People look at me with pity. I’m uncomfortable at work, although I know people feel for me. But, no one really says anything. I feel like a leper. The subject of the holidays is up and, maybe I’m paranoid or something, but they seem to start to nearly whisper when the subject of plans comes up. I’m afraid they must be worried and not know what to do.

“Martin”: Martin and his wife lost their 4 year old to leukemia in August.

I’m having such a hard time going to work. I can’t even imagine making it through the holidays. Halloween was the pits. Annie was so happy last year, trick-or-treating in her Dora costume. I’m a mess. I never know when ‘the wave’ will hit, and I’m reduced to tears, when I least expect. How in the h—- am I going to get through Christmas? We just love Christmas, always went to our cabin in the mountains. Nobody gets it, either. They try, but they don’t. I need a playbook. So do they.

Playbook for Supporting Those Who Mourn During the Holidays: 8 Practical Tips

Let them grieve. No kidding. Do not underestimate what I call the Power of the Listening Heart.
Make contact statements that are true for you.

Example: “I’ve been thinking about you. I don’t know what to say. I can imagine that the holidays are pretty charged this year.”

Now, just listen.

Your job is neither to be the fix-it person, nor be clever. Lay down that burden. Just be you. When you are fumbling for what to do, say it! e.g. ‘I’m fumbling for what to say. I wish I were good with words.’

Listen to your instinct. Trust it. When the time seems right, say something like:

“I find myself wondering if there is something I can do for you during this time? An errand to run? A time to share a cup of coffee? Maybe we can just be together, without agenda? A walk through the park, or in nature, where we are away from the entire hustle bustle? I’m open to what seems right.”

Listen.
Offer some form of acknowledgment to them. How can you share something that represents how grateful you are for being in their life? Keep it simple. Perhaps you could do one of the following:
a) Compose a little love note that let’s them know their qualities that you are especially fond of, and give you cause for appreciation for your relationship.

b) Collect some autumn leaves, tie some ribbon/raffia around them, and offer them as a token of your love. If you have the energy: put the aforementioned around a votif candle in a glass holder, and offer it as an ‘I’m thinking about you, especially now.” You won’t find this token at the Mall, nor on Cyberspace.

c) Find a picture in a magazine that reminds you of some memory or dream for the future you share. Mount it on paper, say a few words, and drop it by, or send it.

d) Share a cup of hot cocoa. Feel good remedies are winners.

When you think of this person, call them! Even if you have only a few moments, that’s O.K… You can even say:

“I’ve only got a moment, but I was thinking about you just now and wanted you to know I’m here.”
Evenings can be especially tough since the noise of the day subsides. It’s a great time for check in, just to give the message, ‘you are in my heart.’

Use your own words. You cannot fail.

Remember, your job is not to take away the loss. Your job is to be you, be real, and be a fair witness to one of the most difficult times in your loved one’s life. One of the most supporting factors in growing forward through grief is reconnecting with life without feeling pushed.

Never underestimate the power of your love, the beauty of your outreach. It is a gift that is so rare, it will never be forgotten. It is a treasure so rich, that it cannot be purchased. Priceless, just like you!

Now, your turn. What’s helped you most during the holidays when you’ve struggled, or known someone else who is hurting? What’s helped? What’s hindered? What do you wish others knew about how to build a bridge to you? I’m listening!

Thanks for passing this along to those you love.

Dr. Cara Barker is an author, analyst, and founder of The Love Project, Love Fests and Retreats. For more, see carabarker.net. For updates, contact her at http://www.carabarker.net, or dr.carabarker@gmail.com. To save time, click on Become a Fan. Stay tuned for upcoming developments with The Love Project, including “Practicing Love.” I’ve got a great idea for those of you who are willing to step out on the playing field and have an amazing time. Stay tuned! Follow Dr. Cara Barker on http://www.twitter.com/DrCaraBarker.

Follow Dr. Cara Barker on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DrCaraBarker
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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.

Grieving and Giving Thanks: How to Enjoy Thanksgiving Without a Loved One

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“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Re-Posted from The Huffington Post

By Dr. Carmen Harra

If I recall Thanksgiving in 2003, I see the shining face of my husband, Virgil, from across the table. Healthy, vibrant, and brave, he cracks jokes on his younger cousin over his over-demanding wife. Next to him sits his brother Sandu, chuckling and undecided whether to join in this debauchery. A few seconds later his choice is made and Virgil and Sandu roar with laughter. The two were inseparable and their bond nothing short of admirable. They could not only finish each other’s sentences, but maintained a solid foundation of respect and loyalty. Their common denominator was a boundless love for their family.

In charge of all preparations, Virgil and Sandu acted as the delegates of Thanksgiving, a flagship celebration of family. Fast forward 10 years to the present, and with both Virgil and Sandu missing, I can only imagine what this year’s table will look like. A more somber crowd, there will be no hilarity, no feuding over the last swig of wine, and no brothers-in-arms up to their usual antics. The silence will be felt.

The empty chairs will be most evident perhaps to my cousin Claudia, widow to the late Sandu, who left our family just last spring. Having already endured a number of ceremonial meals without Virgil, I became accustomed to attending festivities without my better half. For the last four years, I intruded on different friends, drove to distant family members, and held my three daughters as close to me as possible. But despite my efforts to be in physical contact with others, I realized one thing: I didn’t really belong anywhere. My two older daughters had families, and although I watched lovingly as they kissed their husbands and scolded their children, I knew I didn’t fit into their immediate familial circle. Even my younger daughter, 27, had a life of her own: a boyfriend and friends and parties to run off to later. I thought, Where will I go when this dinner is over? An unwelcomed answer followed.

My struggle is not mine alone. It is the shared challenge of millions around the world who fight to fill a heartfelt void after having lost their spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend, or worse, a combination of. A dreaded battle, at best. But we as humans come equipped with the greatest, rarest grace imaginable: resilience. This unfailing sense of fortitude and endurance, of getting up and forging ahead, allows us to conquer almost anything. Profound resilience never fails to see us through. And knowing this is the first step towards true healing after loss. Implement my tips below to manage through Thanksgiving without your loved one and feel their consoling company on any day:

Talk to them. Before stepping out for Thanksgiving dinner, speak out loud to your beloved. Conjure their memory in your mind and tell them exactly how you feel. You can confess that you miss them, explain your hardships, even ask for their help. Start by saying, “Well, today’s Thanksgiving and I wanted to tell you that…” The words will flow from there. When you release your emotions and speak your mind without restraint, you feel an instant sense of relief. You will also feel inexplicably connected to your loved one, as if they are there and listening. This will endow you with the hope and strength to go out and enjoy your holiday like you deserve.

Celebrate their memory. Reserve a chair at the dinner table for your precious person, as if they were sitting right there with you. Raise a glass for your dear departed one and toast to their name. Prepare their favorite dish for others to enjoy. Rituals like these serve as a reassuring reminder of the spiritual presence of a late loved one.

Find a strong support system. Spend Thanksgiving with whomever offers you the most moral support. This is the time to take things very easy and do what makes you feel comfortable. Stick closely with those who can boost your strength and vitality, whether they be family or friends. Don’t be afraid to call on people who can show you unconditional love and patience in a time when you need compassionate above all else.

Don’t force yourself. The grieving process is unique for each of us and everyone heals at a different rate. Don’t force yourself to feel happy if you don’t, but do try to stabilize your emotions and use them to a positive advantage. It’s perfectly fine to release your pain and cry as long as this provides genuine relief. Excuse yourself from the table and take a quick walk or meditate in another room for a few minutes. Emotions may be difficult to control, but you should both allow your feelings to run their course while also putting in effort to better your mood little by little.

Find a sense of peace. True wisdom means seeking peace in all situations, especially in those which you cannot change. Attain tranquility by adopting the right mindset, whether it’s reminding yourself that at least your loved one is no longer in pain or that their spiritual presence will forever be felt. Dwell on thoughts that create comfort and serenity and banish those that evoke guilt or regret. Remember that the past is unchangeable and that contemplating “what if” will do you no favors. Understand that there is a greater reason for your dear one’s departure, one which you will fully comprehend in time.

A holiday like Thanksgiving can be burdensome with the one we love absent from the table. But we must not forget that we possess resilience, an inherent gift that helps us surmount any obstacle. Add my advice to your holiday routine to discover a deep-seated sense of acceptance and feel the undying presence of your loved one.

To Virgil and Sandu

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For more tips on how to navigate the holidays when you are grieving check out this article, Help Yourself Heal During the Holiday Season by Dr. Alan Wolfelt and many more tips can be found on the The Center for Loss & Life Transition  website.

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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 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.

 

Family Lives On Teams up with Penn Wissahickon Hospice’s David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program for Children’s Grief Awareness Day

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When Sarah Abramovitz, Coordinator at the David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program at Penn Homecare and Hospice ran into Chris Cavalieri, Executive Director of Family Lives On Foundation at the NAGC  Symposium On Children’s Grief this summer, they had a lot to talk about.

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Chris and Sarah get started.

Sarah, who is an Art Therapist, was busy counseling bereaved children and gearing up for Camp Erin where she is the Clinical Director. Chris was on a whirlwind outreach tour culminating in the national expansion of Family Lives On’s Tradition Program that enabled many bereaved children from 28 of the 50 United States to enroll.

After discussing many topics in depth, Sarah and Chris realized that they had a common goal. They both ached to increase the depth of the average citizen’s awareness around Children’s Grief. A grand plan was hatched. Together, for Children’s Grief Awareness Day, 2014, Family Lives On and David Bradly Children’s Bereavement Program would collaborate.

This week, Chris had children from Montgomery School in Chester Springs, PA make handprints in blue paint on white paper. Jodi who is on staff at FLO, diligently cut out those hands and many more from blue construction paper. Sarah arranged the hands artistically and she and Chris adhered them to foam board with glue. They added pipe cleaners and plastic zip ties to create a gorgeous, blue butterfly with moving wings, signifying Children’s Grief Day.IMG_8971

Digital graphics were created and will be uploaded and cross promoted on social media platforms for both organizations. And the staff wore blue in honor of CGAD.

There are more than two million children and teens grieving the death of their mother or father, and 1 in 20 children experience the death of a parent before the age of 16.

“Grieving involves many different emotions, actions, and expressions, all of which help the person come to terms with the loss of a loved one. But keep in mind, grief doesn’t look the same for everyone. Every loss is different. It’s important to consider that adult grief is different than child grief. Adults tend to deal with grief head on. Society expects them to do that. A child doesn’t have the capacity to do that.”

“For children”, says Chris Cavalieri, “grief can be re-activated over and over as a child progresses through different developmental stages of growth. This is very normal and can actually be a chance for the child to talk about the parent’s life.”

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From Left to Right: Kelly Becker, Tom Aresco, Jen Jankauskas from Family Lives On and Sarah Abramovitz from David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program

Family Lives On’s Tradition Program is a free, direct service for such 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.

When it comes to loss of life, children have special needs – they do not have the same avenues or outlets as adults to express their grief, or the experience to understand all they are feeling. Wissahickon Hospice’s David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program provides emotional support for young survivors of hospice patients and guides them through the bereavement process in a safe, sensitive environment that caters directly to their needs.

The David Bradley Children’s Bereavement Program offers:

Individual Grief Counseling: in the home, provided by a certified social worker trained to work with children – for children in our patients’ families

Phone consultations: open to any child in the community
Workshops: providing discussion, art, play and other activities

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Family Lives On Staff Wearing Blue from Left to Right: Stacey, Jen, Isis, Kelly, Jodi, Tom and Susan (Volunteer-Kneeling), Sarah (center) from David Bradley Center is holding the Butterfly.

Sarah is also the Clinical Director at Camp Erin-Philadelphia which is a weekend overnight camp for children who have experienced the death of a significant person in their life, such as a parent, sibling, other family member or friend. The camp combines traditional, fun, high-energy camp activities with grief education and support.

Children’s Grief Awareness Day is designed to help us all become more aware of the needs of grieving children — and of the benefits they obtain through the support of others. It is an opportunity to make sure that grieving children receive the support they need.

Created in 2008 by the Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families, and since recognized by organizations around the world, Children’s Grief Awareness Day is observed every year on the third Thursday in November (the Thursday before the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving). This time of year is a particularly appropriate time to support grieving children because the holiday season is often an especially difficult time after a death.

Family Lives On Foundation, The David Bradley Center at Penn Hospice and Children’s Grief Awareness Day are partners in bringing attention to the fact that support can make all the difference in the life of a grieving child. This day provides an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness of the painful impact that the death of a loved one has in the life of a child, and an opportunity to make sure that these children receive the support they need.

For more pictures of the creative endeavors of the day check the facebook page on Thursday, November 20th, Children’s Grief Day.

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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.

The Emotion Which Lasts 240 Times Longer Than Others: Which emotion takes an average of 4 days to pass, and why?

lonely-missing-you-black-and-white-photography-2-lindos-black-and-white-black-white-sadness-sad-czarno-biac581e-sad-beauty-nikki-images-wave-pics_largeRe-Posted from PsyBlog

by Dr. Jeremy Dean

Sadness is the longest lasting of the emotions, finds one of the first ever studies to look at why some emotions last much longer than others.

When compared with being irritated, ashamed, surprised and even bored; it’s sadness which outlasts the others.

The study, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, found that sadness tended to be associated with events which had a major long-term impact on people’s lives, such as bereavement (Verduyn & Lavrijsen, 2014).

Saskia Lavrijsen, who co-authored the study, explained:

“Rumination is the central determinant of why some emotions last longer than others.

Emotions associated with high levels of rumination will last longest.

Emotions of shorter duration are typically — but, of course, not always — elicited by events of relatively low importance.

On the other hand, long-lasting emotions tend to be about something highly important.”
The results come from a survey of 233 students who were asked to recall emotional experiences and how long they had lasted.

Here is the amount of time that each emotion lasted, on average:

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At the extremes, while disgust and shame tended to pass within 30 minutes, sadness continued on for an average of 120 hours.

Boredom, meanwhile, tended to pass in a couple of hours, although naturally it feels like longer!

There were also fascinating patterns amongst linked emotions.

For example, fear tended to be short-lived, while its close cousin anxiety lasted much longer.

Similarly, the hot burn of shame passed relatively quickly, but the feeling of guilt tended to hang around much longer.

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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.

When Words Fail, Grieving Children can Find an Outlet in Music

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Arvis Jones describes a music therapy technique during a conference for teachers, social workers and counselors. “You have to feel the joy inside yourself to be able to reach kids,” she says.

To help them cope with loss, therapist Arvis Jones uses music as a way to help children express how they feel.

Re-Posted from The LA Times

by Sandy Banks: sandy.banks@latimes.com

Arvis Jones describes a music therapy technique during a conference for teachers, social workers and counselors. “You have to feel the joy inside yourself to be able to reach kids,” she says.

How do you help little children, too young to know what death really means, cope with the feelings of grief and pain that the loss of a loved one brings?

If you’re music therapist Arvis Jones, you let them bang on a drum, do the hokey-pokey or join a choir and sing.

Jones is part of a growing professional field that taps the restorative power of music to help traumatized children heal.

For 20 years, she’s been going to crime scenes, hospitals, funerals and schools, reaching out to grieving families with a bin of unorthodox tools — keyboards, claves, jingle sticks, tambourines, djembe and tubano drums.

Music is a right-brained activity, she said. Listening, playing, dancing and singing all engage the mind’s emotional sphere.

But it’s not just neurobiology that makes the medium a valuable tool. “With grief, the pain is sometimes so deep it hurts too much for kids to talk about what they feel,” Jones said. “Music breaks down their defenses. They think they’re having fun.”

That helps counselors like Jones create a safe space to address the anger, confusion and fear that loss generates in young lives.

For the children who survived a car accident that killed a sibling and left their mother in a coma, that meant dancing around her hospital room with wooden rainsticks and percussion rings. “They’d been too traumatized to even look at their mother,” Jones said. “Getting comfortable helped them reconnect.”

For the little boy who hadn’t smiled since his father died, that meant singing with Jones’ children’s choir. “Suddenly you’re up there on the stage and everyone’s clapping for you,” Jones recalled. “He was beaming, bowing to the crowd.” He’d realized that his father’s death didn’t mean the end of joy in his life.

For the 8-year-old who’d been fighting his classmates since he found his brother’s body after a suicide, that meant pounding a giant drum. He might not have been able to describe his rage, but he could hit Jones’ drum as hard as he wanted.

And he could hug it to his chest and cry when Jones asked if he loved and missed his brother.

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I’d always considered it airy-fairy; the notion that music can heal something as profound as grief.

Jones said that’s not an uncommon view. “A lot of agencies don’t want to be bothered with music therapy. They consider it frivolous — until they see it,” she said.

She said it’s becoming more widely used to help children deal with not just their own grief, but with the trauma of public tragedies. Jones was asked after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School to share music therapy techniques that might help families recover.

“Death is not something we can hide from,” she said. “But we have a hard time helping children talk about it.”

Without encouragement, children tend to stay silent; some act out their pain in destructive ways.

She remembers a visit to a South Los Angeles middle school to talk with classmates of a boy whose sister had been stabbed to death. “I talked to the kids about what to expect … and asked if anyone had a similar experience,” she said.

Hands all across the classroom went up. One boy said his mother had been beaten to death the year before. “The teachers didn’t know. They don’t ask,” she said. “No one knows what to say in a situation like that. Then you wonder why the kid causes trouble in class.”

On Thursday, at a conference on children’s grief, I watched Jones share her music therapy techniques with teachers, social workers and counselors.

She had volunteers from the audience role-play children, displaying the routes that music can take:

A tough teenager can use rap lyrics to reveal emotions that are hard to claim. A silent preschooler can signal distress with the vigorous shake of a tambourine. A withdrawn child can learn to trust by becoming part of a handbell troupe. A hurting child can learn to self-soothe by humming Grandma’s favorite tune.

Music isn’t magic, Jones made clear. “Recovery is a process, not an event…. But music is a way for us to begin to listen to what children feel.”

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Jones is the assistant director of the Center for Grief and Loss for Children at the mental health agency Hathaway-Sycamores, which began hosting the grief conference 10 years ago.

Joan Cochran, the center’s executive director, financed the first conference with her credit card. “They said no one would come,” she recalled. Twenty people showed up. That was enough to keep her going. She had worked with hospice patients, and seen children overlooked in the mourning process.

This year, more than 500 people attended the Pasadena conference, where workshop topics ran the gamut from bereavement rituals to therapist burnout.

“People are desperate for answers,” said Deanne Tilton Durfee, director of the county’s Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, which helped organize the conference. “They want to know how to do the right thing for children. And they want to know how to manage that without damaging their own lives.”

Jones offered an answer in her workshop. “You have to feel the joy inside yourself to be able to reach kids,” she told the crowd, waving her arms as music filled the conference room.

By the end of the session they were on their feet, gyrating to a James Brown tune.

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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.