An Open Letter to Every Kid Who Has Lost a Parent

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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.

 

30 Days Later – Sheryl Sandberg – Kicking the S*#$! Out of Plan B

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Sandberg_juneAdjusting to the new normal, Sheryl Sandberg shared a heartfelt post today:

I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was “It is going to be okay.” That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me.

Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, “You and your children will find happiness again,” my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good” comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple “How are you?”—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with “How are you today?” When I am asked “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear “How are you today?” I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.

Survival mode. One day at a time. Most surviving spouses refer to this as the “numb phase”. Some can’t remember entire weeks or months during this time. Or, paramount to sadness can often be the very real feeling of suffocating, so powerful overwhelmed with the day to day challenges of living.

I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning. In the last thirty days, I have heard from too many women who lost a spouse and then had multiple rugs pulled out from under them. Some lack support networks and struggle alone as they face emotional distress and financial insecurity. It seems so wrong to me that we abandon these women and their families when they are in greatest need.

Most families are dual income, the death of a spouse means the surviving parent inherits double the financial responsibilities, the household maintenance, the carpool, the parental duties – all the while navigating their own grief.

I have learned to ask for help—and I have learned how much help I need.

We hope you, and anyone parenting a child or teen whose mother or father has died, will enroll in the Tradition Program. It isn’t therapy but it IS therapeutic based on clinically identified needs for healthy bereavement. Read more about the Tradition Program HERE.

I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

Thank you, Sheryl, for sharing this. You are changing the social norms around grief. Honoring the past. Celebrating the present. Building the future. That’s what happens when you #GiveGriefWords #NoShame

On behalf of all the children and teens whose mother or father has died, thank you, Family Lives On Foundation.

To read Sheryl’s entire post, please click HERE


PAY IT FORWARD – DONATE! Family Lives On Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization entirely funded through charitable donations. Our services are provided at no cost to the families. If you would like to help support the grieving children and families we serve, please donate here.

#WCW – The Smart Girls Who #GiveGriefWords


Whats your grief

Eleanor Haley and Litsa Williams are the founders and creative geniuses behind www.whatsyourgrief.com – this week’s Women Crush Wednesday!

Here’s just a few reasons we’re huge fans:

  1. Work with grieving families.Their day jobs were, and still primarily are, working with and providing bereavement support for donor families and the painful decision making process within in organ procurement organizations.
  1. Created a website WhatsYourGriefAfter each experienced the death of a parent, they sought support and information on the Internet but “we both found very little support, and then as we moved into the professional world of supporting grievers, we continued to recognize how limited the resources were for 20- and 30-somethings who were grieving. ” “We started our site when we were both 30-ish, and a huge focus was to make sure it was relatable to younger grievers.”
  1. Graciously generous with content. Their creative content is now shared by hundreds of organizations to promote awareness and provide tremendously helpful information about death, grief, loss and trauma. This has immeasurable value and is NOT a feasible expense for many under-resourced support groups or centers. 95% of their creative content and thoughtful posts are provided at no cost. (Two small publications are available at a minimal fee.)
  1. Non Profit and Pro Bono work. They work with the homeless and population living below the poverty line. The trainings and seminars for the underserved are impactful and therapeutic.This link shares the references shared at a national conference about their work with the homeless population. Here’s a creative prezi they made to support the verbal presentation.
  1. Shared learning. They have, at their own expense, attended national conferences and symposiums sharing their data in presentations:
    • Substance Abuse and Grief (Substance Abuse as a Negative Coping Behavior)
    • Grief & Loss Below the Poverty Line
    • Growing Your Reach Online: Using the Internet to Expand YourGrief Practice

And, the really creative hashtag #WouldHaveLovedThis to share how we remember our loved one and keep their memories alive with little, everyday things.

So, from all of us here at Family Lives On, we are so grateful for your creativity and passion! TYFBA – Thank You For Being Awesome!

PS – We think Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party should know about these Smart Girls. If you agree, tweet “Meet the women who #GiveGriefWords @smrtgrls @whatsyourgrief #smartgirls”


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. Traditions provide a more natural context for communication and connection, and help children to maintain a healthy emotional bond.  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.

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


Sheryl Sandberg, Finding Strength in Membership

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Kelly Corrigan, in her moving video essay “Transcending: Words on Women and Strength” describes how, when faced with adversity, “we will rally around, and hold each other up.” The comments to Sheryl’s post from so many other members share personal experiences, support and learning. I’m overwhelmed by the powerful human connection made possible by a virtual medium.

Late last night Sheryl Sandberg commented on a beautiful post Laura Wellington wrote a about the challenges faced by the members of “The Exclusive Club Sheryl Sandberg Never Wanted to Join“.

Laura Wellington is right – this is a club that no one wants to join. Laura, I am sorry for your loss – and my heart goes out to the many women around the world who have experienced this loss too. I learned from your advice and I am sharing it here so others can learn too. My condolences to you – and my gratitude.

Laura quotes the numbers of others facing the price of this club membership:

There are approximately 29,000 other women under the age of 49 and living in the United States that can claim the same. They make up an exclusive club none of us ever wanted to become part of. We became members anyway and so did our kids.

And shares wisdom:

1. Take time to grieve…

2. It is important that your children know Dave, even if he can’t be around to share.

3. Establish traditions that keep Dave in your children’s lives throughout their youth. 

4. Kids need time alone with you and you with them.

5. Others will assume that you and your kids are feeling the loss exactly like them.

6. Take baby steps into your future and realize that you will make mistakes along the way.

7. Cry when you feel like it.

8. Dave was an important chapter in your life but not the end of your story.

9. Dave’s love for you and yours for him that will allow you to love again.

10. Finally, honor his life by living yours well and teach your children to do the same.

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)


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. Traditions provide a more natural context for communication and connection, and help children to maintain a healthy emotional bond.  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.

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

Lean In to Mourning Clothes, My Wish for Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg coupleFor all the savvy wisdom you have amplified, I wish the Victorian practice of mourning clothes still existed. Anyone seeing you would be reminded to give you a wider emotional berth. And knowing that you had the space, you might allow yourself to lean in to vulnerability and grief.

Particularly in your position of power and authority, it would be easy for those around you to follow our grief avoidant cultural norms. A outward sign of your inner grief could encourage those closest to you to be more patient, to reach out to make you feel a little less alone in your sorrow. Strangers would know to be gentler with you, not to take your distraction or brusqueness personally.

 “Consciously remembering those we have loved and lost is the key that opens the heart, allows us to love in new ways” – Thomas Attig

The memorial service is over, but the mourning isn’t. There won’t be a return to normal, or to business as usual.

Chris Cavalieri, Executive Director, Family Lives On Foundation


“Give sorrow words” – Shakespeare. Sheryl Sandberg so eloquently did so on Facebook.

I want to thank all of our friends and family for the outpouring of love over the past few days. It has been extraordinary – and each story you have shared will help keep Dave alive in our hearts and memories.

I met Dave nearly 20 years ago when I first moved to LA. He became my best friend. He showed me the internet for the first time, planned fun outings, took me to temple for the Jewish holidays, introduced me to much cooler music than I had ever heard.

We had 11 truly joyful years of the deepest love, happiest marriage, and truest partnership that I could imagine… He gave me the experience of being deeply understood, truly supported and completely and utterly loved – and I will carry that with me always. Most importantly, he gave me the two most amazing children in the world.

Dave was my rock. When I got upset, he stayed calm. When I was worried, he said it would be ok. When I wasn’t sure what to do, he figured it out. He was completely dedicated to his children in every way – and their strength these past few days is the best sign I could have that Dave is still here with us in spirit.

Dave and I did not get nearly enough time together. But as heartbroken as I am today, I am equally grateful. Even in these last few days of completely unexpected hell – the darkest and saddest moments of my life – I know how lucky I have been. If the day I walked down that aisle with Dave someone had told me that this would happen – that he would be taken from us all in just 11 years – I would still have walked down that aisle. Because 11 years of being Dave Goldberg’s wife, and 10 years of being a parent with him is perhaps more luck and more happiness than I could have ever imagined. I am grateful for every minute we had.

As we put the love of my life to rest today, we buried only his body. His spirit, his soul, his amazing ability to give is still with it. It lives on in the stories people are sharing of how he touched their lives, in the love that is visible in the eyes of our family and friends, in the spirit and resilience of our children. Things will never be the same – but the world is better for the years my beloved husband lived.


Family Lives On Foundation

Family Lives On Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports children whose mother or father has died. 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.

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.