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.

Tradition Tuesday – Jozy

Jozy & Mom

Jozy remembers dad’s love for music – he was a hobby musician and listened to many kinds of music. In particular, he loved The Who and Coldplay. Every year, the family would attend The Bridge School Benefit Concert, held by Neil Young to benefit children with special abilities. It was one of dad’s favorite events of the whole year.

blanket“Thank you so much!!!! We had such an amazing time at the Bridge School concert this year! Remembering being there over the years and enjoying the concert. Was really amazing!”

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.

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.

 

8 Important Things that Children Never Forget.

smiling cute kid_thumb[3]Re-Posted from Parent and Child Magazine

My twin daughters, Anna and Emma, are 16 years old, but they still love to relive and retell stories from their early childhood. Emma often asks to hear about how she greeted everyone with her first word, “cookie,” rather than with “hello.” Anna recounts the time she was struck with a shovel full of ice and had to go to the emergency room. “I remember being there!”; she says. “I remember lying on the bed and hearing you go, ‘Ohhh!’ The doctor was a woman, and everyone came to visit me.” She was only 2 at the time! What will your child remember from her earliest years? And what meaning do these specific memories have for your child?

For one thing, memories connect our pasts, our present, and our futures — and they connect us to one another. Our children’s memories can also lend insight into their rich inner lives, and can help them develop what Eric Neisser, founder of the Rutgers Special Education Clinic, calls “the extended knowledge of oneself across time.” Knowledge of oneself is power, and you acquire it by looking inside and at your external experiences. It is one of the ways we find meaning in our lives.

What Children Remember

Jerome Bruner, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, suggests that retelling events is a means for children to use narrative to reconstruct their life experiences. Bruner considers storytelling the most powerful way that people organize experience. The youngest “reminiscers” rely on others to help them create a description of the past. The language that accompanies visual imagery and experiences makes them that much stronger in our minds.

Several years ago, I embarked on a study with a colleague at the Early Childhood Education Center at the University of Vermont to capture children’s salient memories. We wanted to find out what the 5 year olds remembered at their school. We hoped to gain insight from them in order to make school a better place for our students. We wanted their memories to be part of the history of our school and to convey what had challenged them and what had brought them joy. We hoped the memories would include some of what the childrenÂ’s parents and teachers held dear. What we discovered about childrenÂ’s memories was even more profound.

We explained to the children that we wanted to help them make stories (visual memoirs) of their years at school before they left for kindergarten. We asked them how they thought they could tell a story in pictures that related what they remembered about life at school. Initially, the children met outside under a shady tree, and their teacher read stories about adults recalling moments from their own childhoods. Then everyone shared memories from school with one another.

Over the course of the project, the children spent time talking about the past and drawing the things they would “never forget.” We went on walks and took cameras with no film in them so children could practice looking at objects, places, and people through a viewfinder. Soon, the children were ready to do some photography. Throughout the process, we were constantly reflecting on the stories they spoke about.

Two hundred and eighty-eight drawings and photographs later, we noticed certain themes running through the memories the children had represented in images. We searched for common threads and patterns, and what we found became the title of the project: Children Remember Important Things.

8 Important Things

In the end we culled eight areas of memories that make an impression on young children. Here’s what children will never forget:

Being dropped off at school. The most frequent memory that children reported was the experience of being dropped off at school each morning. Many children had rituals they shared with their mothers and fathers. For example, Collin remembered this: “Mommy and I would say goodbye with a hug and say, ‘I love you more than anything.’ Then, Mommy would kiss the birds on the door to the center.” In many cases the children wanted their portrait taken saying goodbye to Mom or Dad in their particular way.
Their natural environment. Children generated stories, memories, and rich conversations with one another about classroom pets, gardens, the nearby woods, and the fountain on the University green, where they enjoyed playing freely. They also mentioned places where they sought refuge from storms. The children dramatically retold stories about changes in the weather, the excitement of big winds and rainbows, and the nervous, surprised, even frenzied emotions those changes produced.

Jumping, swinging, climbing. Children often focused on the experiences of active play, such as running, jumping, swinging, climbing, and playing hockey (which is a major pastime in Vermont and a source of real-life superheroes). A typical morning greeting among these children was, “Hey! Want to be on my team today?” Some of these memories included working and playing together and the necessity of having order, rules, and leaders.

Being good at something. The children conveyed a desire to capture images of things they had created. These memories highlight a sense of competence with processes and representation. They wanted to be viewed and known by others as being “good at something”: sewing, papermaking, block-building, painting, sculpting with clay, writing, or playing favorite games.

People I like, and who like me. Friendships are important developmentally, but it was deeply moving to listen as children described having connected with others who shared their interests, who they looked forward to spending time with, who they trusted, and who they imagined would always be part of their lives. They wanted to photograph not only the people they loved, but also the people they knew liked them in return and the people who had been kind to them.

The babies and toddlers. The children wanted to leave a legacy for the younger children they had grown fond of, or, in some cases, for the younger siblings that they would be leaving behind. They remembered eating with them, watching them grow, and understanding what they like to do. Five-year-old Finley put it most eloquently: “I want to take of picture of Rowan so he’ll remember me when I’m gone.”

Being part of the community. There were a lot of feelings the kids wanted to express about the connections they formed with people in the community. This included teachers, people on the campus who had shared food with them, people who allowed them to visit special places, and the bus drivers they were friendly with.

Places and structures. Places were often unforgettable to the children. They documented buildings and destinations that represented areas of meaning for them: the first potty they used, the cribs they slept in, and the slides in the toddler room they ventured down.
Strengthen Your Child’s Memories

Talking with your child — especially thinking out loud about what is happening, what you are doing, and why — goes a long way toward building language skills, which play an important role in remembering. We can also help by narrating as we play with children, thereby offering them a context in which to remember the lessons that play can offer.

It’s also beneficial to revisit favorite books repeatedly and to tell stories from your own life. One of the important things we offer children when we talk reflectively with them is the process of making connections between the moment they are in and previous experiences.

Looking at photographs, home movies, and past schoolwork provides opportunities for talking about what these moments represent. You can ask your child, “What feelings did you have then? How do you feel about it now? Why was this moment important?” We save so many things that our children make at school — drawings, writings, collages, photographs, and more. This adds tremendous value to the children’s experiences. It’s also helpful to write a brief anecdote that your child shares with you on the back of drawings and photographs to aid in keeping the events in our minds and reminding us of the context.

We can learn so much from understanding what moments, events, places, and people are important to young children. We should be mindful of how we say goodbye to our children and give time to creating rituals and traditions. We should find ways to ensure that our children have opportunities to spend time in nature and connect with a variety of important places that they can revisit throughout their lives. Supporting our children’s early friendships — and the enjoyment they feel from being social with other people — is an important way we help them to know and remember that they are loved.

Share your feelings and your point of view as well. Telling stories about yourself is more than just interesting to your children — through your stories, they learn that you believe it is important to give voice to memories, impressions, feelings, and events that may otherwise be held inside and eventually forgotten. They learn how to recount their memories and, more importantly, that you care and expect them to talk about their lives and what matters to them the most.

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

 

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.

Bella Thorne Explains Sharing Her Father’s Death (“I couldn’t cry”) in Her New Book

video-undefined-23C8E4C900000578-356_636x358By Yahoo Celebrity Staff

Don’t be fooled by her willowy frame: Bella Thorne is a beast. With successful careers in film, television, and music — not to mention nearly 6 million followers on Twitter, 4 million on Instagram, and 9 million on Facebook — the 17-year-old has become quite the influencer. And now she’s about to take over the publishing world, too.

Thorne’s first young adult novel, Autumn Falls, arrives in stores this week. If you’re not a Bellarina or a Bellarino who has been counting down the days until the book’s release, you should know that the teen did what the best authors three times her age (and more) do: write about what they know. And Bella knows loss (her father died in an auto accident in 2007). And challenges (she is dyslexic). And bullying. And romance.

Bella and her Dad

Bella and her Dad

The book — the first of a trilogy — follows a young lady named Autumn Falls and kicks off with the shocking and sudden death of her dad in a car crash. Soon after, Autumn, her mother, and her brother move out of state and she’s forced to start at a new school. New friends and new boys abound, but so does a fresh new rumor mill… and it’s brutal. Through it all, Autumn writes her wishes in a journal left to her by her father — to a potentially magical effect.

Thorne also knows honesty, which was probably the biggest takeaway from our lengthy chat with her about the book. Bella was open about her work with ghostwriter Elise Allen, and even more open when the discussion turned to her experience with losing her father and her family being taunted about it.

What was your writing process like?

I’ll draft out some stuff and write down some ideas where I want the story to go chapter by chapter. I’ll hand it to my ghostwriter and we’ll talk about the things that really need to be portrayed by these characters. … We try to have something happen in every chapter. You know what your main thing is, then you kind of write the story around it.

How much did you really collaborate with your ghostwriter?

We work together very well. She’s amazing and really knows what she’s doing. She’ll send back to me a draft and then I’ll make more notes and send it back to her. We keep that process for awhile and then we’ll send it to the editor and see what they think and get notes back.

There are so many parallels between your life and Autumn’s, particularly in relation to the death of her father. It felt a bit like you laid it all out there.

Exactly. I laid it all out there. … When my father first died, the day I heard it, I couldn’t cry. It was very odd. You’re still in a state of shock, I think. That’s kind of where Autumn is. There are times where I’m completely normal even to this day and I’m just like, “Oh, that light post looks nice. I wonder if Daddy would like that light post.” And then, all of a sudden, I realize I’m crying…

A lot of what happened to [Autumn], like the outside forces, too. There’s a rumor that she’s upset about and when she wakes up and hears [her father’s] voice — those are things in the book that happened to me and I wanted Autumn to feel that pain.

That stuff couldn’t have been very easy to write. Were there tears shed in the process?

Oh my God, there were so many.

You mentioned the rumor a classmate spreads that put the blame for her father’s death squarely on Autumn’s shoulders. What’s the real-life version of that incident?

The rumor happened a little bit differently to my family — not to me but to my family. It was so messed up and I just felt that it was a good thing to write in the book because people can be so evil.

How does some of that compare to some of the things you see written about you online now?

It’s just 10 times worse. I mean, it’s just my life. I’m not in public high school like Autumn is. … I realized that people can read whatever they want and they’re going to choose to believe it because they want to, not because it’s the truth, but because they want to believe you’re doing this or that. If they want to believe it, there’s no changing their minds, and that’s the same thing in high school.

Kyler Leeds is Autumn’s big celebrity crush. Who is your Kyler Leeds?

If I was in the time of the ’80s when Billy Squier was really big, he would have been my Kyler Leeds. I think he’s amazing and I love his music videos even though they are so much older.

One book down, two to go. Is that scary?

When Autumn Falls comes out and does well, I’ll be less worried. When I get feedback from my followers and they say how much they love it and this part inspired them and this would happen in their life and “Oh, Autumn went through this. So did I. I loved that you put it in there,” that’s when I’ll be happy.

I just really, really hope that everyone loves it and is like, “Wow, this girl isn’t just the Disney Channel girl. This is a girl that had hard times. This is a girl that has been through a lot of stuff and is still standing strong, still here.” I really hope people see that.

Annabella Avery “Bella” Thorne[1] (born October 8, 1997) is an American actress, singer, model, and dancer. She is best known for her roles as Ruthy Spivey in the TV series My Own Worst Enemy, Tancy Henrickson in the fourth season of Big Love, and CeCe Jones on the Disney Channel series Shake It Up. She appeared in the 2014 film Blended as Hilary / “Larry”.

Read more: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/bella-thorne-explains-sharing-her-fathers-death-and-more-in-new-book-20141311#ixzz3LJXTJi6l

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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.

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.

 

 

‘If the cancer takes me, can you take my son?’: Hospital nurse answers mom’s prayers

Wesley and his mom, Tricia Somers, share a happy moment on the beach.

Wesley and his mom, Tricia Somers, share a happy moment on the beach.

Re-Posted from Today.Com

by A. Pawlowski

When doctors told Tricia Somers that her cancer had spread, she turned to her nurse with an urgent question: “Can you raise my son if I die? If the cancer takes me, can you take my son?”

The two women had known each other for just a few weeks, but had formed a bond that would change both their lives. They first crossed paths in the spring at the Community General Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Somers, 40, had started feeling stomach pain, so doctors ordered a CT scan, which revealed spots on her liver and a tumor in her abdomen. It turned out to be epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a very rare vascular cancer.

Somers immediately thought about her 8-year-old son Wesley. She was a single mom, with no family who could take care of him if the worst happened. Her parents were both dead and her only sibling lived out of state. So did Wesley’s father, who was not a big presence in the boy’s life, she said.

Somers was in pain again and hospitalized in March. Tricia Seaman, an oncology nurse, walked in one night, introduced herself and told her patient it would be easy to remember her first name since it was the same as hers.

“I remember when she came into the room, it was just an overwhelming feeling I had over me. It’s really hard to understand – it was just a warmth,” Somers said. “I felt calm, I felt at peace, I felt like this woman is going to be the one who’s going to take care of me.”

Tricia Seaman, left, agreed to become the guardian of her patient Tricia Somers’ son when Somers loses her battle with cancer.
As the two Tricias chatted, Somers talked about her son Wesley, while Seaman noticed she was frequently on the phone trying to make sure the boy was taken care of. It was clear Somers didn’t have many people in the area to help, the soft-spoken nurse recalled.

“I felt very sorry for her because I could see her situation was quite serious and also it had to be completely overwhelming knowing you had a little boy and you were in the hospital,” Seaman said.

She was not assigned to Somers after that night, but she kept checking in on her whenever she was at work and they always chatted for a few minutes. On the day she was discharged, Somers told the nurse that her test results came back and they were not good. The cancer had spread to her abdomen wall.

“She said, ‘I’m really glad you stopped by because I have something I need to ask you,’” Seaman, 45, recalled. “She said, ‘If I die, will you raise my son?’”

Seaman, a mom of three teenage girls and a 10-year-old boy, talked it over with her husband. It seemed like fate: The couple had been thinking about adopting a child and they were approved to become foster parents last fall, just as Somers was diagnosed with cancer. Their son Noah was feeling outnumbered by his sisters and the family was ready to welcome another boy.

“We need to try to help this woman,” Seaman recalled her husband Dan saying. “We just need to follow whatever it is God wants us to do here.”

Somers and Wesley visited the family at Easter, and then again on Mother’s Day. In May, she began receiving chemotherapy and was having a tough time: She was disoriented, dehydrated and her legs were so swollen she could hardly walk. Doctors told her she couldn’t go home by herself any more, so she asked the Seamans to take in her son right then. The Seamans invited both of them to move in with them.

The two families have been living together ever since. Doctors told Somers she had as little as a few weeks left to live, but surrounded by the warmth and care of the Seamans, she’s gotten stronger.

“She’s just being loved by a family and she’s a part of a family, and that makes a huge difference,” Seaman said.

“Ultimately, this family has saved my life because I was told in May that I may have a month, and I’m still here,” Somers added.

Tricia Seaman, left, agreed to become the guardian of her patient Tricia Somers' son when Somers loses her battle with cancer.

Tricia Seaman, left, agreed to become the guardian of her patient Tricia Somers’ son when Somers loses her battle with cancer.

Meanwhile, the children have bonded. Wesley and Noah love all the same things: Legos, Marvel super heroes and Xbox, Seaman said. The boys sleep in bunk beds in Noah’s room and have become inseparable, Somers added. Wesley, an only child, loves the siblings he never had before.

The Seamans have made arrangements to become Wesley’s legal guardians when Somers dies.

“My son is well aware that when I pass on, he is welcome to stay here. And he knows that Dan and Tricia will be his guardians. They’ve explained to him that they’ll never be mommy and daddy, but they’re sure going to try to be close,” Somers said.

“They’ve answered my prayers. It’s wonderful, it’s absolutely wonderful.”

Follow A. Pawlowski on Google+ and Twitter.

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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 Power of Friendship Over Grief

Lee Bloom and Melanie Woodruff take friendship to a new level.

Lee Bloom and Melanie Woodruff take friendship to a new level.

Re-Posted from Oprah Magazine.

Bob Woodruff and David Bloom, two well-known TV journalists, and their wives, Lee and Melanie, had that rare thing, a perfect two-couple friendship. But when both men became casualties of the war they were covering, Lee and Melanie learned the amazing extent to which the worst of times can bring out the best in a friend.

By Nancy Doyle Palmer

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Melanie Bloom (left) and Lee Woodruff. “Spot on, it was like we had known each other our whole lives,” says Melanie of the night they met.

Melanie Bloom was running late, as usual. Her husband called from their table at the black-tie charity dinner she was racing to. “Hurry up,” he said. “You’re about to meet your new best friend.”

The Blooms were seated with Bob and Lee Woodruff. “Spot on, it was like we had known each other our whole lives,” says Melanie of the night nine years ago in Washington, D.C. “Instant rapport,” Lee agrees. The two women rearranged the chairs so they could sit next to each other while their husbands, David Bloom, an NBC White House correspondent, and Bob Woodruff, the ABC justice correspondent, were left to fend for themselves.

David and Melanie Bloom in the early years.

David and Melanie Bloom in the early years.

Melanie and Lee had a lot in common. Three years apart—Mel was 35 and Lee 38 when they met—both were married to up-and-coming, extremely driven network TV correspondents. And each had two children, with more on the way—amazingly, both ending up with twin girls. It may have been their differences, however, that made them work so well together. “In our dynamic duo, I was the Cagney to Mel’s Lacey, the Rhoda to her Mary, the Rizzo to her doe-eyed Sandy,” Lee writes in her new book, In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing, coauthored with Bob. “There was an innocence about Mel that made me want to protect her.” While Lee worked in public relations, Melanie put her energies into volunteering at her girls’ school. “Lee is an adrenaline junkie and thrives on controlled chaos,” says Melanie. “She’s happiest multitasking, rushing off to her son’s soccer game, then on to a dinner party, adjusting her daughter’s hearing aids—and keep in mind she’s been up since 4 A.M. My idea of bliss is a snow day when we can turn off the phones and hunker down.” Within each marriage, there was a similar yin-yang. When Bob Woodruff is asked the best way to describe how he and Melanie differed from David and Lee, he answers, “Uh, we’re mellow?”

Bob and Lee Woodruff

Bob and Lee Woodruff

Living only ten minutes from each other, the couples soon spent as much time together as possible, playing tennis and games of Taboo, gathering for family dinners. With their husbands increasingly on the road, says Melanie, “here was someone who knew what it was like to be alone, to handle life decisions and tuck in everyone at night without having him there.”

Although the Woodruffs relocated to London in 2000 because Bob was working as a foreign correspondent, two years later, the families reunited in New York City when both men became anchors—David at NBC’s Weekend Today show and Bob for ABC’s weekend World News Tonight. As hard-core journalists, however, they still shared a passion for covering challenging stories in the field, and when the United States went to war in Iraq, each said yes to becoming embedded with American troops for their respective networks. Again Melanie and Lee found themselves together many weekends, this time in their suburban Westchester homes. In an eerie and tragic symmetry, two calls in the dead of night would change their lives and bind them together forever.

David Bloom in Iraq.

David Bloom in Iraq.

The first call came to Lee, on April 6, 2003, soon after midnight. It was from Elena Nachmanoff, a vice president of NBC News, who hadn’t been able to get hold of Melanie and knew she and Lee were friends. “The first thing I said to Lee,” Elena recalls, “was, ‘Your husband is fine, but something is wrong with David Bloom and we need to speak to Melanie.'” David had suffered a pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis that developed while riding cramped in his “Bloom Mobile”—a specially outfitted tank he’d conceived with satellite capability to broadcast from the front lines as troops began to close in during the 2003 assault on Baghdad. Lee dialed Melanie’s private number, woke her up, and told her something had happened to David and to expect a call from NBC. She also told her she was on the way. As Lee made the 20-minute drive to her friend’s house, Elena called back, and Lee asked what she was about to walk into. “Oh, Lee,” Elena said. “He’s dead.”

Inside, Melanie was lost in shock. “I literally didn’t believe what had happened,” she says now, “but I have this comforting image of Lee coming right up to me, taking my face in her hands with those green eyes of hers almost glowing, willing me to get a grip, pulling me back into reality, insisting, ‘This is real, David has died, this is going to be okay, and you’re going to be all right.'”

The Bloom Family in 2002.

The Bloom Family in 2002.

Shifting into high gear, Lee took on the persona she calls the General. Elena remembers it well: “She told Melanie, ‘We’re going to make calls, figure out what you’re going to tell your family, his family, the kids. Then we will break down, and get through this together.’ And she didn’t let go of her for weeks and months. She never stopped.”

When Bob Woodruff reached Melanie that first night from Iraq, she wept and asked him to come home. “I thought she had the right to ask,” says Lee. “It had never occurred to me. But she was petrified for him, and she just wanted all of us to be a family, and see him and hug him, and for her girls to be able to see him.” Bob left his military unit and immediately returned to New York, where days later he served as a pallbearer for David’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Hours after David’s death, Bob discovered a message he’d left him, relayed from the ABC news desk. “Tell him to stay safe,” David had said, “and keep his head down.”

As the inevitable quiet came in the wake of David’s death—days that Melanie now recalls brought “a fresh hell”—Lee was there, too. But the intense periods of grief eventually gave way to the gentler, lighter moments reminiscent of the early days of their friendship.

Bob Woodruff in

Bob Woodruff in Iraq.

They were sharing one of their long and easy phone calls almost three years later, on January 28, 2006, as Lee sat by the pool at Disney World watching her kids swim. She told Melanie she could see the Bloom family’s favorite hotel at the resort just across the water. Bob was off in Iraq again. By now he’d been named coanchor of ABC’s World News Tonight after the untimely death of Peter Jennings, and weeks into the job, he was on an assignment that had him riding with the Iraqi army in an American-Iraqi convoy.

Lee and Melanie finished chatting and eventually went to bed. This time when the phone rang in the middle of the night, it was for Melanie. ABC, she was told, was trying to reach Lee. After providing the name of her friend’s hotel, Melanie waited 20 minutes to call her. By then Lee had received word that her husband and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, had been injured when a roadside bomb exploded next to the tank they were riding atop of. Both had suffered head injuries. Bob’s was particularly serious. The men were to be airlifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Bob Woodruff after his injury.

Bob Woodruff after his injury.

Hours later the two women were on a plane flying across the Atlantic. “Lee and I huddled together, holding hands, talking,” says Melanie, “and I told her, ‘If Bob doesn’t make it, look at me, because I am the worst-case scenario. I made it, and you will make it.”

In the days and weeks ahead, Lee would watch her husband hover between life and death in a drug-induced coma to reduce brain swelling and undergo numerous operations. She would stay by his side at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was moved, and hear prognoses from doctors that included severe and possibly permanent impairment. Melanie’s constant support and presence during this time, Lee says, was “her glorious payback,” although the help was difficult for her to accept.

“David’s death was hugely consuming,” Lee explains. “I took on my role 100 percent, and it’s one of the things I am most proud of in my life. But Melanie’s was a clean loss. He was gone, like a limb. When Bob was hurt, there was this hideous great unknown. What would he be like? How much would he get back and what would he look like? At least with Mel, I could say, ‘This is going to hurt more than anything you’ll ever go through, but time will be a healer. You and your girls will survive.’ Looking at Bob, I couldn’t believe anyone who told me that I wouldn’t be living in some hell running to the nursing home visiting my mentally disabled husband with four kids in tow.”

Melanie understood all too well, but Lee had already taught her what to say. “I replayed her own words right back to her,” Melanie says. “In the year following David’s death, Lee was so constantly optimistic, and that’s hard to swallow. You want to say, ‘You don’t even know what I’m feeling,’ but she was absolutely right. So when I was telling her she’d be okay and she said, ‘I don’t know that,’ I could answer, ‘You were right in my case, and I know I’m right in yours.'”

The Woodruff Family Recently.

Then on March 6, in what can only be described as a miracle, Bob woke up in his hospital bed with Lee by his side. “Hey, sweetie,” he said, “where have you been?”

Today, after months of rehabilitation, therapy, and hard work, Bob Woodruff is back at ABC News, and except for continuing but improving difficulties with memory, word retrieval, and fatigue, he is himself again. He still remembers, after the blast, seeing his own body from above, bathed in a strong white light. “In 2003 David approached the line of living and dying and continued forward into death,” he says, “and I entered the same line and somehow bounced back. We were equally about as close as possible to the two different directions, and I’m still kind of shocked by it, why one family was spared and not the other.”

Some friendships might not have survived the glaring disparity in outcome. “To be honest,” Lee says, “I think Mel felt nothing but joy. I know there would have been some black piece buried deep in my heart, that I would feel bitter sometimes, but I know she didn’t.”

Melanie agrees that bitterness and jealousy have never crossed her mind. She does recall, though, how she felt at the first sight of Bob in the hospital in Germany. “When I saw the extent of his injuries, I just crumbled, and wanted to throw my arms around him. And in that one moment, I wished it could have been Dave, and there could have been this hope. I had a vision of David in my arms when his body was in his casket. It was really very profound, all these emotions jostling together, and I just collapsed and had a good cry.” But, she adds, “it would have been too cruel for Bob to be taken as well. He is so important to us, too. The hardest thing for a child is to lose a parent, and Bob has been a real father figure to our girls out of his love and friendship with David.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw, a close friend of both families, was riding his bike last summer when he ran into Bob outside a favorite local restaurant. “Bob was looking well and just standing there waiting for Mel, Lee, and the kids to come have dinner together,” he says, “and I thought, ‘This is the way life is supposed to be—’it had almost a fifties quality to it. These were two really attractive couples, with Lee and David as the alphas, charging through life and having fun doing it, and David is suddenly taken out of the equation, Lee and Bob move in and fill the vacuum as best they can, then Bob gets hurt and Mel moves in…sort of a relay team of life.”

Melanie and Lee certainly know they can depend on each other. “We have walked through fire together in a way no friends should have to go through,” says Lee. “If we were close before this, we are unbreakable now. We’ll probably end up in a nursing home together. Having a friend like Mel takes away the fear of old age, takes away the fear of ever being alone.”

Nancy Doyle Palmer is a screenwriter who lives in Washington, D.C., and writes for Washingtonian Magazine.

From the April 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

For more on the Woodruff’s Foundation for wounded veterans see: The Bob Woodruff Foundation. You will find the Woodruffs #1 NY Times Bestselling Book, Here: In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and 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 and check out our new 30-second PSA Here: The Family Lives On PB & J PSA

 

9 Things I Learned In The Year After My Mother Passed

mothers_day_ukRe-Posted from Elite Daily.

by Alyssa Samson

Scars: They are a testament to injury, proof of survival and, at times, as indiscernible as a line etched delicately along the crevice of an eye. Although not all mar the physical appearance, they are all there, emotionally and mentally etched upon the skin like a latticework of fragmented memories and barely-remembered moments.

As badges of both honor and dishonor, scars are forever, branded on the heart, and as time continues, we soldier on, somehow stronger.

It was a Sunday. November 3, 2013 inflicted a wound like none other, reaching inside of me and tearing out what was left of my beating heart. It was the day I shattered to a million pieces without a hope in the world to piece it back together.

It was the day I lost my mother.

I’m not sure how one describes the jumble of emotions, the racket of wailings or the enduring isolation that follows when a mother passes. The very fabric of life seems to buckle and cave in from the sheer burden of it all. Sense no longer works as a blanket of indifference that separates you from the raw emotions and delight of life.

Breathing is an effort. Organs go on strike. And then, life lurches forward with a momentum so strong that it defies physics. Suddenly, I found myself lost and alone, suffocating in a world of white noise.

It didn’t matter if I was in a crowd of people or surrounded by those I had left. I felt a visceral separation and an undercurrent of another seething emotion.

I was angry. That day had taken my biggest supporter and my number-one fan from me, and I wanted to give up. Words fail to exhaustively articulate the painful parting of mother and daughter… or having to write your mother’s eulogy at age 24… or the knowledge that you’ll never hear her voice again.

Or, the desperation of listening to every voicemail you ever saved on repeat, just to capture a last lingering moment with her.

Losing someone so significant, inspirational and influential is an experience no textbook or novel could begin to teach me to comprehend. Now, as a year without her approaches, I count my moments by breaths and no longer by hours or minutes.

As I look back on the breaths I have survived, struggling to cross that bridge of adversity and pain, I have figured out how to survive. Here’s what I’ve learned:

I learned the world won’t stop for you.

There are many days that still leave me defeated, but life isn’t a video game. You can’t pause the moment or rewind time; you are not given an infinite number of lives.

You are given one life, and the world will continue to move on, despite the fact you may feel like your whole world has stopped. The only way to heal is to keep moving.

I learned your troubles will not always be at the forefront of everyone else’s mind.

When you are fighting your own internal battles, it seems surreal when no one else notices the torment raging just below your surface. You may feel as though you are screaming and railing against the bars of life, but still, no one will hear you.

Through this experience, I learned people will move on quicker than you will. Sympathy is fleeting when you are not the one with an injured wing — and that’s okay.

I learned love knows no boundaries.

I used to fear that moving away from those I loved most would hinder my relationships and somehow fade with physical distance. Now, I fear the unrequited stream of communication with the person I love most will cause those precious memories to slip through my fingers, like a wisp of smoke.

But love — unconditional love, at that — knows no boundaries; it will never be lost, regardless of the distance in time and space.

I learned that though people can’t be replaced, you can still find peace.

Justifying death can put you on a journey with a revolving door. It is endless and forever spinning. No amount of begging, crying or yelling could possibly right the wrong you feel.

While it will take a lifetime to recover from the emptiness I feel, I have taken a step down the path of self-preservation to find peace within myself.

I learned there is strength in perception.

You could spend years wondering why the world chose to plague you with misery and misfortune or you can pick up your head and see the heartbreak around you. Someone else may be willing to give everything to have the gifts you overlook in your own life.

When sadness and despair begin to close in around me, I find myself redirecting those thoughts to others who are struggling elsewhere. Reevaluating the negatives in your life with a different perspective can often bring you a step closer toward reconciliation.

I learned to be grateful for what you still have.

The happiest people are those who value what they have rather than focusing on what they lack. How can you appreciate the good without the bad? If you lost something or someone dear to you, take a moment to appreciate everything you still have within reach, regardless of how big or small.

I learned you still have control in your life.

Understanding you have control over your emotions and actions is the first step toward overcoming any obstacle.

You may not be able to change everything that happens to you in life, but you can change how you react and behave in challenging situations and the direction you choose next.

I learned adversity isn’t an excuse to give up.

Motivation. Dreams. Goals. Focusing on forward movement will not only keep you from remaining stuck in the past, but also help to purify your thoughts.

In the end, after you overcome those struggles, you can look back to see the strength in your pain. You can rarely recover what you lost, but you still have everything to gain.

I learned it’s never truly goodbye, only see you later.

I know in my heart my mother will never be gone, even when I’m aging in my rocking chair. As the one person in my life who is irreplaceable, I know she will always be there. So, it is not goodbye, just see you later — until next time.

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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.