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.

All of Us

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I Have a Mother...

Photo credit: Bahareh Bisheh – My Chalky World

Through the engagement on social media, and the post on this blog that’s been read by more than 1 million of you, we’ve learned that not all the motherless and fatherless children who benefit from our program and awareness are younger than 18 years old.

Some who have lost a parent are in college, navigating the transition into true adulthood. We’ve heard from many in the early phases of careers, marriages, parenthood. Those of you are navigating what Kelly Corrigan calls The Middle Place of raising children and caregiving parents. Others are facing an empty nest, trying to figure out what’s next. Sadly, some have had additional losses compound their grief.

Despite our age, we remain motherless and fatherless children and we wonder if they are proud of us, let’s give them reason to be. Let’s heal ourselves, together, by helping others. 

  • If you are nearby, join us at the 12th “Race for Traditions“on April 3oth  – or create a team in honor of a mom or dad.
  • Run with us from a distance One Tough Mother Runner – a virtual race!
  • Simply make a donation of $10 for every child in YOUR household to support the collective children in our program.
  • Participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) #56164
  • Donate through United Way – #12502 

No child should grieve alone. 

Blink of an eye

 

Helping is healing. Family Lives On needs your help to continue. April is a month of renewal and a focus on raising the funds we need to support the children, teens and families in our program.

 

The Rules of Grief

grieving-man

Sharing a fabulous post from Good Men Project, written by Shawn Doyle about society’s rules for grief, and how you can navigate around them.

Grief is not like a highway on a roadmap. I can’t look at the map and tell someone “OK, this map is 100 miles and based on your average speed you’ll complete the journey within 12 months.”

Rule #1- There are rules. Somehow our society made determinations about exactly how a grieving person should conduct themselves at all times. If we expected other people to live by our pre-defined rules they would actually resent it. Yet for some strange reason it seems perfectly OK to tell a grieving person how to live. Hmm… One of the things that I find fascinating is that people often don’t realize they are dictating the rules—they’re just blindly following social “norms”.

The problem is—what is normal? Your loved one dying was not normal. Your loved one passing away tragically was not normal. Your loved one dying too young was not normal. Your loved one dying before her parents was not normal. Your loved one being killed in a tragic accident was not normal. So my point is that none of this is truly normal. It’s all well—just weird, and sometimes very surreal, like we are caught in a real-life nightmare. So I don’t know why people are trying to dictate norms for something that’s not normal!  Rule breaker solution: So my suggestion for you about the rules is to ignore them all, except for rules that make sense to you and feel right. Don’t let other people dictate your life to you.

Rule #2- You must act in a certain way…

The information is so helpful, but equally powerful is that grief conversations increase. #GiveGriefWords #IRemember

Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break. – Shakespeare

To read the post


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 and entirely funded through charitable donations.  If you would like to help support the grieving children and families we serve, please DONATE here. 

Tradition Tuesday – Jillian

 

 

Jillian’s dad died in 2013. Trips to Disneyland were her favorite memories of time they spent together. They loved the rides, parades and especially the evening fireworks. The family will enjoy continuing this tradition and celebrating their memories. Check out the special shoes Jillian made for their trip this year- she is so excited!

2015 Disney shoes


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.

Tradition Tuesday – Definition of Tradition

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Thank you trio 10-27

Tradition: The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

Dear Family Lives On,
Where do I even begin in telling you how blessed and grateful we all are to you? I guess I can begin with why your amazing organization will forever hold a special place in our hearts. 

In 2013, the most shocking, unimaginable tragedy happened to our family. To lose my husband, the father of my children, so unexpectedly, at such a young age, tore a hole through us that will never close. As I tried to hang on by a thread, I asked myself “How am I going to function daily for myself, much less my children? How am I going to hold on to what memories we had of him and keep moving forward?” 

The month before my husband’s 2 year death anniversary I began reading and searching online for help with our family’s situation- something that could guide me or give me support in coping with our tragedy. It was during this search where I stumbled upon the Family Lives On Foundation. I began reading about the foundation and smiling at the stories on your website. For the first time I felt a bit of happiness creep back into my heart. To be able to carry on my husband’s Traditions through our children- what an amazing experience! 

I decided to take the first steps in applying. I was extremely terrified to do this, to be open about our situation to complete strangers, to hear the kids speak of stories of their dad, it still seemed so surreal that any of this even happened. But with a wounded heart and a small glimpse of hope, I decided to move forward and apply for your Tradition Program. This was by far the best decision I could have made. 

Watching my children Skype with your staff and hearing them talk about wonderful times with their dad, seeing them smile, laugh, and shed a few tears, watching them get so excited about receiving their packages and watching them smile from ear to ear as they opened them, made me realize that my husband left behind one of the most precious gifts he could have left- his Traditions.

Thank you Isis and the Family Lives On Foundation for making all of this possible. For realizing that although the death of a parent can leave an enormous gaping hole in the heart of a child, a gaping hole that will remain there forever, that there is still room to experience moments of happiness and joy, and to keep celebrating the life and Traditions of our loved one. 

And thank you to my remarkable husband Mike. Thank you for the trips to the zoo, the summers at the river, the BBQ’s at home, and the weekend adventures to the movies and the park. Thank you for always keeping us a family and for instilling in us these family Traditions. Because of you and the Traditions and memories we made together, we can now keep them going and pass them on and forever keep your memory alive.
2qtr tu2
2qtr tu


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.

 

When a Wave Comes, Go Deep

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Originally posted by Humans of New York, October 1st, 2013

Humans of New York (HONY) originally posted 10/1/13

Humans of New York (HONY) originally posted 10/1/13

“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”

“When a wave comes, go deep.”
“I think I’m going to need an explanation for that one.”
“There’s three things you can do when life sends a wave at you. You can run from it, but then it’s going to catch up and knock you down. You can also fall back on your ego and try to stand your ground, but then it’s still going to clobber you. Or you can use it as an opportunity to go deep, and transform yourself to match the circumstances. And that’s how you get through the wave.”

Why she can come up with such profound advice on the spot- she’s an educator! Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs is an author and internationally recognized education leader known for her work in curriculum mapping, curriculum integration, and developing 21st century approaches to teaching and learning.

This was originally posted on Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page in October 2013, and the comments that accompanied it are an example of what happens organically among the followers:

HONY is all about stories. As a community, let’s try to ‘like’ comments from people sharing insights or similar experiences. There is nothing wrong with comments like ‘her hair is awesome,’ or ‘she looks much younger than 50.’ Those comments are kind, supportive, and appreciated. But I think it would make Humans of New York more interesting if we could work together to prioritize stories over opinions. If there’s anything I’ve learned from doing HONY these past five years, it’s that stories are always more interesting than opinions.

For that reason, below are the comments for the visual story “When a Wave Comes, Go Deep.”


Patrick Elliott Kelley “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”


Brooke Truax Her words are poetically beautiful and deep. However, after I read them, I couldn’t help but think: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” I blame Dori. 



Rebecca Quinn What she said reminds me of a quote from Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”


Ravi Keswani “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ― Bruce Lee


Reza Badei I live in San Diego & used to surf a lot. I can totally relate to this very wise advice and great analogy. What I would like to add is take a deep breath before going under the waves , stay loose & flexible (non rigid or you’ll break some serious bones) and let the wave or a set pass you by without you resisting them, otherwise you will , be clubbed and worse, suffocate … 

"Duck Diving" Photo credit: isurfnetwork.com

“Duck Diving” Photo credit: isurfnetwork.com


Kim O’Grady Simensen Anyone that has ever done much Pacific Coast body surfing knows that when you dive UNDER the wave (“go deep), you can minimize the turbulence and lessen the power of the wave that can easily throw you head first into the sand. I like the metaphor for troubled times and the advice of transformation. The challenge can be finding the strength to go to those uncomfortable and scary places. Although body surfing is a solo support, living is not. I wish the author had reminded us to surround yourself with friends and love – that also brings strength and lessens the power of negative forces in our life. Seek Joy!


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 isn’t therapy but it is therapeutic. Here’s how it works. 


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

5 Reasons to be a Corporate Sponsor for a Nonprofit

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By Stacey Grant

Excerpts from  The 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study

1. UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN’S EXPECTATIONS

Americans’ appetite for corporate involvement in social and environmental issues is voracious. Just 7 percent of the U.S. population believes corporations only need to be concerned with their bottom-line. More than nine-in-10 look to companies to support social or environmental issues in some capacity, and 88 percent is eager to hear from companies about those efforts. A whopping 91 percent wants to see more products, services and retailers support worthy issues – up eight percentage points since 2010.

2. LEVERAGING A POWERFUL DIFFERENTIATOR

Few attributes rouse brand preference and affinity more than commitment to social and environmental issues, and corporate America should pay attention. Nearly all U.S. consumers say that when a company supports a cause, they have a more positive image of the company (93%) – up from 85 percent in 2010 and 84 percent in 1993. Americans say they are also more likely to trust (90%) and would be more loyal (90%) to companies that back causes. Whether and to what extent a company supports
an issue influences a variety of personal decisions as well, including where to shop or what to buy (82%) and which products and services to recommend to others (82%).

3. MOBILIZING CONSUMER ACTION

Service and giving back are cornerstones of American culture, so it’s no surprise that U.S. citizens report high intentions for participating in cause-related activities. But actual behavior reveals a different story – and a tremendous opportunity
for companies.

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4. INTRODUCING THE NEW SOCIAL IMPACT CONSUMERS

Multicultural and Millennial audiences are growing in size and influence, and truly changing the voice of America.

Ninety-two percent of the U.S. population growth since 2000 is attributed to minorities – many of whom identify as African American or Hispanic. With a combined buying power estimated to reach $2.3 trillion by 20152, African Americans and Hispanics are most definitely no longer niche segments – they’re the new mainstream. And Millennials* are the first generation of Americans who have grown up alongside cause marketing. Numbering more than 80 million Americans, they are the largest cohort the U.S. has ever seen – and an undeniable force.

Together, these populations represent the new social impact consumers. As they matriculate into decision-making roles at organizations around the country, they bring with them cultural influences that mandate making society better. They also bring the brave new world of social networking – a world in which information is available at the swipe of a finger, and where they serve as an entirely new group of influencers who can magnify a company’s efforts and accelerate positive change.

Their significant buying power and social influence cannot be ignored – but getting their attention requires an understanding of their distinct needs, priorities and communication habits.

5. ADVANCING SOCIAL IMPACT

With social and environmental issue support clearly and steadfastly expressed as an American consumer demand and savvy business strategy, the question becomes not if but how companies will carry the torch of its evolution to true social impact. Claims of caring are no longer sufficient, either to differentiate or to make a difference. Consumers demand more. And companies must respond.

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.