A Journey from Loss to Love – Sandy Goodman

HEALING THE GRIEVING HEART
A Journey from Loss to Love
Host: Dr. Gloria Horsley
With guest: Sandy Goodman
June 1, 2006

G: Hello. I?m Dr. Gloria Horsley with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley. Each week, we welcome you to Healing the Grieving Heart, a show of hope and renewal for those who have suffered the loss of a child or a sibling. Well, Heidi, we were on yesterday, also, but not on Healing the Grieving Heart. Heidi and I did a web seminar for the hospice nurses of Florida. Actually, not hospice nurses. We thought that?s what it was going to be but it turned out to be the whole hospice team. It was a wonderful experience. We?ve never done a web seminar on the net so it was very interesting. We want to share some of the information that we did at the hospice program with you today because we think that it?s really important. Before we get into that, I want to say that this morning, I?m going to be speaking at Fairfield High School at The Compassionate Friends tonight, and that?s outside of San Francisco. Heidi is in the New York area. I?m in the San Francisco area. If you?ve got any bereavement groups around your area that you would like us to come and speak to, speaking for myself, I?d be happy to, and how about you, Heidi?
H: Absolutely, yes, I would, too.
G: So we?re very happy to come and do any of that. I?ll be going to Fairfield High. It was interesting this morning because I had to get directions to get over to Fairfield High and I got a nice gentleman on the phone, Dan, and we started talking, and Dan told me about his son who had taken his own life five years ago. So I was planning on going on Sandy?s website this morning but I didn?t quite get there because I ended up talking to Dan a bit. I just wanted to say, Dan, you?re doing well. It?s only been five years, but also I want to tell you, we got a tee time for golf at the Presidio at 10:00 on Monday, so there you go. Got to have a little fun along with it. So here we are talking about the Florida hospice and palliative care program that Heidi and I did yesterday on the internet and I wanted to start out by ? the hospice seminar was on continuing bonds and how we continue bonds with our family members, and we?ll be talking about that today. But let?s talk about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there were the old stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and what we talked to the nurses about was the fact that whatever happened to acceptance? Sandy reminds us on her website and in her book that ? and she?ll be our guest in a moment ? that this model was designed to look at people who were dying and accepting their own death. After someone has died, really we?re moving on to what we now call continuing bonds. Do you want to talk about those, Heidi?
H: About what the continuing bonds are?
G: Yeah, and what we talked about on the show.
H: Okay, like my mother said, in the past it was about cutting ties and moving on and closure and now we?re realizing we all know that?s not what happens after someone we love dies. We maintain emotional connections with them and we incorporate them into our lives while at the same time investing in new relationships and moving on in a productive manner. Sandy actually brought this up. When I looked on the website, I went, wow, okay, we?re in the same place as our guest today because she said something very similar. After her son died, she said she found a lot of articles and books on closure and moving on, but she found nothing to give her permission to continue her relationship with her son. And so we talked a lot about how to do that yesterday in the webinar and how people do that naturally. You naturally do that. When someone has been in your life your whole life, and you expect to grow old with them and they die, they?re still a big part of your life and your memories, and they?re still in your life in many ways.
G: Absolutely. Well, why don?t right after I talk about our website and about our email, Heidi, then you can introduce our guest and carry on with that theme. This is Healing the Grieving Heart with Dr. Gloria Horlsey and Dr. Heidi Horsley and we have a website www.healingthegrievingheart.org that you can go on. These shows are archived on that site as well as www.thecompassionatefriends.org website and you can also download these shows on Ipod. You can also join us on our show today at 866-472-5792 with thoughts regarding the losses in your life. Again, our line for call in is 866-472-5792. This show is also brought to you by the Library of Life. The Library of Life for $50 you can create a website, a lasting memorial for your child or loved one who has died and it is on the net for a lifetime and it?s very easy to put up. I put several of them up. You can also go to our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org and log on to my son?s Library of Life website, Heidi?s brother, Scott. So, Heid, why don?t you go ahead and introduce our guest now.
H: Okay, today, our topic is A Journey from Loss to Love and our guest is Sandy Goodman. In July of 1996, 18-year-old Jason Goodman grabbed a high voltage line. When he died three hours later, his mother, Sandy, found herself catapulted into a pit of darkness. Unable and unwilling to accept that the son she had loved and nurtured for 18 years had simply ceased to exist, she went in search of a path where she could work her way through the grief and come out on the other side with her connection to Jason still intact. Four years later, she realized she had not only accomplished her intent but had found gifts along the way. Sandy is the author of Love Never Dies: A Mother?s Journey from Loss to Love and the chapter leader of the Wind River Chapter of The Compassionate Friends in central Wyoming. Welcome to the show, Sandy.
S: Thank you. Hi, everybody.
H: Welcome to the show. Well, Sandy, I?ve really enjoyed reading your book and you have lots of insights and wonderful things that you?re going to be able to share with our guests today. I?m very pleased about it, and as Heid said, I think you and Heidi and I are on the same page about these losses we?ve had in our life. Could you tell our audience about your family because I know your son, Jason, had a twin brother and he also has an older brother.
S: I?m married to Dave. Dave and I have been married 30 some odd years, 34 years.
G: Well that kind of busts the idea that people who have children die get divorced.
S: Exactly. Yeah, really. We have three boys, Jason, and Jason has a twin brother, Josh. Josh is now 28, and Jeremy is 30 and lives in Albuquerque. Josh lives here with us in Riverton. Dave and I are house parents in a group home so we spend our time with abused and neglected adolescent males.
H: Lot of male energy there.
S: Yeah, we?ve been there for 20 years at the job. We?re thinking it?s time to retire but it?s just not happening.
G: Well, Sandy, could you tell us about your journey for the folks out there. Let me preface a few things. You?ve had quite the losses in your life. Not just your son, Jason, you also, as I was reading through your book, your sister died, your only sibling?
S: My brother. My only sibling. It?s almost like my life was set up so that I would be prepared for Jason. It started out with my father-in-law
G: Now wait a minute. We need to go way back. You had a stillbirth.
S: Okay. I had two, actually, a stillbirth and a miscarriage. The stillbirth was, I was about probably three months along, and then James Michael was born, I was almost six months, and he was born still. That was in 1975 and 1976.
G: Now was that your first two children?
S: No. I had Jeremy first, then I had the two stillbirths, and then I had the twins.
G: Was the twins? birth a tough thing? Were they early?
S: They were ? I only knew a week that I was going to have them and then, no, they were three weeks early, not early enough to be a problem.
G: So they were normal.
S: Yeah. They were born cesarean and they were fighting over who was going to get out and they never stopped. They were always competitive. And then I had several years where everything just went along and life was really nothing, I mean, what I know life is now was nothing then. Life was good but it wasn?t what I thought it was. We moved to Wyoming in 1986, brought the boys, basically moved into the group home, and then it started. Dave?s dad died, then a 3-year-old niece died of cancer, which was really a tough one. Then my mom died, then my brother died. I hope I don?t get this out of order. My only sibling, Gary.
G: Now what did Gary die of?
S: Gary had pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in December or January and died in February or March.
G: That?s a painful one.
S: Yeah, that was a tough one.
H: How old was he?
S: He was maybe 40? I remember he was happy he wasn?t going to have to hit 50. My brother was very enlightened and it really helped, and my mom, too. Both of them when they died were ready to die. They didn?t put me into the pits when they died.
H: So they had made peace with it.
S: They had and they prepared everybody else. And then my 24-year-old nephew died in a car accident in the spring of ?96 and then Jason in July.
H: Was your nephew that died, was that your brother?s son?
S: It was my husband?s brother?s son.
H: That is a lot of loss.
G: And then Jason.
S: And then Jason. And then my dad. But after Jason, I don?t know. I don?t know. It?s just a different kind of loss.
G: Could you talk about that for our audience?
S: I used to say to people losing a child is the worst possible loss you could ever have, and I don?t like to say that anymore because
G: Because your loss is your loss, that?s what I always say.
S: If you are in the pit and you?re grieving and it hurts, it doesn?t really matter. It doesn?t matter what. You?re there. You can only go so low. But for me, Jason was out of order. He wasn?t supposed to die before us, and losing your biological, your flesh and blood, him being, it just didn?t seem
H: It didn?t make sense.
S: It didn?t make any sense.
H: To suddenly lose such a healthy child.
S: Especially when I didn?t have a real good strong belief system about what happens when you die and so I really had to struggle with if this is all there is, I didn?t want to stick around.
G: Well, Sandy, we?re going to have to go to break now and when we come back from break, I want to talk about ? I wondered what you did because you have a lot of insight, and wondered if you were with a therapist or something. I liked your stages and I?d like to talk about those and I?d like to talk about going to the pit. I thought that was very interesting.
H: I?d also like a little information about how he died.
G: Okay. So we?re coming up on break. Well, Sandy, when we went to break, Heidi was saying that she?d like to hear more about how Jason died.
S: Okay. It will be ten years in July, a decade, which really just when I say that is amazing to me because it seems like yesterday when I go back to how he died, and you all know that. Jason and Josh had enlisted in the Navy and they were leaving at 2:35 in the afternoon on July
H: Now it?s Jason and his twin brother?
S: His twin brother, Josh, yes, they were to leave at 2:35 in the afternoon on July 22, and the night before Jason went out, he actually went out by himself to find some friends. He didn?t have a vehicle so he walked up the street and that?s my last
H: Your last picture in your mind?
S: The last time I saw him okay. Yeah, that?s the picture I have in my mind. And he asked Josh to go with him before he left and Josh said no which is totally reverse of what it normally is. Josh is our out-and-about kid and Jason would stay home. So that was interesting in itself. Jason found some friends. They rode around for a while. Riverton is just a little dink town and so the tallest building in our town is three stories, and there?s a fire escape on the back of the building. In fact, at Christmastime, our newspaper reporter goes up on top of that building to take pictures of the Christmas lights on Main Street. So Jason and his friends decided to climb up the fire escape and see Main Street for one last time before he left and on his way down, he for whatever reason not thinking reached out and grabbed a high voltage line that was only about a foot from the fire escape. And that?s just from the reports from the kids who were with them. And he fell to ? there was a platform below him about oh, probably eight feet ? he fell down on it, sat up, one of the boys who was with him helped him down the fire escape after he?d grabbed the wire, and for whatever reason, Jason took off running and then sat down again in the street, grabbed his arm and said what was that? By then a neighbor person in an apartment across the street had called the police department. Ambulances arrived. Everybody came. They called us. He actually grabbed the wire at 2:35 a.m. His watch stopped which I have in my purse. I carry it with me. They called us, told us to meet the ambulance at the hospital, that there had been some kind of accident. We went thinking it was probably nothing because he had been to the emergency room numerous times for BB shots and whatever, usually on a weekend, and three hours after we arrived, his heart just stopped. We were waiting on life flight to take him. The electricity went in his hand, up his arm, down through his torso, and came out through his right thigh. So basically in between his right thigh and his shoulder, everything inside was bleeding. The whole time we were waiting on life flight and he appeared when they got there to be okay. He was vocal and he knew the date and he knew everything, which was really hard for us because we kept thinking well, how could he know that, if he?s that bad. So that?s how he died.
H: And I can see how that happens. In a split second I can see you landing and you just touch a wire and don?t think anything of it.
S: We really struggle with that because you want to blame somebody and so did somebody push him? What happened? Why would he do that? Interestingly enough, during the first year at some point I was sitting at ? our bank deposit window is right beside the fire escape that he went up right across the alley ? so every time I would go to the bank after that, I would stare at the fire escape and I had one of our boys with us from the group home and he looked over and I knew he was thinking about Jason falling and I said what? and just looked at him, and he said how do you know the difference between an electrical wire and a telephone line?
H: That was my question.
S: And I said, I really don?t know, why? And he said, this young man, 13 years old, said because I don?t know if you know it or not but Jason and his brother and the neighbor boy used to climb up the poles on the telephone line and hang on the telephone line. And so, to me, that was a gift because it suddenly made sense. It made sense for him to be so silly and to do something like that. He probably had no clue, never even thought about that being an electrical line.
H: There are a lot of wires that aren?t high voltage that you can touch and nothing would happen.
S: Right. Exactly.
G: So you were still looking for the why anyway. We look for the why. We have a caller right now, Rhonda. Let?s take a call from her and then we?ll get back to talking more about Jason and I want to talk about his twin brother and what happened with that. Hi Rhonda.
R: Hello.
G: Welcome to Healing the Grieving Heart. Do you have a question or comment for Sandy, or Heidi, or me?
R: Yes. I have read Sandy?s book and actually she emailed me that she would be on today and so I just wanted to call in. I have actually listened to some of your recordings before through Compassionate Friends.
G: Could you tell us about your journey. You?re a bereaved parent or a sibling?
R: A bereaved parent. I lost my son, Richard, February 23, 2005, in a car accident and it?s been a really, really hard tough time. It?s like my life ended and I?m trying to move on but I have also found people very cruel. I?ve been told that Richard would be ashamed of me because I feel like this and I?ve been told Richard wouldn?t want you to be sad all the time and I don?t know why you?re having such a hard time getting over this. You?re too sensitive. When one door closes another one opens, which makes no sense to me at all. You?re just feeling sorry for yourself a doctor told me.
H: That?s awful. Your son has just died not long ago. I remember people saying to me Scott would not have wanted you to feel this way and I said, you know what, maybe on an intellectual level I realize that, but my heart takes a while to catch up and I?m grieving his loss because I loved him so much. It?s a normal thing.
R: Yes, and thank God for you guys that I?ve found people like you that understand and I thank you for telling me your stories. I really appreciate that because when you?re out here in the world, everybody tries to treat you like you?re some crazy person and then when I listen to other people that have gone through the same thing, I?m not really feeling any different than anyone else.
G: That?s right. You find out that we were all crazy.
R: I don?t think you?re crazy all.
G: Oh, no, but that first year or two, it?s crazy. Some of the stuff I did. I?m sure I don?t remember half of it. How about you, Sandy?
S: Oh, yeah. I know I was nuttier than a fruitcake probably.
H: It?s all part of the grief process.
S: Hi Rhonda.
R: Hello.
G: Well, you need to take care of yourself, Rhonda. I was on an airplane the other day and they were doing the airplane thing and they said now when the oxygen mask comes down, make sure you put it on your own face before you put it on anybody else?s, and that?s what I?m saying to you. Take care of yourself.
R: Thank you so much.
G: Okay, thank you so much for calling in and keep listening. Wow, isn?t it amazing what goes on out there?
H: And the fact that her son died in 2005? This is really new grief.
G: Yeah. Very fresh and normal. What she?s saying is normal. That?s what we hear.
H: And you know people want to fix it, they want to make it better for us, they want us to get over it because they don?t want to deal with our grief and our pain and they want to help us and make it better and fix it. Well, the way to fix it is to bring our loved one back into our life. You can?t fix it. You just have to be with us in our grief and allow us to have it and acknowledge it and sit with us.
G: And speak his name or her name.
H: Right. Let us be in our grief.
G: Absolutely. People want us to be like we were. And I know you were saying in your book, Sandy, there?s then and now.
S: Exactly.
G: We?re changed.
S: Before and after. And I don?t like to say specific things that everybody who grieves needs to do but there are two things that I believe very strongly. One of them is you have to feel that. You have to go through the valley. You can?t avoid it. You can?t put it off. You can?t just keep busy and it?ll go away. You?ve got to feel that pain and you?ve got to feel it up one side and down the other and then I think you need to make a decision to move on.
G: And then you were talking about going to the pit. I used to call it going to the well.
S: Oh, yeah. Whatever, it?s down there. It?s just as low as you can go.
G: Early on everything feels like a big black hole, too, for the first year. Everything that happens in your life is because your kid died or your sibling died.
H: Or you feel like is this my new life? Will I feel like this forever? Because I don?t want to be here if this is the way I?m going to feel forever.
G: Absolutely. Well, for those folks who are listening in, it?s time for us to take a break now and I?m your host, Dr. Gloria Horsley, with my co-host, Dr. Heidi Horsley. Please stay tuned to hear more from Sandy Goodman about A Journey From Loss to Love. You can join us by calling our toll free number 1-866-472-5792. If you?d like to email us about this show or upcoming shows, you can reach Heidi and me through our website www.healingthegrievingheart.org and also all these shows can be downloaded through our website on Ipod. We look forward to also having people receive ? we have some demo CDs and you can get in touch with us through our website if you?d like to hear some short CDs of the show. Stay tuned for more.
G: Well, we have got three callers and we want to start taking those right now so let?s start with Delaine. Are you there, Delaine?
D: Yes, I am.
G: Hi. Welcome to Healing the Grieving Heart. Where are you from?
D: I?m from Sturgis, South Dakota.
G: South Dakota. Great. Did you have a comment or question for us?
D: Well, I did. My son was killed over in Iraq December 24, 2003, and I have since finished my master?s degree, built a house, ran like crazy all over the nation trying to find him, and I?m just really grateful that you guys are here because you have given me permission to not put closure on anything. He was 26 years old and he was my captain.
G: What?s his name?
D: Christopher. And so I?m looking for starting a chapter here in this area. I know that we don?t have one here, and I know that Sandy lives not too far from us, kind of across Wyoming, but I?m just grateful for her book and for what you guys are doing.
G: Well, thank you so much. I?m really pleased to hear that you?re looking into starting a chapter. Have you been in touch with The Compassionate Friends?
D: No, I haven?t.
G: Go on their website and Sandy I?m sure can help you better than I. Go on their website and you can find some information. Call them and talk to them about it, but I would also love to have you email me because I wanted to have some moms whose kids were killed in Iraq on the show because we haven?t done that.
D: I would love to do that.
G: So if you?d like to please give me an email.
D: Okay, how do I do that? Is this Gloria?
G: Yeah. Through our website, www.healingthegrievingheart.org.
D: Okay, I will.
S: And if you get lost somewhere, Delaine, do you know how to email me?
D: Yeah, I do, Sandy. Thank you so much.
G: And thank you for calling in, Delaine. Love yourself, we love you, and you?re on the right path and you have those continuing bonds. It never closes.
D: I really appreciated your last caller and how a year and a half is nothing in the greater scheme of things and like Sandy says, ten years and it makes her. When I think it?s been three years almost or three years since I?ve seen Chris, it still gets caught in my throat and I can?t get past that. It?s like what do you mean? It was just yesterday. And so that?s my passion and my mission now in life is to be able to give people the permission to hold on to their loved ones. My son was so much a part of me.
S: He is a part of you.
D: Yes, he is, and I just can?t ? I love the part where you said to integrate him into our lives and that?s what I want to do so I will email you guys and I look forward to hearing the other callers.
G: Great. Thank you for calling in.
H: It reminds me so much. I saw a psychologist named Robert Neimeyer speaking. He does a lot on death and grief and speaks, and he said, closure is for bank accounts, not love accounts, and I just love that saying.
S: Wow, yeah, it?s so true.
G: Great comment. We?re going to take another caller, Pam, and after we get through talking to Pam, I?m going to mention some of the things that Sandy talks about in her book that I certainly consider wonderful continuing bonds and give people some ideas and one of the ideas I?ve already gotten just from her is, what were you saying that you had of Jason?s? You have something you carry, didn?t you?
S: His watch.
H: With the time that he died, 2:35, wasn?t it?
S: 2:35.
G: And it?s also a piece of him. He wore it on his arm and it?s there and it?s a continuing bond you have. Well, we?ve got another caller. Pam, are you there?
P: Yes, hello.
G: Hi, Pam, welcome to Healing the Grieving Heart.
P: Thank you.
G: Where are you from?
P: I live in Highland, Michigan.
G: Great. Did you have a question for one of us or a comment?
P: Well I wanted to mention to Sandy, I read her book. She?s emailed me a couple of times and I?ve also talked to her friend, Pat O?Connell, and I?m coming up here in two days on the anniversary of my son?s death.
G: Did you say it?s two years?
P: No, this is the first year.
G: Oh, my goodness, and you?re coming up on the anniversary.
P: Yes.
G: Can you give us his name please?
P: His name was Daniel Houser.
G: Daniel. His name is Daniel.
P: Daniel Houser.
G: And blessed is that name.
P: Oh, thank you very much. He left us with a little grandson that he didn?t get to meet. I call him my Danny spark. It?s just. Is there any way to get through that first year any easier? I don?t know what to do.
G: Yeah, that?s a hard one. We?ve all been there. We know. We know what you?re saying. Is there any way to make it easier? You know, the only thing you can do is try to take care of yourself physically for one thing. Eating, drinking, trying to sleep. Sandy might have some other ideas and Heidi. But you do first of all need to think about yourself.
H: And not have too many expectations. Celebrate the small things in life you do every day. And like you said, you?re connected to your grandson. You?re listening, you?re calling into the radio show. You?re listening. The little tiny things you do.
G: Absolutely. This is a big thing to call in to this show. You ought to pat yourself on the back for that.
S: Do you have a support group, Pam?
P: I have family mostly. I?ve talked with Pat O?Connell. He put me in touch with The Compassionate Friends in our area but I haven?t been able to get to one of their meetings yet.
S: Can you get on line and into a chat room?
P: Yeah, I could.
S: You need to go to The Compassionate Friends website. They have a chat every single night and talking about your son and listening to the other people will help you.
G: Absolutely. You need to tell your story and you need to tell it to people who can hang in with you and listen to it and can have you cry and are willing to sit there with you and be with you.
H: That can handle your grief and that can also normalize what you?re going through and say, yeah, we?re going through the same thing. We?ve been there or we are there, right.
P: There?s another question. I don?t know if this is ? the man that killed Daniel is in jail. I seem to have this compulsion to write him a letter. Is that unethical or I don?t know, does it just seem too cruel? I don?t know. I know that his family is suffering.
G: He was actually convicted?
P: He hit my son and then he drove away and then he tried to hide and then he lied about everything and put us all through this huge horrendous trial.
S: My opinion is write it.
G: Absolutely.
H: Also, my mother?s done some shows on homicide. I would listen to those. Those would be helpful, I think.
G: I think so, too. Have you listened to any of the other shows?
P: No, this is my first time actually. I got the email from Sandy saying that you guys were on and so I decided I would.
G: Well, go to our website or The Compassionate Friends website. Our website is the same as the show, www.healingthegrievingheart.org. If you will go on that website, we?ve been on for a year and you?ll find people who have gone through what you?ve gone through. Lew Cox is a victim?s advocate. I was trying to see when he?s on.
H: Carl McDonald.
G: Yeah, Carl McDonald, we just interviewed him. When a Sibling is Murdered with Ben Sieff, that was on. That?s a good show. That?s November 10. So go on and peruse through some of these shows. They?re on the net.
H: You can listen any time.
G: Any time you can listen to these shows and you can hear what other people have been through. But Sandy?s right, you need to tell your story so it?s great to just listen to shows. On the other hand, it?s good to go to groups or to a chat room or something because you need to be able to tell your story.
H: That?s why I love the internet. If you can?t get out there, like Sandy was saying, if you can?t get out there, the internet is in your home and you can log on. That?s why the internet is wonderful. You don?t have to leave your home. You can get in a chat room at home on your computer.
P: Okay.
G: Take care of yourself, Pam. It?s a tough time and it hurts. It hurts like hell.
S: Remember you hurt as much as you love, okay?
P: All right. Thank you ladies for being there. Have a nice day.
G: I love that ending. Have a nice day. That is so sweet.
H: Coming up on the first year. That is really tough.
G: Yeah, and the anniversary, and plus they?ve been through all those trials and things so it?s been a horrendous first year and then you?re all torn. Are you going to feel sorry for this other family? It?s like the oxygen mask coming down again. You?ve got to put it on your own face first.
H: And with a homicide, what we?ve seen in past shows is that oftentimes you put your grief on hold for awhile and all your energy is invested in the trial and once that?s over, then the pain and the grief and all that really sets in. The reality is really there.
G: And the anger is a powerful trip to the pit, right, Sandy?
S: Exactly. I don?t know how some people can get past it to grieve. I?m so glad I didn?t have the extenuating circumstances.
H: Sandy, that?s what we talk to people over and over about. How did you look through the anger? What did that look like and how did you end up on the other side? It?s been interesting to hear how people have done that.
G: Well, we?re coming up on break and I?m your host, Dr. Gloria Horsley, with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley. Please stay tuned to hear more about A Journey From Loss to Love with our guest, Sandy Goodman.
We?ve got three callers. Sandy is just way too popular. We can barely get to all the things we wanted to talk to her about because we?ve got all these call-ins because she has such a fabulous network and what powerful call-ins they are, too, Sandy. We want to start the show by talking to Andrea. Are you there, Andrea?
A: Yes.
G: Welcome to Healing the Grieving Heart. Did you have a comment or question for one of us?
A: Yes. First of all I really appreciate you being there. My daughter died April 1, 2005, just a little over a year ago at her college in Vermont. Before this tragic accident, she had just returned from Kenya working with AIDS orphans and she had gotten back to campus and was preparing to direct a play. She was a theatre major and had casted and was in rehearsals and one of her classes was a dance class and she and one other girl were in a third-floor dance studio practicing the choreography and part of the choreography, they just placed their hands on this floor-to-ceiling piece of plate glass window. There was no bar. There was a radiator and the glass shattered and they tripped and fell out and my daughter was killed. Her graduation would be this weekend. So I?m glad you?re here just to say this and I bet you guys have been through either what would have been one of your child?s graduations or something like that.
G: Absolutely. But, you know what, this is you, and this is the first year. And what?s her name?
A: Kelly.
G: It would be her graduation, and what are you going to do on that day?
A: That?s what we?re trying to figure out. I have been communicating with some of her friends, but it?s their graduation, too, so I?ve been very careful to congratulate them and yet our family is quite sad because we can?t be there to enjoy their graduation as well as to see our own daughter?s graduation. But during the time that we know the ceremony is going on, we want to do something here. I?m just wondering if you have any ideas.
H: I actually have an idea someone has done which I thought was wonderful and that?s to release helium balloons in the air.
G: And you could even get happy graduation balloons.
A: Wonderful! That?s great.
G: And I think there are some environmental friendly ones too because there are some issues with that also so you can look at that. But balloons are wonderful ideas. Putting a rose in a special vase. Candles. Wonderful things like that. You can have a graduation party with a cake.
S: You can do whatever you want to do.
A: Yeah?
S: Yeah, whatever feels comfortable.
G: And you can do as little or as much. Whatever you have the energy for. That?s the important thing. Some people like to visit graves for special events. Some people don?t. Whatever you want to do is what should be done.
A: I appreciate that.
H: And your daughter did so much for the world. She has left her input and impact in what she?s done for the world so congratulations to her on that day because she is impacting generations from the work she has done.
A: Thank you so much. I appreciate it and I know we will get through this because we made it through the anniversary but it?s still just really tough. These are wonderful ideas and I really appreciate it.
G: Well listen in to our show on the archives through our website www.healingthegrievingheart.org and you?ll get some more thoughts and ideas, and keep in touch. We love emails. Call again. Thanks for calling in. We have a Maureen on the phone. Hi, Maureen.
M: Hi. First I wanted to say to Sandy that I read her book last summer. I?ve read a billion books since this happened to me last June when my daughter died.
G: And what is her name?
M: My name is Maureen. My daughter?s name is Andrea or Annie. And I read a lot of books and last summer, her?s was the first book that kind of really helped me in some way to kind of try to believe that my daughter was still me. That?s been the biggest struggle. Anyway, the anniversary of her death is June 26 and it?s coming up and also she would be a senior in high school and all of her friends are graduating next week and the yearbook?s coming out today which they dedicated to her. I?m just sort of feeling overwhelmed by all these memories of everything that happened last year at this time because she had mono and died from complications from mono. It?s supposed to be this thing you get, you know, a virus. Right now, I?m a teacher and everything I?m doing I?m thinking last year at this time. She was not feeling well but she was still going to school but some days when I was having to go to school and do things she was saying please don?t go. I?m just trying to figure out how to get through all these dates coming up. Friends of hers invite me to things like parties and I don?t think I can handle it. I?m glad I heard about the balloon idea. We released balloons another time and I think that?s a nice idea I might use.
G: You can only do so much. You have to take care of yourself.
S: Sometimes I think all you can do is just go one breath at a time. You just breathe in and you breathe out. Eventually, time will pass and you?ll be able to go back to where you were and you?ll be able to work through some of that. It?s all in your face right now.
H: This is a hard time. The yearbook?s been dedicated. The yearbook was dedicated to my brother also and he had his graduation. It was a really horrible time. It was bittersweet watching his friends graduate and knowing he wasn?t there. It really hurt.
M: Everything is still so bittersweet. It?s like I want to congratulate them. I want to ask them what colleges they?re going to and I try to and then I just kind of walk away and by the time I get to a place by myself, I fall apart.
S: Do you have someone to talk to? You just told us your story. Do you have someone you can do that with anytime you want?
M: Well, I do go to a grief counselor and I?m in a support group, too.
G: And Sandy was saying there?s an online chat through Compassionate Friends if you wanted.
M: And she?s my only child, too.
G: We?ve done shows with Rick Yotti who both of his children died. You might want to tune in to his show. We did it a few weeks ago. And please email us and take care of yourself, call in, listen, however we can help you. We?ve been there. We are suffering with you. We know. We know. So take care of yourself.
M: Thank you.
G: So we have Karen, I believe that?s our last call-in. Karen, are you there? Welcome to Healing the Grieving Heart. Did you have a question or comment for us?
K: I just wanted to talk to Sandy. We?re in the chat group together.
S: Hi Karen.
K: Are we on the air?
G: Yes.
K: Oh, okay. I?m KG and I am also coming up to my first anniversary of my son?s death. His name is Shaun and listening to everybody and hearing voices instead of just being on the chat it?s horrible and nice at the same time to hear others and to hear, Sandy, you?re alive after ten years and you?re alive.
G: Isn?t that the truth? The first year we were all saying will we be alive?
S: Well, we were all saying we really didn?t want to be.
G: Exactly. Well, we have to live. Life is.
K: I found Compassionate Friends through reading Stone Soup which is a really beautiful book. Not too many words so it was good. I went on line and found this group. I live in a rural area so there?s really nothing around for me, and I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the ways that you?ve reached out, Sandy, and the radio show and anything that helps other people. For me, I can?t even imagine getting through. I don?t know what that means, to get through something. I think it?s more of a process of continuing to go through.
G: I?m going to have to cut you off but stay on and when the show goes off, we?ll talk to you after the show, because it?s time for us to close the show right now, I hate to say because it?s been such an incredible show and wonderful with all these call-ins and Sandy thank you so much for being on the show and you have a wonderful book. Please get her book, A Journey from Loss to Love, and you will hear more about how Sandy?s made it through with her journey and done so much to go on to help others. Please stay tuned again next week when our topic will be When Grief Goes to Work and our guest will be Tony Sims. Tony along with his wife, Dorothy, and daughter, Allie, have helped thousands of grieving families by sharing their memories of the brief life of their son and brother Big A. On this show, Tony will use his expertise in the military and also the corporate world to explore the many facets of loss. Tony is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Grief Inc. This show is archived on our website www.healingthegrievingheart.org as well as www.thecompassionatefriends.org. This is Dr. Gloria Horsley with my co-host Dr. Heidi Horsley. Please stay tuned again next Thursday at 9:00 Pacific Standard Time, 12:00 Eastern for more of Healing the Grieving Heart, a show of hope and renewal and support. Remember others have been there before you and made it. You can, too. And you need not walk alone. Thanks for listening. I?m your host, Dr. Gloria Horsley, and
H: Dr. Heidi Horsley. Thank you, Sandy, for being on the show today.
S: Thank you for having me.

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