When you died, I didn’t know the pain could be this searing, like a hot blaze burning my soul.
That the depth of despair would be this jagged, like a razor sharp abyss or a bottomless hole.
That the sorrow would be this unspeakable, like an abandoned ballad void of all lyric.
That my family could recover from loss so unbearable, it was simply too hysteric.
I didn’t know that the sorrow would leave me exhausted, without any reserve.
That the world could be blind to my suffering, too uncomfortable to observe.
That it was capable of shattering my world so completely out of the blue.
That the fog was this thick, coating my life like dense viscous glue.
When you died, I didn’t know my heart would break open to bleed like a wound.
That the grief dance was this ugly, like two left feet cemented in gloom.
That I could survive a journey without purpose in view.
That my heart would know smiles and laughter not fake or askew.
I didn’t know that I would embrace a sunrise in all its glory every tomorrow.
Or that my heart would hold joy at the same time as sorrow.
When you died, I didn’t know that your death would propel me into a life full of gratitude and care.
That your death would be this heartbreaking, and compassion for others would be my repair.
Now I know.
-LYNDA CHELDELIN FELL
Friday, October 2, 2015
Saturday, September 19, 2015
BY DEANA L. MARTINWritten January 2012, one year after losing both children in a car accident. Deana is now the Vice President of Cry for Me No More, a nonprofit organization serving thousands around the country. She and her husband raise their sole granddaughter, who was in the car behind Deana's daughter and son.
I never really noticed how hot tears are as they roll down my face. Sure, I have cried many times before you died; but you leaving made time stand still and life feel so surreal.
Shock, numbness, nausea, and pain so severe I was certain I would die.
Can’t they see it? Surly they can. No one acts as if they can see it. My heart hurts so badly, my soul aches; my breasts hurt yearning for my children, how can that be? Why can’t they see it? Why can’t they help?
Who am I now that my children have gone? Where am I now that your voices are no where to be heard?
are no phone calls with crises to fix. No more reasons to give you money today.
No problems that only Mom knows the answers to.
It’s been a year now since you went home, and I find myself feeling so alone. Who will care for me when I am old? What of my future? Where have my dreams gone, your college graduations, your careers, your weddings, the holidays at your homes?
Since you left I struggle with so many questions. Am I still a mom? I have no children now, so how could I possibly be a mom? What if I had bought four new tires for the car instead of two? What if I had not given you gas money to make the trip?
I never noticed how hot tears are as they roll down my face. As I cry for missing you both as I often do, the tears fall in slow motion symbolic of how today it’s still so unreal.
It seems like yesterday I received that dreaded call. "I hate to have to tell you this," he said on the phone. At that moment I knew what I was about to hear would change my life forever.
I knew what he was about to say I could not bear.
But for some reason I did not know you were dead; I thought mothers were to know those things, a feeling, a hunch. I had so much guilt that I didn’t know my babies had died when I was in that meeting 10:30 that morning.
My first thought when I heard his voice was that you made him call because our granddaughter, our "baby girl," had died and you could not tell me yourself because of your broken hearts and your personal shock. But then I heard those dreaded words that I will never forget.
"Amanda and Logan have been killed in an accident." Or maybe he said, "Amanda and Logan are dead." Or possibly even, "There has been an accident, and Amanda and
didn’t make it." I don’t recall the exact words, but the end result was all the same.
I never noticed how hot tears are as they roll down my face. As I cry today, one year later, I cry more for me and our little girl not having you in our lives for I know you are home now and we will be together again one day.
I thank you for leaving your baby girl here with me; I thank God daily she was in the car behind you. We have each other and we will make it through and create a new life together as you meant us to.
Caring for her has helped me to heal that part of me that asked if I am still a ,om. My answer today is yes, I am a ,om of 3, 2 of my children live in heaven and I have one precious little granddaughter who lives here with me.
But the difference is today I have seen the other side; I have experienced joy where last year I believed I never would again. I have laughed and smiled and played as we used to do. I strive daily to go on in your memory, with your love as my inspiration as you would want me to.
Some days I even forget to notice the temperature of the tears as they fall down my face.
For once more they are healing tears. Tears of joy, tears of anger and tears of sadness, they are not only the tears of a mother's broken heart.
In Loving Memory of
Amanda Suzanne Mills 12/15/85-1/20/11 and
Robert Mills 5/27/89-1/20/11
One year after their transition home.
Written by their Mother
Deana L. Martin
Thursday, September 17, 2015
“The level of devastation and confusion after a loss like this is completely beyond description. There are no adequate words to describe the deep ocean of ache that washes over you as relentlessly as waves are washed over the shore. Looking back, I only remember a series of blackened days. Moving through each day felt like moving through concrete. I couldn’t understand why everyone’s world was still turning while mine had come to a shuddering halt. I wasn’t there; I was suspended in a world that wasn’t reality, a world where Hannah was still alive. I couldn’t understand why everything was unfolding as if she had died.”
Feeling the purity of the emotions, the words stole my breath.
The entries to the Grief Diaries, a book series about loss, come in all day long. Yet every entry mesmerizes me by the candid rawness. The contributing authors, baring the good, the bad, and the ugly, leave nothing to the imagination.
Their individual stories unite into a sacred collection of recorded memories. Accordingly, I handle each entry with kid gloves, as if the very words themselves are fragile.
Their individual stories unite into a sacred collection of recorded memories. Accordingly, I handle each entry with kid gloves, as if the very words themselves are fragile.
Will other readers feel the same way I do? Will the deeply profound stories touch their hearts the same way they touch mine?
Some people might shudder at reading such stories. Some, seeing only sadness, will turn away from the raw beauty.
Yet I see a treasure chest yielding a legacy of comfort, healing and hope. The kind of legacy that can only be created by a rich collection of voices.
And every voice is valued.
The 70 authors collaborating on this series readily swap thoughts, support and cyber hugs. And I can’t help but admire our little group. A village of kindness, compassion, and support where cultural differences and societal imperfections have little bearing. Here in this village we all speak the same language of loss, and every journey is honored.
And I feel overwhelming gratitude at sharing their brokenness. And humanness. And love.
For grief is ultimately all about love.
And I am grateful.
Copyright © 2015 Confessions of a Grieving Mother. All Rights Reserved.
www.lyndafell.com | www.griefdiaries.com
Sunday, August 23, 2015
This past April I invited Martin Luther King's youngest daughter, Dr. Bernice King, to speak at the National Grief & Hope Convention. The conversation we had far surpassed my expectations from a speaker, and I was honored and humbled to have an opportunity to sit down with Dr. King for an intimate discussion about her life.
Weathering seven family tragedies between the age of 5 and 25, Dr. King was charming yet candid about the lifelong effects of her loss and sorrow. She also shared what brought her comfort and hope.
I wrote about the conversation in Glen Beck's national network TheBlaze. Here are the links to both parts. "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." - Helen Keller
Monday, August 17, 2015
When someone you know is grieving, what do you say? What can you do? I am asked that question all the time. And yet, just two weeks ago I found myself asking a newly widowed 82 year-old man if he needed anything. "I don't even know what I need," was his reply. Fair enough.
So what does the newly bereaved need? Family and friends usually respond with lots of food, as they pay their respects to both the dearly departed and the newly bereaved. But then what?
After the service is over, and family and friends stop coming by, that's when the real grieving starts. And that's precisely when the awkwardness begins, causing those same well meaning family and friends to do one of two things: (1) Say something they believe is comforting, but is actually insulting and makes things worse, or (2) avoid the bereaved altogether.
So why don't we compile a simple list of what to say and do? Been there, done that. We see it every few months in the Huffington Post or New York Times, written by someone new. Sure, those articles get read but, simply put, we are visual creatures and tend to retain little from a newspaper article. Besides, its not like someone takes the time to clip it out to post on the lunch room fridge.
So, not one to shy from breaking new ground, I decided to find a way to teach people how to help the bereaved from a different venue.
Enter Grief Diaries 101.
Thanks to today's technology, and with a little help from stars aligning in perfect synchronicity, Grief Diaries 101 will launch on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, via The Wellness Universe and LearnItLive. And, since loss happens every day, a live webinar will run the third Tuesday of every month. Each month we'll cover common tips and hints and then focus on a particular type of loss, and participants will learn what to say and do that is helpful to those faced with that kind of loss.
Did you know that the number one thing a griever needs in the initial days after a loss is toilet paper? I'll share the answer why in Grief Diaries 101.
So, what actually is the best thing to say to the newly bereaved? Look for that answer too (and it's not what you think).
Because I don't know all the answers, and since every loss is unique, guest instructors will share their own tips and thoughts to broaden the scope of instruction and enrich the discussion with their own perspectives.
Grief Diaries 101 is for everyone who has a newly bereaved coworker, neighbor, family or friend that they don't know how to help. Participants are invited to come with questions they wouldn't dare ask anywhere else, and be prepared for 90 minutes of helpful information everybody needs to know.
Each class is $20. Click HERE to to learn more.
Monday, August 3, 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Grief is a four-letter word. Yes, I can count, but as a grieving mother, it’s a four-letter word in my book.
This article was originally published on TheBlaze on March 23, 2015.
Just the sound of it is heavy, sad and depressing. Most people avoid it at all cost, just like they avoid me. While I’ve gotten used to the pitiful glances, if you give me five minutes I’ll make one thing abundantly clear: Grief isn’t my entire life. Not by a long shot.
There is so much more to me than being a grieving mother. Did you know I can write? I can bake too. I can sing silly songs to my grandchildren, laugh with my family, and enjoy a good margarita with the sisterhood.
Yes, my life is filled with joy. Most people don’t expect that. Some even say I don’t look like a grieving mother because I smile and enjoy life. Which leads to the inevitable question: How did I manage my loss so well, how did I make sense from such brokenness?
Truth be told, once a grieving mother, always a grieving mother. And forever a permanent sister of The Wailing Tent. Grieving is a horrible process that imprisons us. It’s like someone stole the Technicolor from the movie of our life. But I believe that if I can find my way through the darkness of grief, anyone can.
So I’m happy to answer the inquiries, readily share how I broke free from my sorrow to create a life rich with blessings that include silly songs, moments of laughter, and an occasional salt-rimmed glass.
First, I give a good chunk of the credit to those who surrounded me in my darkest hours. But it’s also true that in the first long stretch, I unapologetically honored my need to tend to my brokenness in private. Like a wounded animal in the wild, I allowed very few in, mainly for their own protection.
Second, pain hurts, and it hurts deeply. And its human nature to flee from that which hurts us. Yet almost instinctively I understood that my wound was simply too profound to run from. So I paid my dues and endured my sentence in the dark, lonely prison of deep sorrow. At the same time, I hung on to the hope that there was no expiration date on the joy that waited for me when I was ready to seek it.
I also recognized that the effort to move through the grief was entirely my responsibility, and mine alone. Every morning I was faced with the choice of whether to get out of bed. It took all my effort and I certainly didn’t feel like it, but I forced myself. And much like strengthening a muscle, my ability to face the day grew stronger until it eventually took no effort at all.
In the meantime, I found a number of gratifying outlets to keep me busy. I love creating projects and endeavors that touch the lives of others, and it fills my heart with gratitude to do so. But in the early days of my solitude, I could barely function so I started with mindless, repetitive projects like beading and knitting. Grief is terribly distracting, so I kept to simple projects for my own safety.
Also, I embraced humor and amusement, because one laugh can scatter a hundred griefs. From the golden oldies like Erma Bombeck and Carol Burnett to modern day comedians such as Carol Scibelli and Tina Fey, they all possess the gift of humor, the ability to make us laugh. And laughter is like an old fashion remedy: it’s good for all that ails us. Including a sorrowful heart.
I also found comfort by reaching out to others who were struggling. It didn’t matter what their loss was, for grief comes in many forms. Supporting others is a powerful way to lift our own hearts, and offers us many benefits. This step singlehandedly is so life changing, that I continue to practice it to this day.
Lastly, I work hard to create hope. It is said that without grief, there would be no need to have hope. And while it too is a four-letter word, it is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
In fact, hope is so much more than just a simple word in the dictionary. It is the life force of our heart and soul, the food source for our dreams. When it rains, we long for the sun. When we’re hungry, we crave a good meal. When we live far from loved ones, we yearn to see them. Hope is the foundation of all our desires.
So without grief, there would be no need for hope. They go hand in hand. Which is why I created an entire event around it, the National Grief and Hope Convention. Maybe creating a convention is a bit extreme but quite simply, so is grief. And grievers need hope.
But this isn’t your average bereavement event. It is filled with nationally known personalities. Some have earned awards, some have written bestsellers, some are famous. But they all have two things in common: loss and healing. And they know that the power of sharing their inspirational journeys offers the gift of comfort and hope to those who are hurting. As the late Christopher Reeve once said, once you choose hope, anything is possible. And no one needs it more than grievers.
So you see, I am and always will be a grieving mother. My sorrow is a lifelong sentence and, from time to time, one can still find me among my sisters in The Wailing Tent. But I worked hard to process my loss, to break free from my prison cell, so I could spend more time seeking joy.
The kind that comes from singing silly songs to my grandchildren, laughing with family, and enjoying a good margarita with the sisterhood. And if I can do it, I believe anyone can. Cheers.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
They say the pain changes with time. It hasn't. But I have. My coping skills are stronger. I am stronger. I like to think I'm a better person with more compassion, more awareness of the world outside my own.
But the pain runs deep. So very, very deep. And the tears still fall, and I need to retreat from time to time to The Wailing Tent where I'm among sisters. I suppose I always will.
But most days the sun shines bright, and I am grateful. Today is not one of those days, though. I want to tell you happy birthday, but the words just won't come. I know I'm a few hours early anyway, so maybe the words will come tomorrow.
It feels like yesterday that I could hear your voice, smell your hair, and touch your skin. I wish it were yesterday.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Any griever will tell you that although we live in a highly advanced society, grief literacy in our country remains rooted in the dark ages. And Nationwide's Super Bowl ad, still fresh in our cross hairs, serves as a sad reminder of grief illiteracy on a national scale.
Following is a multiple choice Grief Literacy Test which reveals how much (or how little) one understands about grief. Why is this test critical? Because we all play a direct role in each griever's ability to survive the journey. The more support one receives, the better they faire. If a griever has little to no support, they may never recover from their devastating loss, resulting in millions of dollars in lost wages, loss of health, loss of family, and worse. Wondering how your family and friends would score? Pass this test on to them after taking it yourself.
For each question, choose one of the four choices that best describes how you would react in that situation. When finished, add the numbers representing your answers together to see your grief literacy IQ score.
1. Your coworker just lost a teenage daughter in a car accident. What do you say to him?
- Nothing. I avoid him altogether.
- I tell him to look at the bright side, they have other children and can always have more.
- I awkwardly admit that I have no idea how he feels.
- I just listen, offer lots of support, and hug frequently.
2. Your neighbor recently lost her young son to an illness. When should she return to normal?
- By the time she returns to work.
- Within 6 months.
- After the first year.
3. Your sister lost her husband last year, and still cries on occasion. How do you react?
- I avoid her altogether.
- I get impatient, and tell her its time to move on.
- I offer to set her up on a blind date or suggest she try on-line dating.
- I offer tissue and a warm hug.
4. Your neighbor recently lost her daughter to suicide, and her yard is overgrown. What should you do?
- Nothing. It's her yard and she should get out of bed to take care of it.
- The fresh air will be good for her, so I might hint that it's become an eyesore.
- I might offer to help her, but I won't do it for her.
- I gather up my garden gloves and tools and just get to work. She won't have the energy to tend to her yard for a very long time, and I like the exercise.
5. Your friend lost a son to homicide two years ago, and the son's birthday is next week. Will you acknowledge it?
- No. His birthday doesn't mean anything to me.
- No, because its been two years already.
- No. I think its more important to distract my friend from thinking about it.
- I'm aware that it is a painful time. I'll give my friend a small token of remembrance, and offer a hug every chance I get.
6. Your coworker's daughter just died of a drug overdose. Should you say something?
- No. It was a drug overdose, so it doesn't matter.
- No, because I'm too scared my daughter will do the same.
- Maybe. I feel bad, but don't know what to say so I will probably just mumble something about how tragic it is.
- Yes. I would tell her that I'm there for her, hug her frequently, and take personal time to research for possible resources that can help.
7. The holidays are coming up, and your widowed uncle is feeling sentimental. What are some ways you can help him?
- There are no ways, so I will just leave him alone. He is an old man anyway and will soon die too.
- I avoid mentioning his wife out of fear that I might remind him that she is gone.
- I don't mention his wife, but I do make him a batch of their favorite cookies.
- I mention his wife a lot, give him every opportunity to talk about her, and offer him frequent hugs.
8. Your brother lost his wife. You just lost your neighbor. Are they the same?
- I don't care that my brother lost his wife. My neighbor was my best friend, and my pain is the only thing that counts right now.
- My brother and his wife argued a lot, so I think my loss is worse.
- If my loss feels this painful, his loss must be terrible too.
- All losses should be respected and honored without judgement or comparison, for love and loss come in many forms.
9. Do you think the closed Facebook groups for grievers are helpful?
- No. Those groups are nothing more than one big pity party.
- I don't understand why those groups need to be closed, but I'm glad I don't have to listen to their sad stories.
- I don't understand their purpose, but if they help then that could only be a good thing.
- Those groups are wonderful because they offer a free, safe place for grievers to express their emotions, which is one of the first step towards healing.
10. How well do you understand the grief journey?
- I don't need to understand it. Grief is a part of life, so what's the big deal?
- I believe that it is a 5-stage journey, like they have taught for years.
- I believe that every loss is different, and that each griever may experience different stages as they move through their journey.
- I believe that every grief journey is as unique as one's fingerprint, no two are alike. I believe that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and that the journey sometimes feels like a never ending roller coaster on steroids.
11. Do you think the National Grief & Hope Convention is worthwhile?
- Absolutely not. It's nothing more than a pity party and huge downer.
- I don't know anything about it, but it must be pretty depressing.
- Maybe. I can't imagine that it would offer anything fun, but it it helps people, then that's good.
- I'm thankful all those speakers will share their journeys of loss and hope so openly. It will be a beautiful and pivotal moment in the history of grief, and its wonderful that the convention is open to anyone who wants to attend!
If you scored 44: You are grief literate, and make a wonderful role model for how to support grievers.
If you scored 30-43: You don't fully understand the significant effects a devastating loss can have, but your compassion and open mind are a wonderful start.
If you scored below 30: You are shamefully illiterate. But there is hope for you. Simply memorize the following three steps and apply to every griever you encounter.
STEP ONE: Listen.
STEP TWO: Hug.
STEP THREE: Repeat.
The idea behind this Grief Literacy Test is not to prove someone else's illiteracy. Rather, its an opportunity to examine where we can improve our own. Only then, can we as a society update the old myths and stigmas that keep today's grief in the dark ages. And that is the very first step towards bringing grief out of the dark and into the light now and for generations to come.
Monday, February 2, 2015
It's true that Nationwide committed a serious faux pas by depicting a dead child in their marketing ad, and then airing it during the Super Bowl. Although it justifiably elicited an outcry from grievers around the world, don't hate Nationwide. Unfortunately, they are just a sad victim of the grief illiterate society we live in.
Yes, with today's advanced technology backed by millions of dollars set aside for marketing campaigns, one would think the Nationwide team would have chosen a different strategy for getting their message across. So this morning I put on my professional Executive Director of the National Grief & Hope Convention voice and put in a call to VP & Chief Customer Advocate Jasmine Green.
First, I must share that Ms. Green is truly a lovely lady who sadly understands grief firsthand. Second, I didn't call to chide Nationwide for their poor choice in marketing campaigns. My phone call was purposeful and straight to the point: would Nationwide join us at the upcoming National Grief & Hope Convention to help raise grief literacy? If world leaders such as Bernice King feel moved to help educate the public by sharing grief journeys on our stage, my hope is that Nationwide would right a wrong by at least attending the convention to help improve its own corporate grief literacy.
In our phone conversation, Ms. Green clarified that their mission was to raise awareness about child safety and accident prevention, and thus they stand by their choice to air such a controversial ad. But in doing so, they touched on a very raw nerve by those grieving the loss of a child who couldn't be saved.
Whether Nationwide will join us at the convention remains to be seen (Ms. Green assured me that my invitation would cross the desk of the CMO). Whether they accept my offer or not, one unexpected benefit of such a gauche ad is that it unintentionally sheds light on just how delicate and complex the grief journey is. And that could very well be the beginning of improved grief literacy. Thanks Nationwide. I'm on your side.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
As producer of the Grief Diaries Radio show, I was inspired to launch a second radio show that would allow us to unabashedly discuss the authentic side of womanhood. My first guest was a well established Passion Party consultant and our topic was how to bring fun back into our intimate lives.
The hour flew by quickly, and the broadcast was over before we knew it. Afterwards, I reflected on how many times I had to mute my microphone so I could giggle like a schoolgirl at the
The truth is, we are not "cheating" on our grief when we feel something other than sorrow. Allowing ourselves to feel joy helps to balance the sadness and recharge our batteries. And my broadcast featuring….ahem….passion enhancement products, was absolutely divine and it felt GOOD to laugh again. And it gave me hope for the future. Yes, I "cheated" on my grief and had a one-night stand with joy. And I plan to do it again.
May the new year bring you moments of peace, comfort and yes, even joy.