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Mother's Day Grief

By  Linda Vigil

Grief from the death of a child is something counselors declare women can heal from, although they will always remember. We are forever changed. Some women will recall the moment the child died and memorialize it, recalling how old the child would be from year to year.

There aren’t any gifts and or gentle words that can take the place of a child that has died. Whether the child dies in infancy or adulthood, the death will  always be felt. It can come like a shock, a surprise, a painful event that takes the mind and moves it away from joy to a point of infinite pain that is so great it seems that it can never be overcome. But the pain finally moves enough, so that each day begins again, filling the empty space that can never be filled entirely.

Others can say they understand, but seldom can, unless they too have shared the same experience.

What Grieving Moms Want for Mother's Day    springflowers
Some Ways to help moms or children who have lost their Mother

1.  Recognize that they are a mother :   Offer a hug and  a  "Happy Mother's Day."  Send a card to let them know you remember that they are a mother.

2.  Acknowledge they have had a loss :  Express the message, "I know this might be a difficult day for you. I want you to know that I am thinking about you.”

3.  Use their child's name in conversation : Mothers respond, "People rarely speak his name anymore, but when they do it’s like music to my ears."

4.  Plant a living memorial :  A tree or rose bush, a living plant, like memories, will grow in beauty as the years pass.

5.  Visit the grave or memorial site :  Mothers feel that it was "extremely thoughtful" when others visited their child's site.
6.  Light a candle :  Let the mother know you will light a candle in memory of their child on this Mother's Day.

7.  Share a memory or pictures of the child : The greatest gift you can give a mother is a heart felt letter and a favorite memory about their child.

8.  Send a remembrance gift : A small gift such as an angel statue, a framed photo, a book or toy, in the child’s name is a perfect remembrance.

9.  Don't minimize the loss :  Avoid using clichés that attempt to explain the death of a child. ( "God needed another angel.")  And don't try to find anything positive about the loss ("You still have two healthy children").

10.  Encourage Self-Care :  Self-care is an important aspect healing for the mind and the spirit. Encourage a grieving mother to take care of herself.

About mid-April the commercials, the billboards, and newspaper ads begin to describe the "perfect"  gift to give or the “special”  place to go for Mother's Day.

I wish that alongside all of the Happy Mother's Day cards, there were other cards that acknowledge those of us who have a difficult time with the day. For instance, people in my situation, whose daughter has passed away. Also people who, for whatever reason, are estranged from their mothers or mothers who are estranged from their children. Somehow, if you do not have a mother in good standing, it can feel as if you don't exist.

Well, to all of you grieving this Mother's Day, I want to acknowledge YOU and offer this prayer. It has brought me comfort.

In the rising of the sun and its going down, we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
In the opening buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.pen-nib
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,  as we
remember them.

~ ~  Hebrew Union Prayer Book  ~ ~
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
In Sharing & Healing - Linda V.

Child Suicides Are Rare - But Tragically Possible

CHILD  SUICIDES  ARE  RARE  - But Tragically Possible
children at play - Edited from AP Wire articles -

A 9-year-old with a toothy grin and a love for mechanical things, had apparently committed suicide in a restroom at his elementary school in Dallas.

Much of the shock comes from the rarity of such an act.

The number of suicides involving children, five to nine years old, are extreamly low —33 nationaly in the eight year period from 1999 through 2006, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  For children up to the age of 9, suicide isn’t even in the top ten causes of death.  The 10 to 14 age bracket ranks third and 15 to 24 is second for cause of death.

The 33 deaths of young children are the “completed suicides,” said Dr. Gregory Fritz, (Bradley Hospital - Rhode Island), but it’s difficult to know the number of attempted suicides. There are probably several hundred more attempts for children under 12 every day.     

Thirty years ago, professionals rejected the idea of child suicide. Cases that seem clear in retrospect were often described as “accidental.”   “It used to be thought that 5 to 9 year olds couldn’t be depressed, and that they didn’t have the capacity to think of time in the same way as adults, and thus perceive their lives as hopeless and filled with profound sadness,”  Fritz said.

Over the last few decades, a growing base of knowledge about the way kids think, and what they think about, has changed the way psychiatrists and psychologists consider child depression and suicide.

Children,  just like adults, have family relationships,  peer issues, and academic goals.  In addition, children tend to have high anxiousness of the unknown and the unfamiliar.  Anxiety, trauma, peer interaction and bipolar conditions become serious factors.  “Bullying is a big issue and hopelessness can be a risk factor,”  said Dr. Cynthia Pfeffer, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical.  “The motivation that leads to suicide can be very different from child to child.”

“For some kids,”  said Dr. Fritz,  “It can be because they feel bad. They have a strong conscience and they feel guilty and worthless and they feel that they don’t deserve to be happy and to live. Sometimes they live in an environment where their pain isn’t recognized, or no one sees how unhappy they really are. For them suicide is a product of desperation.”

Fritz added, “I don’t think most children say ‘I wish I was dead’ or ‘I want to die’ at a young age, but if parents hear something like that, they should become concerned and worried.

The Intervention and Prevention Rule of Caution  is always  —no matter what age the person is, if they mention suicide, take it seriously.

Myths About Suicide

MYTHS ABOUT SUICIDE                      myths

Many myths have developed about suicide and those who engage in suicidal behaviors.

The following are the most “common myths” and are “NOT TRUE”

> FALSE.    Many people who die by suicide have given definite warnings to family and friends of their intentions. Always take any comment about suicide seriously.

> FALSE.  Most suicidal people are undecided about living or dying. While a part of them wants to live, death seems like the only way out of their pain and suffering. They sometimes gamble with death, leaving it up to others to save them.

> FALSE.   Bad events can push depression forward, but most suicide results are from serious psychiatric disorders rather than from any single event.

>  FALSE.  Most all people have thought of suicide as a viable movement to stop un-ending, and unbearable pain.

>  FALSE.  Not all completed suicides are by depressed people.  Persons in tragic
circumstances, painful societal events, and debilitating health conditions, will sometimes complete suicide.

> FALSE.  Mental illness, though a strong factor in suicide ideation, is not always the only or the exact condition and nature for a person’s suicidal ending.

> FALSE.  Every hour hundreds of suicidal persons are brought back to a safe mental health level through intervention by professionals, family, friends and peers.

> FALSE.   Many suicidal persons have a history of multiple attempts. Talking to someone about suicide will not put a new idea into his or her head. In fact most intervention and prevention is successful with frank and honest discussions.

Bullying A Cause of Suicide


By Donald W. Meyers : The Salt Lake Tribune

PROVO - When John Halligan's son Ryan committed suicide six years ago at the age of 13, he and his wife tore the house apart looking for the suicide note that would explain why he did it. They didn't find one. But when Halligan, then an engineer with IBM in Vermont, logged onto his son's instant messaging account, he found the answer he was looking for: Ryan Halligan was a victim of cyberbullying.

FIST-websmallHalligan was the keynote speaker at the 10th Annual Suicide Prevention Conference at Brigham Young University on Friday. The conference was conducted by the Utah County HOPE Task Force, a coalition of community groups focused on preventing suicide, and attracted educators, social workers and students.

Greg Hudnall, HOPE's executive director, said the group this year is attempting to get at the root causes of teen suicide, including bullying in its many forms. "People don't realize the impact of bullying," he said.

Barbara Blotter, student services director at Nebo School District, said students who know a friend is being bullied can let counselors or parents know, especially if the friend threatens suicide. Because some signs of suicidal behavior --depression, drastic changes in behavior, falling grades, feelings of loneliness, extreme sensitivity, impulsive behavior or drug and alcohol abuse --can be mistaken for teen angst, Blotter said the key is erring on the side of caution.

"One of the things we do as counselors, if we have a question [about whether a student is suicidal], we don't let them leave until we notify their parents and let them know," Blotter said in an interview.

Cyberbullying makes school administrators' jobs more difficult, Blotter said. The problem: The bullying takes place on home computers outside school -- and outside a principal's jurisdiction. Blotter said the school can intervene if the online bullying disrupts school life.

Halligan said bullying was a major factor in his son's suicide.

A bully and his friends targeted Ryan, who had problems with learning and physical coordination, in fifth grade. The taunting became so bad that in seventh grade, Ryan asked his parents to take him out of school. He said talking to the principal would only make matters worse, since he would be labeled a "tattletale."

Instead, Halligan and his son turned to one of their favorite movies, "The Karate Kid," about a bullied teen who develops self-confidence and defeats his tormentor through the discipline of martial arts. But Ryan chose kick-boxing instead of karate, and he and his father practiced in the basement.

Ryan had a showdown with his oppressor, and he thought the bullying was over. Near the end of the school year, he said he had befriended the bully, which Halligan now believes was a mistake.

That summer, he said Ryan spent most of his time on the computer. After Ryan's suicide, Halligan learned from Ryan's friends online and through chat logs that Ryan was the target of a rumor that he was gay, a rumor spread by the bully who was supposedly now his friend.

In an attempt to quash the rumor, Ryan began corresponding online with a popular girl at school. But when he approached her in the hallway, she called him a loser. Her online interest, it turned out, was part of the bullying.

That was the day before Ryan ended his life.

Halligan tried to press charges against the bully, but learned that bullying was not illegal in Vermont. So, he lobbied for an anti-bullying law, which defines bullying, requires schools to adopt anti-bullying policies and to report bullying.

Utah enacted its own anti-bullying law in 2008. House Bill 325, sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, requires school districts to create anti-bullying and hazing policies.

Halligan eventually confronted the boy and his parents, when the bully broke down and tearfully asked forgiveness. Halligan's one regret was not speaking with them earlier, when the bullying started.

He said it's important that kids realize there is nothing that justifies suicide and the pain it inflicts on a family. "You are loved beyond belief," Halligan said. "Trust me on this one."

HOW UTAH RANKS : - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Utah ranks 15th overall nationally for suicides committed by youths and young adults between the ages of 14 and 24, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's down from a ranking of sixth 10 years ago. An average of 307 Utahns of all ages commit suicide every year, according to Utah Department of Health statistics.

So, Why ask Why?

SO WHY ASK WHY By : Tim Jackson

Survivors can't stop asking why-at least for a while. Margaret Atwood describes a survivor's incessant search for answers:

Curiosity is not our only motive: Love or grief or despair or hatred is what drives us on. We'll spy relentlessly on the dead. We'll open their letters. We'll read their journals. We'll go through their trash, hoping for a hint, a final word, and explanation, for those who have deserted us -who've left us holding the bag, which is often a good deal emptier than we'd supposed. The search for clues to help them understand propels survivors to ask, "What could they possibly have been feeling or thinking that made dying seem like the only opinion they had left?"

What Caused Them To Choose suicide?


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