Thursday, December 27, 2012

When a mother sees her child die....

A really sad tale that no parent should have to live through....

In the private hell of a mother's grief, the sounds come back to Judy Neiman. The SUV door slamming. The slight bump as she backed up in the bank parking lot. The emergency room doctor's sobs as he said her 9-year-old daughter Sydnee, who previously had survived four open heart surgeries, would not make it this time.
Her own cries of: How could I have missed seeing her?
The 53-year-old woman has sentenced herself to go on living in the awful stillness of her West Richland, Wash., home, where she makes a plea for what she wants since she can't have Sydnee back: More steps taken by the government and automakers to help prevent parents from accidentally killing their children, as she did a year ago this month.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Connecticut Elementary School Shooting: How To Help

After the mass shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, local mental health professionals and aid organizations are stepping forward to help those affected by the tragedy.

According to, a number of organizations are prepared to help with counseling services and bereavement therapy and funds have been set up to support the victims' families.

Find out how the area’s nonprofits are getting involved in the relief effort and how you can help:

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
United Way, a global nonprofit that works to improve families and individuals’ education, income stability and health, has set up the Sandy Hook School Support Fund through its Western Connecticut chapter. The fund will provide support services to the families that have been affected by the mass shooting. Donations can be mailed to: Sandy Hook School Support Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470 or submitted online:

Danbury Hospital
Danbury hospital has partnered with other local counseling and mental health agencies within the community and is providing crisis intervention services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Contribute here:

Friends of the Engel Family Fund
Olivia Engel, 6, was shot and killed during the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. To help the family of the little girl who longtime family friend, Dan Merton, said "had perfect manners" and was the "teacher's pet, the line leader," supporters have set up the Friends of the Engel Family Fund.  

Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund
A former Sandy Hook student has set up the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund in conjunction with Crowdrise, to raise funds for the victims, families and others affected by the tragic shooting. Donations will be directed to the Sandy Hook PTSA, according to the fundraising site.  Find out how you can get involved:

Newtown Memorial Fund
The Newtown Memorial Fund aims to help victims’ families pay for funeral costs, set up a community-wide memorial and a college scholarship fund for the students of the Newtown Public Schools. Find out how you can get involved: 

Emilie Parker Memorial Fund
Emilie Parker, 6, was one of 26 victims killed on Friday in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. To support Emilie’s parents, Robbie and Alissa, in paying for medical expenses, arranging for a funeral in Utah and taking off from work to spend time with family, friends and relatives have set up the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund. To donate via PayPal, use the email

Newtown Youth and Family Services 
Newtown Youth & Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit mental health clinic, will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for emergency counseling for families, community members or staff involved in the Sandy Hook 
Elementary school tragedy. All donations made to the organization will benefit those affected. Find out how you can help: 

Newtown Parent Connection
The Newtown Parent Connection, a nonprofit that addresses issues of substance abuse, also offers bereavement group counseling on the first Wednesday of every month. The organization told The Huffington Post that it’s going to try to bring in additional counselors to accommodate the needs of those affected by the Sandy Hook shooting. Find out how you can help:

Project Linus
Project Linus, a nonprofit that brings comfort to children in crisis, has arranged to send more than 700 warm, cozy handmade blankets to children affected by this latest shooting, according to an email sent to The Huffington Post. Find out how you can get involved: 

The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross of Connecticut provided more than 50 units of blood platelets and plasma to the Danbury Hospital, where some of the victims were transported, spokesperson Melanie Pipkin told the Huffington Post. The aid organization has also distributed food and water to first responders and is setting up a family reception center that will provide initial grief counseling. The aid organization is not seeking blood donations at this time and is asking supporters to reach out to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Find out how you can get involved:

Support Family of Noah Pozner
Family members remember Noah Pozner, 6, -- one of 26 victims killed on Friday -- as “just a really lively, smart kid." According to a Facebook page set up in Noah’s memory, supporters can send letters of support to a friend who will deliver them to the family later this week. Cards can be mailed to: Friends of Maddie 1534 North Moorpark Road Suite 284 Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
From Huffingtonpost .com

Monday, December 17, 2012

A dad’s experience in overcoming grief: Any lessons for parents and survivors of Connecticut school shooting?

It has been a terrible weekend for parents of young children and everyone who continues to come to grips with the terrible tragedy in Connecticut.
While nation continues to mourn the senseless loss of young lives, parents of the twenty young children continue the struggle to cope.
There seems to be a tremendous amount of public spotlight on the tragedy and outpouring of support at local and national level. Resources are being provided to ensure parents and other kids who survived the tragedy are able to cope. However, the media spotlight will soon fade and the fact is each of the parents will try and cope with grief in their own personal way.
Fathers, mothers and siblings will try and search for answers and find closure.
This weekend, I was reflecting on this tragedy briefly and also on how my wife and I tried to move ahead after we lost our infant son in an untimely manner. Parents may find other avenues to cope with the grief. A few articles from media:
  • Support groups: Psychologists Jeff Gardere and Peggy Norwood joined HuffPost Live hosts Marc Lamont Hill and Abby Huntsman to discuss how those affected by Friday's deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday morning can begin coping with the tragedy. Gardere said that parents of children at the school need to use each other for support. 
  • CNN Blogs: How parents can cope with fear? While the nation processes the horror and fights for change to help prevent anything like this happening ever again, we also need to find ways to handle the rush of emotions we’re feeling. How do you send your kids off to school and do your best to know they’ll be safe? For some answers, I spoke with clinical psychologist Paula Bloom.
  • Dad speaks out after daughter slain at school : A father who lost his six-year-old daughter in the Connecticut school shooting broke down in tears, remembering her.
For me, writing about my experience was cathartic (ref book “a child lost in flight”).
From Los Angeles Times: It may not be possible to understand a tragedy like the shooting Friday in Newton, Conn., but parents can help their children cope with the fear and insecurity.
A number of resources are available.
Talking with Children about School Violence: Advice from the Lucy Daniels Center in North Carolina and tailored for children 11 years old or younger.
Talking to Kids about School Safety: Mental Health America also offers suggestions, along with a list of signs that indicate a child may need help.
Caring for Kids After Trauma, Disaster and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals: A report published by The New York Child Study Center (PDF).
Stopping School Violence: From The National Crime Prevention Council (PDF).
"Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers”: From the National Association of School Psychologists (PDF).
Talking to Children about Community Violence: advice from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
National Institute of Mental Health: A free booklet that describes what parents can do to help children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters.
PBS Parents: Tools for talking with kids of all ages about these difficult stories.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network: More tools for parents in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
Helping Children Regain Their Emotional Safety After a Tragedy: A guide produced by Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shocking news: Man kills 26 at Conn. school, including 20 kids

As father that has lost a child, my heart goes out to parents of #Connecticut #elementary school kids. 
Words cannot convey the grief over loss of a child. May the power above be with you and families. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Life & Death Inextricably Connected, Bereaved Mother Says

The 3 Ways Faith Transforms Tragedy
into Enlightenment

Life & Death Inextricably Connected, Bereaved Mother Says
Before the death of her 16-year-old twin daughter, Sarah, Caroline Flohr says she was living under some major misapprehensions.  “Like so many, I believed that tragedies happened somewhere else, to other families, and were something we only read about,” she says.

On Aug. 23, 2004, it happened in her community – to her family. Sarah died in a car accident. It would take Caroline several years to come to some kind of peace.
“I believed that death came after a life had been fully lived, when one was long past childhood. I was wrong,” says Caroline who writes about her family’s spiritual journey in the memoir, “Heaven’s Child. “Death comes when it will.”

On the fifth anniversary of Sarah’s death, her friends and family – Caroline; Sarah’s grandmother, Nonny; her grandfather, Papa Ed; stepfather, Andy; twin sister, Caiti; brother, Christopher; sister, Mary; and her sister, Annie – agreed to set her free. She would be released from her family’s pain and grief, powerful emotions that ensnared her spirit. The family accepted her loss in a celebratory ceremony at Sarah’s grave.  “I’ve allowed my heart to mend, to hold onto Sarah’s memory but not the pain of her loss,” says Caroline. She says she has become a more complete and spiritual person since the death of her daughter, and explains how her faith made that possible:
• “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King … What does a bereaved mother do with the rest of her teenage daughter’s life, which has moved on to the next stage? After a few weeks, Caroline cancelled Sarah’s cell phone, and the family slowly returned to a regular routine. Caroline lights a candle during dinner, with a picture of Sarah and her twin sister placed nearby. Though she can’t see Sarah, she feels her presence. It may be in the kindness of a stranger, the sudden appearance of something that was lost, the smell of a certain fragrance. Faith is believing in that which you can’t see – and not ignoring what you can feel.
• The present is a present: Within weeks of Sarah’s death, the family dog, Emmett, died. After so much loss, the family welcomed a yellow Labrador, which would be named Lady Brooke. While witnessing the joy the dog brought back to the household, it became abundantly clear that experiencing joy in life was a gift. Indeed, every moment given to us should be considered a gift, including the memories of loved ones no longer physically in our lives.
• Interweaving death with life: In the five years from Aug. 23, 2004 to Aug. 24, 2009, Caroline learned how to weave the reality of death into her daily life. Death is no longer one heavy fact that cuts through life but rather a part of life that  makes joy sweeter and relationships richer. By interweaving death with life, we are always reminded of what is important.