I Did Not Know What To Say Blog

Posts Tagged ‘loss of a parent’

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mother’s out there and to my Mom watching over me!

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 10, 2015

I know Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for those that have lost a child, have had a miscarriage, a stillbirth or have lost their mother or grandmother. From my own experience, Mother’s Day is filled with mixed emotions of celebration and sadness from the loss of my mother and from my miscarriage a few years ago.

For those that are grieving today, my hope for you is that your family and friends surround you with the love and support you need to heal your heart today.

 “A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love she holds in her heart.”
~  Franchesca Cox

Do you have a special tradition or celebration that honors your mom’s memory on Mother’s Day? We would love to be able to share your story with our readers. Please email your story to us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Mother’s Day Remembrance & Grief Support Resources
Loss of a child, Miscarriage/Stillborn, Loss of a Mother & Loss of a Grandmother

Loss of a Parent
Resources on how to support a loved one grieving the loss of a parent.

Miscarriage ~ Stillbirth ~ Infant Loss
Resources on how to support a loved one grieving the loss due to Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant loss.

Mother’s Day Remembrance Gifts
Loss of a child, Miscarriage/Stillborn, Loss of a Mother & Loss of a Grandmother

Visit our Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts page for a wide variety of sympathy gift ideas for your loved ones. We hope the thoughtful gifts listed on our website inspire you to give warmth and joy to your friends and family in their time of need.

Sending lots of love and hugs today,

Lori Pederson, Founder
I Did Not Know What To Say.com

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Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Support & Holidays, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Grandparent, Loss of a Mother, Loss of a Parent, Miscarriage, Mother's Day | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

10 Important Things I Would Tell My Younger Self About Grief and Loss

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 25, 2015

Expert Author Lori Pederson

I was only 25 years old when my mom passed away and at that point I had only experienced a few losses in my life. But that would quickly change. In a matter of a month, I lost my mom and one of my mentors to ovarian cancer and my aunt was killed in a car accident. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. As I reflect on the many lessons I have learned over the years about healing after a loss, I wish I could go back and give my 25-year-old self some reassuring words to help me get through the many rough days ahead. So here are a few important things I would share with my younger self:

1. LOVE IS NEVER ENDING. Your mom’s presence and love will ALWAYS be with you. Her loving spirit will comfort you throughout your life.

2. YOU WILL SURVIVE. Although the pain right now is unimaginable, each day it will get easier and you will find your way through the grief and create a new normal in your life.

3. BE GRATEFUL. Wonderful people will show up to support you and help you work through your grief; be grateful for them every day.

4. FORGIVE. Some people will not be there for you, realize it is not their journey to travel down this new road with you. Even though it will be difficult, forgive them and let it go. It does not serve you to hold on to the anger.

5. LIFE IS SHORT. Life is truly short, don’t let it pass you by. My mom was 50 years old when she passed away and now that I have just turned 48 years old I can truly see how quickly time passes. As the famous line from the movie The Shawshank Redemption goes “It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living or get busy dying.” Embrace life and live each day for you and your mom.

6. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH OTHERS. The pain you are experiencing now will help others who are going through a loss. Be willing to share your experience and be open to allowing others to share their stories. Through sharing our stories we all heal.

7. EACH LOSS IS UNIQUE. I am sorry to tell you, but you will experience many more losses in your life. Each one will be unique in its own way, but the lessons you have learned today will help you work through the grief you will experience in the future.

8. LET THE TEARS FLOW. Let the tears come and allow all the feelings you are experiencing to flow. Holding back your emotions will only delay the healing process. The only way to heal is to go through the pain, not around it.

9. YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AND THAT IS OK! Losing your mother will forever change who you are and how you see the world. Embrace this change, it will open you up in ways you never could imagine.

10. LET JOY IN. Remember to have a sense of humor and let the joy in. It is OK to laugh even when you are grieving. Embrace the fun times you had with your mom and be open to exploring life again. Laughter will help breathe life back into your world.

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, what would you like to tell your younger self?

©2014 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a loved one through the grieving process. If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a loved one, please visit our website at http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Loss of a Aunt/Uncle, Loss of a Mother, Loss of a Parent, Share Your Story, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

We are accepting Article & Interview Submissions for 2015

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 19, 2015

Are you an expert in the grief recovery field? Do you have a story about your own life experience dealing with the loss of a loved one that you would like to share? Do you have tips or suggestions on how to assist a loved one after a loss? We would love to hear from you. We are open to article and story submissions for our website, newsletter and Facebook page.  Please email us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

We are open for article submission for our I Did Not Know What to SayTM newsletter on the following topics:

• Tips on how to assist a loved one through the grieving process • Inspirational stories on recovering after the loss of a loved one • Special ways to remember a loved one during the holidays • Featured stories on individuals and organizations that are making a difference in the grief recovery field • How to articles on planning for a future without you (i.e. Life Insurance, Estate Planning, and Funeral Planning) Visit our Newsletter archives: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/mailinglist.html

We are also looking for authors to be interviewed as part of our Virtual Book Tour.

If you are an author of one of the following types of books, please contact us to be included in our 2015 Virtual Book Tour: • Recovering from the loss of a loved one (child, spouse, sibling, significant other, parent, grandparent, friend, and pet) • Inspirational stories on recovering from the loss of a loved one • Inspirational books on living your best life Visit our Virtual Book Tour: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/griefbooks-virtualbooktour.html

We are looking for the following types of professionals to interview as part of our Planning for a Life Without You™ series: • Funeral Planner/Director • Estate Planning Attorneys • Life Insurance Providers

Have an idea for an article? Want to be interviewed? We would love to hear from you. Please submit your idea or article to us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com

Sponsorships If you have a product or service that you would like to advertise on our website or in one of our upcoming newsletters, please visit our website for more details on our advertising opportunities – http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/advertise.html

Posted in Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Grief Support Workshops, Planning For A Future Without You, Share Your Story, Virtual Book Tour, What Not To Say, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

10 Important Things I Would Tell My Younger Self About Grief and Loss

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on December 12, 2014

I was only 25 years old when my mom passed away and at that point I had only experienced a few losses in my life. But that would quickly change. In a matter of a month, I lost my mom and one of my mentors to ovarian cancer and my aunt was killed in a car accident. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. As I reflect on the many lessons I have learned over the years about healing after a loss, I wish I could go back and give my 25 year old self some reassuring words to help me get through the many rough days ahead.  So here are a few important things I would share with my younger self:

  1. LOVE IS NEVERENDING. Your mom’s presence and love will ALWAYS be with you. Her loving spirit will comfort you throughout your life.
  2. YOU WILL SURVIVE. Although the pain right now is unimaginable, each day it will get easier and you will find your way through the grief and create a new normal in your life.
  3. BE GRATEFUL. Wonderful people will show up to support you and help you work through your grief; be 197grateful for them every day.
  4. FORGIVE.  Some people will not be there for you, realize it is not their journey to travel down this new road with you. Even though it will be difficult, forgive them and let it go. It does not serve you to hold on to the anger.
  5. LIFE IS SHORT. Life is truly short, don’t let it pass you by. My mom was 50 years old when she passed away and now that I have just turned 48 years old I can truly see how quickly time passes. As the famous line from The Shawshank Redemption goes “It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living or get busy dying.” Embrace life and live each day for you and your mom.
  6. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH OTHERS. The pain you are experiencing now will help others who are going through a loss. Be willing to share your experience and be open to allowing others to share their stories. Through sharing our stories we all heal.
  7. EACH LOSS IS UNIQUE. I am sorry to tell you, but you will experience many more losses in your life. Each one will be unique in its own way, but the lessons you have learned today will help you work through the grief you will experience in the future.
  8. LET THE TEARS FLOW. Let the tears come and allow all the feelings you are experiencing to flow. Holding back your emotions will only delay the healing process. The only way to heal is to go through the pain, not around it.
  9. YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AND THAT IS OK! Losing your mother will forever change who you are and how you see the world. Embrace this change, it will open you up in ways you never could imagine.
  10. LET JOY IN. Remember to have a sense of humor and let the joy in. It is ok to laugh even when you are grieving. Embrace the fun times you had with your mom and be open to exploring life again. Laughter will help breathe life back into your world.

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, what would you like to tell your younger self.

 

©2014 Lori Pederson WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a loved one through the grieving process. If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a loved one, please visit our website at www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in Loss of a Aunt/Uncle, Loss of a Friend, Loss of a Mother, Loss of a Parent, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 12, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mother’s here and in Heaven and to my Mom who is always watching over me.

I know Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for those that have lost a child, have had a miscarriage or have lost their mother. From my own experience, Mother’s Day is filled with mixed emotions of celebration and sadness from the loss of my mother and from my miscarriage a few years ago. For those that are grieving today, my hope for you is that you are comforted with warm memories of your mom, grandmother or your precious child.

“My mom is a never ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being.
I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.”
~Graycie Harmon

Do you have a special tradition or celebration that honors your mom’s memory on Mother’s Day? We would love to be able to share your story with our readers. Please email your story to us at info@ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Loss of a Parent
Resources on how to support a loved one grieving the loss of a parent.

Mother’s Day Remembrance Gifts
Loss of a child, Miscarriage/Stillborn, Loss of a Mother & Loss of a Grandmother

Visit our Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts page for a wide variety of sympathy gift ideas for your loved ones. We hope the thoughtful gifts listed on our website inspire you to give warmth and joy to your friends and family in their time of need.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Posted in Grief Support & Holidays, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Holiday Grief Support, Loss of a Child, Loss of a Grandparent, Loss of a Mother, Loss of a Parent, Miscarriage, Mother's Day | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Julie Saeger Nierenberg – Author of “Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad”

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 2, 2014

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we welcome Julie Saeger Nierenberg author of Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad. Julie’s interview offers many insights into life, death and losing a parent.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below

 

1. What inspired you to write the book Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad?

In his final days, my father, a writer of his own memoirs, encouraged me to write about the dying experience. For a few weeks after he died, I was “being-with” his death in a way that didn’t upset me terribly. And then, it hit me suddenly in an unexpected way. I felt torn and left behind by my father’s loss. The closeness we shared in life had changed, and I was angry and deeply saddened to “get it” that my life was going on without his physical presence. I began to journal every few days about what had taken place so that I might accept and integrate my feelings. This writing process spanned several months, as each time I would return to it, I reread what I’d written so far. This journal was like a mirror to me; in it I saw what had happened and who I was now, after the experience of death changed my life.

2. What did you learn about dying and life by being with your father through his final stages of life?

I learned not to fear death. My father was a courageous teacher, demonstrating candor and compassion for himself and each of his loved ones, as he prepared to die. I learned to follow my father’s lead, to be silent or to talk, to touch or be touched, to listen or to sing to him. In turns he chose to savor sweet pleasures and endure the depth of pain that convinced him of his readiness to die. I learned that life is a treasure we can share fully and lovingly, all our days, including the final ones. This anonymous saying sums it up very well: “There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.”

3. How can a family best support a loved one’s final wishes as they go through the final stages of life?

I suggest that we not wait till the final stages to share our final wishes. Now is the best time to pre-plan and to inform all parties — family, close friends and medical or other care providers — of our specific preferences, if we have them. Advance directives can help with this process, and there is no substitute for clear communication among all concerned. Having this knowledge clearly discerned in advance, and being prepared to talk about death as a normal and natural part of life at any point in our lives, will help us all to be-with loss and grief when the time comes. Listen and ask and answer and listen some more. You may learn something that is life-changing while being-with the dying.

4. What suggestions do you have on how to deal with death?

Love (the verb). Allow love to conquer any fears or misgivings. Love is eternal. It does not die when the physical body expires. Love the dying person with all your heart and let love lead you through the process. Love yourself and your circle of survivors, freely giving and taking what you need: time, patience, permission and understanding. A death can inspire new life in those who allow it. Accept that grief is a never-ending and transformative force born of deep love. Let it cleanse and guide you as it flows freely through your life. Embrace change.

5. How did having a “Celebration of Life” rather than a traditional funeral assist you and your family start the healing process after your Dad passed away?

The celebration, as requested by my dad, gave attenders the opportunity to speak and offer other forms of remembrance, such as song and poetry. It set the tone for the rest of our lives without him, an occasion to rejoice in his life even as we mourned his death. The stories shared onDaddy this is it2 this day enlivened our personal memories of him and gave us a greater perspective on the many lives he touched.

6. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your suggestions on how friends and family can support a loved one that has lost a parent?

Be ready to be-with grieving loved ones. Prepare yourself to accept whatever stage of grief the bereaved might be experiencing, without expectation. Offer unconditional love and truly give it unconditionally. Offer specific things that you can do or bring or activities to share with the grieving. Accept that these things may not be wanted at the time you offer them. Don’t take any of the manifestations of grief that you witness in a personal way. Grieving people may be inconsolable, angry, withdrawn, needy or stubborn. They also may need a break to laugh or dance with joy. They may want to talk about their memories of the parent, all kinds of memories. Inexperience, pride or confusion may inhibit their ability to ask for or to communicate what they need when they need it. Give them patience and time and unlimited understanding. Continue to offer as if support has no expiration date.

7. What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your father?

I do not wish for anything different from what my friends and family did. Everyone has his/her own emotional and spiritual perspective regarding death and grief, and I accept those differences; we cannot all be perfectly matched at all times, no matter how close we feel.

8. What is one thing you would like readers to take away from your book?

I felt my father’s love every day of my life, and that love hasn’t faltered since his passing. Indeed, he is with me every day, alive in my life as a powerful, joyful and motivating presence.

9. What would you like our readers to know about you?

I am a writer and editor taking a stand for the culture shift of “elderhood” in North America. I stand for the value of elder wisdom, participation and leadership in our society. I stand for the creation and regeneration of practices that nurture and support elder valuation, connection and integration. I stand for my own evolution as an elder and for that of all elders into roles of societal healing, conscious inspiration and holistic community. Sharing our stories is one very effective way that we build community and communicate value. I assist others to tell their stories and to publish them, leaving a legacy for other readers to enjoy.

10. Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write any other books in the future?

I am currently co-writing with a social worker a book series about death, dying and end of life issues. In this series, we offer real-life circumstances, attempt to define and describe them, and discuss ways to proactively deal with them. To provide valuable insights we present multiple perspectives: personal, professional and societal.

I have written, edited and published several other books and am currently in the process of publishing more, including some historical family memoirs dating to the early 1800s. I feel very privileged to work with other writers who publish their own works of fiction and nonfiction. My own writing is primarily focused on memoir, spiritual and personal development with some humor sprinkled in.

About Julie Saeger Nierenberg
Inspired by my father’s living example as an author and activist, I write to contribute to how we prepare, individually and collectively, to live and support the final chapters of life. I write to immerse in the moment and to experience the satisfaction that writing can bring.

As a much younger adult, I meandered through a variety of career emphases in environmental and biomedical sciences before realizing I was called to be an educator. I enjoyed nearly twenty years, first as a Whole Language, Spanish and art teacher and then as an administrator of gifted and talented children. I am the proud parent of two daughters, and the joy and purpose I feel in that role is a guiding light in my daily life.

In 2006, I moved from the home of my roots in Oklahoma to Toronto, Ontario. There, I reinvented my career to flexibly accommodate travel between my old and my new homes. I established a freelance business as a writer, editor, author coach and self-publisher.

Please visit my CreateWrite Enterprises website at http://www.createwriteenterprises.com.

Find me on LinkedIn at http://ca.linkedin.com/in/juliesaegernierenberg/

My book, Daddy this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad, can be purchased from:

CreateSpace e-store:
https://www.createspace.com/4226826

 

 “Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad” is featured on our Helpful Books page –  – http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/helpfulbooks.html & Our Virtual Book Tour –
http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/griefbooks-virtualbooktour.html

Grief Support Resources: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/grief_support_groups.html

Grief Support Resources: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/grief_support_groups.html

Posted in Father's Day, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Loss of a Father, Loss of a Parent, Virtual Book Tour | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Mom’s Last Mother’s Day

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 12, 2013

My Mom’s Last Mother’s Day
by Lori Pederson
Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say
www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com

Mother’s Day, 1993 would be the last Mother’s Day I would spend with my mom. I remember this day vividly because despite being terminally ill, my mom mustered up enough energy to travel across country from California to Washington, D.C. to be with me as I graduated from The George Washington University.

Because I worked at the University, many of my colleagues gave my mom the VIP treatment. Escorting her to the front row where they had a special place for her wheelchair and they continued to check on her throughout the ceremony. I thi296581_3630874139321_250941145_nnk my mom received more attention from the staff than Hilary Clinton, who was the keynote speaker that year.

To see her daughter graduate with a Master’s degree was a moment of great pride for my mom. As many women of her generation, my mom never finished college because she got married and had children. Education was always important to her and she made sure my sister and I had every opportunity to go to college.

My mom was always my strongest supporter and advocate. When I was in Junior High, I did not test well on “standardized tests” and my mom fought with the school to allow me to enroll in higher level courses. I am grateful to my mother for continuing to believe in me, even when the school system did not. Had it not been for her perseverance and love for me I may have never gone to college at all.

I am sure she would have given me all the credit for getting my Master’s Degree, but I know that I would not have ever been able to accomplish this goal without her motherly influence. I am forever grateful for her love and support. Her strong influence in my life made me who I am today. Her loving spirit will always remain in my heart.

“My mom is a never ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.”
~Graycie Harmon

 Loss of a Parent
Resources on how to support a loved one grieving the loss of a parent.

Mother’s Day Remembrance Gifts
Loss of a child, Miscarriage/Stillborn, Loss of a Mother & Loss of a Grandmother

Visit our Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts page for a wide variety of sympathy gift ideas for your loved ones. We hope the thoughtful gifts listed on our website inspire you to give warmth and joy to your friends and family in their time of need.

©2013 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a loved one through the grieving process. If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a loved one, please visit our website at www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in Loss of a Mother, Mother's Day, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

More Than Words Can Say

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on July 12, 2011

As seen on the Note Project Blog on June 28, 2011: http://noteproject.com/more-than-words-can-say

When I learned about the Note Project, I went through some of my old letters and found a copy of a Thank You note I had sent my friend Michele after my mom had passed away. Michele was truly there for me at one of the most difficult times in my life. It has been almost 18 years since my mom passed away and I can still feel the love and support that surrounded me at this time of great loss.

I decided to share my letter to Michele not only to express my gratitude to her but to also show what an impact you can have on the life of a friend that has lost a loved one.

 

Dear Michele,

“I wanted to send you a note to let you know how much I appreciate you and your friendship. Words seem too limited to express the love that our friendship demonstrates.

I can never thank you enough for being there when I truly needed you. From making phone calls, to bringing food, to the most important part – being there when I needed a friend to listen.

Thank you for taking the time to stand by me when I felt like I was going crazy. Thank you for checking up on me and seeing me through the hard days. You can’t imagine how blessed I feel to know that I have such a wonderful friend.

Even when everything seems to have fallen apart, the one thing that makes me believe that God still cares about me is my loving friends and family. I am not sure I understand much about my life anymore, but the one thing I do know is that I have great friends that will see me through the good and the bad times.

Thank you again for the hundreds of thing you have done and said to make my life a bit easier over the last few months. I can’t imagine life without you!”

Love Lori

I have been deeply blessed with loving family members and caring friends that were there for me throughout the grieving process. Their thoughtfulness inspired me to create the website www.IDidNotKnowWhatToSay.com, where we share resources and inspirational ways to support a grieving love one. We invite you to share your story.

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
H. Humphrey

I Didn’t Know What To Say, a website created to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process. Over the past 20 years I have lost many family members, several friends and pets. I have been deeply blessed with loving family members and caring friends that were there for me throughout the grieving process. Their thoughtfulness has been an inspiration to me and I hope to you as well. The smallest of gestures can make a big difference in someone’s life. My hope is that our site will inspire you to make a difference in the lives of those around you.

On the Web: www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com

On Twitter: www.twitter.com/IDidNotKnow

Our Blog: https://ididnotknowwhattosay.wordpress.com/

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IDidNotKnowWhatToSay

If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/mailinglist.html.

Posted in Appreciation, Gratitude, Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Inspiration, Share Your Story, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Chelsea Hanson, Author of the Sympathy Matters Collection

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 23, 2011

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we Welcome Chelsea Hanson, the author of the Sympathy Matters Collection. Chelsea’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to assist a grieving loved one.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences with grief and the healing process in the comment section below.

1. What inspired you to write the Sympathy Matters Collection?

The Sympathy Matters Collection started as a simple poem of comfort. When my mother, Donna, passed away unexpectedly right before Christmas in 1996, I knew that my family and the holidays would never be the same. To help with my grief, I wrote a poem, Hello from Heaven, to express what I thought my mother would want to say to us after she arrived in heaven.

Over time, I would enclose the poem in sympathy gifts for others. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and after many requests, I decided to publicly share this message, so I published my first gift book, Hello from Heaven.

As time passed, I was inspired to create more gift books to comfort others in their time of need, including Forever in My Heart, Merry  Christmas from Heaven Above, If Only I Knew and Choose Hope.

The collection of gift books from http://www.Sympathymatters.com has comforted people across the country and has been used by grief support groups, hospice and funeral home professionals.

But the gift books were just the beginning. As I continued to recognize the need for support at time of loss, With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes was founded. This is a site that provides gifts to express your sympathy with care as well as provide keepsakes to honor your precious loved one.

2. Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process? (i.e. a special card someone sent you, a favorite place they took you, listened when you needed support, etc.)

Just this last Christmas, my mother-in-law, LaVon, sent me a floral holiday bouquet that said, “Thinking about you at this time of the year,” to express her care. My mother, Donna, passed away over 14 years ago right before Christmas. Thus, it meant so much that LaVon acknowledged the anniversary of my mother’s death and provided support at Christmas time, which is typically a difficult time of the year for those who have lost someone.

As evidenced by this example, grieving people still need messages of sympathy for years to come after a death, especially on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. You are not reminding them of their loss when you send a card or do something extra on these days. Instead, you are offering comfort and support that may still be needed. Remember, you can express your support at anytime to the bereaved.

It is also important to acknowledge the anniversary of the death. This is a hard day for anyone who is grieving, so your extra support on this day can be helpful. Communicate that you remember the date by calling, sending flowers, writing a note or what feels right to you.

3. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your top three suggestions on how to positively support a loved one that is grieving?

1. Reminisce. Continue to reminisce with your friend about his or her loved one’s life. Sharing fond memories is a wonderful way to provide comfort. Remember, talking about the deceased will not hurt or upset the person grieving. In fact, it is just the opposite, your friend will appreciate that you are talking about their loved one. Please know that it is okay to talk about someone who passed away, and it is helpful to use the deceased’s name in conversations.

2. Be yourself. Speak in a way and behave in a way that is natural for you. Continue the same relationship you had before: close friend, acquaintance, friendly neighbor, or work buddy. Offer help only if you are able to follow through, and in a way that makes sense in your life. Can you drive the carpool? Offer to drop off a meal? Mow the lawn once a week without even knocking on the door? Take the kids on a play date for the afternoon?

3. Learn about and understand grief. To understand what you friend is going through, do your best to learn about grieving. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no timetable on grief. By having an understanding of the process, you will have more compassion and be able to support your friend. Being a friend to the grieving will not always be easy. Your friend has changed and will continue to change as he or she journeys through grief. Your gift of support, however, will always be remembered and cherished by your friend.

4. You have a series of books (Hello from Heaven, Forever in My Heart, Merry Christmas from Heaven Above, If Only I Knew, and Choose Hope), do you suggest that readers read them in a certain order or do they individually stand alone.

Each book provides a separate message of healing and comfort to those traveling through grief.
Hello from Heaven can be given at any time during the healing process, but it is particularly helpful at time of loss.
Merry Christmas from Heaven Above can be used for the first Christmas after loss or any subsequent Christmas.
Forever in My Heart is especially beneficial on the first anniversary of loss, but can be given at other times during the grief journey too.
If Only I Knew is an inspirational book that reminds us to cherish our loved ones each and every day.
Choose Hope is for families who have been affected by cancer, and provides words of hope and encouragement when facing cancer.

5. What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from your books?
The main theme in my writing is that your loved one is always loving you, watching you and guiding you from heaven. The book excerpts below illustrate this message:

“Though my life is over, I am closer to you now than I was ever before.
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb,
but together we can do it taking one day at a time.”

Excerpt from Hello from Heaven

“Let your faith be strong, for I’m home where I belong.
Please don’t be unhappy because I’m not in your sight.
I’m by your side every morning, noon and night”

Excerpt from Forever in My Heart

6. What do you want our readers to know about you and your books?My purpose is simple:

To ensure that the bereaved receive the sympathy and comfort they need in a caring and helpful manner. When you are not sure of what to say or do at time of loss, the Sympathy Matters collection can help you. Whatever book you may choose to give, be assured that you will express your sympathy thoughtfully and provide great comfort to the recipient.

My long term vision: Working together with grief support groups and educators, we can teach society more about loss, dying and grief. By increasing society’s knowledge and comfort level surrounding death, dying can become accepted as a normal part of life, just like being born. In turn, our world will become better equipped to support and interact with people that are grieving.

7. Do you plan to write any additional books in the future?

Yes, I am currently working on a pet loss book, entitled “Wags and Whiskers from Heaven.” The purpose of the book is to provide sympathy and comfort to pet owners who have lost a beloved pet. I recently lost three long-time family members (pets Owen, Emma and Fiver). Thus, this book is to honor them and to help others who have lost a four-legged family member.

About Chelsea Hanson
Author Chelsea Hanson has the special gift of finding the right words when they are needed most. Her reassuring words provide hope that you too will be able to journey through grief and find a new appreciation of life. For information on Chelsea’s books, please visit: www.SympathyMatters.com 

As an entrepreneur, Chelsea is passionate about providing grief support. She is the founder of With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes, which was developed to help you express your sympathy remember your loved with a special keepsake or simply find additional support from those who have been there. For more information, please visit: www.WithSympathyGifts.com or www.Facebook.com/WithSympathyGifts.

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