Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Second anniversary

The second anniversary of Casey’s death will be on July 17th. The night before she died I asked her if she was happy – I don’t know why, but I did and she answered “yes.” She said that she was happy in the moment but also with respect to her life as a whole. She had so much energy, excitement, vitality, compassion and love and, also a ton of self-confidence. She knew she would be a successful reporter and she knew she would make a positive difference in other’s lives. I knew it also. After telling me she was happy she smiled and that is the last conversation I had with her, the last time I saw that pretty smile and the last time I saw her alive.

Before her death I would often say I was blessed because my wife and children were healthy. I did know that life and health were gifts and not guaranteed. Now one of my children is dead and my wife is not so healthy as she grieves the loss of her daughter. Life has lost that comfortable rhythm and joy and I don’t look too far into the future anymore as it is too painful to contemplate all that Casey has lost and we who loved her have lost. I am no longer blessed with the good health of my children and my wife but I am blessed with the gift of the support, understanding , compassion and kindness from so many. That includes many being kind enough to ask me to speak to their groups-survivors of devastating injuries, family members of those who have died and young people in driving school/education classes about distracted driving.

While I do not look too far into the future personally, I do see the future as offering many opportunities to help others and at the same time help me by telling Casey's story. Listening to and supporting others as they mourn or contributing to making the highways safer feels right for me. We will be performing a day of service in Casey's memory on July 17th and I know that will feel right also.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daily losses and gains

I spoke at a recent meeting at Gilda's Club, a support group for those who have lost loved ones due to cancer. I told Casey's story-a little about her life and also about how she died and then talked about what the grief process has been like for me.I discussed how dificult it is for some to offer support and there was general agreement from all in attendance that something needs to be done to improve the dialogue of loss and that will not only help those who are grieving but also those who try to offer comfort. I took my grief support survey questions and statements and we chuckled over some of the statements that we had heard from others supposedly offered to console. We were able to laugh now but it was not so easy in the months following our loved ones loss. The researchers call it "social ineptitude." The experinece was very helpful for me and all who attended told their story of loss and something about their loved one so we could better understand and feel their loss. After the program was over an elderly gentleman told me that death is a loss but that there were so many others. He proceeded to list several-reduced eyesight and hearing diminishing independence, arthritis in hands preventing him from doing his hobbies, loss of friends who do not know how to treat him after his wife of more than 50 years died. He is right of course. I really had nothing to say except to nod and touch his shoulder. I hope as I age that I will be able to offset these losses with daily gains-a smile, a kind thought, a beautiful sunrise or feeling especially connected to another.