February, 2017

Words from COPE President and Founder Lilly Julien

“On the outside I’m trying to be brave and tough. On the inside my heart is breaking.”
These were the words my daughter, Michelle, wrote in a letter home from camp when she was 7 years old.
I hear her words resonating in my thoughts as January 25th approaches—25 years since she passed.
Isn’t that what we do—try to put a smile on our faces when inside we’re feeling sad, anxious and vulnerable?

25 years ago, I wasn’t only broken. My heart was shattered. It’s taken years and years to find the tools to pick up the pieces. I have read books, attended conferences, followed speakers—Brian Weiss, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross… I have seen mediums. I have engaged in art therapy. I have done Reiki and sound healing, yoga, dance trance, and meditation. I have had massages and watsu, done breathwork and shamanic journeys. I have explored any path that offered a possibility of connecting with my daughter, and finding another piece of my heart.

25 years later, I am still working to put together those shattered pieces, and as I do, I continue to find connections. Each piece brings me closer to Michelle with a higher awareness and an inner peace.

Love is the peace and the piece that can never be destroyed. Love is the connecting piece to all that was and all that will forever be.

“We are all connected” were the words I heard in my head on the day my daughter died. 25 years later, I can feel a connection that I didn’t feel that day. Each time that I open myself to opportunities to connect, there are new possibilities and our connection grows stronger…Connecting Our Paths Eternally.

Love to each of you as together we COPE.

Lilly
COPE President and Founder
Ljulien5@gmail.com

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February, 2017

Martina Sternberg, PhD, NCC writes about her son Josh….

I wanted to write something in this newsletter to honor my son, Joshua, who died Jan 24, 2013 at the young age of 22.  I looked at the blank piece of paper for minutes that seemed like hours.  What?  I have nothing to say about my son?  In reality, I just didn’t know where to start.  In our culture, I have learned, talking about our children who have left this world much too early, is taboo.  People don’t REALLY want to know how you are feeling, they want you to say “I am fine” and whatever you do, do NOT mention your child, because it makes them uncomfortable when what I really want to do is talk about Josh.  Another lady in my office building lost her child when she was three years old.  I asked her if she has pictures of her little girl in her office and she said No because it would make others uncomfortable.  I look around my office and realize I have taken pictures of both of my children down because I couldn’t have pictures of my living daughter and none of my son.  That would not honor his life.  That would seem to me like he never existed so I took all pictures down…not for me, but to make others more comfortable.  The other day someone told me “I didn’t know you lost a child, I am so sorry.”  It felt good to talk about Josh and introduce her to my wonderful son.  Grief doesn’t get easier, we learn when and who to talk about it with.  People tell us they want to the old “me’” back.  Who is this “old me?”  I don’t even know her and couldn’t be her again. I am sorry.  We (I) feel I need to make others feel better when they mistakenly mentioned my son.  I am not sorry!  Why should I be?  He was and is a beautiful person.  He taught me so much and not worrying about life.  You know that song “Don’t worry, be happy?”  It reminds me of Josh.  His ‘dream’ was to live on the beach just no worries, loving life.  My daughter got out of the Army and moved to the beach when Josh died.

My Josh.  Josh was very athletic and quiet young man.  He listened a lot but never did most of the talking.  He got himself in some trouble when he was 15 (like lots of boy) he would cut school and things like that. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so I thought it was the perfect time to move to be with her and get Josh away from the kids he cut school with.  He was 19 when he met his future wife who was 28.  I wasn’t a bug fan but when she got pregnant, just like everything else in life you accept it and support your kids. We used to have “mommy and me” time.  It was one of these “mommy and me” dates when he TRIED to tell me he was pregnant.  I knew something was up.  He was fumbling all over his words and so nervous.  When we left, he sent me a text and told me his girlfriend was pregnant.  I said something silly like well at least she can’t get pregnant now. She had 4 other boys 5,5, 3, and 1 year old.  Josh loved the boys and was amazing…just simply amazing to the boys.  She wasn’t a great mom (putting it nicely).  After Josh died in a car accident, she gave the other 4 boys to their parental grandparents (3 sets of grandparents) and we got Gabriel.  Gabriel is my reason for living.  He looks like his daddy and he gives me reason o keep Josh alive and talk about him every day.  You hear that doing something for others helps you deal with your grief.  I thought since Josh loved kids so much, I would donate to “NO Kid Hungry.”  I still do, every month.  I made little notes that said “In loving memory of Joshua Craig” and when I would give someone money on the street or buy them food whatever, I would give that to them as well so they would say or at least read Josh’s name.   

I have walked to raise money for Alzheimer’s for many years (My granddad had it as well) and I was raising Gabriel to be like his dad – a great, great man!  It still felt like I needed to do something to honor my son.  As I shared earlier, Josh was very athletic.  My husband was football coach and I was team mom this year for Gabriel (just like we did for josh) and we noticed 2 other grandparents raising their grandchildren on the same team.  I looked around for support groups or anything and found nothing so I started a support group and some other things for grandparents raising grandchildren.  It seems like a great fit for my mom (who raised my brother’s kids) and my son who left me with his most precious gift, Gabriel. 

Josh was just so beautiful inside and out.  He truly never said a negative word about people.  He was just a “love the world” kind of person.  Josh taught me a lot of lessons in his life and still today but one that really speaks to the type of person he was – Gabriel was and is my first grandson.  He is everything that people say about their first grandbaby.  I used to buy hi everything and anything.  For Christmas when Gabriel was 6 months old (his first Christmas) I asked Josh if we could have a small Christmas with Gabriel, my husband and I and then a Christmas for all of us.  He said “Mom, I have 5 sons and they should all get the same amount of Christmas toys.”  Darn!  Of course, he was right. He was that way about everything and I loved him for it and for everything he was, is and will be.  Yes, he is still here and making a difference.  We went to Florida to see my daughter for Christmas this year and almost every picture with Gabriel in it had an orb in the picture.  Pictures were taken with different cameras, in different lights, on different days but almost every one with Gabriel in it, had Josh’s orb in it as well.  Yes, he is still with us and participating in our lives as only he can. 

A poem shared by Marilyn Roldan in honor of her daughter Kirsten’s 2nd year anniversary on January 30th and her birthday on February 3rd

To My Dear Kirsten, 

Hope you are singing and dancing with all the Angels in Heaven.  Miss you more than words can express…till we meet again! 

Love you always and forever, 

Mom

♡ ..You’ll never be forgotten
That simply cannot be.
As long as I’m living,
I’ll carry you with me.
Safely tucked within my heart
Your light will always shine;
A glowing amber never still,
Though out the end of time.
No matter what the future brings.
Or what may lie ahead,
I know that you will walk with me
Along the path I tread.
So rest my angel, be at peace.
And let your soul fly free,
One day I’ll join your flight,
For all eternity.♡
— Unknown “Never forgotten”

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Please share with us your writings about your child.  Email info@copefoundation.org for more information.

You’re My Star, My Dear

© Alex more by Alex , Published on July 2011

The beam shines down,
The rays so bright,
The stars come forward,
At the dead of night.

I feel you close,
You’re always here,
The glow of the sun,
You’re my star, my dear.

An angel gained,
A distance apart,
Our friendship lives on,
A place in my heart.

I feel you close,
You’re always here,
The glow of the sun,
You’re my star, my dear.

A loss like this,
Won’t heal too soon,
You light the sky,
The sun, the stars, the moon.

I feel you close,
You’re always here,
The glow of the sun,
You’re my star, my dear.

Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com

February, 2017

Martina Sternberg, PhD, NCC writes about her son Josh….

I wanted to write something in this newsletter to honor my son, Joshua, who died Jan 24, 2013 at the young age of 22.  I looked at the blank piece of paper for minutes that seemed like hours.  What?  I have nothing to say about my son?  In reality, I just didn’t know where to start.  In our culture, I have learned, talking about our children who have left this world much too early, is taboo.  People don’t REALLY want to know how you are feeling, they want you to say “I am fine” and whatever you do, do NOT mention your child, because it makes them uncomfortable when what I really want to do is talk about Josh.  Another lady in my office building lost her child when she was three years old.  I asked her if she has pictures of her little girl in her office and she said No because it would make others uncomfortable.  I look around my office and realize I have taken pictures of both of my children down because I couldn’t have pictures of my living daughter and none of my son.  That would not honor his life.  That would seem to me like he never existed so I took all pictures down…not for me, but to make others more comfortable.  The other day someone told me “I didn’t know you lost a child, I am so sorry.”  It felt good to talk about Josh and introduce her to my wonderful son.  Grief doesn’t get easier, we learn when and who to talk about it with.  People tell us they want to the old “me’” back.  Who is this “old me?”  I don’t even know her and couldn’t be her again. I am sorry.  We (I) feel I need to make others feel better when they mistakenly mentioned my son.  I am not sorry!  Why should I be?  He was and is a beautiful person.  He taught me so much and not worrying about life.  You know that song “Don’t worry, be happy?”  It reminds me of Josh.  His ‘dream’ was to live on the beach just no worries, loving life.  My daughter got out of the Army and moved to the beach when Josh died.

My Josh.  Josh was very athletic and quiet young man.  He listened a lot but never did most of the talking.  He got himself in some trouble when he was 15 (like lots of boy) he would cut school and things like that. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so I thought it was the perfect time to move to be with her and get Josh away from the kids he cut school with.  He was 19 when he met his future wife who was 28.  I wasn’t a bug fan but when she got pregnant, just like everything else in life you accept it and support your kids. We used to have “mommy and me” time.  It was one of these “mommy and me” dates when he TRIED to tell me he was pregnant.  I knew something was up.  He was fumbling all over his words and so nervous.  When we left, he sent me a text and told me his girlfriend was pregnant.  I said something silly like well at least she can’t get pregnant now. She had 4 other boys 5,5, 3, and 1 year old.  Josh loved the boys and was amazing…just simply amazing to the boys.  She wasn’t a great mom (putting it nicely).  After Josh died in a car accident, she gave the other 4 boys to their parental grandparents (3 sets of grandparents) and we got Gabriel.  Gabriel is my reason for living.  He looks like his daddy and he gives me reason o keep Josh alive and talk about him every day.  You hear that doing something for others helps you deal with your grief.  I thought since Josh loved kids so much, I would donate to “NO Kid Hungry.”  I still do, every month.  I made little notes that said “In loving memory of Joshua Craig” and when I would give someone money on the street or buy them food whatever, I would give that to them as well so they would say or at least read Josh’s name.   

I have walked to raise money for Alzheimer’s for many years (My granddad had it as well) and I was raising Gabriel to be like his dad – a great, great man!  It still felt like I needed to do something to honor my son.  As I shared earlier, Josh was very athletic.  My husband was football coach and I was team mom this year for Gabriel (just like we did for josh) and we noticed 2 other grandparents raising their grandchildren on the same team.  I looked around for support groups or anything and found nothing so I started a support group and some other things for grandparents raising grandchildren.  It seems like a great fit for my mom (who raised my brother’s kids) and my son who left me with his most precious gift, Gabriel. 

Josh was just so beautiful inside and out.  He truly never said a negative word about people.  He was just a “love the world” kind of person.  Josh taught me a lot of lessons in his life and still today but one that really speaks to the type of person he was – Gabriel was and is my first grandson.  He is everything that people say about their first grandbaby.  I used to buy hi everything and anything.  For Christmas when Gabriel was 6 months old (his first Christmas) I asked Josh if we could have a small Christmas with Gabriel, my husband and I and then a Christmas for all of us.  He said “Mom, I have 5 sons and they should all get the same amount of Christmas toys.”  Darn!  Of course, he was right. He was that way about everything and I loved him for it and for everything he was, is and will be.  Yes, he is still here and making a difference.  We went to Florida to see my daughter for Christmas this year and almost every picture with Gabriel in it had an orb in the picture.  Pictures were taken with different cameras, in different lights, on different days but almost every one with Gabriel in it, had Josh’s orb in it as well.  Yes, he is still with us and participating in our lives as only he can. 

A poem shared by Marilyn Roldan in honor of her daughter Kirsten’s 2nd year anniversary on January 30th and her birthday on February 3rd

To My Dear Kirsten, 

Hope you are singing and dancing with all the Angels in Heaven.  Miss you more than words can express…till we meet again! 

Love you always and forever, 

Mom

♡ ..You’ll never be forgotten
That simply cannot be.
As long as I’m living,
I’ll carry you with me.
Safely tucked within my heart
Your light will always shine;
A glowing amber never still,
Though out the end of time.
No matter what the future brings.
Or what may lie ahead,
I know that you will walk with me
Along the path I tread.
So rest my angel, be at peace.
And let your soul fly free,
One day I’ll join your flight,
For all eternity.♡
— Unknown “Never forgotten”

To share your thoughts about this posting, please click here to visit our website and enter your comment under the LEAVE A REPLY section. 

Please share with us your writings about your child.  Email info@copefoundation.org for more information.

Coping

From COPE Clinical Director Amy Olshever, PhD, LCSW

Losing a loved one stays with us forever. But holidays, in particular, can be grief triggers (Healing Tips 11/16), causing similar reactions to anniversaries and birthdays and making the loss even harder to cope with. With its focus on love and relationships, Valentine’s Day can be especially difficult. It is hard to escape because reminders are everywhere, often causing us pain. But even when it seems impossible, we cope with that pain. We cope with that pain because the vast majority of us are hard-wired to survive. How we cope is where it can look different. We all cope differently. How we grieve depends on many factors, including personality and coping style, life experience, faith, spirituality and the nature of our loss (who we lost and how we lost them). What is true for all of us is that the grieving process takes time. But for each of us it takes a different time. And even for ourselves–we may grieve differently on different days and in different moments. Healing happens, but it happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried. Whatever our grief experience looks like today, in this moment, it is important that we are patient with ourselves and allow our individual process to unfold.

Here are some ideas to specifically help you cope on Valentine’s Day (and other trigger days).

  1. Eliminate or manage your expectations. Don’t assume you will be sad—you might find that memories come up that are comforting. You may want to laugh or smile. Don’t be afraid of joy and laughter. Research has shown that positive emotions and laughter are hugely helpful when coping with loss.
  2. Have a plan: Don’t get blindsided on the day, if you know it is coming. Do something that feels safe to you.
  3. Seek support. Having the support of loved ones who understand how you’re feeling can be very helpful. You can tell your friends or family that you don’t want to be alone that day (or that you prefer to be alone—and that is okay). Come to a support group! Groups are great places to learn what works for others with similar losses.
  4. Journal or write it down. Journaling can help you release those stored-up feelings in a safe place, Come to one of our Writing Workshops to get started.
  5. Most Importantly–Do what works for you.

Think about what will make you feel better. If you’re not sure, consider what healthy coping skills have helped you before when facing difficult times. Coping doesn’t have to be perfect or fit a mold—it just needs to get the job done.