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Getting Help

Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Parents Are Survivors

Sometimes in our lives we feel we have no control over our feelings or lives. The loss of a child can bring on these feelings. We walk around in a state of shock and disbelief. Did you ever feel you could not take control of your life and that the unknown had taken over your mind? If at any time you feel you can not get a grip on your feelings and that you just can not make it alone, please do not hesitate to get help. You can contact a support group of your choosing or see a therapist. There are many good therapists in this world that are experts at helping people like us. There is nothing shameful in seeking help! If you choose a therapist or support group that is not helping you or is making it worse, please change therapists or support groups. There are very good resources that can make a difference in your life. If you have been through this, please share your experiences.

When Jason chose to end his life, I immediately sought help from the minister that delivered his eulogy. While I had never met this woman before, she perhaps saved my life. Her normal job is the minister and grief advisor at the local Children's Hospital, so she has a lot of experience in this field.

I visited with Susan three times a week for 2 months. This was after she had already worked a full 8-hour day dealing with death and grieving parents. The most important thing I learned from Susan was her statement that perhaps I would have been able to stop Jason this time, but it was going to happen, no matter what I tried.

At first this was hard to believe. One, because it came from a minister and two, because I didn't want to believe it. In the end, I realized she was right. Through my discussions with Susan, I was able to move on with my life and WITH LIVING.

After I stopped going to see her, I continued to investigate suicide and its' ramifications on society and the family by reading books and talking to other people. Since then I have moved on to give talks at Jason's school about suicide in teenagers, I have a group of young people that meet with me JUST TO TALK and, for my own pleasure, I plant flowers in peoples yards at no cost to them in Jason's memory.

So, I guess my way of getting help was first to talk to a professional and then to talk to myself and accept what I could not change.


After I lost my son, Anthony, I felt very much alone and isolated. Even though I had the support of family and friends, they really couldn't relate to what I was going through. Friends especially became uncomfortable if I mentioned my son's name. It was like they wanted to forget he lived. He was my life for seventeen years! Why wouldn't anyone let me mention his name? My husband was going through his own grief. We both were devastated by the loss of our only child. Anthony was the center of our lives. Then one day, I came across, My Mom Is A Survivor. I E-mailed Sonya. She let me know I was not alone. I met others through E-mail who were experiencing the same feeling I was having. They understood. I realized what I was going through was a normal process of grief. I could talk about my child, and I listened when other's told me about their children. Everyone's life has a purpose. No matter how long or how short your stay on earth is. Thank you Sonya and MMIAS, people whom I've never met face to face, who have helped me through some of the most challenging times in my life. You have helped me more than you will ever know.

Mom to Anthony
12-2-79 - 1-28-97

Hi, my name is Mary and I miscarried my first and only baby (Angel-Lily) on May 10, 1999. Her father and I were not together very long when I found out I was pregnant, and he, for the longest time, denied being her father. This was very hard for me, even though there is a chance that some other man could've been her father, but I figured out with dates and all that the first man, was indeed her daddy. I had a rough time with losing her, had to be sedated at the hospital, and was offered no help whatsoever and her father left me the same day she took her early flight to Heaven. I heard all the lines about me being young and all and that it just wasn't meant to be, and for the longest time I didn't want to hear any of that. Also, at my work, my boss was pregnant a month behind where I should've been, with a girl nonetheless. I was going crazy on the inside and didn't know what to do, until I couldn't take it anymore and sought professional help in January of 2000. That was the smartest thing I ever did. My therapist validated my feelings, and I knew it was okay to cry when and where ever I needed to. She pointed out to me, that my feelings were real, my baby was real, and I have every right to grieve for as long as I need to, no matter what anyone else says. The whole grieving process will never end, I know that, and I still do have my bad days and my better days, but I know now that it's okay. One thing that truly helps me, is to talk about my baby, not to just ignore the fact that she really existed, because she did, and who cares what everyone else thinks? It's your situation to get through and we have every right to get through it any way which helps us. A true caring therapist will show everyone that. Thank you!

Mommy to Angel Lily mc 5-10-99 @ 10 1/2 weeks

You know what has helped me to move on is to reach out to the newly bereaved parents and to help them. I remember the pain although it is not as strong as it was 2 years ago it still exists. It is groups like My Parents are Survivors that have helped me. I just wanted to thank you for such a great place to go when things seem to get really bad for me.

Debbie Thomas
Mommy to Angel s/b 9-1-00

We moved to Nevada from Virginia 2-1/2 months after Jeffrey's death, with the company I worked for. Neither of us had ever been that far away, and except for the few others that made the move also, we knew no one. This move, now little more than a year past, has helped us tremendously. One of my troubles back home had been, seeing all the things my son loved, and all the people he knew. I had great difficulty accepting that everything went back to "normal" there. Here in Nevada, there are no ghosts. only things I know he would love to see. he sees them through my eyes now. I still have troubles with nightmares of the visit to the morgue, and I see the funeral, as if I were standing back watching it through another's eyes. But through the grace of God, my daughter and I are making it, day by day. as far as any therapy goes, one of my best findings was this web site. When I need to talk to someone, they are there, and when I just need to write my feelings, MPAS is there too. It helps me to cope sometimes, just knowing that I'm not alone in how I feel. and if my story helps some one else who has lost a loved one, then that is an added bonus.

Thank you for being there......MY PARENTS ARE SURVIRORS.

After my son Joey died, I thought I had a handle on the grief I felt, I have a very supportive family, my friends were right there for me, and I work in a place where they are always right there when I need them, I did ok until 4 months afterwards when my new husband and I lost all we had in a fire, which also killed our parrot, Billy. For those who are not aware of it, Billy was one of the reasons I was able to cope with Joeys death, he somehow always knew when I was upset, or depressed, or needed him to make me smile. So when he died also, I felt like I had lost another child. I found myself crying all the time, around the first anniversary of my Joeys death, my husband and I had a car accident, this two weeks after my husband had a slight heart attack. After that I just could not cope with anything. Although we did not get hurt real bad, I had whiplash, and couldn't even sit at the computer for long periods of time. I was so depressed, that I had to seek help. I felt that anything or anyone I loved, I ended up losing, so what was the point in it all. I ended up going to a psychologist, who specialized in grief counseling. Just talking to him about my feelings, helped so much. He showed me that yes its okay for me to feel like I lost two children. I then understood that grief especially for our children, is life long, and that its okay to feel that way. I still see my counselor, not as often as before, but when those overwhelming feelings come, He is there for me. I have to say that if it weren't for my family, friends and coworkers who have all been so supportive, I am not sure if I could have kept going, and doing all the normal every day things that we take for granted.


I've lost two children and I find that just leaning on the Lord is our source of help. Without the Lord I know I could not make it. He helps me so much. I have my hard times but the Lord knows we will . I love the Lord so much.

Kitty May

My 20-year-old daughter, Amanda, was killed last September. 1999. With our one-year anniversary approaching, I'm finding it harder and harder to just function. I've been in Marriage counseling, grief counseling, admitted to a psych ward two months ago, when I emotionally hit bottom, now I'm digging myself back to the surface, or trying. I'm trying to do just the best I can. Some days I am so lonely, some days I want to be alone, some days I need my friends, you just never know what to expect. We have had so many young people die in the past several months, it rips open the wounds of pain to know they are just starting their journey. I asked God today, why I have to suffer so much and if it will ever lessen. You just keep going back and forth with questions and answers, and we just won't know until it's our time. I believe I will be with my daughter again someday, and just have to keep my faith strong that God knows what is best for me. I do attend Compassionate Friends, a new chapter with only 6 people so far, but it's a start. Someone who understands. Someone who feels the same, different but the same, who also goes home to an empty child's room and memories of what was and never knowing what would have been.

Nancy Burress Granville II

I saw a therapist for a while but she really didn't help. It is constantly on your mind and really never goes away. I am going to try a support group and see if it is any better.

Ryan's Mom

It took me almost thirty years before I finally admitted to myself that I needed help...that I could not do this alone. I grew up in a family where counseling, psychiatrists, and antidepressants were looked upon with shame. Only crazy people needed help and pills were for the weak. All I needed to do was "snap out of it" or "get on with my life"...easy for them to say. They weren't with me in that deep, black darkness called depression. I felt like I was in a hole that was so deep that I couldn't climb out and there was no glint of light at the end of this tunnel.

It was December of 1996 and I had reached the point where living was too painful. If I had to live with all of that pain, I just didn't want to live anymore. Right after New Years, I finally got up the courage to make the phone call that I'm sure saved my life. I was scheduled to see a therapist the very next day. Later I was told that it was evident, even over the phone that I was on the edge. I was seen by a therapist, who listened while I cried and told my life's story. I was a nervous wreck at the outset but her calm, quiet manner put me right at ease. The day after my session with her, I saw a psychiatrist, who put me on an antidepressant. It took a while and I went through a few different antidepressants before we finally hit on the one that worked for me but when we finally found THE one, it made all of the difference in the world. Antidepressants aren't 'happy' pills, like so many think but they did help to even out the ups and downs of this emotional roller coaster I'd been on for so long. It took almost a year but by December 1997,for the first time in many, many years I actually was looking forward to Christmas. I even joined a gym, something I could have never done the year before. I barely left the house then. I still have good and bad days but the bad days are fewer and that dark hole isn't nearly as deep.

I'm still on antidepressants and most probably will be for the rest of my life. I was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety & panic attacks, and post traumatic stress syndrome. For twenty-eight years I suffered needlessly. If I had only sought help sooner, I would have saved myself years of insomnia, panic attacks, and the deepest of depressions. But fear and shame kept me from seeking the help that I so desperately needed.

At that time, December of 1996, I had lost two 11 month old daughter in 1968 and a 2 1/2 year old son in 1970. On May 29, 2000 I lost a third child. My 29 year old disabled son, Danny. Once again, I am engulfed in grief but the difference this time is that I KNOW that I'll get through this. I'm not surrounded by blackness but by perseverance and hope. I, now, know that I have a choice in all of this...I've always had a choice. I WILL survive but how well I survive is up to me and I chose to be a survivor, not a victim.

Jackie Comeaux
Mom of Michelle, Gerald, & Daniel

After I lost my Daughter Tricia, I thought the world would come to an end. But life does go on. I am trying to start my own support group here in Woodland Park Co. and that way I can help someone else get help before this happens to them. My daughter was killed by her boyfriend. We didn't think he was abusive, but he evidently was. My daughter always told us she was not afraid of him, that he would not hurt her. But, you never know what another person is thinking or will do when they get upset or angry. If any of you have an idea on how to start a support group for abused and battered women - please help me out.

Thank you,
Lana Green from Woodland Park, Colo.

My daughter's trip to heaven date is October 9th. It will be 9 years. I have to say that although the shock has worn off, sometimes when I look at her picture and see her sweet smile, the disbelief is still there. I had to have a lot of help for the first two years. It is such a tragedy. We all know how intense this kind of loss is. I think that support groups that one can go to physically, such as Compassionate Friends is very helpful, and so are the ones that are online for us that use the computer. I think that one cannot get enough help through a time like this. I pray for us all that have had to deal with this ... we are survivors, but there are times when we would just rather not survive this much horrible pain.

Take Care All, Hugs and Blessings,

When a bereaved parent exceeds the realms of normalcy by exhibiting obvious symptoms of pathological obsessive behavior, then perhaps some outside intervention is needed. Who determines the format for grief? Who sets timetables and provides tools for coping with the death of our children? In my opinion, if a grieving parent is not causing irreparable physical or emotional damage to either themselves or their surviving loved ones and they have not become clinically depressed to the extent that they cannot function from day to day, then they should determine if professional help is needed. When we feel that we are not adequately evolving in the grief process, I find no better resource other than resorting to my fellow bereaved parents. They will not provide me with generic textbook solutions to my grief, however they will give me support, compassion, empathy and friendship. This does work for me and it is my interpretation of what getting help entails and as a result we can someday, reach out to a newly bereaved parent and offer them the help that we were given.

Paula Lewis
Mom to Glenn Lewis 10/10/81 - 8/10/96

It has been two years since we lost our little Cory. However, something went wrong earlier this summer. Back around May or June I noticed I was becoming depressed for some reason. I had quit my full time job after 3 years last December. This was very hard on us when it came to our bills. We fell behind some. What I hadn't realized was this was taking a toll on my life.

When several people brought it to my attention, I decided maybe I should go to the doctor. Not only had the bills somehow contributed but I was also reverting back to my grief depression. Somehow I was going through this depression and I didn't realize it.

I was going days without sleep, began withdrawing again from any baby I saw, began having severe headaches, couldn't hold another job, having panic attacks and diagnosed with a social phobia. I normally am a sensitive person in general, but during this I was crying all the time for no reason (as I thought). I was placed on two anti-depressants and encouraged to get a part time job.

Here we are into September and I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I finally had the courage to ask for prayers at my church, told friends through a grief support group and family I was having problems. I guess you can say, I was admitting I had a problem. Granted we are not fully caught up on our bills but I am working part time at a wonderful job in which I am now the manager. I am tired at night and able to get some sleep. I am not sleeping a full night yet but it is getting there. I am holding babies more than ever before and going to a chiropractor for my headaches.

I am off the anti-depressants and starting my road to recovery. I took myself off them due to the cost and now that we have insurance again, decided I don't need them as much as I need my support. I still cry a lot but at least I am able to realize why I am crying again. It is so scary not understanding why you cry all the time. Yes I still grieve over the loss of our son, but I can only hold other people's children, as I have no surviving children myself.

Thank you,

Recommended Reading

The Journey Through Grief
Reflections on Healing
By Alan D. Wolfelt
This is a self help journaling book that will help you to understand, work through, and write about your bereavement. Highly recommended to give to people who have had a loss and are having difficulty.

Dear Parents
Letters to Bereaved Parents
By Joy Johnson
A collection of letters to bereaved parents written by bereaved parents and well-known leaders in the bereavement field. This is a support group in book form. Makes a wonderful gift to newly bereaved families.

Sweet Memories
By Elaine E. Stillwell & Joy Johnson
For children and adults. . . to create healing and loving memories for Holidays and Other Special Days. Includes activities and crafts for creating a Photo Collage, Brag Book, Love Copies, Treasure Chest, Nature Basket and more. Elaine lives in Rockville Center, New York. She and her husband, Joe founded the Rockville Center Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a national self-help organization for bereaved siblings and parents. After her own experiences with grief she became active in helping other bereaved parents.

Stories of Loss and Infertility
By Robyn Bear
About This Book
True stories of real men and women coping with Miscarriage, Infertility, Stillbirth, and the loss of a child. Pain, Heartache, and Hope is an inspirational book of real men and women coping with miscarriage, Infertility, stillbirth, and losing a child shortly after birth. Every story had a name, a face, and a heart and soul that has been through great tragedy. Unlike other books that offer medical advice, this book offers emotional support through detailed personal stories of over seventy men and women. Most, I am glad to say, have gone on to have successful pregnancies, while others are still struggling for that happy ending that we all so desperately need and deserve.

To order this book, please fill out this Order Form.



This has been written by the members of My Parents Are Survivors to help us to get through the worst time of our lives. Every word of this information and feelings is copy written by the writer. That means that you can NOT use this material in any way, shape or form. Please do not ask, because permission will NOT be given. This has been written from our hearts and will not be duplicated.

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Changes last made on: Thu Jul 09, 2009