Meditation for 9/12 & Stories of Hope

“We should learn not to grow impatient with the slow healing process of time…there are many steps to be taken along the highway leading from sorrow to renewed serenity…We should anticipate these stages in our emotional convalescence: unbearable pain, poignant grief, empty days, resistance to consolation, disinterestedness in life, gradually giving way…to the new weaving of a pattern of action and the acceptance of the irresistable challenge of life.” – Joshua Loth Liebman

Check your politics at the door here, folks. We are all just bereaved parents or counselors trying to help bereaved parents. So listen when I tell you that there are some beautiful stories featured in this article from the Huffington Post about foundations and good deeds that came out of the losses of 9/11. Enjoy.

Honoring the Memory of 9/11 by Honoring the Memory of 9/12.

Peace and much love – D

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Remembering 9/11/01 – When so many mothers lost children

I can’t turn away. Though I have a million things to do, I can turn away from the movies and documentaries playing tonight on various channels. Can it really have been 10 years since planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania?

So many parents lost children that day. At the end of one program, Louise Sweeney spoke about how when she sees that video of the second plane flying into the tower, she is watching her son die. I can’t imagine how that must feel. Of all the things that replay in my mind about the loss of my child, none of them are as horrific as having her death replayed over and over on television for the world to see. None of them are as horrific as thinking of her dying in a fiery explosion.

I’m not going to take over this post by telling you my own feelings about that day. Better that I share with you some links to stories about those parents and how they dealt with their loss.

S. Florida Mothers Remember Children Lost in 9/11
“I begged her to get out,” said Jaffe. “She said mom they’re telling us we are safe in the building. I said ‘Honey, you’re not safe’. And she said ‘Mom I love you’.

Susan Carroll, on her son Kevin:
I’m going to beat this and live my life to the fullest as Kevin would have wanted

One Mother’s Faith Despite the Loss of Her Two Sons
…her faith and a group of ladies, she has met – all mothers from north and central New Jersey who lost their children in the tragedy – remind her about living life and keeping the memory of her sons alive.

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My story

Hi folks,

I’m the founder of The Way Through, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about my story.

Like you, I’m a bereaved parent. It’s a role I never thought I’d be in, yet at the time I lost my child, I was enrolled in a graduate program in thanatology–the study of death, dying, and bereavement. After sitting with my mother through her last two weeks of life and having been with my grandmother through her death at home, I felt I had a heart for hospice work and perhaps grief counseling. It was my first semester, and for the term paper, I wrote about parental bereavement. Ironic, eh? The inspiration for that paper was an interview I had done with my mother a few years before, during one of my undergraduate courses. In that interview, I finally got the full story of how she lost her first baby, my brother Eddie, just two days after he was born. I’ll tell you that story another time, but I wanted to know that bereaved parents of stillborn or newborn children now had better treatment and options. That was the point of my paper. Little did I know that before the semester was over, I would face the death of my only daughter.

Stephanie Nicole was my first child, and my only daughter. I’d had a miscarriage the year before she was born. I was very relieved to have carried her to term, having a beautiful, perfect daughter. Three-and-a-half years later, I had her brother, Sean.

Life wasn’t perfect with Stephanie. She began to have problems when she hit those turbulent teenage years. Eventually, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features and later with borderline personality disorder. She suffered in this life–cutting herself, engaging in “body modification”, and making very poor choices. She eventually became addicted to substances, resulting in severe alcoholism toward the end of her life.

I was the classic codependent, always “helping” her but really enabling her. I didn’t know if she was ever going to be capable of caring for herself, and I couldn’t get to that point where I could ever let her try. I was so afraid of losing her. March 30, 2008, I joined a recovery group and began to learn how to detach with love. When asked, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if you let go and let God?”, I said, “The police will come to my door and tell me that my daughter is dead.”

But I continued with the program because I needed some sanity in my life. I began to care for myself again and have the energy to spend on my son. So many times, he had been the good child, doing his homework or playing a video game in the waiting room while we met with yet another therapist or sat waiting for the family meeting at a psychiatric hospital. He deserved to have some of me, too. Addicts and alcoholics can have such a draining effect on the family. Out of love, we give and give and give, always thinking that if we try this or do that, the addict will get sober. That’s not how it works.

The events that transpired over the holidays that year combined with my recovery from codependency resulted in her finally hitting her “rock bottom”. Thank God, by New Year’s Eve, she was sober. With only one small relapse after that, she stayed sober until the day she died.

On April 3, 2009, the doorbell rang at around noon. Before I knew it, a deputy and a detective were in my dining room, asking me to sit down. My personal worst nightmare had met me halfway. Stephanie had been found dead that morning at the home of a friend. She had died in her sleep while her friends were away and had been dead between 12 and 24 hours. The worst pain of my life started that day, and though it has subsided somewhat with time, I will never stop hurting over the loss of my child.

The autopsy results showed that she had died of Ambien and Percocet intoxication, accidental death. She was prescribed Ambien, and it’s likely that the Percocet was given to her at the hospital when she was mugged and beaten the weekend before. Despite being discharged from the ER around 6 a.m., she was at her AA meeting in time to make the coffee before everyone began to arrive. I was immensely proud of her for that. I was proud of her for her sobriety. And I was proud that during the meeting that day, she told the others, “God was with me in that alley. He’s the reason I’m still here.” Just one bad interaction between those two drugs, however, and she was gone.

The last two-and-a-half years have been difficult. Many days I did not want to get out of bed. My own health has taken a downturn, as did my mental health. Just days after the second anniversary, I checked myself into a psychiatric facility, because the depression and despair had reached a frightening depth. I was ready to end it all.

I promised myself and God that if I survived all of that, I would do something to help other bereaved parents. I would go back to my path toward helping those who are suffering a loss or are dying themselves. Here I am.

My goal is to use my experience and knowledge to bring you stories of hope, stories of parents who have walked this path before us, and who have not only survived but have made a difference in the world.

I hope to be one of those people. I want to make a difference for each and every grieving parent who comes to this site. I want to show you that there is a way through your suffering and that there are those of us who have walked the path you’re now on. We will show you the way through. Please enjoy the following slideshow of my daughter’s life.

Peace, D

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I Lost My Child, I Lost Myself

I Lost My Child, I Lost Myself.

A mother of an Arizona teen who shot himself to death is writing a blog and a book about her experience. Her goal is to aid in suicide prevention. Please pay her a visit.

Peace and love, D

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Lynn Mintz, worked for bicycle safety

Lynn Mintz, worked for bicycle safety – Obituaries –

“Lynn Mintz decided to campaign for bicycle safety, so that what happened to her family ‘should never happen again’.”

Here is a story of a mother who turned grief into good after her 10-year-old daughter, Rebecca, was killed in a bicycle/vehicle accident. It was after the most acute phase of the grief faded that Lynn began to campaign for bicycle safety, organizing “bicycle rodeos, [helping] bring bike-safety classes into the public schools, and [working] for Florida’s 1997 mandatory under-16 helmet law.”

Though Lynn lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this year at the age of 65, we can remember her every time we put a helmet on ourselves or our child when getting on a bicycle. Her legacy lives on.

Love and peace, D

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Health | Learning, growing from grief | Seattle Times Newspaper

Health | Learning, growing from grief | Seattle Times Newspaper.

“One take-home message is that people are tougher than we may think.”

We’ve all heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), right? It’s the affliction of battle-weary soldiers, crime victims, and bereaved parents. I know something about PTSD. Not only have I dealt with it myself since that fateful day when the police came to notify me of my daughter’s death, but also I saw it play out in my daughter’s life. She was raped at age 9 on the playground. It took her 5 more years to tell us. Though we noticed changes in mood and behavior, she would not talk to any doctor, therapist, family member, or friend about it. It wasn’t until it manifested itself as a full-blown mental illness that the truth came spilling forth.

Imagine my surprise when I read about post-traumatic growth in this report in the Seattle Times. Sure, I was already aware that some parents didn’t just survive the loss of their child but thrived. How was this possible, I wondered, especially as I navigated those first couple of years after my daughter’s death. How is it that some parents go on to form foundations, fund raisers, scholarship funds, and so on, while the rest of us lie in bed, waiting for our day to come?

I’m glad that some things happened in my life to get me out of that bed and start this journey toward helping other parents experience post-traumatic growth. I will never forget my daughter – never! But she never saw me lying in bed, not living my life. She saw me going full-bore for most of her life. This is what she would want. This is what I want. And it’s what I want for you, too.

Parents, hang in there. Keep coming back. I am going to be featuring more stories like these, as well as personal interviews with other parents. It isn’t all going to be “happy happy”, as we will each tell our story of loss. Then, however, we will tell our story of how we have survived it.

Much love and peace, D

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Welcome to Our Site!

Welcome to The Way Through.

In this blog, I’ll be offering stories of positive growth experienced by parents who have lost children. Each resource offered to those of us who are bereaved parents has its place. What I have found, however, is that once the well-meaning friends and relatives start to go back to our own lives, we have very few options. The national group Compassionate Friends offers many resources that are crucial in those early days of grieving a child. Only another parent can understand what you are feeling and the rollercoaster of emotions you are on. It feels great to find that kind of understanding.

You may want to explore other ways to remember your child, too. Beyond the tears, beyond the depression, beyond the fog of those first months and years, you may begin to feel yourself opening up, wanting something out of life again. Often this means you want to find a new way to remember your child and honor that memory through positive growth and good works. This website will be featuring a blend of videos, stories, messages, and links to articles and works by other bereaved parents who will model for you the good that may come out of your loss. Whether you want to start a scholarship fund in your child’s name or you want to volunteer for an organization that is meaningful for you (i.e., the Children’s Cancer Foundation or Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD]), we hope we can help you find a way.

We all know there are no shortcuts with grief. You can’t go over it, under it, around it, or away from it. The only way you can survive is to go through it. We’re here to show you the way through.

All the best,

Doris E. Pavlichek
Founder of The Way Through
Mother of Stephanie Nicole Pavlichek (1/12/84 – 4/3/09)

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