Tuesday, December 14, 2021

REFUGE NEEDED FOR TORNADO VICTIMS


My sincere condolences to all those families, especially the heartbroken parents, who lost loved ones in the recent tornadoes in several states. It is particularly tragic, as of this writing, among the many who lost their lives were twelve children, including a two month old infant. She initially survived the tornado, but later succumbed to her injuries. Many more people are still missing. As I see the destruction, I wonder how will they ever be found. 

This is all so difficult to process. So much loss and destruction in a pattern of tornadoes not usually seen. The images seen on the media look worse than war zones. As we try to fathom all this, we always ask how and why did this happen. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find those answers. We can never underestimate the power of nature. I suppose we are all but tiny specks in the whole of the physical universe.

I am sure that many of the victims are still in shock as they sift through the rubble of what was once their homes and businesses. Plus living conditions are quite difficult without power, water, sanitation, food, clothing, diapers, baby formula and medications. Let us hope and pray sufficient aid and help arrives quickly. Donations are being accepted by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. I am sure many faith based and private organizations will all be soliciting donations as well. Let us all be generous within our means.

Though some may be thinking God has abandoned them, that never happens. God is always there. It may very difficult if not impossible to get through such a tragedy without faith and prayer. When times are darkest we must reach our hands out to God. He will grasp them. With God all things are possible. Grief, recovery and rebuilding will no doubt be a very long and tremendously difficult process. God will be with all those who are suffering. God will be with those who aid in the recovery efforts. "Ask and you shall receive." If you have been directly affected, ask for faith, wisdom and the strength, mentally and physically, to go on. Ask for some miracles. 

The two greatest commandments are: "To love the Lord thy God above all things" and "To love thy neighbor as thyself." Myself and I know the whole country are praying for the people and towns ravaged by these tornadoes. I know with the business of the holidays, we tend to forget what we are not directly involved in. I ask please, do not forget those who are suffering.


                                               "Under His wings, you will find refuge." 

                                                                               Psalms 91:4


Friday, December 3, 2021

   


                                                    PREVENTING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS


Just finished listening to the press conference of by the Oakland County Prosecutor about the recent Michigan school shooting. Very alarming! Not only has this been a horrendously tragic event, but seems it did not need to happen. Four families have suffered the irrevocable loss of a child. My deepest condolences and sympathy to these devastated parents, families and friends. I am sure all of you will join me in praying for these parents, families, friends and the school community.

Speaking of the school, please bear with me as I rip into these Michigan school officials. Having been a school nurse for 38 years, 30 of which were in high school, I see absolute dereliction of duty by this high school principal. Faculty members brought to the attention of the principal the student's disturbing texts, drawings and social media postings. Based on these alone, the student's backpack and locker should have been searched immediately and/or the police called.

Two interviews with the parents could not have failed to demonstrate their lack of cooperation, comprehension and irresponsibility. Clearly, the one drawing which the student made indicated he was a danger to himself and to others. There is no way the principal should have allowed the parents to leave and let their son returned to class. He had the gun in his backpack the whole time! Again, police should have been called and an immediate report made to Child Protective Services.

Like I said, this tragedy didn't need to happen Should never have happened. A school principal has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the students in the school. Every school district has a detailed procedure manual which would include the steps to follow in the event of a security threat and also a mental health crisis. The principal could have consulted with the school resource officer, school district security head and the school superintendent. There is never a question in any school district of what to do. 

As the facts come out, the bereaved parents will have to wrestle with the knowledge that their children should not have been killed. It is so difficult to accept the death of a child, but knowing your child's death was preventable is a very bitter pill to swallow. I these believe these school administrators should face some level of criminal culpability and most certainly civil liability along with the school district.

Something else should be done nationwide. All school districts should have metal detectors in all high schools. All students, parents and visitors to the school must go through the metal detector before being allowed into the school building. I worked for a large urban school district in a large crime ridden city for 24 years. There was never a shooting inside a school building during these many years.

To some of you, metal detectors may seem draconian. I ask you, to what lengths should school districts go in order to save the lives of students? What will it take to protect mainly high school students across the country? This was a gun purchased legally, but given by clueless parents to a very disturbed son. It was not against the law for their son to have access to the gun and also to practice at a firing range. But, there are probably more illegal guns on the streets of America than legal guns. Illegal guns in the hands of teenagers. 

I ask you, though, how can a teen-ager be safer in a high school in a city with high crime rates than in suburban high school in an area with much less crime? My answer: metal detectors. You might not like this answer. Might think it is a violation of your child's rights. Might think it turns the school into a jail. Well, if you fly anywhere or go to well known amusement parks, you and your children, even young ones, will go through a metal detector.  Your child's greatest right is the right to life. 

Every high school in America must be made safe. Surveys have shown that teen-agers in the United States are fearful of being shot or killed in their own schools. This stress is damaging and most likely contributes to teen depression. We should want and we need better environments in America's high schools. School districts must take steps to put a stop to school shootings. 


     

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Bereavement During Illness and Pain

     This season is usually a difficult time of remembrance for me. My son, Chris, died on September 24th followed by the death of my husband, Fred, six weeks later on November 2nd. Then the holidays fast approach. We "should" have feelings of anticipation and joy, not feelings of dread and the loss of someone and something missing. 

     Usually I win the battle of melancholy this time of year by focusing on my blessings and keeping busy on the the people I love who remain. Doing as much as possible for them.

     However, this year has been a challenge due to illness, severe back pain for several months. It seems I have developed a cyst on my upper lumbar spine which is causing pressure, narrowing in the spinal column and a small herniated disc. The pain has been terrible and very inconvenient. It has necessitated three spinal epidural injections and strong pain medication.  Before I could get relief, I got into a very bad depression with some very dark thoughts. I needed counseling and medication.

     I have relied a great deal on prayer to get me through this dark time. Along with prayer I listened to relaxing music, talked to friends, sought professional counseling, stayed persistent with medical intervention and remembered my son and husband. I prayed to them to ask them to get "Mom" through in my moments of worst pain when I thought I couldn't bear it anymore. The pain pills weren't enough. 

     Somehow they did. The spirits of our loved ones are always with us. Watching over us. Taking care of us. I have decisions to make about treatment options. I am sure Chris and Fred will guide me and watch over me there too. 

     To all of you, Be Well! Peace and May You Find Your Own Joy and Blessed Season! 


                      

                                                                

                                 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Releasing Your Private Pain

     My son, Chris, died 21 years ago on September 24th five days after his 23rd birthday on September 19th.  My grief seemed to hit me particularly hard this year. Maybe it was the effect of the prolonged isolation from COVID-19 and battling another type of infection myself this past week.

     Anyway, it all came to a head when my nephew shared with me some memories he had of Chris. I was so touched that somehow the flood of tears just started to flow. I think of Chris everyday, but I do not cry everyday. That day I did.

     It has been a struggle ever since. Thankfully, my companion/friend understands. He is supportive for which I am very fortunate. He has had loss in his own life, not a child, but he can understand. I am grateful for his love and kindness.

     It is also a relief to be able to write and to put my pain and sorrow into words. Pouring out the words and emotions acts as a release of my private pain. This curbs my desire to run and hide in my closet and go to a dark place alone with my pain. I would be in private with my pain not letting anyone know where I was or how I felt.

     I am sure many of you have had the desire to run and hide. I urge you if you are having a bad time to find someone to talk to or even call your local or National Hotline where you live. In the USA the National Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK. 

     Or do as I am doing. Pour your thoughts out on paper, tablet, phone or computer. Just get them down. You are not being graded on grammar, spelling or punctuation. The important thing is to get your emotions out. Don't be afraid of your tears. They are a necessary release. You can even write a letter to your son or daughter. If you want, you can bury the letter at their grave in the cemetery, place it in his or her room or put it in another safe, private place. 

     Get started doing something. You will feel better taking action rather than doing nothing. May God grant you energy, strength and peace. I am praying for you.  

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Loss of Friendship

     There are many kinds of losses, such as loss of friendship.  Loss of a friendship can be very troubling. Although it is not a death, it can be quite painful and distressing. For the injured party, it raises a lot of questions. Why the end to our friendship? What happened? What did I do?

     I had a dear friend, one of two best friends, who told me in an email after 60 years of friendship that she no longer wished to be my friend. I was devastated. We had shared everything. She was one of the main people who had supported me through the deaths of my son and husband. I pleaded with her to please not do this. To please stay friends with me. 

     However, in her mind I had crossed some sort of social line. I was in a relationship she didn't approve of and therefore, I had to go. End of story.  She explained relationships go through phases and in our case, ours was going in a phase of distancing itself. Distancing after 60 years? Are you kidding me? I was distraught, beside myself. What could I do to fix this?

     Apparently nothing! I wasn't going to end my relationship to please her. And fortunately, I did not as it has worked out very well.  My friendship, though, is still on the ropes. I am hurt beyond words. I miss my friend, spending time with her, her family and being in her home. We used to bake Christmas cookies together every year. She was the baker and I was the assistant. We saw each other every week--lunches, craft shows, designer houses, movies, shopping. Now gone. 

     I won't say over. I know she has a new set of friends. They play bridge and volunteer at her local library. She has a set of friends who pre-dated me. But I don't think any of them had or have the special bond we had. I still have hope she may contact me one day. Who knows. Maybe I will send her an email and see if she responds. If she doesn't, then maybe I will have to acknowledge the loss. Perhaps she has changed and we are indeed no longer friends. Sadly, I will regret that day.

                                           "A friend is one who knows you as you are,
                                             understands you as you have been, accepts
                                             what you have become, and still gently
                                             allows you to grow."
                                                                               William Shakespeare

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Mother's Day Modified

     I started writing this blog in a funk, but ended on a high note. I suppose it is true, "Necessity is the mother of invention," when it comes to creativity. This Mother's Day needed to be modified here to take in feelings of bereavement as well as lockdown regulations.

     For me and for those of you reading this who have lost children, Mother's Day is a difficult holiday. Wishes for a "Happy Mother's Day" though well intentioned kind of cut because for us, how can the day be happy. I feel I should be running to the cemetery instead of getting ready to go out somewhere with family. Well that's the truth.

     However, if you have living children, it is time for a brave face if you can manage it for your children's sakes. I think if you are not newly bereaved, and feel you are able to celebrate within the scope of the lockdown, then do it. No need to feel guilty enjoying yourself. Nowhere is it written you need to feel miserable the rest of your life because you have lost a child. The last one who would want this is the child you lost.

     Your day need not be bitter with thoughts of loss. Here are some suggestions of what to do:
1) Rekindle living memories. Look at photos today to bring back memories for tomorrow; 2) Using Zoom or some other virtual site, have a celebration dinner or cookout at each child's house. Mom can go to one house or house to house. Have a toast to the deceased child; 3) Take a single file walk along a park trail or beach. Each child bring a picture of the deceased child with him or herself and give as a gift to Mom; and 4) Have a parade of cars go by Mom's house with flowers and favorite take-out food, enough for several days. 

     These are just some ideas to brighten your Mother's Day and and include your missing child too. As I have no other children, I think I will spend a quiet day reminiscing with some photos. I will have dinner with my companion and propose a toast to Chris' memory.

     This Mother's Day has released a torrent of emotions for me. Today is the anniversary of my own mother's death 40 years ago. I look upon it with mixed emotions as she was an emotionally abusive mother to me and particularly my sister. I know now she had a borderline personality disorder. I work at forgiving her and pray for her soul. It is not easy to forget many things, but we have to live the life we get. Do I wish things had been different? Yes, but only because I think I might have been a better mother. So it is a double whammy of a weekend for me, but hey the weather is sunny and beautiful. As always, I will come out the other side. Until next week.

     Have the best Mother's Day you can have. God grant you peace and strength.

                                       "Keep your face toward the sunshine----
                                         and the shadows will fall behind you."
                                                                                  Poet Walt Whitman

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Healing Through Hope

     There is some glimmer of hope regarding the corona virus pandemic. Hospital admissions for the virus are starting to decrease around the world and in several epicenters in the United States. This is a small positive break in otherwise what have been steady, daunting statistics. With this break in admissions to the hospital and intensive care units, the numbers of deaths should also start to decrease in two to three weeks as well.

     I am feeling folks breathe a collective sigh of relief worldwide if and when isolation and lockdowns can be lifted. I can imagine church bells ringing in my head because everyone will be overjoyed even if cautiously optimistic. Sunrises will seem more glorious and brighter and sunsets deeper and more beautiful. Children will laugh and play in the streets again. Cars will honk their horns. Basketballs will bounce. Baseballs will crack on bats. Music will blare. The smell of cooking food will permeate the air. Businesses will display open signs. People will happily return to work. Cash drawers will open and close. Traffic will resume. Grocery stores will be well stocked with no waiting lines. Less people will need food banks. Churches, synagogues and mosques will open again.  It may happen gradually, but it will happen.

     We will appreciate these simple things we always took for granted. Maybe that is the message and lesson here. It took a pandemic to make us realize what we can live without. In a sense, the pandemic will be a great equalizer. Do we really need to impress anyone with our things? Do we really need so many things? Do we really need to "see" and "be seen" in so many places or is family time more important? Do we really need the most expensive of everything or is "good enough" good enough? Do we really need to revel in a secular and sexual society for ourselves and our children or would religion and spirituality be more meaningful to our lives. It would indeed be sad to go through such a life altering experience as this pandemic and not come out a changed person for the better.

     Let us all hope and pray for those joyous days signaling our release come sooner than later. Until then, we must remain vigilant so they do in fact come. Keep your mind's eye on those new sunrises and sunsets to come. Listen for those church bells announcing our release from this enemy pandemic. We can do this. Keep the faith and fight on one and all. Keep hope alive. We can heal in many ways.

                             "Just living is not enough...One must have sunshine, freedom
                                                and a little flower."        Hans Christian Andersen