Empathy

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The evening news begins. We are shocked at what we see. TV pictures float through our minds as we aimlessly peel potatoes or finish a business report. What can we do? Maybe it’s because of the recent hurricanes, but I started thinking about Noah’s ark. Did the town’s people look at Noah carrying boards and bossing his family around? Did they laugh as they looked up at the sunny sky with no chance of rain? What if someone had walked over and said, “Noah you seem so intense. Can we help you with anything? Why this urgency neighbor?” He is too busy to chat and besides they never talked to him before. People would whisper as they drank their goat-milk lattes, “That Noah, what is he thinking, water covering the earth, ridiculous, how embarrassing for his poor wife. They went back to tending their farms and planning for Saturday’s mulled wine potluck. And then, one day, they said, “Oh s…”   How can we really have empathy for others? Do we need to worry about…

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Why Facebook ?

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Recently there was an article in the Wall Street Journal that caught my eye. The story was about how facebook has helped people who have gone through loss connect with others. When my young son suddenly died there was no social media. I was faced many a night with my thoughts and pain alone. Knowing that speaking of our son’s death would only add to my husband’s heartache. I sat silently wrapped in grief, going over and over my son’s short life.   How many times can you call a friend and cry? You feel uncomfortable “bothering” them. And down the road they don’t always call you knowing your child will come up in conversations, remind you of your loss, and bring your day down. We know there is no reminding. Grief is always there, like an old record with a scratch going over and over the same melody.   Then facebook appeared. Twenty-four hours a day you could go on line and express yourself to others in groups who have also lost children. There…

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The snapshot

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  It’s a silly Polaroid, previously thought a waste of film, the “new” mother who captures every move her firstborn makes. I hold this imagine as if it were a fragile holy card, a Milagros of sorts. My two hands press it to my heart. It rests there for a moment as the unending love seeps through my shirt and I take a deep breath. Then, I lift it up a few inches from my face wondering if I missed anything, any detail of that captured moment. Here, take a look. No, really hold it up close. See how he sits, I would guess from his size that he was about ten months old when this was taken. Yes, he was cute wasn’t he, with that dark hair and that latte complexion? You knew he was adopted, right? We didn’t want to wait for a matching baby, as if we were buying shoes and a purse.   You’d think that he had great posture from the way he sat up so erectly on the carpeted…

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Always changing…

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Wanted to share “You never know when your life will change. It can change in an instant or slowly over time. “I will never go back to that,” or “I could never see myself doing that,” are phrases you may come to laugh about saying. Life is about change. What do those changes have to teach you? You are impermanence itself … an ever-ongoing ebb and flow of events and growth. How have you grown in the last year? In the last day? Time exists to show your growth, to make you aware of change. Embrace the movements of change and time. Get into the flow instead of rowing against it. Put your oar in the water and see how different it feels to do both. You don’t know how to handle change? Surrender to be carried by the currents of life and ask your higher self what you need to know now.” S. Gleseman

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Parents Need To Talk, Children Are Aware

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I have to think that my childhood experiences with death helped me evolve. But, now, in reality I think it really helped my younger son who was only seven when Rocky died and who couldn’t understand the sudden, quick disappearance of his brother. How could he when we didn’t even understand it?   From my experiences as a child, having no one give me information in the midst of many childhood tragedies I knew it was important to engage my younger son and be open. He was a quiet boy who kept a lot to himself, always relying on his big brother. So I felt a needed to be open, to give him a few words about death knowing he was uncomfortable asking or couldn’t find the words. Sometimes I would see him picking up a picture of his brother from our bookcase and holding it close to his face starring at it. Then he would put it back and walk away. What was he thinking? I have to say as a mother dealing with…

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The Sun Valley Wellness Festival 2017

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Vicky Bates Speaker/Presenter Vicky Bates lives in Sun Valley, Idaho with her husband Steve. After experiencing the loss of her son she initiated a blog “Losing a Child Finding Hope.” She has published articles for “Open to Hope,” a resource for people who have lost children and has also written a spiritual column for Woman Magazine, a quarterly publication about cancer, health and spirituality. Bates also volunteers for hospice and runs retreats for women. Bate’s new book is “Empty Jacket” Blending honesty, humor and wonderfully insightful observations, “Empty Jacket” leaves us all laughing, angry, scared and wondering. Wise, hopeful and spiritual, Bates’ writing moves all readers. Inspired by the loss of her 10-year-old son, Sun Valley author Vicky Bates released an insightful memoir detailing a self-deprecating tour of an older mother of adopted children who has been faced with a daily struggle and, ultimately, tragedy. Through wit and snappy prose as well as an acute awareness for her emotional and exasperating situation, Bates presents a true-life incident with all of its nuances, which carries the…

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Another Mother’s Day…

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  About hundred years ago when I was a young married woman everyone who was a mother received a carnation at mass. I did not have children and felt awkward and left out. Crazy right? Shouldn’t everyone receive a carnation because they were women? Women who helped friends, made soup for neighbors or drove someone to a doctor’s appointment? Everyone is put in categories. Now I’m in a different category, a mother who has lost a child. It has been years since my son died and even though that day is a gentle reminder of our bond it still brings a pang. So when Mother’s Day approaches remember this, this beautiful person who called you mother blessed you. And for those who know a mother, who has lost, don’t forget her. Give her the gift of you remembering her child. You are not making her sad. She remembers every breathing moment of that day and the days that followed. She wonders if friends think about what she has lost. Do they remember what a wonderful…

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Hope

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My son died in the fall. When spring came it was a chance to take a breath. Aimlessly walking around our yard I watched small birds flying with pieces of debris sticking out of their beaks. A robin displaying his brilliant chest proudly hopped across my yard. I glanced a green shoot popping up through a crack in the sidewalk. This gave me a glint into what hope feels like, the innate power of a pushing forward against all odds. Winter is quiet and dark. Spring comes in bright, warm and noisy no matter what our circumstances. That is what grief is like. Time goes by and one day you wake up to the fact that you can breath again. The season of your loss has shifted. Your lost one is still the first thing you think of when waking but it softens with time. Like the weed we move ahead toward the sun trying to regain hope, knowing it is there.        

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Another kind of a March Madness

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  Now, after a many months I look at the snow like those relatives over-staying their welcome. Enough already. Spring is finally approaching. Brown-laced leaves are being forced upward by the long forgotten tulips giving us the image of tiny ballerinas. The spring breeze runs over our faces as we stand among the returning songbirds. Another season arrives. We count the seasons by a different standard now, years of loss. We stand still, hoping for hope. Like a whisper in the quiet space, our lost children embrace us with a spiritual energy that runs through us like an electrical currant. “You are doing good, be brave, we are still here and always will be for you.” EmptyJacketVickyBates

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