“ SHARING AND HEALING ”
A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER
Written & Edited By : Al & Linda Vigil
Pg 1 : Grieving Notes - Al V.
Pg 2 : Handling The Holidays
Pg 4 : Karen : An 11-year-old
Pg 6 : Is Your Child At Risk
Pg 7 : Suicide of a Brother
Pg 8 : Suicide of a Sister
Pg 11 : Adopted Child
Pg 12 : About ABQ SOS
Pg 12 : WEB Site Addresses
“ GRIEVING NOTES ”
By Al Vigil
You really aren’t going crazy; it just seems that way.
After the loss of someone you love to suicide —there can be so many things going on in our lives, all at the same time, that our minds and hearts can jump around.
“I don’t know what to think about next,” is often heard at Survivors of Suicide meetings. Of course, especially at the early stages of grief work, the mind really is a jumble.
Your thoughts and emotions are changing from moment to moment. You really aren’t going crazy ...it just seems that way.
It’s been 30 years since our daughter Mia, at the age of 18, jumped to her death from the San Diego-Coronado Bay bridge. Of course life still brings things about which we again have to ask ourselves, what should I think about. Usually our lives are not about only one event going on at once.
So we have to try to learn to how handle and control our thoughts in a healthy and —somewhat sane manner.
We try to practice the five letter word —‘focus.’ We work to focus on one and only one, particular aspect of our thoughts. Focus on the one subject that is the most important and the most meaningful at the time, and maybe thus achieve the best solution possible to that particular event.
Focusing works. We have been doing it for years —before we even gave it our particular definition. At the beginning of our grief after Mia’s death, we focused on getting through a day at a time. Later it became getting through the Mia Memorial Service. After that it changed to the dedication of the Torrey Pine Tree in her name. Sometime after that, it was the focus of relationships with other members in our family, and later even friends.
When things come up that seem like another mountain, we remind ourselves of that five letter word. We approach all situations, we work to discuss all of the aspects, the positive ones and the negative ones, and we try to focus on what the main and special reasons for our involvement to it are or will be.
That helps clear our attitude, our hearts and our minds, as we approach the positive solution to that situation. Deliberate focus helps us to see things better, perhaps even to solve those problems.
Can you imagine the impossibility of the woodsman if he was told to clear the forest and he was unable to focus on one tree at a time. Grief work, and yes it is work, can sometimes be handled the same way.
As survivors of suicide loss, we can focus so that we can change, develop or enhance the life that is still around us —even after the loss of someone you love to suicide.
Handling the Holidays
By Therese Rando, Ph.D.
One of the most painful issues for you to deal with is how to survive the holidays after the death of the person you love. Because holidays are supposed to be family times, and because of the extraordinary, although unrealistic, expectation that you should feel close to everyone, this time of year can underscore the absence of your deceased loved one more than any other time. The important thing to remember is that you and your family do have options about how to cope with the holidays. These are a few things to keep in mind:
As much as you’d like to skip from October to January 2nd, this is impossible. Therefore, it will be wise for you to take control of the situation by facing it squarely and planning for what you do and do not want to do to get through this time. Realize that the anticipation of pain at the holidays is always worse than the actual day.
Recognize that what you decide for this year can be changed next year; you can move to something new or back to the old way. Decide what is right for, you and your family now. Don’t worry about all the other holidays to come in years ahead. You will be at different places in your mourning and in your life then. Recognize, also, that your distress about the holidays is normal. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Countless other bereaved people have felt, and do feel, as you do right now.
Ask yourself and your loved ones to decide what is important for you to make your holidays meaningful and bearable. Then, through compromise and negotiation, see if everyone can get a little of what he or she wants and needs give-and-take is important here.
Do something symbolic. Think about including rituals that can appropriately symbolize your memory of your loved one. For example, a candle burning at Thanksgiving dinner, the hanging of a special Christmas ornament, or the planting of a tree on New Years Day may help you to mark the continued abstract presence of your deceased loved one while still celebrating the holiday with those you love who still survive. Remembering your deceased loved one in this fashion can make an important statement to yourself and others. Recognize that the holidays are filled with unrealistic expectations for intimacy, closeness, relaxation, and joy for all people —not just for the bereaved. Try not to buy into this for yourself —you already have enough to contend with.
Be aware of the pressures, demands, depression, increased alcohol intake, and fatigue that comes with holidays. As a bereaved person you may feel these more than others. Take time out to take care for yourself during this time. You will need it even more.
Re-evaluate family traditions. Ask yourself and your surviving loved ones whether you need to carry them on this year or whether you should begin to develop some new ones. Perhaps you can alter your traditions slightly so that you can still have them to a certain extent but don’t have to highlight your loved one’s absence more than it already is. For example, you may want to have Thanksgiving dinner at your children’s house instead of yours. Or you might open presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning.
Recognize that your loved one’s absence will cause pain no matter what you do. This is only natural and right. After all, you are mourning because you love and miss this person. Try to mix this with your love for those you still have and your positive memories of the past. “Bittersweet” is a good word to describe this. You can feel the sweetness of the holiday but also the bitterness of your loved one’s absence. Together they can give you a full, rich feeling, marked with love for those present and those gone whom you will never forget.
Plan ahead for your shopping tasks. Make a list ahead of time. Then, if you have a good day, capitalize on it and do the shopping you can. Try to consolidate the stores you want to visit. If you have trouble with shopping right now, do your shopping by catalog or mail order, or ask friends to help you out.
Tears and sadness do not have to ruin the entire holiday for you or for others. In yourself have the cry you need and you will be surprised that you can go on again until the next time you need to release the tears. Facing family holidays in your loved ones absence are normal mourning experiences and part of the healing process. Let your tears and sadness come and go throughout the whole day if necessary. The tears and emotions you do not express will be the ones which are destructive to you.
Ask for what you want or need from others during the holidays. One bereaved mother said that, as appropriate, she wanted to hear her dead daughter mentioned. She knew everyone was thinking of her daughter and wanted them to share their thoughts. You may find yourself reminiscing about other holidays you shared with your deceased loved one. This is normal. Let the memories come. Talk about them. This is part of mourning and doesn’t stop just because it is a holiday. In fact, the holidays usually intensify it.
Having some fun at the holidays does not mean you don’t miss your loved one. It is not a betrayal. You must give yourself permission to have fun when you can, just like you must give yourself permission to mourn when you have the need. You may have to let your limits be known to concerned others who are determined not to let you be sad or alone. Let others know what you need and how they can best help you. Don’t be forced into doing things you don’t want to do or don’t feel up to solely to keep others happy. Determine what and how much you need, and then inform others.
Discuss holiday tasks and responsibilities that must be attended to —for example, preparing the meals, doing the shopping, decorating the house. Consider whether they should be continued, reassigned, shared, or eliminated.
Break down your goals into small, manageable pieces that you can accomplish one at a time. Don’t overwhelm or over-commit yourself. The holidays are stressful times for everyone, not just the bereaved, so you will need to take it slow and easy. Look at your plans and ask what they indicate. Are you doing what you want or are you placating others? Are you isolating yourself from support or are you tapping into your resources? Are you doing things that are meaningful or are you just doing things?
Do something for someone else. Although you may feel deprived because of the loss of your loved one, reaching out to another can bring you some measure of fulfillment. For example, give a donation in your loved one’s name. Invite a guest to share your festivities. Give food to a needy family for Thanksgiving dinner.
— Karen : An 11-year-old —
Re-Printed from - Albuquerque Journal - By Joline Gutierrez-Kruger : Fri, Aug 23, 2013 :
Jennifer Hodge needs to tell you about her daughter, her quiet, sweet, beautiful, girl —the way she smiled, the way she did cartwheels across the living room floor, the way she seemed so much wiser, so much older, than her 11 years.
The way she died. The way she waited for the family to go shopping at Wal-Mart, scratched out a note in pencil on loose-leaf paper, wrapped an orange extension cord around her neck in the garage of her family’s home in Albuquerque and jumped.
She left the note on the garage floor next to a card she made for her mom. “I am sorry,” she wrote. “I love you and all of my family but I do not like this world. I’m sorry. Happy Mother’s Day.”
And, yes, it was Mother’s Day, though Hodge doesn’t think her daughter Karen Ward chose that day in particular. It was, she thinks, the first time Karen had the chance.
“How many times did she say, ‘I’m going to do this’ and something stopped her at the last minute?” Hodge wonders.
“This time, there was nothing to stop her.”
No one to stop her.
But how do you stop something so unthinkable when you don’t know it’s there? How do you fight the monster when it doesn’t show itself? How do you imagine a world so dark and hopeless that an 11-year-old takes herself out of it?
“I didn’t see that she was having problems,” Hodge said. “I didn’t see she was falling apart.”
Hodge’s longtime boyfriend, Randy Caudell, a kindergarten teacher, psychology student and a father figure to Karen, didn’t see it, either. “This is my line of study,” he said. “And no, nothing. The signs weren’t there, except maybe in hindsight.”
Which makes Karen’s death all the more painful. And frightening. It’s scary what a smile can hide. Karen, her mother said, was a silly girl, brilliant and beautiful. She learned to read by age 2. She was a fifth-grader at Hodgin Elementary, where she earned good grades – so good she was tested for the gifted program. She was a gymnast. She had blond hair and blue eyes like her idol, Taylor Swift, to whom she devoted an Instagram account.
She had friends. She loved her family. She was in good health. She had dreams. “She wanted to be a doctor,” her mother said. “A cardiac surgeon to fix her grandfather’s heart.”
Any changes in mood were barely perceptible and attributed to the onset of puberty. Karen Ward was beautiful, smart and kind and gave no indication she would take her life at age 11.
Her mother, Jennifer Hodge, says parents need to be nosier and society needs to speak openly about suicide. Weeks after Karen’s death, Hodge opened her daughter’s Kindle and was shocked to find a secret her daughter kept in an account on Instagram —a photo-sharing website.
The account was listed under the name IM-DYING-INSIDE123 and contained troubling images of despair, bullying, pain and Karen’s inner thigh and belly covered with thin, bloody slashes from a razor blade. “I am a cutter,” Karen wrote in her profile. “I’m ugly, fat and depressed. My life will end someday.”
It was not the Karen her mother knew. Hodge had never seen the self-mutilation, the blades, the anguish, the bleakness, the bullying. But Karen’s 191 Instagram followers and the 178 people she followed had.
Here was a horrifying subculture of joyless, broken youths who instead of commiserating seemed to coerce each other to use that one ounce of power they had over their lives, and that was to end them.
But what had brought Karen to such a desperate place? Hodge said she suspects Karen was bullied after reading a note from a school chum that read, in part: “Karen, …you may have had enemies and haters they will regret what they did to you.”
But Karen never said a word about bullies, Hodge said. “I thought she was happy,” she said.
So this is also what Hodge needs to tell you: that parents must be aware that their child’s despair may come without the signs mental health experts warn about, silently, secretly blooming in the bowels of toxic social media sites, spreading like cancer.
“What I would say to parents is, be nosy,” Hodge said. “Even if you think you are already monitoring their cellphones or their Kindles or their Facebooks or Instagrams or whatever, know that it may not be enough. Keep looking.”
Hodge and Caudell also advocate for teaching children early on the skills of resiliency and problem solving. “We teach our kids math and science but not emotional intelligence,” Caudell said.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24 and the sixth-leading cause for those ages 5 to 14, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
“We are seeing more and more adolescent and younger suicides,” said Al Vigil, who with wife, Linda, run Survivors of Suicide, a volunteer support group in Albuquerque founded in 1978. “This is not an anomaly. Just in the last year, we started working with four families who have lost children who were 11 and 12.”
One of those families is Hodge’s.
Talking to others whose loved ones committed suicide has helped, Hodge said. And now, she thinks, it is time to talk to you, time to urge you to hear those young ones who may silently be screaming.
“We need to talk about this to erase the stigma of suicide, to find solutions,” Hodge said. “We need our kids to feel they can talk about this, too.”
Every week there is news of yet another teen who has tragically committed suicide.
Bullying is usually cited as the culprit, —experts say the problem is much more complicated.
Here are some reasons behind teen suicide, and if your child is at risk, and what you can do about it.
BEHIND THE STATISTICS
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death in kids ages 15 to 24. Suicide attempts are on the rise, from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 7.8 percent in 2011. Although it seems like teen suicide is happening frequently, experts say it’s quite rare that they actually see it in their practices.
According to Dr. Jonathan Singer, professor of social work at Temple University and an expert for the National Association of Social Workers, because kids die less frequently than older adults, there’s actually a small percentage that die from suicide. What’s more, the ratio of attempted suicides to completed suicides in teens is about 100 to 200:1 versus 4:1 in older adults, according to the American Association of Suicidology.
IS BULLYING ALWAYS THE CAUSE?
A recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that kids who are bullied are three to five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or make an attempt than those who are not.
Social media intensifies bullying too, following kids wherever they are and showcasing information for everyone to see. “It brings up significant feelings of rejection, low self-esteem, and hopelessness,” said Dr. E. Waterman, a clinical psychologist at Morningside Recovery Center in Newport Beach, Calif.
And to be rejected or perceive rejection can be very painful, “especially for teenagers whose biggest need in their lives is peer acceptance,” she said. Experts agree, however, that bullying isn’t always the only cause.
“Almost no kids die simply because they were bullied,” said Singer, who explained that for 90 percent of kids who die by suicide, there was an emotional, behavioral or cognitive problem. “There are almost always other factors.” Though, there are very rare situations when kids commit suicide for no apparent reason, and many times, it’s in response to a humiliating event.
“Somebody who is bullied and has a lot of coping skills, support in their family and in other friends, is probably more resilient than somebody who doesn’t perceive others as being supportive or has low self-esteem, identity issues, or depressed mood,” Waterman said.
WHY TEENS COMMIT SUICIDE
Kids who have a mental illness, are extremely hopeless, lack parental support or have conflict with their parents are more likely to make a suicide attempt. A recent trauma or death, especially if someone they knew committed suicide, extreme impulsivity or substance abuse are also risk factors. And studies show that when there’s a gun in the home, children are significantly more likely to commit suicide.
KNOW THE SIGNS
If you think your teen is at risk, here are some of the warning signs to look for:
• Talking about death or has expressed a wish to die.
• Written about death or drawn images related to death.
• Changes in mood.
• Impulsivity and risk-taking.
If you’re worried about your teen -
“You want to offer a lot of empathy instead of reacting with fear and anger,” Waterman said.
“What for you as an adult, is not a big deal, might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for your kid,” Singer said. So ask questions, show that you understand, and find out what you can do to help your kid through it.
Opening the lines of communication is crucial. “The more experiences that they have of their parents responding in loving, supportive, protective ways, the more likely it is that they’ll go to them when things are really bad,” Singer said.
“Let them know you’re going to stick with them every minute until things get better,” said Waterman, who added that if you can’t be with your kid all the time, make sure someone else is there to offer support and keep them safe.
You might check your kid’s Facebook page, but if you demand 24/7 access to his or her online life, then your child won’t feel comfortable confiding in you because there is nothing to share, Singer said.
WORK WITH THE SCHOOL
If your kid is being bullied, find out what the school’s policy is on bullying and make sure it’s an environment where your kid will be supported.
If your kid is extremely hopeless and has an intent to die, a plan, or access to weapons,—seek treatment immediately.
SUICIDE OF A BROTHER : BREAKING THE SILENCE
"You would say the word suicide and they would act like it's something contagious," said Amanda Chaput, who lost her brother to suicide.
These women call themselves a family born from tragedy. Each has lost someone they love to suicide.
"Gage was 21-years-old," said Mary Butler, who lost her stepson. "The year before he died he had been up here visiting us... We thought he was doing well."
After Gage killed himself, his stepmom discovered there weren't many resources in the Northeast Kingdom to help her deal with his death. Searching for an outlet, Butler channeled her grief into action, organizing Newport's first Awareness Walk through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 254 registered walkers showed up.
"We felt like we had a lot of people who were in this club that no one wants to belong to," Butler said.
The walk is how she met the Chaputs and Barretts. Together these three families formed an informal support group, sharing their stories in an effort to heal.
"To be honest, without these people I don't think there would be any healing," Amanda said.
"It's hard work to keep your head above water," Betty Barrett said.
Barrett's son, Michael, took his life nine years ago. He was 34. "I was angry at God for a long time because he didn't give me enough time with my son," Barrett said.
"I wish I could do more." said Chris Barrett, Michael's stepfather.
Betty turned suicidal herself and her husband, Chris, didn't know how to help. "There was a battle in my head going on because I didn't understand and I was trying. I'd fight to understand, fight to be supportive," he said.
The Barretts are not alone. Vermont's suicide rate surpasses the national average by about 36 percent. Since 2001, more than 1,000 Vermonters have taken their own lives. One in five Vermont middle and high school kids say they've contemplated suicide. Now, these survivors, turned-advocates are sticking together to strip the stigma from suicide.
"Mental illness or depression is not different than a physical illness. Even though the world often says there's a stigma, there's nothing to be embarrassed about," Butler said.
The Vermont Department of Mental Health is also addressing the issue, calling suicide one of the state's most pressing public health concerns.
"It's the second leading cause of youths' deaths. That's really startling when you think of it," said Charlie Biss of the Vermont Department of Mental Health.
The state partnered with a Brattleboro group called the Center for Health and Learning. Through a federal grant they developed the UMatter campaign, an interactive suicide prevention platform geared toward suicidal youth and those trying to help. The state says outreach tools like these combined with the advocacy work of survivors will make a difference.
"That is what's going to change our state view and the public awareness of suicide. That's what's going to help," Biss said.
For these Newport parents, focusing on September’s "Out of the Darkness Walk" helps them cope.
"With Michael's anniversary being September 30, usually in August I start subconsciously thinking about it," Betty Barrett said. "So, I was down last year. This year I'm highly pumped. I am just so excited about the walk."
"Everybody has a good sense of humor and it helps keep things light and if somebody's down, people are getting hugs," Chris Barrett said.
Loved ones taking small steps, hoping to make major strides toward suicide prevention.
Suicide of A Sister : Breaking the Silence
Arianne Brown remembers a time when she thought suicide was something that only touched other people. That was before Nov. 5, 2006, when Brown's older sister, Megan, went down into her parent's basement and committed suicide.
"It's been almost seven years, but it still feels fresh," she said. "You think, 'She knew we loved her and that we cared. Why wasn't that enough? … I know if my sister knew what it was like for us after, she wouldn't have done it."
Suicide impacts Utah families every year and the problem is growing worse. In 2005, the Utah Department of Health reported 350 suicides. Preliminary data from 2012 places that number at 540 for Utah residents and the trend has continued through the first quarter of 2013.
The number comes as no surprise to Utah's Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey. "How many days do I have without a suicide? I'm thinking, maybe, zero most days?" Grey said. "I've had days where I've had five deaths downstairs and all of them were suicides."
But that doesn't mean everyone is talking about it.
"That's one of those dirty little secrets that doesn't get waved around, and every family goes through it as if they're alone," Grey said. "It's really sad. If there was a running tally in the paper you could bet by March people would say, 'Why aren't we doing something about this? And by November there would be an awful lot of people screaming that this is unacceptable."
He's the first to say it's a complex issue, made worse by one of its biggest obstacles: Stigma. "There's certainly a reluctance, at best, to discuss this issue publicly and widely," Grey said. "One of the very common responses I'll get from families is saying, 'You can't call this a suicide.'"
It's a stigma that becomes part of the memory of the suicide victim and with the family members left behind.
"And when you have that kind of reluctance to look at the issue, to admit that it exists, how are you ever going to try and solve this problem?" Grey said.
Brown said it was difficult to explain that her sister had taken her own life and that the news was often received with more judgment, and less compassion.
"Sometimes, too, you feel self-conscious. What did we do wrong? What's wrong with our family?"
Her sister Megan Einfeldt was quiet, but loyal, a beautiful, educated and talented woman who was a devoted mother to her three children. She was 26 years old when she moved to her parent's home in Utah with her three young children, Brown said. Her family had noticed a change in Einfeldt before she moved home, but felt something was really wrong when they saw her. She had lost weight and was rarely speaking. She seemed to lack confidence and was almost childish. She questioned herself as a mother and sister.
"You're kind of like, 'OK, snap out of it,'" Brown recalled. You're trying to build them up: 'You are beautiful, you are good, you are all these things.' And they don't believe you." It never occurred to her that her sister might take her own life. She said it seemed like a worst-case scenario and that she didn't let herself go there.
"You know they're sad, different, that something is going on, but you think they're going to snap out of it," Brown said. The night before the suicide, Brown talked to Einfeldt on the phone and her sister apologized for things Brown didn't even remember happening. Her brother said he had a similar conversation.
"We didn't put things together that she was trying to make things right, but she didn't need to," Brown said. "She was as perfect as they came."
Greg Hudnall, associate superintendent with Provo School District and executive director of the Utah County Hope Task Force, remembers the phone call he received from police asking him to identify the body of a student believed to have committed suicide. He went and made the identification. Then came the vomiting and then the sobbing. He started to investigate suicide in Utah and decided to organize a lunch to discuss suicide prevention. He called therapists, law enforcement, medical professionals, community leaders.
"I sent out 40 invitations and 42 people showed up," Hudnall recalled. "They were as concerned as I was, because everyone was being effected by suicide.” “It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort and you have to have individuals who become passionate about it," Hudnall said. "We have stayed true to it because we feel so strongly about it. We've made a commitment that we can't lose one more child and we have to do what we can to prevent that."
Between 1999 and 2005, Hudnall said the Provo School District averaged one to two suicides each year. Since 2005, there has not been a single suicide within the school system.
"We still have kids that threaten and still have kids that attempt and we get them immediate help and get them to the hospital," Hudnall said, noting there have been nine hospitalizations during the 2012-2013 school year and 15 to 20 suicide threats. "We take every suicide threat seriously. We act immediately, contact the family and work with Intermountain Health Care to get them help and support."
He thinks the key to their success so far is the teamwork and partnership among those on the task force and in the community. But it's also the refusal to forget about the constant threat of suicide and commitment to keeping it as a focus. Hudnall does training for Boy Scout leaders, has conducted training at LDS Churches and for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.
"On the one hand, I go to sleep at night worrying about that next child," Hudnall said. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't get a phone call from someone begging for help. But I'm also so amazed at what we've accomplished."
Providing information and support on suicide prevention to community coalitions is the goal of Kimberly Myers, who is the program manager of Prevention by Design for the National Alliance on Mental Illness — Utah. She said 90 percent of those who commit suicide have an underlying mental illness and that the data on suicide demanded action.
She is charged with going to local communities and educating them about resources in the area and helping them expand their prevention efforts. She usually starts by showing them the state data on suicide and how that is mirrored in their own communities.
"I would say that when communities sit down and look at the data, they're really surprised," Myers said. "And, for the most part, people aren't aware of how big of an issue it is." She, like Hudnall, talked about the importance of groups and individuals uniting and working together to tackle the issue. But there is also a responsibility for individuals to educate themselves to know how to help.
"I think that one of the most important things that people need to know and can take with them is that if you are worried about someone or if someone is showing warning signs of suicide, it's OK to talk to them about it," Myers said. “It's OK to ask.”
"There's a lot of fear about asking if someone is thinking of taking their own lives, because you don't want to plant ideas, but research shows that talking about it is good and saves lives. We have good crisis lines. Don't be afraid to ask. There's no research that says you're going to hurt anyone by asking."
She stressed the importance of be willing to talk with someone struggling with thoughts of suicide without judgment and with empathy.
"That's a really dark place to be and it's usually not because they want their life to be over, but because they want pain to end," Myers said. Usually, people who have suicidal thoughts and suicidal feelings, they’re not permanent. "They feel permanent ...but suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
"We think that if we're strong, we can deal with it on our own, but strong people ask for help when they need help." He said treatment for thoughts of suicide is effective if help is sought and that suicidal thoughts should be treated the same way any other ailment would be treated. Each individual should take care of their own mental health the way they would their physical health.
"There’s a sense that, 'Well this couldn’t happen to me or my family' and the reality is, we all probably know someone who has either been suicidal or has attempted suicide," Thomas said. "It’s a delicate topic because we feel strongly about ... the sanctity of life and we want people to pull themselves up by their boot straps, but you wouldn't say that if their blood sugar was low and they had diabetes."
From Dear Abby
Adopted Kids Are Products of Love
While cleaning out my attic yesterday, I found a letter that my daughter wrote to you a few years ago when she was 13. She was responding to a poem that had appeared in your column, “Legacy of an Adopted Child.” She was going through a very trying time ans was being bullied because she was adopted and looked at very different from her parents. My daughter is grown now and is a delightful, successful young woman. That poem helped her greatly.
“LEGACY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD”
- Author Unknown -
Once there were two women,
Who never knew each other.
One you do not remember,
The other you call mother.
Two different lives,
Shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star,
The other became your sun.
The first gave you life,
and the second taught you how to live it.
The first gave you a need for love,
and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality,
and the other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent,
and the other gave you aim.
One gave you emotions,
and the other calmed you fears.
One saw your first sweet smile,
The other dried your tears.
One gave you up —
It was all that she could do,
The other prayed for a child,
And God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me,
Through your tears,
The age old question.
Heredity or environment ?
Which are you the product of ?
Neither, my darling —neither.
Just two different kinds of love.
About Albuquerque’s Survivors of Suicide :
Founded in 1978 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Survivors of Suicide, is a volunteer support group that serves the needs of people suffering the loss of someone they love by suicide.
With Four Meetings Every Month, that are free and open to all, SOS hosts presentations and discussions relevant to survivors of suicide throughout the Albuquerque area.
SOS meetings are attended by both recent and long-time survivors, all of whom benefit from the sharing of experiences and approaches to the loss through suicide. In addition to the survivors, the meetings are also frequently attended by mental health professionals who offer their various perspectives on unexpected death, grief and bereavement, guilt, responsibility, and mourning.
Survivors of Suicide Inc., is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, self-help support group system for those who have lost a relative or friend through suicide. The Survivors of Suicide volunteers are dedicated to providing information and support to assist in the grieving and healing process.
It is a support group of people who help one another through the stages of grieving. We share feelings of guilt, anger frustration, emptiness, loneliness and disillusionment. For some, it is hard to identify or even to understand their feelings.
Through others' expression of what they are feeling, we begin to have a better awareness of what is going on inside us.
"Know That You Are Not Alone - Sharing Can Be Healing"
Visit the Albuquerque SOS Web Site for Albuquerque, NM, Meeting Information at
Visit the Newsletter Web Site for the Entire Archive of past Issues at
Or e-mail comments to