Newsletter Information

Dear Compassionate Friends,

When I look back and I am able to recognize what or who has helped me learn to breathe again and adjust to the deaths of my son and grandson, one of the things    I see is dream catchers.  I knew the story of the Dream Catcher and when my grandson Tayib was born a friend taught me how to make one for him.  At five months Tayib had open heart surgery and the Dream Catcher went with him to the       hospital.  It did not come home with him, but a   special nurse knew the importance of the Dream Catcher and mailed it to him.  Two weeks after his first birthday we buried his Dream Catcher with him.   After Tayib's death I was struggling with my thoughts and feelings.  I was unable to focus on   anything.  The friend who gave me the gift of how to make dream catchers suggested that I make more dream catchers as a way to soothe my heart.  I was still making them six months later when my son died.  Somehow, I knew I should keep on making them.  I found comfort and joy in sharing my dream catchers with the special people in my life.  I also taught many others how to make them.  It was     especially meaningful and fun to teach the little kids. I came to feel that this passion for making dream catchers was "Passing on the Love" that Mason and Tayib brought to my life.  And the best part is that the love always seems to circle back to me.  My home is filled with many dream catchers, each one is very special to me.  I can remember during what part of my grief journey I made it or who made it for me they bring me comfort.  Other bereaved parents have shared with me similar stories of what they found that helped them adjust to the deaths of   their children.  It can be difficult in the early part of a grief journey to identify anything that would bring us some comfort.  I have learned that if I keep an open heart it seems to find the comfort I need.  When I first started making dream catchers, I never would have thought they would have such a special place in my heart.   I am wishing you whatever your heart needs.

 ~ By Paulette, Mason's Mom and Tayib's Gramma


Coming to the first meeting is the hardest, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Try not to judge your first meeting as to whether or not the Compassionate Friends will work for you. At the next meeting you may find just the right person or just the right words said that will help you in your grief work.

If you are interested in a brick in memory of your child, please call Paulette at 320-273-2237 and she will send you the order information.  The cost of a brick is $125.  If you would like to make a donation to the Angel project, you may send it to Kay McLane, 613 Lakeland Ave SE, Willmar, MN 56201.

The Compassionate Friends is a non-profit organization. We have no local dues or fees. We function with the help of our Love gifts. Love gifts are monies given in memory of a child by parents, siblings, grandparents, or other relatives, as well as friends and caring individuals who wish to assist with the work of TCF. These gifts enable us to continue to reach out to those who are newly bereaved in our community through brochures and newsletters. All donations are tax deductible. Donations for Love Gifts can be mailed to: Kay McLane | 613 Lakeland Drive SE | Willmar, MN 56201.

Healing Versus Recovery
When one’s child, here is indeed, an injury of massive proportions. All systems, physical, mental and spiritual, are affected. Although there may not be bleeding in the physical sense, there is emotional hemorrhaging. The body and psyche are in crisis. Bereaved parents are often unable to eat, they may experience sleep disturbances and disorientation. All of these reactions are normal. Grief is a normal part of life. This is not mental illness or some chemical imbalance in our brains. What is not normal is to experience the death of a child.  The major difference between recovery and healing is that our goal is not to return to who we were before our children died. That goal is impossible to achieve. We set one less place at the dinner table, buy less food, feel sad on holidays, and cry a lot more. Our lives have been permanently and  irrevocably changed. Part of the healing process is accepting that not only have our lives changed, but also we are, in fact, becoming different people. The becoming is the healing. During this process, we examine every facet of our lives and our beliefs systems. This is a journey, not a “repair”. By living through this journey, we become different people. We look at life in a new way. Our interests change and our priorities change. We will never look at a child the same way again. We have a new and deeper level of understanding and compassion for those experiencing pain. We have a different understanding of spirituality. We, ourselves, feel new and different. We are healed, not recovered.
~ Birdie Tracy, TCF, Shoreline, CT

When God Crested Fathers ~ Erma Bombeck

When the good Lord was creating Fathers, He started with a tall frame.  A female  angel nearby said, “What kind of father is that?  If you’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have You put fathers up so high?  He won’t be able shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending, and even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.”  And God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him child-size, whom would children have to look up to?”  And when God made a fathers hands, they were large and sinewy,  And the angel shook her head sadly and said, “Do you know what You are doing?  Large hands are clumsy.  They can’t manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on ponytails, or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats.”  And God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day...yet small enough to cup a child’s face in his hands.”  And then God molded long slim legs and broad shoulders.  And the angel nearly had a heat attack.  “Boy, this is the end of the week, all right,” she chuckled.  “DO You realize You just made a father without a lap?  How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?”  And God smiled and said, “A mother needs a lap.  A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle, or hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus.”  God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer.  “That’s not fair, Do You honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?”  And God smiled and said, “They’ll work.  You'll see.  They’ll support a small child who wants to “ride a horse to Barbury Cross,” or scare off mice at the summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”  God worked throughout the night, giving the father few words, but a firm, authoritative voice; eyes that saw everything, but remained calm and tolerant.  Finally,  almost as an afterthought, He added tears.  Then God turned to the angel and said, “Now are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?”  The angel shutteth up. 

      Finding Spring Again Afrer the Death of a Child ~ Cathy Seehuetter
We are finally at an end of what has often been a brutal winter.  While gazing at the mountains of snow piled high in my front yard and the foot-long icicles hanging from my roof, it was hard to imagine that spring would ever come.  We have endured bitter cold winds that have chilled us to the bone and treacherous roads that we have cautiously traveled.  The days have been long and dark. No matter how long I have been a native of the Upper Midwest, I know we all will be glad when it comes to an end.  However, as I described these thoughts about winter, I felt as if I was describing the days of my early grief.  At that point, I did not believe that a day would ever come when I would thaw from the chill that had overtaken my body and mind.  The bleakness of my existence during those early months after Nina died is almost frightening to remember; it is so difficult to even conceive of that much pain.      I was anesthetized from some of its cruelness by the protective blanket of numbness that blessedly shielded me from the gale force of such overpowering sorrow.   How could I ever feel spring in my heart again?  Spring had always been my favorite season.  The air had a certain freshness to it that I would drink in. Simply put, it always made me feel happy and light of heart.  Spring was our reward for surviving the freezing winter months that preceded it. It brought a smile to my face and a bounce to my step.  However, it was the spring of the year where my heart was irretrievably broken. It was during this exquisite season of warm, lilac-scented breezes and sun-kissed mornings where my sweet daughter Nina’s life would end.  I wondered if my thoughts about spring would never be the same.  Rather than anticipate with gladness the coming of spring, I dreaded it with the knowledge that it contained the  anniversary of her death.  The smell of the air and the look to the sky that I once found exhilarating now brought me back to my darkest day.  I know that anyone, who has lost a loved one to death, no matter the season, understands. 
     Will spring come again to your life?  In the years since Nina died, has it come to mine?  Looking back at my description of the winter of “my early grief,” I know that I have come a long way from that time of desolation.  I have found, especially after the first two years, that with each subsequent spring, I have rediscovered some of the pleasure I used to feel.  I have learned that just because I have found things to feel joyful about again; it doesn’t mean I am dishonoring my daughter’s memory.  I now take her along with me in my mind and my heart.  
     I try to retrieve memories of the dandelion bouquets she so carefully gathered and presented to me, the rides to the park in the Radio Flyer, our talks while sunning on the deck, and, of course, shopping for spring clothes! Her favorite pastime!  I will always feel tenseness, apprehension and sadness as May 11th draws near, but I no longer hold it against spring.  It is a slow, difficult journey, this grief pathway we travel.  It is as treacherous as the roads we maneuvered following the winter storms, never knowing when we will hit an icy patch on the road and be thrown into a tailspin.  Yet, we must travel it if we are to find any measure of peace and healing.  Please be patient with yourself as you are working hard to survive this winter in your heart.  Trust that spring, though a much different one
than the one we knew before our beloved child died, will come again.

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