Monday, August 1, 2016




Helping Others Help You

By: Molly Hickey
(Taken from National Share's July/August Newsletter)


Sipping coffee and sitting across from a long time friend, we talked about the weather, her kids, our jobs, and our husbands. With each break in the conversation, I hoped she would ask about Joseph and Grace. I hoped she'd ask about how I am navigating the grieving process, ask how it felt to be back at work when I was supposed to be on maternity leave, ask what it feels like to celebrate Mother's Day with my children in heaven instead of on earth. But she didn't. And I lacked the words to bring it up. I know this friend loved me, and cared about how I was doing, but she lacked the words, too.



After our twins were stillborn, my husband and I felt more connected than ever. In the span of a few short days, we had fumbled through so much: hearing the fatal diagnosis, enduring labor and birth; holding, meeting, and blessing our beautiful babies; planning a funeral. We had shared a powerful experience and our love for each other had instantly grown deeper and stronger. I connected to Ryan, but disconnected from everyone else.


As always in life, some people responded to our loss with beauty and grace, knowing just what to say. Others, armed with great intentions, didn't know what to do. For the first time in my life I felt like I was on a different page from those around me. My close friends, my siblings, my parents didn't seem to "get it". Frustration fueled feelings of loneliness. Dwelling in this place didn't ease my grief or support my healing, but made it worse.

After much prayer and reflection, I realized I needed to focus inwardly. This was a tough situation, one with no perfect protocol. It was uncharted territory for me, my family and friends. Instead of thinking "what can people do for me?", I challenged myself to ask "What can I do to help others support me?"




Honesty


I wanted people to read my mind and was angry when they couldn't. I didn't know what I was feeling, or what I needed but I expected other people to know. I was desperate for others to talk about my babies, when people assumed they shouldn't bring them up. I felt like I shouldn't have to spell it out for people, but it was only once I was honest that I was able to be supported by others in a helpful way. Clearly explaining my feelings and offering specific examples of what would be helpful was invaluable.


Gratitude


It is always easier to get along with someone when you remember why you are grateful for them. One of the beautiful lessons I had learned from Joseph and Grace was how precious each life is, including the lives of my friends and family. I needed to be grateful for what they had done for me, not just in this chapter, but throughout my whole life.


I also needed to be grateful for the efforts of many. Instead of focusing on what I didn't have, or wasn't getting from others, I could be grateful for what I did have... a loving husband, a compassionate doctor, an understanding boss, a thoughtful nurse who took photos of my children. They deserved my gratitude.

Patience

I began to think about how I had supported others in the past. A friend's father had died and although I paid my respects, I had not known what to say. I didn't follow up with her in the coming weeks or months. I didn't mention her father when we talked. Maybe that is what she needed. Even with the best intentions, I realized I had, many times, fallen short of supporting others- not out of a lack of compassion, but a lack of awareness. I needed to have patience with those around me as we all learn through this experience.

Bring it up

Most people are very willing to talk and listen when I make the first move. Try saying something simple like “I've been thinking a lot about Joseph and Grace lately."

Set the tone

Before getting together with a friend, send a quick text or email saying either “I am really looking forward to getting together. I could really use a fun night out and a few laughs.” or ” I am really looking forward to getting together. After a long week, I could really use a chance to talk to you about how I’ve been feeling lately.”

Be specific

It isn't fair to have expectations of people without communicating with them. Try saying "Making meals and helping me with housework would be so helpful and allow me more time to rest and relax." or " Getting together one night a week to talk would be really helpful", "It is really touching when you remember birthdays and anniversaries. "

Show Gratitude

Write a note to all the people who have supported you, nurses, co-workers, friends etc. Or try keeping a list of that you can be grateful for during this phase of your life.

Take the Lead

Begin some traditions or organize events to honor your children and include others. Try have a memorial service, plan an annual birthday party where you collect toys to donate, or arrange a service project in your child's honor. Sometimes in life it becomes necessary for us to help others help us. By striving to display honesty, gratitude and patience towards others, I was able to manage my ever-changing emotions. I finally understood that I could better honor and love Joseph and Grace by loving others. 







The Nature of Grief w/Melannie & Stacey
NO RSVP required
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
7:00-8:30 PM
South Jordan Library

The Nature of Grief w/Heidi & Carma
NO RSVP required
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
7:30-9:00 PM
Jordan Valley Hospital







Do not miss this opportunity to heal and grieve as a couple.

Because of the nature of the activity we have planned, 

September's workshops will be open to TEN (10) couples each.  

RSVP to info@shareparentsofutah.org to hold your spot.


Couple's Communication 
w/Melannie, Natalie & Carma
and special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
7:00-8:30 PM 
South Jordan Library

Couple's Communication 
w/Heidi & Natalie
and special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Jordan Valley Hospital

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Child’s Perspective

As a way of introducing myself first, my name is Jake Andreason. I have been a member of Share Parents of Utah since about April of 2015, and recently have had the opportunity to help out with a few of the workshops offered. My background is in mental health having worked as a therapist for several years. I am licensed in Utah as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and I am the current clinical director for an outpatient mental health clinic in South Jordan. All that being said though, I am not coming to you strictly as a professional. My wife and I lost our baby boy a little over a year ago, and that is what brought me to work with Share Parents of Utah. I can relate to a lot of what parents may be going through as I am going through this myself.

What I want to talk to you about today is related to understanding what a child goes through when struggling with grief. Children can experience grief in a very different way than we do. Some of this depends on age, connection to the loss, and the ability to manage emotions as they come up. Younger kids may not fully understand, but can still connect to the emotion(s) going on around them. Older kids may internalize things in a different way. This may vary from just noticing that mom and dad are upset, to fully taking in the loss of a sibling on their own.

The big thing to be aware of is how your child expresses emotion. This can be tricky if your son or daughter doesn’t know how to do this, or may be a little shut down. Younger kids don’t typically understand this in the same way, so what you end up getting are changes in behavior. This may look like an increase in moments of fear, anxiety, or anger. With older kids, teenagers in particular, they may not want to talk or it may go the other way and they have a thousand questions. Grief is never a one way fix though. This means that each person has the right to feel it, and work through it, in their own way.

Helpful Tips      
                              
                  Many kids struggle with grief because they don’t understand what it means. It is helpful to take some time to talk about this. Younger kids do great with books to read through followed by time to ask questions. Older kids may want one-on-one time to talk. It is generally helpful to start with this step though to get a better understanding of how they see grief.

                  After this, we need to find an outlet to express emotion. Grief is a healthy thing for people as long as you don’t get stuck. Younger kids tend to struggle more when trying to talk about feelings. It can be much easier to use outlets like drawing, painting, or playing with toys to process grief. When you have a teenager that doesn’t want to talk, but clearly they look upset, it helps to just have time together with them. Talk about music, movies, or anything else they want. Often times, as they start to feel more connected, they will begin to open up about their thoughts or worries. You can be there for them in this way without having to push them to say something specific to you.

Things to Watch for

                  Again, each child is different with this so as a parent you will know your child best. Generally, what I tend to look for are things like drastic behavior changes. These behavior changes may look like your child shifts from normally being very outgoing to isolating without wanting contact from anyone, or your easygoing child may suddenly become very angry and aggressive. This will generally impact your child’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis and you may start to see issues with school, friends, or family.
 
In these moments, you also tend to get a struggle with expressing emotion to the point of shutting down or avoiding. This is a worry if it gets deeper as the emotion can be consuming if there isn’t a way to get it out. Depression and anxiety are common, but if you ever start to hit points of self harm behaviors or statements of suicide stop what you’re doing right away and get help.    
  
Be Aware of Yourself
                 
                  As important as it is to make sure your kids are okay, also try to remember that you have to be there for yourself. You can’t expect to take care of everyone else around you while avoiding how you are feeling. This is very difficult to do as a parent because we tend to put our kids first for everything. They may also benefit from seeing you do this because you are showing them that it is important to take care of yourself.

Utilize Resources

                  It is important to know that there are several resources available to you. Share Parents of Utah has done a great job of providing a framework of people to connect with. There are options available within this network to find answers to many questions, but professional help is also available for parents, families, and children. The time to look at a professional as an option generally will stand out as behavior starts to really change, or daily functioning is impaired.

                  I am personally going to be going through these particular areas in our July workshops. I am doing one workshop for younger kids (ages 2-10), and one for older (ages 11-18). In these workshops we are going to practice some of these techniques and go over a broad range of areas to watch for with grief. It will be more hands-on to help give examples of ways to help kids move through difficult emotions.  These workshops will be by RSVP only, are open to anyone reading this posting and we will allow up to 10 families to participate on each date.  Information for these workshops can be found on Share Parents of Utah's website under the Support Meetings/Workshops tab. Email info@shareparentsofutah.org to reserve your spot(s) today! I look forward to meeting with you and your family and healing on this journey together.                     


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Share Parents of Utah | Fathers Day Message

What would you think if I told you that this ‘Motley Crew’ does have something new to offer you?
OBJECTIVE:  My goal with this blog post is to help you see a different perspective.  It is my hypothesis that by leading you through certain aspects of these five men’s lives, you will see your own reflection and realize some ‘stuff’ that perhaps you have forgotten about.  Furthermore, I am not going to identify everything that I found preparing this blog post because I feel that by allowing you to discover the hidden gems in this blog post … it will actually make a bigger impact on your life.  If you search … you will find.  We all find what we are looking for.  Let’s get started!!  The accomplishments of these five men should make you want to pay attention to the possibilities forthcoming …
~ Anakin Skywalker:
‘Family’ is a strong and recurring theme in Star Wars. The Star Wars story begins with a fatherless young boy named Anakin Skywalker.  Anakin makes a brave yet difficult decision to leave his mother behind on their home planet in order to more fully develop his unique, supernatural talents under the tutelage of the Jedi Knights.  According to legend, for over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the universe.  Young Anakin’s goal was to study the Jedi Knight beliefs and practices (on another planet) with the ultimate goal of not only becoming a Jedi Knight … but to become the most powerful of all the Jedi.
‘The Force’ is what gives a Jedi his power.  It’s an ‘energy field’ created by all living things.  The Force surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.  ―Obi-Wan Kenobi — Listen
Tragically, Anakin’s inability to control his carnal desires and emotions (i.e. specifically his anger) lead him down multiple unfortunate paths that placed him in a position where his thoughts, opinions and actions directly conflicted with the tenets of the Jedi Order.  Gradually, Anakin, the once heroic Jedi Knight, becomes seduced by evil (i.e. the dark side of the Force) and Anakin morphs into the misdirected villain, Darth Vader.  Darth Vader then leads a war to eradicate the Jedi Order and chaos ensues.
In a twist of fate, although Anakin does not know the destiny of his children until after he becomes Darth Vader, he eventually finds out the truth about his children (Luke and Leah).  In the end, Darth Vader’s fatherly love for his son ultimately: (1) Helps tear-down the evil Empire he helped build, (2) Brings balance to the universe and (3) Re-establishes the unbreakable healing powers of the unconditional loving-bond between a father and a son.
The Takeaway:  Despite many bad life decisions, the love shared between a father and child can change direction; can change circumstances; can change everything.  Fathers, the love you have for your child can inspire you to do things differently and better … especially if you have enough courage and if you allow the love for your child (and their love for you) to ignite change.
I miss my boys William Hopkins and Maximus Paul Green.  I think about them every blessed day since Melannie and I found out they were coming to us (2006).  It is my belief that I will see my sons again somehow, someway, someday.  Truthfully, I feel they are near me.  I do not think they are ‘lost’ nor do I feel they are ‘alone.’  To me, they are ‘safe.’  I also feel we know each other well.  They seem to influence my life at very random, yet clear, times in the most beautiful of ways.  I also believe they chose me as their father.  These things bring me comfort.  This perspective also influences my business and personal decisions as well as the time I spend with my other kids: Bryston (22), Taryn (20), Elliot (17), Daphne (7 – rainbow baby #1) and Victoria (3 – rainbow baby #2).
~ ALI:
After a particularly hard work-out while Mohammed Ali was training to regain his boxing Championship Title in “The Rumble in the Jungle (circa 1974), Ali was asked by a reporter, “Champ, do you like training?”  His response was solid: “I hate every minute of training, but I say to myself: Don’t Quit – Suffer Now – Live the rest of your life as a champion.”
When my boys died, I broke emotionally, physically and spiritually; and I broke down again and again and again.  The main lesson I now understand from this continual, repeating cycle-of-pain is that the only thing I can do … is to try my best at each and every moment.  Sometimes I can only give 40% of my best while on other occasions I may be able to reach 100% of my best effort in order to make a difference.
The Takeaway:  As father’s, we cannot worry about the things we cannot control.  Not much comes easy any more.  However, we have to keep going.  We must push through.  We have to hustle on.  Gentlemen, we must live the rest of our lives as a champion (Father).  Like you miss your child, I too yearn for my boys.  Not being able to play ball with them or do other father-son activities is hard.  Those goals and dreams did not work out for us and that pain is always there IF I want to go there.  However, I’ve learned that doing other things with Melannie and my other kids makes me feel closer to my boys (somehow).  I don’t get how that all works, but I do feel it is that way.
~ EISENHOWER:
General Dwight Eisenhower once said that,
In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
What General Eisenhower means here is that ‘stuff happens’ and that the best laid plans will always change because life’s flow is a mystery and circumstances are always dynamic.  The course of a well-thought-out plan will diverge.  Now, Eisenhower is not saying: “Don’t Plan,” nor is he saying: “Plans Don’t Work.”  He is simply pointing out the obvious that most of the situations we face in life have unknown detours and uncontrollable outcomes.  A good father does not shy away from bad news.  On the contrary, a good father stares into the abyss and brings insights back from beyond, never confusing persistence with blind stubbornness.
The Takeaway:  Life is hard.  Change will always happen.  You can handle it.  Fathers are people with all the same biases, irrational tendencies and emotional attachments as others.  Father’s, you should focus on the few essential things that you can actually make a difference with and accept the fact that you can only do your best … and that your best will be better on some days than it is on others.
~ BUDDHA:
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” – Buddha.  Does that mean that you must suffer every single moment?  Absolutely not; but make no mistake about it, to get from where you are on your journey through life, to where you want to be, you are going to suffer.  The death of your child has been tremendously difficult.   The pain is real and sometimes pain knows how to hide well.  However, to get what you’ve never gotten before you must do what you’ve never done before.  And doing what you’ve never done before often is somewhere between uncomfortable and downright painful.
The Takeaway:  Consider a Marathon.  There is suffering on the last few miles of a marathon, but the sense of accomplishment at the finish line makes it all worthwhile.  In our instant-gratification society, we need to remember that running a family with your spouse is a marathon; it’s not a sprint.  There will be suffering during the various ‘mile markers’ (or phases of your family) but you need to remember that suffering makes you stronger.  You can find your way.
~ TARZAN:
I discovered something interesting this week while watching the opening scene of this 1999 Disney movie.  The first three minutes of the animated film, Tarzan, reminded me of a perspective that I needed to rediscover.  I had forgotten the foundation of this film and once I rediscovered that, it genuinely gave me a new path to new hope.  https://youtu.be/x3u1_181N7g  (1st Scene in Tarzan, 3:20).
What I realized is that there was a perspective that I had forgotten: the perspective that I missed was that of the child who was left without his parents (and not vice versa).  ~ Phil Collins, Two WorldsLINK (Click Here)
Put your faith in what you most believe –
Trust your heart – Let fate decide
Softly tread on the sand below your feet
Raise your head up – Lift high the load
Take strength from those that need you –
A new life is waiting
No words describe a parents tears –
No words can heal a broken heart
A dream is gone, but where there’s hope –
Somewhere, something is calling for you
The Takeaway:  Allow yourself to feel joy.  Allow yourself to feel your child’s love.  Trust your heart.  There are people in your life that want to help you and there are people around you that need your help as well.  Let go of the things that are holding you back and fly.  Soar.
CONCLUSION:  It might appear on the surface that a side-tracked Sith Lord, “The Greatest” Boxer, a 5-Star General, a mighty Sage and a hollering Cartoon Character definitely do not have anything new to offer you.  You could argue that they have nothing personal to offer you at all.  Perhaps the skeptics are correct:  There’s nothing that could potentially alter your course in life and teach your eyes to see with a different vision.  Or is there?  Someone is cheering for you.  Did you get the message?  It is you who must decide when to start training yourself anew.  You ready?
Adam Paul Green
~ RESOURCES:
1.
Moms, here is a poem for you:  LINK #1 (Click Here).
2.
I came to Earth so others could look inside themselves
To see what they are made of – not what I AM made of.
I was given keys to unlock hearts and open doors
However, it is you who has to use them.
Now that you know who I AM – Show me who you are.
3.
When parents have a child die, no matter the age, they need comfort.  Besides looking for support in each other and through family and friends, parents also find comfort by reading.  Poems have a way of lifting someone’s spirits, allowing the individual to connect with what has been written.  While the words may be difficult to read at times, they typically help the mourner connect with what is written.  Certain poems bring comfort because it allows the parent to feel that their baby is at peace.  LINK #2 (Click Here)
4.
In the case of a child’s death, poems allow parents to read exactly what they are feeling, including:  Feeling Overwhelmed, Sadness, Anger, Discouragement, Bitterness, Resentment, Despair, Disappointment and/or Shame.  These feelings are normal and coincide with what is felt when going through ‘the Stages of Grief.’  By going through these emotions, one can find resolution and many times poetry can help.  LINK #3(Click Here)
5.
Poem: “My Dad” (November 2007):  LINK (Click Here)
6.
~ Phil Collins, You’ll Be in My HeartLINK (Click Here)
Come stop your crying, It will be alright – Just take my hand,
Hold it tight – I will protect you – From all around you –
I will be here – Don’t you cry
For one so small, You seem so strong
My arms will hold you, Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us – Can’t be broken – I will be here –
Don’t you cry – ‘Cause you’ll be in my heart –
Yes, you’ll be in my heart – From this day on –
Now and forever more
Maximus Stone

Please join us in June for "DADS AND DONUTS" and a very special workshop!  The activities will be geared especially for Dad's and these two evenings will be like nothing you've ever experienced with our Support Meetings!  Space is limited and we will accept the first TEN (10) Father's/Couples per night.  Please RSVP to info@shareparentsofutah.org.


Father's Feel Too w/Melannie & Carma
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
7:00-8:30 PM
South Jordan Library

Father's Feel Too w/Heidi & Stacey
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
7:30-9:00 PM
Jordan Valley Hospital