What’s the Best Way You Can Help a Grieving Family?

*Disclosure: I am a paid GiveForward Brand Ambassador.  I was compensated for this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.  Affiliate links used.

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Money.

That’s what grieving parents often need most. We are extremely lucky people with very generous family and friends. When Cora died, her funeral was paid for. When the funeral home told me not to worry about it, they were donating all of their services, I started sobbing on the phone. (Thank you Zwick and Jahn).

Our family and friends were generous and all other costs like cremation, memorial items, and the pile of costs associated with losing a child were covered. We didn’t have to ask anyone.

When Ben’s dad died, he had to make a phone call to his quite generous uncle, but the funeral home fees were covered (he didn’t have a service there, but even with just cremation and body preparing it was around $3000).

How lucky were we?

When Cora died we were 27 and 28 Ben was in school. We’d set ourselves up so we’d be comfortable and I could stay home with Cora.

Most 28-year-olds can’t afford to pay $10,000+ out of pocket. And losing a child costs much more than that. Time off work. Therapy. Lost productivity. Inability to cook and needing more expensive convenience meals.

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It’s just not fair. No one prepares for their child to die at such a young age. Even with good jobs, steady income and a little nest egg, losing a child is a financial hit, sometimes a devastating one.

I’ve read devastating stories of loss parents driving their child to the cemetery because they couldn’t afford the hearse, not being able to give their child a headstone and not being able to afford Christmas presents for surviving children because nothing was left.

We were so lucky.

Remember many of these families had a sick child before their child passed away. Even if medical bills are covered, or mostly covered. Staying in the hospital is expensive. Things like gas, food and lodging add up. A family could blow through their entire savings and be devastated, and then what happens when the child passes away.

Raise Money for a Loved One in Need. It's Quick, Easy, and Secure at GiveForward.com

When a child dies, the last thing any family should have to worry about is money. Money stress is a stress like none other. I know from experience. Since Cora died, we’ve battled our own issues. Ben smashed his ankle into tiny pieces just four months after she died. At one point he was told he would never walk again (he is, but it is something that will battle him for life).

We’re just now starting to recover, because we’ve been helped in so many ways from family members, friends, and even strangers on the Internet.

I’ve written quite a bit about how to help a family after the loss of a baby. I even wrote a short ebook aimed at friends and family of loss moms. I do mention in the book money is often one of the best ways to help. But in all honesty, it’s not easy to tell you to give money, and it’s even harder for a family to ask after a crisis.

GiveForward approached me about writing this blog post for help erasing the stigma that comes with asking for help.

GiveForward is a crowd fundraising site that allows people to start a fundraiser when they need help.
Raise Money for a Loved One. It's Quick, Easy, and Secure on GiveForward.com
None of us ask for a crisis to happen. None of us plan to get to a point where we need help. It’s okay to ask. It’s definitely okay to give. Give it forward. I know that we since have. The amount doesn’t matter. I can’t count how many times I’ve given what we could afford at the time, usually just $5 to another family in a crisis. Don’t hold back because you can’t afford to give much.

I know many of my readers have children with congenital heart defects or other conditions, if you’re struggling paying for the costs surrounding an upcoming surgery, or find the medical bills leading you to bankrupt, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s easy to start a fundraiser on GiveForward. 

When your child is sick, and especially after your child passes away, starting a fundraiser is just too much to handle. GiveForward handles all the details like collecting the money, and has tools that make it easy for you to organize your fundraiser. You can also designate a trusted friend who can run the entire thing for you.

In America, 76 percent of families live pay check to pay check. You aren’t alone if you can’t keep up after a crisis. We all need help sometimes.

*Disclosure: I am a paid GiveForward Brand Ambassador.  I was compensated for this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.  Affiliate links used.

 

 

My Grief Will Last a Lifetime, and So Should Your Sympathy

lifetime The “there is not time limit on grief” motto is one that Iv’e repeated enough, read enough and thought enough that I feel like I’m comfortable with it. It’s a fact, and I don’t care if other people accept it or not.

If my grief lasts my entire life, ebbing and flowing and becoming a natural part of living, should sympathy, empathy, and compassion last just as long?

I don’t want people to feel bad for me. My dad died when I was a little and my entire I life I remember thinking I never wanted it to be an “excuse.” I only wanted it to be part of what made me who I was.

The same for Cora. I am different, and not as fast to think, not as fast to join the party and sometimes hide in my house for days on end.

I’m not asking for sympathy in the way people express sympathy in the early days. I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me. I am mom to the most beautiful baby ever. A baby changing lives, don’t feel sorry for me!

As grief grows and changes, so should sympathy. I think I’m asking more for empathy for me, and anyone that’s had a loss.

Do we break plans a lot? Should we get a free pass because our baby died five years ago automatically, no. But, if we tell you we had issues bubbling to the services, try not to be upset.

Remember those anniversaries and special days. For us, they are like the “early days.” Treat them like you would have treated the day my baby died. I’m reliving everything on those days.

Don’t feel sorry for me, but always remember grief is a life long journey. At times, when it surfaces, I still need sympathy, and more than anything empathy and compassion.

 

 

Tell Congress: No More Toxic Chemicals! (Sponsored)

Disclosure: I was compensated by Seventh Generation to write this post. Opinions are my own.

Before I became pregnant, I didn’t give much thought to what I put in and on my body, or exposed myself to. I cleaned with whatever was near. I wore whatever makeup I thought looked pretty and I didn’t give a thought to things like sulfates in body wash.

More than 80,000 chemicals available in the United States have never been fully tested for their toxic effects on our health and environment.

In my naivete, I figured the government and companies producing items for home and health use would make sure everything was safe and didn’t question what chemicals could do to me, my home, my pets and the environment.

It turns out legislation hasn’t been updated since the 1970′s. In the 1970′s, people were still smoking on airplanes. We obviously had lots to learn about the hazards of chemicals. The Toxic Substances Control Act was passed in 1976 and has not been updated since.

It’s time for this law to be updated. Chemicals that were okay-ed to use in the 1970′s continue to be produced for residential cleaning supplies and other items we use daily.

Seventh Generation, a company that makes a line of cleaning supplies from plant-based derivatives, is calling on Congress to reform the TSCA. Not only reform, but to do so in a meaningful way that brings about healthy, realistic changes.

Scientists have linked exposure to  toxic chemicals to many health risks, such as Cancer, Alzheimer’s, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and various reproductive problems!

I gave birth to a child with a birth defect. Do I have any evidence it was from any of the chemicals I used or was exposed to, even accidentally? Absolutely not. But I have read several studies that have linked an increase in birth defects to environmental causes, like certain chemicals.

We need to do better for ourselves, and for our children.

Seventh Generation is calling on YOU to help! They are attempting to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition asking Congress to make the reforms. 

Make sure to pop over and sign the petition today to make your voice heard! Chemical legislation dating back to the 1970′s is not okay. It’s definitely not okay that our children are exposed to chemicals daily that we don’t fully understand.

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Stand up to toxic chemicals today! 

A Glimpse of Them

I was hoping I’d get the other cashier.

I’m a couponer, you see, and the right cashier is nearly as important as having the right coupons.

I’d dealt with this cashier. I knew she was young and new, but knew she would be nice. Cashiers sometimes aren’t nice to couponers. I don’t blame them, sometimes couponers aren’t nice to cashiers.

So when this women I’d never seen called  over, “I can help you over here.” I quickly check her out. Middle age. Her beckoning wasn’t overly cheerful, but also not rude. On the couponer cashier-profiling scale, she was an iffy. I held my breath, clutched my coupons and prepared to explain every coupon and store policy.

Her cheerfulness level grew to a 10 when I reached her register.

“I could have sworn I saw little ones with you! I must be imagining things,” she cheerfully kept rattling on. “I thought you had little ones.” She must have been a real baby lover, because she seemed disappointed that she wasn’t able to dote on how cute the non-existent little ones were.

“No, no,” I whispered. My heart was in my throat. I have a little one, but she’s not here, I wanted to scream.

When things like this happen and strangers ask me if I have children, I don’t want to ruin their whole day so I usually say as little as possible.

She kept on, “I thought there little ones,” she said with a smile in her voice. I felt rude for not responding, “I wish,” I said. “Maybe someday…” my voice hushed back to a whisper.

“Awww, you will honey,” the woman said. “I could have sworn there were little ones,” she said. She didn’t seem like she was going to let up with the “little ones” talk anytime soon.

My heart was pounding. My palms sweaty and the lump in my throat was pulsating. I had to stop her, but nicely.

I leaned in as I put items on the counter and said in a whisper, “My daughter died.”

With genuine compassion, she put her hand on mind and said the only thing you can say in this situation, “I’m so sorry.”

Her hand didn’t linger too long and was just a brush as I laid my single bags of popcorn on the counter, but it was just what was needed.

We transitioned into the rest of my order. No problems with any of the coupons, by the way.

I really didn’t want to ruin this lady’s day, so I said something to make her feel better.

As she handed me my change I said in a throaty whisper, “Maybe you saw my daughter here with me after all.”

It was to make her feel better, not me, I thought.

She said, “I did. You are right. I saw little ones. I know I did.”

I grabbed my items bags and walked out.

I realized maybe I hadn’t said it just for her. I’m not much into the thought of babies as angels, or ghosts or spirits. I’m not much for psychics or mediums.

But, in that moment, I needed to believe the woman saw not only Cora with me, chattering up a storm at my side.

I needed to believe that she saw Cora’s siblings, bubbling happily in car seats in the cart.

I needed it today. I had to picture it.

This woman gave me that hope. That she saw Cora always with me, and siblings to come in the future.

Hope comes from the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times.

Because of this woman, I saw them too. Cora and her siblings. I saw them. Just a glimpse. The kind of glimpse that you give from the corner of your eye, and when you look straight on it’s gone and you wonder if you saw them at all. That glimpse of hope today was enough. This stranger might not even remember me a few hours later. I’ll never forget her.

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Gettin’ Healthy to Get Knocked Up: Grean B.E.A.N. Delivery Makes It Easy. Review and Discount Code (Sponsored).

As a member of Indy Social Media Moms, I received free product from Green B.E.A.N. Indiana in exchange for my unbiased review. ISMM and Green B.E.A.N. Indiana are not responsible for the content of this post.

After Cora died, my own health spun out of control. I didn’t have the mental capacity to cook for several months. I remember my sister-in-law coming to visit a few weeks after Cora died, and trying to cook mashed potatoes,  and I couldn’t figure out what to do after I skinned the potatoes. Parts of my brain just shut down.

We lived off fast food for many months. Needless to say, my weight increased and my health decreased.

I think that many of the fertility issues I have will clear up with some weight loss, so I’ve been really working on it for the past few weeks.

When I had the opportunity to receive a free delivery of fresh fruits and veggies from Grean B.E.A.N. Delivery, I jumped on it!

One major hurdle right now is getting healthy foods in the house at all times. I work from home, and we’re a one vehicle family, which happens to my husband’s work truck. It’s hard to coordinate our schedules for me to shop. Usually by the time I’m able to grab the truck, I’m starving and make worse choices, or my husband calls me at the end of a long day willing to go to the grocery store and I freeze and think of easy convenience foods for him to pick up.

Fresh foods delivered to our door step make making better choices so much easier.

My delivery came last Thursday, and was waiting patiently on my door step for me when we came home.

photo (68) As you can see, it came in a nice heavy duty bin, that was also insulated and had ice packs inside so everything was fresh (this time of year that doesn’t matter so much, but in the summer, the chilled veggies won’t wilt).

photo (65) Here’s where I start gushing. I was excited about getting all sorts of veggies and fruits delivered, but I didn’t expect the awesome that I received.

Everything was organic, and so fresh. I know I keep using the word fresh over and over, but that’s the best way to describe the taste of everything. It was like I’d picked everything from my garden. It all blew away the veggies and fruit at my local grocery store this time of year.

The organic blueberries? Best blueberries I’ve ever had. I wasn’t that excited about them, so used to those mooshy over ripe little purple things the grocery store calls blueberries. These were so tasty!

The delivery definitely helped me cook healthier and eat better. The first two nights, I chopped up an amazing salad. I think one night the salad was all I had for dinner, and I was completely satisfied. I left it out on the counter (covered of course) and just got little bowls of salad when I was hungry again. So awesome.

photo (63) I was given the small produce bin to try. It normally costs $35 (delivered). I do have a discount code for $15 off your first bin. It is 15CSml

Sadly, Green B.E.A.N Delivery doesn’t deliver everywhere in the states, but if you live in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio or Missouri, you’re in luck!

I also like that the produce changes based on what’s fresh. Grean B.E.A.N. even has a blog with recipes that use the produce in the bins. I think that’s a fun way to try new produce. You can add or change items based on your needs. You can even add local dairy, milk and tons of other products.

My bin had organic blueberries, organic cauliflower, organic broccoli (I’ll drop the word organic, you get the idea it was all organic), 3 Asian pears, 4 Gala apples, red lettuce, celery, 2 mangoes, and cherry tomatoes.

We have three people living in our house, so not enough produce to last a few days, but we still have some of the items left over, and they’re in great shape five days later.

I was given the bin in exchange for this post, but am so glad I was introduced. I’m officially a fan, and going to keep and pay for the service, so I’m sure you’ll hear me gush about Green B.E.A.N. in the future.

It’s definitely an important tool in my “gettin’ healthy to get knocked up” journey. I’ll be writing more about that journey here, and on my personal blog, KristineBrite.com because blogging is such a great way for me to stay on track, get feedback and encouragement and share with others what’s working.

Hopefully, I’ll soon have a little BEAN of my own growing in my tummy. :)

Again, as a member of Indy Social Media Moms, I received free product from Green B.E.A.N. Indiana in exchange for my unbiased review. ISMM and Green B.E.A.N. Indiana are not responsible for the content of this post.

 

 

 

100 Ways to Give: Number Three, Do What Is Right, Even When No One is Watching

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Over the next year, I’m going to share 100 ways to give. The 100 days won’t be in a row, but will be over the entire year. Cora taught me so much about giving, being there for people and loving each other. Most of these ways to give will use little to no money. See previous posts in this series here. 

I feel like this series is turning into an ode to my husband. And rightfully so, he’s the most giving person I know, but number 3 on my 100 ways to give is also inspired by him. (You can read my number two way to give, inspired by him as well here.)

When no one is looking, do you go the extra mile to do the right thing?

Do you pick the harder path, even if there is no personal reward, and no one watches you travel it?

My husband owns and operates a hauling business. We always try to recycle/reuse/donate items before throwing in the landfill, so we go through anything that isn’t straight trash.

Last week we picked up some boxes and just in the last few days my husband got to the work of sorting them. Inside one he found piles of family photographs.

It’s been a busy few weeks, and I actually took the call from the customer while multi-tasking. I threw the customer’s address in the GPS and sent my brother-in-law off to get the items.

We couldn’t remember where we’d gotten them. All of us agreed we couldn’t toss out the pictures with out making some sort of effort to find their owner, but my husband pushed us to remember where they came from. He asked us several times over the last few days until I remembered that I’d first jotted the address in an email I planned to sent to him and found the address in a draft email. There was no name or number, but we did a reverse search and found a name and mailed off a letter today explaining the situation.

My husband says that if the photographs were thrown out unintentionally, he’ll make the 30 mile trip to drop them off as soon as the people contact us, because it’s the right thing to do.

A few weeks after Cora died, we were both shopping at a dollar store. We were there because we were flat broke. We turned. the corner and on the floor sat several hundred dollar bills in a booklet with no personal information.

We sure could have used the cash. No one would have known, but we didn’t hesitate. We scooped it up and brought it to the cashier. We asked her to put it in her safe, and took her name so we could hope it wasn’t pocketed. We hung out a few moments to watch her run it to the back.

No one would have known if we would have taken that money.

But taking it was the wrong thing to do.

The people who threw out those photos probably don’t even realize. They might not for months and might not ever. It would have been easy to toss them out.

It’s the ultimate way to give. Treat others like you’d like to be treated, even when no one is watching. 

You can read previous posts in this series here.