Family of boy killed by alligator at Disney World urges organ donation

Lane Thomas Graves’ parents said they decided to focus on pediatric organ donation following their son’s death in 2016.

OMAHA, Neb — A Nebraska couple whose 2-year-old son died tragically at Walt Disney World nearly five years ago wants more families to consider donating their children’s organs if their child is ever facing death.

Matt and Melissa Graves created the Lane Thomas Foundation after their son was killed by an alligator in 2016. The Omaha couple said they decided to focus on pediatric organ donation because they wanted to help other families fighting for their children’s lives and they wanted to help kids because their son loved other children.

“Because we know the pain of losing a child, we wanted to focus on an issue where we believe we can help prevent other parents from knowing our pain. We chose pediatric organ donation because we saw those families struggling with very limited resources to care for their children,” Matt and Melissa Graves said in a statement…

Grief Support offered online Thursday nights in April

Have you lost someone dear to COVID-19, someone to old age or to another illness, felt the pain exacerbated by the limitations the pandemic has placed on us all, lost someone to racism or are mourning the evils we commit as a culture?

Cranaleith Spiritual Center offers the virtual “We Will Honor Our Grief: A Support Group” in response.

The group, which is free to join, will meet online from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on April 8, 15, 22 and 29. The focus will be on discussion, relying on mutual support as a tool for healing. Come to as many of the sessions as you can manage.

Group facilitator Phyllis Strock is a practitioner of sound healing. Using Tibetan and crystal bowls, chant, and sound, she leads people to inner peace and discovery. Her perspective is informed by her experience in counseling, spirituality and writing.

She has worked with diverse populations, both individually and in groups, including cancer survivors, impoverished children and teens, and individuals at the end of life.

See the website for Cranaleith in Northeast Philadelphia for more details including registration.

“Together we will stand in the fire of grief.
Through music, poetry and the sharing of our stories, we will move
Through the flames toward hope and healing.
Cloaked in compassion and love, we will find our way.”

Why Helping Grieving Students Heal Matters So Much

In November, Garcia and two colleagues began offering trauma support sessions for groups of about four students. Each group runs for 12 weeks, mostly via Zoom to accommodate in-person and virtual students. They use a cognitive-behavioral model that enables children to share their stories, recognize connections between emotions and behavior, and eventually reduce the intensity of negative feelings.

In a normal year, Garcia might facilitate one trauma support group. This year, she has run three. A colleague has done a similar number. They’ve also led resilience workshops for entire classes. Officially, Garcia’s job is focused on special education services, not counseling. She said some of these activities have been implemented by a partner agency in the past, but the technical logistics and unpredictable schedule made that too hard this year. So she adds to her own workload, sometimes missing lunch to fill the gaps.

“I can’t allow the students to not have that kind of support,” she said. Without it, kids can become disengaged from school and overwhelmed by the seeming endlessness of the pandemic. “So we’re trying to stretch ourselves.”

Former Counselor Pens Book About Grief

Former Counselor Shares God’s Goodness in New Book About GriefMarch 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Losing a loved one is life-shattering. Sunny Armstrong dealt with this grief firsthand when her son Nick suddenly passed away at the age of twenty-six. In her newly released book, “I Have a Nick Story Book 3: Amazing, Happy Stories…Friends,” she shares how she used her counseling experience to handle this life-altering loss by writing in a journal.

Throughout the book, readers will experience the numerous incidents that occurred immediately after Nick’s death, not only to the author but also to family members and friends. Whenever Armstrong would experience an incident/sign of her son’s presence she would always share with loved ones saying, ‘I Have a Nick Story,’ which became a mantra among her family. With the help of her faith, God has allowed Armstrong’s son to visit earth often and through numerous signs, letting her, her family and his friends know he is healthy, happy and loves living in heaven.

“As soon as Nick died, unusual, amazing experiences started happening to me, my daughter, my grandsons and Nick’s friends,” said Armstrong. “I chose to keep a journal of all the amazing signs God was allowing Nick to give us to ease our pain and make us laugh. I realized all these signs were not just for me but needed to be shared with all. God does not cause our pain; He helps us through it.”

Armstrong beautifully shows that even though she lost her child, he is still with her every day. Ultimately, “I Have a Nick Story Book 3” will show readers the wonderful signs Nick gave his family, and Armstrong shares the experience of these visions throughout each page.

“I Have a Nick Story Book 3: Amazing, Happy Stories…Friends”
By Sunny Armstrong
ISBN: 978-1-6642-0443-0 (softcover); 978-1-6642-0442-3 (hardcover); 978-1-6642-0444-7 (eBook)
Available at WestBow PressAmazon and Barnes & Noble

About the author
Sunny Armstrong was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, along with her two sisters. She has lived in California most of her life. Armstrong is a former elementary teacher, middle school teacher, counselor, administrator and community college professor. Armstrong enjoys vacationing with family and visiting her numerous nieces and nephews, immediate children, extended family, and precious grandchildren. Armstrong has written three books dedicated to her late son, Nick, titled “I Have a Nick Story.” Books 1 and 2 have been on the Hollywood Producers list, and 3 will be joining the first two books in the coming month.

WestBow Press is a strategic supported self-publishing alliance between HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Author Solutions, LLC — the world leader in supported self-publishing. Titles published through WestBow Press are evaluated for sales potential and considered for publication through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. For more information, visit www.westbowpress.com or call (866)-928-1240.

What to Write to Someone on the Anniversary of a Death

What do you say to someone on the anniversary of a death? You want them to know you’re thinking of them. You want to offer them some comfort on this painful first death anniversary. You’re just not exactly sure what words to use. We’ve been there. So, we’re glad […]

DON’T compare your grief to that of the one you want to comfort.

This is similar to the previous warning against rushing the grieving process, but this approach attempts to persuade the grieving friend that their grief could not be more painful to them than yours is to you — and look at how well you’re handling it!

  • “No one grieves the loss of [so-and-so] more than I do.” (Doubtful.)

This isn’t a grief competition. Your friend doesn’t want to hear that your grief is equally strong (or possibly even stronger). They just want to know you’re there for them.

Tend to your mental health over the holidays; address isolation, loneliness, grief

Six Steps from St. Jude psychologists

The team of psychologists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have years of experience helping families deal with unthinkable grief and anxiety either around the death of a child or a recent diagnosis of a catastrophic illness. For the over 80% of children who survive childhood cancer, many face chronic illnesses for the rest of their lives. This creates challenges for families having to navigate tough conversations about health requirements, and other relevant experiences many Americans are facing this year.

“‘Pandemic fatigue’ has set in, and the holidays are already a time of year where many people experience increased mental and emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety and grief,” said…

Six Ways Music Can Help with Grief

Music NotesAuthor: Heather Fellows, HCI Music Therapist 

The holidays have always been my favorite time of year. I have warm memories of decorating the Christmas tree with the hodge-podge mix of ornaments my brother and I made in elementary school, family dinner at grandma’s house, wrapping gifts and fluffing the bow just the way my mom taught me to do. The first few bars of a Johnny Mathis Christmas song will always take me back to that time. Even now that these loved ones have gone, music still has a way of connecting me to the memories and traditions of my past.

After a loss, it can be difficult to balance “moving on” with grief. We create new traditions and care for the responsibilities of daily life during the holidays, but those strong memories and deep feelings do arise, welcome or not. Music can be used as a tool for coping with grief and loss. It can help us process those feelings and move toward a place of acceptance.

Here are six ways music can help.

  1. Music provides a safe space to feel the emotions of loss. Songs have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so they provide a natural contained space for feeling emotions. Sometimes knowing you have three minutes until the song ends is a comfort.    Pick a song and listen, cry, yell, or do whatever you need to do, and know that in about three minutes, the song will be over.

Grief in the Covid era will weigh on the American psyche for years to come

Drive-by burials and FaceTime farewells are no Substitute

The rituals of grief and mourning are as old as time: the swift Jewish burial and seven days of sitting shiva to honor the dead; the Muslim washing and three-sheeted shrouding of a body; the solemn Mass of Christian Burial with Holy Communion and the promise of an afterlife. All these — and other rites of faith and community across the globe — have been brutally curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with effects on the mental and physical health of those left behind that have yet to be grasped.

It’s become commonplace to measure the virus’ death toll in terms of the casualties of war: In the United States alone, the fatalities already amount to five Vietnams, more than 40 Iraqs and Afghanistans and upward of 90 9/11s. Americans could mark all those past losses together, with hugs and handholding, collective tears and tender mercies, candlelight vigils and choruses of “God Bless America.” By contrast, in bedside farewells via FaceTime, drive-by burials as under-attended as Jay Gatsby’s, and digital funerals on Zoom, we’ve been forced to mourn the victims of the novel coronavirus in a numbing new way: more or less alone.

What is Compassion Fatigue and Six Steps to Cope

A Common side effect of caregiving is compassion fatigue.  Six Steps to Fighting it.

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, the number of people who find themselves caring for loved ones is increasing. As they grapple with everything they have to oversee as a family caregiver — from medications to medical appointments to information management — there’s one essential thing they often forget about: themselves.

One recent study published in the journal Aging & Mental Health shows that 71% of family caregivers experience high levels of caregiver burden, or stress, and as many as 59.5% experience signs of burnout or compassion fatigue. Another study in the Journal of Adult Development reveals that family caregivers may be even more susceptible to compassion fatigue than formal caregivers because of the lack of systemic support they receive.

But what is compassion fatigue exactly, and is it avoidable?

Grief of Battling Chronic Cancer

A chronic battle with cancer presents unyielding challenges to its victims, and foremost in these trials is the distinctive grief that accompanies protracted cancer diagnoses. Cancer victims who are fighting for their lives every minute of every day, for years at a time, fall prey to devastating loss that […]

The experience of a chronic illness, particularly cancer, is unique to its victims. The incomparable grief that strikes at their lives must not be trivialized and needs to be aired out, in open conversation, to promote healing and recovery. Supporters should not be afraid to ask the meaningful questions or frightened of the potential answers. Empathy lies in the understanding that chronic cancer changes every instant of a person’s life and forces them to embark on a journey they did not choose, they did not want, and they may not complete…