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Seasons Greetings, Grief!  2

FSTD8BRG33OXPTO.LARGESEASONS GREETINGS! Well, it feels so loud these days. It seems as if people are shouting it when in truth their tone is probably no different than it has ever been. This year it just seems loud! Upon the death of a loved one life becomes foreign. It is almost as if you are in a different Country and cannot comprehend what other people are saying.
You move each moment as if you are walking on thin ice.
Will today be the day that you break? Or at the end of the day will you wipe your brow knowing that you maneuvered around that crack for yet another day?

SEASONS GREETINGS. No one speaks your loss. Even if someone else has been through a similar situation you do not want to hear about it. You nod graciously and find yourself consoling them. Words come out of our mouths that say –
“I am so sorry – my loss must be bringing up such hard memories for you.” How do we get to that place where we nurture other people and their grief instead of our own?
Maybe it is a survival reflex? Maybe if we don’t “feel” it we do not have to “own” it. But somehow in that moment of loss we have to embody it.
We become the representation of grief to our family, friends and the world around us that sees us.
Still today people say to me – “You remind me of Jackie Onassis, I think it’s the way you hold yourself and everyone around you together.”
I have never been “fake” in my grief I have always moved through my grief honestly and proficiently.
People have commented “you were chosen to go through this, only the strong survive- you are a survivor, there is a reason for this and when you look back someday you will reap the rewards of your loss?”

SEASON GREETINGS!! Really? I will be better for this someday? Because all I want right now is to be planning the Holidays with my beautiful husband who was “mowed down” by a red light runner two weeks prior to the birth of our daughter.
I want my daughter to be able to go shopping with my husband so she doesn’t have to feel yet again that she has gotten me “nothing” for Christmas even though I am telling her that her love, her beautiful hand made cards and her happiness are all that I need to make this a beautiful Christmas.
I want to look forward to New Years Eve where I can toast with my husband this life that we are getting through together and this daughter that we are privy to parent.
I want my husband back and I can’t have him back. I want him back for me! That’s what I want for Christmas!
I want him back for my daughter so that she can see the pride on her fathers face and know what love between a dad and his daughter really is.
I want him back for his parents, his brother, his nephews, his family and his friends. I want him back so that my parents do not have to “worry” about me being alone and I want him back so that my brother can feel whole again.
It has been 11 years. I want him back for me so that I can get rid of this gapping hole in my heart that will not seem to heal. That’s what I want for Christmas.

Season Greetings. This holiday season if you know a widow or a widower, someone that has experienced the pain of losing their children or children that have lost their parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters please bless them. Please hug them. Please pray for them. Loss is foreign. It is the “elephant in the room” that will not go away.
It can be a very daunting and lonely time… these holidays. The one gift you could give to all in grief is that hug – no words. We do not want to hear “they are in a better place, wait until you see the rewards for going through all of this or worse yet there is a reason all of this happened.” This Holiday season honor who we are and who we have had to become in our loss. Be patient, be kind and don’t walk away because it’s easier for you. We are trying to speak your language again, the truth is we are healing but we will never know the same words, thoughts, feelings or friendships, life just tastes different now. Most of us want that wonderful feeling again of Saying “SEASONS GREETINGS!” With an outward smile but on the inside we are shouting “SEASONS GREETINGS, GRIEF.” I am most certain that Jackie Onassis felt the same.

If you have experienced loss and know these feelings maybe this is why we are finding each other now.
Don’t be ashamed say it loud and proud: SEASONS GREETINGS GRIEF!
Acknowledge it; embrace it and them move through it. We don’t want to get stuck in it but have permission to divulge it.

A Simple Sustainable Hug  1

IMG_0592-The HugGrief is ever present in our life. It is experienced through death, divorce, depression and/or challenges that we face. Sometimes we personally do not experience grief but friends, acquaintances and those we love the most do. Personal experience my whole life has prompted me to share my insights in hopes of helping those that do not know how to “help” or be there for someone in grief. Life circumstances take us down paths that sometimes we never imagined ourselves on. My sister, Tammy passed away when I was 12 and my husband Mark when I was 36 and 9 months pregnant with our first child. Both huge grief experience in my life. Of course I changed – you do not walk the same once deep heartache settles into your bones. But my own grief was not the issue – what compounded it was the people in my life that I came in contact with; I knew at a young age they were just scared, too. They did not know what to say to me. Instead of saying “I can’t fix it but I honor where you are and will be here always,” they walked away. I am not sure which of the two were more lonely? My grief or theirs?

No words are ever needed.
A simple hug says I can’t fix it, mend it or even take it away.
It says “I will be here always.”
It says “I validate and appreciate where you are at right now and what you are going through.”

A hug says Love without any verbal words needed.

The space is already so big yet so small when grief enters one life – whether the grief is for the living and all the experiences the person is going through or whether it is because deep loss has entered a life.

A hug is reaching out; do not be afraid of the simpleness of this gesture.
Do not walk away or ignore someone because you do not know what to say. Embrace them in your life – do not let them go for fear of not saying the right thing. Without saying anything a hug says “I can’t fix it but I honor where you are at right now and I will be here always.

When the person is ready to talk, to share – you will be the one they call on.




IMG_0046Two weeks ago we ventured into NYC for Madisyn’s very first Broadway Audition. We knew going in that it would be a great experience but the chance of her getting the part was “slight.”
It was the learning experience we were truly after.
I am so proud of her for going into the weekend with a great attitude. Of course she wanted the part- but she is young and new to this whole arena and has much yet to experience.
Day of the audition she would walk in and out of the “holding” room where we would meet after each one of her try-outs. I walked in and out of that “holding” room with great pride for all of the children that were eagerly hoping for a chance to be on Broadway.
Looking around the room it could be anyone’s moment. As the day was coming to an end Madisyn was still up for consideration.
I could start to see and feel the anticipation on her young face. It takes a lot for these kids to embrace these emotions and know you could be the next one cut.

I ventured back out of the “holding room” and into the hallway where I had a private moment. I wanted Mark to be with us. I asked him loudly to present a heart IF he was in fact watching this all on-fold with Madisyn.
I asked him to help her to be happy and content no matter the outcome. Within seconds of asking…I received – as I walked back into the “holding room” I stepped over this heart- surely it had to be there all day? Or was it? I walked in and out that door a dozen times! I gratefully thanked him and knew within a moment that he was with us- he sent a tangible gift as a sign of his never ending “my heart is always with you Melis, just remember that.”
Honestly – I was STUNNED!!! Emotionally grateful as I stepped into that room for what would be one last time.
I heard my name being called; I was one of the parents that were taken into a separate room. I walked back out that door gently stepping over the Heart that I was privy to receive. We were called into the room to be told that our children were no longer needed that day – they were cut and would no longer be considered for this role.
No matter how or what you know going into an audition you are still disappointed because you know that your child will be sad that this is where they are no longer “needed.” It is hard because none of us like to see the disappointment on our child’s beautiful face. But I was ready to go to her because I knew I was not alone in sharing this news with her.
She was disappointed but grateful for this opportunity- she said that this audition and many others that she will encounter will help her prepare for the role that she will someday “get” when that “role” is ready for her. What an amazing gift that child is.
I share this always so that you continually “open to receive.” Do not close the doors to the infinite possibilities of spirit – the gift you will receive in opening your heart and mind are endless.

Kiddo with GIVING HEART kicks off the 2014 Giving Challenge for The Mark Wandall Foundation!  1

Caden Denslow
Caden Denslow, 10 yrs.


As we approach the Giving Challenge, I would like to thank everyone in advance for your consideration in donating to the Mark Wandall Foundation via the Giving Challenge. Your donation will make a DIRECT IMPACT on the life of a grieving child through our foundations programs.


I also wanted to take this time to tell you about a remarkable young man whom I have come to love and respect immensely. Caden Denslow (10- years old) has a Giving Heart! He is an example that you are never too young to understand a cause, research that cause, discuss the cause with his family and give to that cause knowing that he has the ability to make another’s “load” a little bit “lighter.”


Caden won $25.00 earlier this year. As he began to learn about the mission of the Mark Wandall Foundation, he decided he wanted to contribute his prize money to assist in our mission. When Caden learned of the Giving Challenge he knew right away that he wanted to be a part of it! He discussed this with his parents Star and Kent Denslow and together the family decided to donate at 12noon on May 6th in hopes of growing Cadens prize money.


How has Caden and his parents grown his initial $25.00 donation?

  1. Star and Kent (Cadens parents) agreed to match his $25.00 donation making it $50.00
  2. Cadens Parents work for GE-they agreed to match the family donation increasing the amount to $100.00
  3. The Giving Challenge would then match the donation making that total $150.00 – When Caden learned about Comfort Zone Camp he was very excited; even doing his own research to find out more information. Given his passion, his philanthropic parents had to increase his donation so that he could provide the opportunity for a child to attend camp.
  4. The family donation would now be $175.00.
  5. $175.00 will now be matched by both GE and the Giving Challenge for a total of $525.00


Caden and his family just warm my heart. Cadens’ parents listened to his desire to want to help. His steadfast belief in our mission grew his initial $25.00 donation so that now one grieving child is going to get the opportunity to attend camp. Caden looked outside of himself, he sees the bigger picture, which is an amazing gift for a 10 year old. With his prize money donation he is taking part in providing a community of healing to one of his peers. With his gift he has the opportunity to break the isolation barrier for a child in great need of healing. That is priceless.


Thank you Caden Denslow. You are valued, loved and appreciated!


Cadens story is an example of how you can give, too. Your donation has the opportunity to be doubled and can help us to support and assist grieving children who have lost a family member or guardian.


Through our partnership with Comfort Zone Camp, Children First of Sarasota and our college scholarship program, we trust that we can transform a child’s broken spirit into a beautiful spark hat will light the way to a happy, healthy and optimistic future.

Caden, his giving heart and his compassionate family have given us such a gift. What a great Kick off! Won’t you join us?

GOT SPARK? On being a Widow!  0

We are all great “troopers” in this game called life! We have been given a calling that maybe we would rather turn away from. We are Widows; or as I choose to call us Wise, Independent, Devoted, Optimistic, Warriors. Even though we all have our own “part” to perform in life we all play a VITAL role in life. Today may you know that you are not alone.  May you feel peace and comfort from those that surround you. You have a gift – it does not have to be saving the world – that gift is simply being able to move through the toughest moments we have all been presented since life switched gears. Today know that each one of you has made a difference in someone’s life.    Newbies and seasoned Widows alike inspire me daily to forge ahead on this bumpy, interesting, hurtful, sometimes ugly yet always beautiful life. I choose to bathe in the love and not the loss. I choose to remember that I am not alone, resources are plenty and someone else has already and will eventually walk in my grief –laden shoes.  I choose to take my “Spark” that we all encompass and share what I know in hopes of helping those along the journey; especially the ones that so gently and lovingly have been there for me. We are all on a journey to PERFORM, CONNECT AND GROW! We all have that “SPARK” that FLAME deep inside our SOUL that is just waiting for us to NURTURE…it wants to be born! If a good wholesome FLAME is IGNITED it will grow, be nurtured by many and make a positive change in ones life. That FLAME is your POWER and your POWER can heal and give hope if you believe in yourself. YOU who make a difference! Go Forth, IGNITE YOUR SPARK…touch a life! You may never know whom you may empower to make a difference in their own life. Our shared SPARK will fuel our collective energy to offer boundless drive, steadfast support and authentic love.  As Wise, Independent, Devoted, Optimistic Warriors we will demonstrate hope in action!   This Post was originally posted in – Check out the great blog sites for WIDOWS!