Learning to Live: New Group Aims to Help Community Members Cope with loss


There are many caregivers in our community that you don’t see until you need them. When our son Mack died suddenly on New Year’s Eve 2012, two weeks shy of his 9th birthday, they emerged from the darkness like the early morning shards of sunlight through the trees.

Over the past few months, many of these community groups have come together under an initiative we call “Learning to Live: What’s Your Story?” This is a collaborative partnership between Penn State units and several Centre County community organizations and businesses whose goal is to facilitate meaningful exchanges on loss, grief, growth and transformation. As a group we agreed that after enduring the death of a loved one, we slowly “learn to live” again by absorbing the hurt and loss into our whole lives.

As many have written, there is nothing to fix or to achieve closure in grief — more so we learn to carry it.

In bereavement research, there’s a theory put forth in “Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief” by Klass, Silverman and Nickman that allows that healthy grief does not resolve by detaching from the deceased, or “moving on,” but rather in creating a new relationship with our loved one.

This notion is nothing new — St. Augustine of Hippo wrote about this in mourning the death of his own son in 390 A.D.: “The dead are invisible, but not absent.” But, it is more a corrective of modern notions that grief is a linear process to work through, rather than something you learn to live with.

Our love for Mack and the gift of his life has not ended with his death. Mack is an important part of our family through big and small holidays, events and rituals. In a larger, more visible way, we honor Mack’s love for soccer through establishing the Mack Brady Soccer Fund that helps recruit and train the best goalkeepers for Penn State men’s soccer. We also do this in smaller ways by buying gifts we know he would love and give them to others; we always talk about him and wonder, for example, whether he would approve of the new “Star Wars Rebels” TV show on Disney.

There are more intimate dreams, moments of prayer and glimpses through the veil where I know that Mack has gone before us and I will join him again in my own time.

There are several upcoming opportunities to remember your loved ones. Thursday is National Children’s Grief Awareness Day; for more information visit tidesprogram.org. Another is to share in the Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting that gives bereaved families everywhere the opportunity to remember their loved ones so that their lights may always shine.

Written by: Elizabeth Brady

Find this article on Centre Daily Times website: http://www.centredaily.com/living/article45207555.html#storylink=cpy

Elizabeth Brady