Posts Tagged With: loss

Be Still, My Heart

“Dear Julia . . . there is no easy way to tell you this . . .”

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On July 3rd, I learn of my friend’s suicide

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The savage truth delivers a violent punch to my heart

and fractures my core

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For others, the days ahead bring fireworks, art fairs, and festivities . . . even The Rolling Stones

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but I’m here still trying to get up off the floor

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Reality comes in waves now; acid waves which leave me breathless

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I can’t talk about it yet, or say his name aloud, or share his wonderfulness with you

but I know that soon the grieving will begin and it will be better than this

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In a single moment everything can change

your perspective . . . your world . . . even the person you are

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To the muffled backdrop of exploding fireworks, I weep

for his pain

and my loss

and the tremendous tragedy of it all

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It didn’t have to be

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This life . . .

is magnificent and beautiful

yet fragile, tentative, and temporary

and ever so bittersweet.

aFLOWER PANSY WET156WMD

*If you are in crisis, PLEASE call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-HELP (8255). They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They really care and can help you.  Or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org   .

Because you matter.

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Grief/Healing, Michigan | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

ROSIE’S GIRLS

Just a week ago we gathered to celebrate Rose Lewandowski’s art show at The Carr Center in Detroit (See the Carr at: http://www.thecarrcenter.org/ and visit Rosie on Facebook).

We love Rosie and her beautiful brilliant brain. She’s a painter and photographer, and she creates the most elegant pottery. Tonight it’s her pottery that’s being featured and I love to see the world through her eyes, as reflected in her pieces. She has incredible perspective. And depth of heart.

aaROSIE QUOTE

Actually, both of the other girls are creatives as well; Desiree’s a painter, gardener, and creator of fairy gardens and anything else her beautiful brain can imagine; and Patti is a photographer, chef extraordinaire, and probably a few other things that I’m not remembering right now. Me? I write a bit. And I take a few photographs now and then.

Rosie’s show was fabulous. The attendance was good and the room was abuzz with creative energy and the chatter and support of friends. Our Motley Crew was there to celebrate our friend, who passionately and relentlessly does the work of art; this night was just one result and reward. She has the heart of an artist, the soul of an ancient, and the work ethic of a Fortune 500 CEO. Needless to say, her pottery pieces just blew everyone away. I wasn’t surprised. Of course they did.

ROSIE TABLE

We even made some new friends.

aROSIE DANA FUNNY

Say hello to Dana and Dom (Rosie is on the right). They are delightful spirited characters and we all bonded rather naturally (you learn to spot the good ones quickly!).They are soon expecting a beautiful baby boy named, Alexio. Isn’t that a wonderful name? I’ve already called dibs on his first photo shoot!

 

In the afterglow of the evening, we left Detroit, and each ventured ahead into the upcoming week.

NIGHT

I know that Desiree has been nonstop busy with family duties and activities, and assisting in the care of an ailing loved one, while babysitting her granddaughter (the light of her life), and while being in physical pain. She’s had an incredibly rough year of family losses, but you’d never know it to look at her. Or be with her. She always sees the beauty in everything. And she’s a firecracker. She’s also a fluttering little firefly flapping her wings and being beautiful while trying to shed some light in all the darkness that surrounds her.

I also know that Patti has had the same kind of busyness, even though it was her week of vacation; errands and family duties never stop. She just got her second tattoo; a bracelet of flowers, inspired by her late mother’s ring. Her first tattoo, in honor of her infant daughter, Sara, was an angel with wings, and now rests just above her heart . . . the same heart that broke the day she lost her. Patti’s the calming force in our little rock band of middle-aged, Zen-seeking, hippie-embracing, creative girlfriends. She brings balance (That’s why she carries a cane! She’s also highly skilled in navigation…and sarcastic humor).

Rosie did not escape unscathed. She had a minute of joy at her show and then the next day, she got clobbered . . . really hard. She lost her beautiful friend, Marty; someone she’s loved for a lifetime. And it broke her heart. There are no words. Only tears. Later, the memories will come that will comfort her. She will honor Marty by living life with love and joy in her heart.

Me?

Nothing too major. I got crushed by bronchitis, which spurred a three-day migraine, while a number of important things were happening. It was crazy-bad timing and I cried a lot, but I pushed through it. Even the smallest tasks required tremendous effort and attention, with relatively few positive results. It’s frustrating; and that’s a word my bipolar disorder doesn’t like. We don’t care much for emotional roller coasters either, but we’ve been privy to a ride on one of those this week as well. Yeah . . . I’m tired.

(I keep writing this paragraph over because I need want to tell you all of the bad things that happened to me. I want to name them off, “This and this and this and this…..”, and then say, “See how rough my week was?” But I will resist that urge.

(You’re welcome).

So, exactly what is this blog about?

Embracing moments.

And honoring our beautiful friends.

Just as they are.

Not because we accept them or tolerate them.

But because we love them.

And we want to celebrate them.

Life’s gifts come with no guarantees. One minute you’re enjoying the night with your friends and the next minute you’re up to your eyeballs in turmoil and pain and everything’s different. Sometimes, it’s major and life-altering. And sometimes we just go through a rough patch . . . for maybe a day, or a few months, or even a few years. But not one of us will get through it without a little help.

Nope, not even you.

We need someone to listen and to share it all with. We need a couple of good friends. The love and laughter they bring is as vital to our existence as the air we breathe.

This beautiful band of girlfriends I jokingly call backup singers and Zen-hippie girls, and indeed we are; but you can be assured, we are also warriors. And we’re fighting for love, comfort, peace, and a little bit of the happy stuff.

aGIRLScropped

(From left: Rose Lewandowski, Desiree Mate, Julia Kovach, Pat Petroline).

Tomorrow, come hell or high water, we will reassemble for a girls-therapy session luncheon, where we will hug and chat and laugh and love for hours.

And we’ll embrace these moments as tightly as we embrace each other.

Because that’s just how we roll.

And because this is the important stuff.

The stuff to cherish.

It’s a rare find.

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This blog is dedicated to Rosie’s dear friend, Marty Gratz, who left this earth much too soon, and who will be greatly missed by all who had the honor and privilege of knowing and loving her.

ROSIE'S MARTY

Categories: Art, Friends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

SHOVELING SNOW

On a cold and rainy Sunday morning, and feeling restless, I drive to the park to shoot some photographs. Most times, I try to capture certain images, but usually find that nature has other plans. She can’t be controlled or predicted, but she’s always generous.

Today I hope to photograph the birds, and although they are teasing me with their joyful songs, they are shy and hiding.

But I am gifted other images in their stead:

“View through the Railing of a Bridge”.

great PAGOTA SHORE THRU BRIDGE

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“Fragile Life”. So precious, tentative, and beautifully vulnerable.

GREAT BERRIES SNOW

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“Tender Heart”.  The grey is pretty, but also serves to amplify the brightness and warmth of the sun.

greatRAIN DROP ON BRANCH

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As I’m leaving, something washes over me, overtaking me like a craving or a hunger pain, or nausea, or vertigo. It is Sadness. Acute. Profound. Demanding. It consumes me, pulsates through me, leaves me breathless, and finally rests on my chest.

I drive home, crying.

Christmas week comes and I am quiet. I will not be that person who schedules her grieving for the holidays. I will not be that person who is determined to dwell on everyone who isn’t here. I will not fault those who are blessed with family and festivities. I will stay home and be still. And I will give my grief the space that it needs for just this time. And not one inch more.

The day after Christmas, I awake restless and lonely. And although it’s unpopular to admit such frailty, today it’s filling more of me. I feel the largeness of my emptiness. Who would think that absence could take up so much room?

I cannot sit on the sofa and suffer. I must do something, so I drive to my parent’s house for snow shoveling therapy.

I shovel my parent’s corner lot.

And their Police Officer-next-door-neighbor’s lot.

And the house next to his.

And the one after that.

And the one after that.

I am proof that a cranky, grieving, obsessive, manically driven 54 year old woman can shovel an entire city block of snow by taking it one cement-sidewalk-square at a time.

As I smoothly push forward, I keep catching on the uneven parts of the cement. I am finding those spots where the sidewalk is cracked and lifted and I have jammed my shovel into them, jarring my momentum and hurting myself, as all of my force is unexpectedly and abruptly halted.

It gets me thinking about how we all expect life to be easier.

And how we are surprised when bad things happen. We feel betrayed when our bodies fail us or become diseased; we are dismayed when economies crash, unemployment flourishes, and daily life is a struggle; and we are overwhelmed and grief stricken when someone dies.

I think that life is like this stubborn, long-ass city sidewalk that I’m shoveling. Every couple of squares, some cement will rise up and stop us right in our tracks. We trip over it, we jam our shovels into it, and we cuss at it, wanting it to be smooth.

But we should expect things to be difficult, and inconsistent, and even tragic, and anything else . . . everything joyous, beautiful, or easy . . .  is a gift.

Once we accept that our journey will never be an easy one, it’s just a matter of learning to adjust and maneuver.

I am not performing good deeds today. I am thinking firstly of myself and working off this twisted emptiness. And although I enjoy knowing that someone will be surprised, it is a secondary, happy consequence.  Later though, I will remember and wonder if anyone is curious about who has favored them with this act. Or maybe they will mistakenly think better of their other neighbors for gifting them this labor of love? I hope so.

The best deeds are the ones you can’t be thanked for.

I complete my task, feeling calmer, and go home and put on my sweats and my grungy old greyish-white CVS bathrobe, and pour a cup of coffee.

Now, as I sit here writing, the muscles in my back begin to tighten . . . really, like . . . A LOT. I half-chuckle and open the blinds to let the light in.

It has begun to snow.

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“The Woman, The Warrior.”

SHOES ZOOMD ME  ME BOOTS ICEa

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Photography | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

IN A GARDEN . . . AS IN LIFE

We don our gardening boots and floppy hat

and brave the sweaty burning sun.

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With aching knees and blackened hands

we love the dirt

that nourishes all our promises.

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From the coldest winds

and driest heat

we protect our unborn bulbs

with acceptance

and a smile.

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And long before she bursts open

and into glorious song

already we are in love

with the dream.

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In a garden . . . as in life

our toiling makes no guarantee

of fairness or reward

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but we do it anyway . . . on faith.

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And sometimes . . . we are allowed

to glimpse

the gloriousness of a precious petal

only to have it

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quickly fall away.

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That is when

we must close our eyes

to see the flower.

LEAF TEARS upclose

Dedicated to all Mothers suffering the loss of a child.

Categories: God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Nature, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

THERE IS NO TIME

We contemplate but do not understand elgin upclose

We try to control but settle for measuring

Like day into night

Summer into winter

Life into death

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When joyfulness visits

we cling desperately

trying to preserve it

and hold it still

but it takes flight

and vanishes into happiness

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And when the sadness comes

as it will in life

as it should

it stands forever frozen

full of emptiness and sorrow

CLOCK FRZN SNWY

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The twisted tragedy

is that we fight to hold on

and struggle to let go

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It teases and tortures

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Years have passed since I lost you

Or was that just a breath ago?

I close my eyes and live a lifetime

and then I blink . . . and you are gone

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In this magnificent remarkable life

there is sweetness in the rain

and comfort in a quiet winter morning

A WINTER SCENE

There is wondrousness

in birth, growth, change

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And there is healing

in the laughter of friends

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And there is love

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These things cannot be frozen

but they can be captured and embraced

and treasured

forever

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The bitter sweetness in the grieving

is that the greatness of our pain

is the measurement of our love

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It is a blessed and glorious grieving

sunrise for blog

There is no time . . . there are only precious moments.

Categories: Grief/Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

CHRISTMAS MORNING

I awaken early. It is still dark. And quiet.

“Merry Christmas” I whisper to the dog as I rise.

Not too many tears this morning. I’m sort of tear-ed out. Although I fight the good fight, it’s been a long pre-holiday week of them.

I feed the animals and take my coffee to the sofa.

I switch on my Christmas angel and she quietly changes from glowing red to green to blue. She is my only decoration.

angel in globe

I pray.

I have already grieved those I’m missing and cried the tears of things that are no longer; the excitement of Christmas morning and gifts piled high around the tree, and the comfort of family gathered around the table for a meal.

Those seats are empty now. Those times have passed. As have too many loved ones. As do all the holidays anymore.

No more celebrations. Just endurances.

But that’s okay.

I think of friends who have risen early to ready themselves for a busy family day of gifts and food. They enjoy their quiet time to reflect and prepare. They fill my heart, but how I envy them.

My thoughts are interrupted by a commotion in the kitchen.

I look up to see that the cat is eating the dog’s food . . . and the dog is humping his Blue Bear.

((Sigh))

This time of year can be rough on some of us.

blue bear

Merry Christmas, my friends.

I wish you love, peace, health, and happiness.

xoxoJulia

Categories: Family, Friends, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

PRECIOUS WATER LILY

A water lily is born in the darkness beneath the water, and grows upward, reaching towards the light. When it arrives at the surface, it is there that it blossoms . . . in the sunlight.

Similarly, our grief is born in the darkness of loss, where we struggle in our hopelessness to find the light again.

When we reach the surface, that place of bitter/sweet sad acceptance, it is there that we begin to grow.

The sun may not feel as bright, but it is still warm.

And although we are not the same as we once were . . .

WATER LILIEScloseup

. . . we can still blossom again.

In our grief we may be overcome by the emptiness and pain of our loss, and isolate. We want to seclude ourselves from what we need the most; the care and comfort from those we love.

It is good to say the words . . .

WATER LILIESblog

“I am not alone”.

 

Categories: Grief/Healing, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , | 36 Comments

AN AUTHOR, AN ANGEL & A HEALING BRICK

I lost my infant son almost 30 years ago.

He was my only child and I donated his tiny precious body to Science in the hopes that through medical education he could somehow prevent another person from knowing my heartbreak.

I knew I didn’t need a gravesite to honor him; I could honor him in my heart. And I didn’t think I needed a piece of granite to grieve him.

But I was wrong.

Last year, I learned about Richard Paul Evans, author of the book, “The Christmas Box”, and about a statue that he commissioned called, “The Christmas Box Angel Statue”.

The short version is this:

He wrote a fictional story in which he mentioned a woman grieving the loss of her baby while at the foot of a beautiful statue of an angel.

The book was published and soon grieving readers began inquiring of the location of the statue, and since it no longer existed, the author had one created.

It is bronze and beautiful, and surrounded by a hexagon of 800 paving bricks, which can be purchased and engraved with a name or message in honor of a lost child.

angel statue frm afar

There are now Christmas Box Angel Statues all across the country and each year on December 6th at 7:00 pm, there is a candlelight vigil held at every one of them.

Last year I got my son’s engraved memory brick. The first time I saw it, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea how desperately I needed healing. Until it happened.

I wrote this piece a few months later:

THE HEALING BRICK

Nervously, I approach the Angel Statue thinking I’ll have to search for my son’s recently engraved and installed paving brick, but I look down and there it is, nestled in amongst all the other little angels, his name in print, for the entire world to see.

This sight provokes something unfamiliar in me, deep in my soul, in my very core. I kneel down and through my thin grey slacks I can feel the cold, hard, roughness of the bricks on my knees.

“My knees could bleed as I pay homage”, I think, as if atoning, “let them; I would almost be grateful.”

I touch his name.

“Oh sweetie, look at you; you’re finally here.” I whisper.

006

Humbly, I bend down and kiss his words. Instantly I flash back to the hospital and he is in my arms again, and now I am not feeling the cold textured brick, but I am kissing his face.

I open my eyes, tears streaming.

Like a cat coughing up an unmanageable hairball, thirty years of guilt, grief, and torment begin to rise, large and ugly, from deep within and catch in my throat.

I remember when I was pregnant with him and how I didn’t watch my diet and I didn’t reduce my stress and I didn’t get enough sleep. And I remember laboring, and how I screamed, “Don’t let me die!” but I didn’t scream for the life of my own son.

“Please, forgive me.” I whisper.

I hear a guttural animal groan escape from inside me as the words allow my agony to detach itself and release.

I was like a broken bone that had healed misaligned and needed to be re-broken so that it could be set right and mend properly.

Michael’s brick has been my one quick SNAP! I am now re-broken, re-set, and relieved.

I am deeply comforted and grateful, and finally healing well.

*****

I cherish the moments. Please read, “WOULD I GRIEVE A SUNRISE?” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-cH.

Will you please share this? Too often the loss of an infant is suffered quietly and alone, and whether it was yesterday or 30 years ago, healing is needed. I hope that this helps you or someone you know.

For the location of a Christmas Box Angel Statue near you, or information about purchasing a memory brick, please visit the website of Richard Paul Evans at: www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations.

Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Inspiration/Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 63 Comments

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

On Sunday, October 7, 2012, I attend a community walk called, “Out of the Darkness”, at Lake Erie Metro Park in Brownstown, Michigan.

“Proceeds from this event benefit the AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION (AFSP), the leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of suicide through research, education, and advocacy, and to reaching out to those suffering with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.”


SUICIDE CLAIMS MORE THAN 38,000 LIVES A YEAR. Did you know that? Think about that number for a minute . . . 38,000 lives every year.

Every 14.2 minutes, a person successfully takes their own life. And every minute of the day, a person attempts to take their own life. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. And it is the 3rd leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.

This event is personal to me because in 1996, my sister, Chris, took her own life. She was 38 years old. I still struggle with this loss, and the grief and torment that accompany it. And due to my struggles with bipolar disorder, I have come dangerously close to losing myself (1 of every 5 people suffering with bipolar disorder takes their own life).

From left: My sister, Chris, and me, as children.

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Intelligent and compassionate Gerri Asam Trager is the organizer of the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” for the downriver area. She and her amazing band of beautiful volunteers are the primary reason for this event’s huge success.

Gerri Asam Trager, on right. (Photo taken from AFSP Downriver Out of the Darkness Walk, Facebook event page, by Bob Eccles).

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It is a cloudy, chilly day, but attendance is high, as are the spirits of the organizers, volunteers, and walkers.

  

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This beautiful woman, Jaqueline Worthey, a poetry reader, graces the stage by reading a special poem every year at this event.

 

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We are blessed with the kind and compassionate, former Detroit Lion’s football player, Eric Hipple, who speaks to us straight from the heart.

 

After losing his own 15-year-old son in 2000 to suicide, Hipple now travels the country and gives speeches to High Schools, Youth Groups, the U.S. Military, and Corporations, on suicide prevention and Mental Illness. His book, “Real Men Do Cry”, published in 2009, discusses his playing career with the Lions and his experiences with depression, grief, and suicide prevention.

*

We are then introduced to the lovely and extremely talented, NEENUH. There are no words to describe her beautiful voice.

Connect with Neenuh on Facebook. She performs solo shows (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica) around Downriver, MI. Search “Neenuh” on YouTube and you will find uploads of her videos.

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And we are delighted by the amazing talent of Fiddler, Mick Gavin, who plays onstage AND along our walking path. Wonderful!

Gavin was born in Co. Clare, Ireland. Since the 1970’s, he has performed concerts with many traditional Irish performers in the Chicago and Detroit areas. Mick now teaches Irish fiddle throughout the Detroit metropolitan area. Three of his students took 2nd at the All-Ireland in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 2002.

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The 3.5-mile walk begins on this gorgeous Autumn afternoon.

 

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Even the canines walk the walk!

  

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Afterwards, we are treated to hot food and refreshing beverages, and a safe place for good conversation. There is also a raffle which offers terrific prizes of food and services generously donated by some of our local restaurateurs and merchants.

We bond over our losses and experiences, but join together to celebrate life . . . and bring about change.

AND OUT OF THE DARKNESS . . .

. . . COMES HOPE.

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For information or to make a donation, (donations for walks can be made thru 12/31/12 for this year), contact:

GERRI ASAM TRAGER, AFSP Board Member, AFSP Community Outreach Volunteer, Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor Chapter. Phone: 810-229-4266. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org . Also see: www.outofthedarkness.org and survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

If you have lost someone you love to suicide: www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, PLEASE CALL 800-273-TALK 8255)*

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Photography, Physical Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

A BRILLIANT STAR

A brilliant star was plucked from the night

but Heaven got brighter

Can that be right?

I think of you and I understand why

You’re making God smile

and it lights up the sky!

Categories: Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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