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Tragedy brings out fear in many people. Those that suffer the tragedy are walking examples of people’s worst nightmares. Those that are suffering can also fear another devastating loss. How can some people live through this with courage and hope, while others are paralyzed by fear? Many bereaved parents express fear of losing another child. They have experienced the incredible pain of losing a child and can’t bear the thought of this happening again. This fear can be crippling. Knowing that life is fragile and precious is scary. Others have no fear. Their worst fear occurred and they survived, giving them a sense of courage that they never could have understood before. Here’s how I learned to live without fear… It had been three long weeks of very difficult days and nights since our six-year-old daughter, Ellie, died in a tragic accident. Somehow we found the strength to bring our sons to state championship swim meet. It was a long day. We had a pretty good day, but we were all tired after the hour long drive back home. Ma, my wife’s mother, had stayed behind to watch our dog Maverick, and the two new puppies, Slider and Goose. (anyone else a Top Gun fan?) When we arrived, Ma informed us that Maverick had bit her hand while she was trying to bring him in. He was barking at a neighbor and she tried to retrieve him. He apparently took a large bite in her hand, puncturing her skin in […]

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After losing our sweet little Ellie, we were in shock. Our friends and family had no experience with the tragedy we faced. The sudden loss of a young child doesn’t occur very often, so there were few people to talk to who had lived through something like this. When I was in the pit of my despair, several people reached out to me and let me know that I was not alone. I needed to know that others had survived this. I wasn’t sure I could. I wasn’t sure my family could. A kind gentleman called me and told me his story of losing his dear son in a tragic accident several years before. He listened to me and sat in my pain with me. He gave me the gift of hope that we could survive. He was a gift that I needed at the moment that he called. One of my wife’s friends from high school also let us know that she was there for us. She had lost her son and husband recently and suffered terrible injuries as well. Her willingness to share in our pain, in the middle of hers, gave us hope too. We receive many requests for connections to others with similar losses at Ellie’s Way. It’s been quite overwhelming. So, we’ve created a group on Facebook where we can connect and share our stories. It’s a place where you can interact as much or little as you like. Here’s what you will find in […]

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Here’s an exercise that helps me keep perspective… I imagine myself in twenty years. I’m an older me who is diagnosed with cancer. I’m told that I have six months to live and there is nothing the doctors can do. Despite this bad news, my current health is good. I have no limitations – except the knowledge that I’m dying. What would I tell myself to do with the “good” time I have left? Fast forward six months. I’m a frail old man in bed, writhing in pain from a cancer that just won’t stop. I’m not sure how many more hours or days I have left. There is not much good news regarding my health and I’m limited to a bed. Despite this situation, I have people taking care of me as best they can. What would I tell myself to do with the “good” time I have left? Rewind to today. I’m a middle aged man. I’m assuming that I have more than twenty years to live, but as Ellie’s death has shown, I could die tomorrow. Who knows? Despite this bad news, my current health is good. I have no limitations – except the knowledge that I am going to die someday. What would I tell myself to do with the “good” time I have left? The following is a letter to myself…regardless of what this life brings. Dear Me, Life is a gift from God. Your children, family, friends, neighbors, and strangers are all gifts to […]

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