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Before Ellie died, I took my son to his baseball hitting lesson. We really liked the instructor. I was just being friendly and asked him “How many kids do you have?” He informed me that he had two sons, but one had committed suicide several years before. I remember being shocked and at a complete loss as to what to do or say. I think I probably looked very uncomfortable, and I was. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I probably changed the subject, and I would bet that I didn’t offer up very much in the way of comfort. Before Ellie died, I was afraid of death, pain, suffering. I didn’t want to experience any of those things for myself and it was scary to see in other people. I didn’t know what to say, how to feel, what to do, and the easiest thing was to avoid thinking about it. Sadly, I had never been to a funeral before Ellie’s. Before Ellie died, I didn’t appreciate taking Ellie to the costume jewelry store or playing with her dolls. I enjoyed our bedtime routine of reading and snuggling, but I always wanted to leave before she wanted me to. I had things to do. What was so important? Well, things change. After losing six-year-old Ellie, I have learned a few things. I give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they care, even if it doesn’t seem like it. The fact is that unless you’ve experienced […]

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Introducing Steve Siler I’m not even sure how we met, but it’s been a few years now. I’m so glad to call him a friend. I admire Steve’s heart of compassion and endless drive to help those who are hurting. His faith and hard work bring so much healing to many people who are going through difficult times. I hope you enjoy getting to know Steve as much I have! Todd Nigro Founder of Ellie’s Way Drink Deep: A Musical Journey through Grief by Steve Siler, Director: Music for the Soul “When someone is in pain, reading is difficult. Their eyes move across the page but they can’t really process what they are reading. That’s why music is so great. A person can just lie back and let the music wash over them.” As soon as Dr. Doris Sanford, a therapist and author of several books on emotional pain, told me that, I began to think about a doing a musical project for grief. Not long after, in 1997, my wife’s father passed quite unexpectedly. It was then that a friend of mine and I created a recording of songs called Dancing with Angels. The idea for the title song had come from my wife telling me that on the plane flight heading to her father’s funeral she had looked out the window and imagined him free and dancing on the clouds. When I founded the ministry Music for the Soul four years later it was my intention to revisit […]

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It was a wonderful day when I married my college sweetheart. He was everything I wanted in a husband; handsome, athletic, good sense of humor, committed Christian, etc. He was a school teacher and tennis coach, who loved to make others laugh, and so people were drawn to him and his magnetic personality. We became Youth Group leaders at our local church and spent lots of time with high school students. Eventually we started a family and God blessed us with 2 little girls. My first husband Rick and the girls May 27, 1989, started out as any another Saturday when we awoke and had breakfast with our girls. Megan was 3 and Kristin was just 9 months old. My husband, Rick, grabbed a piece of strawberry pie before heading out the door. He and one of the students from our Youth Group were going to do some painting on the church exterior. It wasn’t long until a storm was brewing on the horizon and I knew Rick would be on his way home. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and as I opened it, I was surprised to see a police officer standing there who said he had some unfortunate news to share. He proceeded to tell me there was an accident at the church, something about aluminum ladders getting too close to power lines and that two people were electrocuted. One of the people was identified by my minister as Rick, and the other was the […]

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We all have a path that brings us to this moment. I’d like to share my story, the ups and downs, what God has done in my life, and a few things I’ve learned along the way. Growing Up I was born in Japan, a military brat. I was named Todd Murdock Nigro. I’ve always wondered where “Murdock” came from. I’ve never heard a good explanation. But, I think it’s pretty cool now. My wife says it’s “distinguished”, I’m not sure what that means, but I’ll take it as a compliment. Sadly, my parent’s marriage did not work out. My mother did her best to raise three children. We didn’t have much and my mother worked most of the time, so I was pretty much on my own from a very young age. I grew up mostly in Utah in a non-religious family in a predominately Mormon environment. I learned that it was okay to not fit in, because we didn’t. My relationship with my mother was always difficult. She would always want to talk, yell, or lecture us whenever we were with her. I get it now. She had no one but us. My older sister and little brother would gladly let me do all the talking and so I did. I felt the brunt of my mother’s instability. She had come from a very difficult home. Both of her parents were alcoholics and she was the youngest of three. I can only imagine the lack of love, abuse, […]

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What is it about tears that we are afraid of? They have been part of human expression since the beginning. Check out these quotes that honor our tears. “I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears. For tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” – Victor Frankl “Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” – José N. Harris “If I can see pain in your eyes, then share with me your tears.” – Santosh Kalwar “Tears are the silent language of grief.” – Voltaire “There is a sacredness in tears.” – Washington Irving “Tears are words that need to be written.” – Paulo Coelho “Let me come in where you are weeping, friend, and let me take your hand.” – Grace Noll Crowell “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5 “Let your tears come. Let them water your soul.” – Eileen Mayhew “It is such a secret place, the land of tears.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Let’s make some friends and get connected with others who are on a similar journey through grief and loss. Join the Ellie’s Way “Share Your Memories” Online Facebook Event on Sunday night, November 1st, from 9pm – 11pm Eastern Standard Time. People will still be around after that, if you wander in late or haven’t finished sharing. Throughout the Sharing time, the hosts will drop in questions to start new conversations. Engage with the questions that interest you and start a dialogue. Don’t hesitate to chat/message others who you would like to connect with – that’s why we are all here. The rules are simple. Be as honest as you want to be. Be as supportive as you can. Share if you want or just soak it all in. Don’t worry if you miss some of the conversations — you can always come back to this event page and view the content and make comments. Ellie’s Way GIVEAWAY! We’ll be giving away (5) Ellie’s Way Memorial Necklaces for this event. You’ll receive an entry for joining the event, sharing the event, or inviting your friends. Click to learn more about the necklaces. Winners will be announced at the end of the event. Please join the Share Your Memories Online Facebook Event! SHARE the event and invite anyone that might benefit!

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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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Malaikye’s Legacy Lives On! by Rachel Marie Rodriguez There comes a time in your life when you see your existence through a whole different set of eyes. Sometimes, through tragedy you find a deeper appreciation for this thing called life and all it entails. On August 12, 2011 my life was to take a life shattering turn. I received a phone call that my grandson Malaikye was taken to the Emergency Room after an apparent fall. For 3 long days we prayed and prayer for a Miracle. A Miracle that would open our baby’s eyes and eventually be able to have him discharged from the hospital. My faith remained as I knew God was hearing our emotional pleas for Him to breathe life into our baby who was being kept alive by a ventilator. Sadly, that Miracle didn’t come and we had the painful task of having to say goodbyes to our precious Malaikye. Witnessing my son Daniel fall to his knees on the hospital floor in disbelief, agony, and emotions crushed me to my core. As a parent, all I wanted to do was bring some sort of comfort to my son. What could I say? What could I do to take this away from him? Absolutely nothing. This was a double edged sword for me. I had lost my grandson, and in a way, I was losing a part of my son. I knew he would never be the same. He adored his little boy and I always […]

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Philip Hagan Wickett September 6, 1983 – March 1, 2007 Hope After Suicide by Nancy Wickett The phone rang. It was 7:34 am. I grabbed it before it rang the second time. (Had I been asleep, I wondered?) It was my husband, Don. “Is Philip in his room?” he asked. “Yes.” “Is the van home?” “Yes, why?” My heart started beating faster. Don blurted out… “I just got this email he sent to all of us and it says, ‘Goodbye Forever…’” My heart sank. I dropped the phone. I quickly went to the hall–Philip’s bedroom door was OPEN! He was gone. I told Don to come home and get me. I’m not sure how I got through the next 8 to 10 minutes waiting on my husband. I prayed. Philip lived alone in an apartment, but he had stayed the night with us. And we spent a lot of time talking and listening to him. He had been depressed. I assured him that things would get better. We arrived to Apartment E, and his door was locked. We banged on his door and no answer. I told Philip we wouldn’t be angry at him–“PLEASE open the door…” Don went to get the manager to open the door. Philip was lying face down on his living room floor. He had used a gun to kill himself. I will never forget that horrible sight. It is embedded in my mind forever. My precious baby boy was was dead. Philip was 23. It […]

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