Operation Stop

our young people from being hurt and killed in car crashes

To the parent who has lost a child in a car crash


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A mother of a 27 year old driver killed by a teen driver wrote me "....a parent NEVER can imagine burying their own child and as tragic as that is, the decisions we've had to make in terms of thinking of what Scott would have wanted is unbearable. Questions like burial or cremation? Color of the casket? Songs at service? And finally this past weekend we've been attempting to pick out a monument so it can be ready by Memorial Day. Do you have any idea the choices there are in picking out a monument? Our loved ones have attempted to comfort us by saying Scott would be happy knowing we were doing our best in his interest; but I can't tell you how gut wrenching it is to NOT know what flowers to put in the casket spray. There are so many decisions that have to be made immediately. I don't know the answer, but there should be a way for spouses and children to document what they THINK they might choose for themselves. We all know we don't get out of here alive, but we also don't think this will happen to us and certainly not to our children."

First, let me say how very sorry I am that you have suffered this tragedy in your life. I can not possibly understand what you are feeling and experiencing, and fear the very possibility I might ever. You are suffering a grief I cannot imagine, and for that, I am truly sorry.

I would like to take a moment and explain to you what I am trying to do with this site. You may not agree with my method, but I do hope you will understand my motive. What you are experiencing is a very private matter. Unless a family member or friend has donated them, the photo's and names on the site are taken from public records or web sites available to the general public. It is not my intent to invade your privacy by listing your loved ones name or photo on the site, but to make the faceless statistics of tragedy, real to the site visitor. No one but those who knew your loved one can truly understand who they really were, and why their loss is so tragic. This site puts a living cemetery in the visitors face and forces them to realize the "statistics" they might hear in school have names, faces, and once, precious lives. They mattered, and matter - and not just to those who knew them.

Communicating with and relating to teens is very difficult, for strangers and even parents sometimes. They do not want to be talked down too, demand you earn their respect if you want their attention, and the topic better be made interesting, if you have any hope of reaching them. If it can't be made applicable to their lives or shown why they should care, they will shut you out.

Death isn't given much thought by young people. It is the teen who thinks they are invincible who I hope to reach. The teen who doesn't realize just how close to death they can be when they get into an automobile, or around one.  The teen who doesn't realize how fast the unexpected can happen, and how in the time it takes to take a breathe, it could be their final.

The intent of the site is not to entertain, but to grab their attention, keep it, make it applicable, make it real, and hopefully, just maybe, put a little voice in the back of their mind, that will remind them why that second it takes to buckle up could save their life. Or why its worth taking the extra glance when the light says go, or why a pedestrian has no protection against an automobile. Or why that split second of panic when their wheel hits the side of the road, could kill them. And why life is not a video game, and why it sometimes does not offer a second chance. 

I do not have the right to ask for anything from you, but I do ask for your understanding. This site should not be needed. Teen deaths should be so rare that its not worth going to the extreme to reach them. You should not have had reason to find this site. And I am sorry you did.

But there is a problem. It is not a rare event and some call it an epidemic. You are here with a broken heart and possibly a critical eye, and regretfully, you will not be the last parent to do so.

If you had the chance, wouldn't you try anything you could to save another parent from suffering like you are?

David

One more thing. This site is not only a grass roots effort to stop teen driving fatalities, but it is also a memorial site to those who have been lost. Your child's story, the story only you can tell, should be told where other teens can learn the difference between a statistic, and a young life. If you would like a web page on this site dedicated to your child, where you will maintain complete control of its content, I would be honored to make a memorial page for your Missouri teen. There is "never" a charge for this service. The page remains online as long as this site remains online. I get requests from family members asking how they can help this site get out the message. Building a memorial page to your lost loved one, and letting our teen visitors get to know who they were, and why their loss is such a tragedy, is my simple answer.

We admit to one huge error on this site. We tell the teens who visit that the victims listed on this site were just just like them, ordinary teens. As parents, you know that is not true. Each was a special gift, and we will all suffer for their loss, in ways we can never know.


Each person visiting this site has a different taste in music, but I thought I would share this song, in the hopes a grieving visitor might find it of comfort. British DJ and singer Sonique wrote "Sky" in memory of her son, stillborn at eight months. On a fan web site, Sonique is quoted as saying the loss was "The worst, most devastating, awful thing that's ever happened in my life."  While the music most tend to elevate toward after a tragedy is typically sad, like those we post on the memorial page, Sonique's Sky gives hope of a brighter tomorrow in an upbeat, positive way. The music may not be to your individual taste, but the message of a brighter tomorrow, is our sincere hope to those of you visiting this site in grief.


MusicPlaylist


Free articles and pdf books available to download and read

"Journeys Through Grief; Loss of a Child of any Age."

"A Friend in Grief; How to Help a Bereaved Parent"

"Families and the Grief Process"

"How Are You Feeling" (for teens)

"How Men Grieve"

"Grief in Children"


Do Real Men Cry?


Radio show audio archives
"Heal The Grieving Heart"



You Are Not Alone


A wife who loses a husband is called a widow.
A husband who loses a wife is called a widower.
A child who loses his parents is called an orphan.
But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that's how awful the loss is!

- Neugeboren 1976, 154


"The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open; this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude." - Washington Irving, The Sketch Book, 1992


"When are you ready to live again? There is no list of events or anniversaries to check off. In fact, you are likely to begin living again before you realize you are doing it. You may catch yourself laughing. You may pick up a book for recreational reading again. You may start playing lighter, happier music. When you do make these steps toward living again, you are likely to feel guilty at first. 'What right have I, you may ask yourself, to be happy when my child is dead?' And yet something inside feels as though you are being nudged in this positive direction. You may even have the sense that this nudge is from your child, or at least a feeling that your child approves of it." - Horchler and Morris, 1994


Source - http://www.geocities.com/heartland/ranch/8207/marsvenus.html

Remember the best selling book, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?" Well, the same is true for grief. Most men grieve in Mars and most women in Venus. The statistics are grim. More than half the couples experience some degree of stress, leading to the consideration of divorce or separation. Why? There is a delicate balance that must be maintained in a relationship during the grief process. Life does go on, but normalcy is a tough task after the death of your baby. How does a couple grieve differently? How do they renew their communication?

To understand how, we must first understand why. Most men and women do grieve in different ways. As men and women, the basic components of our psyche are so different. It makes sense that in stressful situations, we may not all react in the same manner. Most men see the "big picture" while most women are detail oriented. He thinks and she feels. He is logical and realistic while she may be more intuitive and idealistic. He copes with stress and grief internally and she copes externally.

In many, but certainly not all, support group situations, women attend for longer periods of time and are generally more communicative and verbal. While both will handle the grief intrinsically unique from the other, both need the opportunity to express their feelings. The love of both parents should transcend any gender differences. When it comes to the grieving process, many fathers express a "making of peace" within 3-9 months. Most mothers, however, do not report that feeling of acceptance until 9-24 months or even longer.

How can you help a grieving mother, if she is your wife or partner? Remember that she may need to talk about the event a great deal. She is in the process of gathering every possible detail about your baby's death. It is as if she is playing the tape in her mind and rewinding it over and over again. She will ask questions that may be unanswerable, such as how or why? Be patient with her and listen. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with her, attend a support group meeting with her. It is a safe place for mom to review details of the event unconditionally. The mother may want to visit the grave very frequently. She feels that this is her way to "take care" of her child. At the grave, she can care for and be close to the only physical part of your child she has left. Allow her to visit as often as she needs to. You do not have to go with her, however, don't discourage her or tell her it is unhealthy. This may be detrimental to the lines of communication.

Many mothers benefit from reading books on grief. Buy her a few books to share together. She knows in her heart that her life and the life of her family will never be the same. Acknowledge her pain, respect her feelings of deep loss and try not to rush her healing or offer a quick fix it for her grief. She will accept the tragedy over time, in her own time. Don't insinuate that she needs professional intervention because she has a desire to talk about your child. Talking about your child keeps his memory alive and helps her along the grief journey.

What about dealing with a father's grief? Many men, unlike women, feel uncomfortable discussing the death of his child. It is too deep and too emotional. Dad is the culturally recognized "Protector" and "Stronghold" of the family. It is his duty to remain strong and unyielding. Even if his heart is breaking, he may have difficulty expressing it openly. Do not push him to verbalize his feelings, but rather, encourage him by simply listening when he does choose to talk. If you attempt to comfort him while he is grieving, he may feel guilty for making you bear the burden of the "Protector" and quickly clean up his tears and move on to busy work. Remember that just listening is an effective way to support a grieving father.

While some mothers take comfort in their faith in God, some fathers have overwhelming feelings of anger toward God. He may express that the death of your child invalidates his faith and religion. Feelings of anger are a normal and healthy constituent of grief. Do not discredit his feelings. Remember that feelings are not right or wrong, they just are. He will work out the feelings of anger if he is doing his "grief work." Some fathers may not want to visit the cemetery as frequently as mom. Some may even have an aversion to it.

Mutual respect for each other is the best remedy in this situation. Be honest with each other about your needs and respect what the others desire is. Do not force him to accompany you on visits if he doesn't want to. He may resent you for it. Mothers may bury themselves in books about grief, while fathers generally indulge in hobbies, work or other activities that take his mind off the pain. He needs space to grieve in his own way, so try to avoid imposing alternate feelings of "what should be" on him. Often, a father expresses the desire to put things back to the way they were before and for mom to become the person she was before the baby's death. This may lead to conflict because mom realizes that things will never be the same. Again, honest communication of emotions and feelings will alleviate resentment and hostility.

After the death of a child, both parents will encounter the most difficult human experience. Here is an exercise that may assist a mom and dad during the process of grief:

1. Write down the emotions and elements that are unique in the mother's grief versus the elements that are unique to the father's grief. Then, take it one step further, and write down the elements of grief you have in common.

2. Establish three-one hour periods per week. Dedicate one hour to express and share the common elements of grief you shared the week prior. Dedicate the next hour to share one hour of intimacy where the death of your child is not discussed. Finally an hour dedicated to sharing with family members and other children the feelings of loss you have.

With honesty, respect, communication, compassion and love families can remain together, united and strong. Remember to give each other permission to grieve in your own way, and in your own time. Honor the differences and embrace the similarities. If you feel your marriage is in trouble, don't wait to get help. Seek counseling from a pastor, therapist or family counselor who is trained in marital issues. But it is also imperative that they are trained in grief support. While it may seem that months or years later, many of the family arguments involve issues not directly inclusive of your deceased child, some of the bitterness and anger may be a product of protracted and unresolved grief. It is impossible to discount the depth and devastation even years after the death of a child