March 20 was the first day of spring. Planting a garden can be full of peace and healing…”You can “dig for victory” but I have discovered you can also dig for mental health. Creating a new garden by hand, working in step with nature and the seasons, has enabled me to unpack my feelings in a more deliberate way than I might otherwise have done. A garden forces emotional patience. Plants can’t be hurried but they have a definite constancy.” –Charlie Hart
Glassybaby has selected Behind the Badge Foundation as their partner charity for the month of March. 10% of all online sales will be generously donated to Behind the Badge Foundation.
Glassybaby are hand-blown glass votives and drinker with color and light for people who love to give kindness.
Each glassybaby is a little piece of art, one-of-a-kind and hand-blown, with its own unique name, color and story. They are available in more than 400 colors, each with a unique name like ‘true blue’, ‘hope’, ‘brave’, ‘courage’, and ‘fortitude’.
As of 2018, glassybaby has donated over $8 million to more than 400 non-profit organizations.
We are excited to tell you about a new AmazonSmile promotion that will launch soon. Amazon is tripling the donation amount to 1.5% when customers make their first eligible smile.amazon.com purchase from March 12 – 31. This is a great opportunity to increase Behind the Badge Foundation’s AmazonSmile donations by reminding your supporters to shop at smile.amazon.com.
From March 12 – 31, use the message and banner below in email, social media, and on your website to spread the word to your donors, staff, and volunteers. Please do not announce this promotion until it begins on March 12.
For additional details about the promotion, visit the promotion detail page.
3x your impact! From March 12-31, Amazon is tripling the donation rate on your first smile.amazon.com purchase! Go to smile.amazon.com/ch/91-1700108 and Amazon donates to Behind the Badge Foundation.
Grief is one of the most feared emotions along the spectrum of being human. It is often ostracized instead of welcomed as an inevitable, human experience.
One of the isolating and difficult things about grief can be feeling like other people don’t get us or our multilayered feelings around our loss, especially as time goes on.
I recently posed this question on social media:
What do you wish the world understood about your grief?
I received the following 23 responses from humans who have lost young children, adult children, husbands, wives, mothers, or fathers to suicide, cancer, accidents and more.
That it’s always there, and pretty close to the surface. And it’s weird because sometimes I want to talk about it and sometimes I don’t. I don’t expect anyone to know which way I’m feeling on any given day, but I want to be okay with the awkwardness and I want others to be okay with it too.
That it’s harder and longer than I could have ever expected.
I wish that people, especially family members, knew that grief is not a switch that you can just turn off because it’s time to move on. Yes, we try to move on because our loved one is resting in peace and we have the right to enjoy the rest of our life as much as we can. But, something triggers a memory and the grief is back. So, we need to work through it again. It’s easier said than done unfortunately.
You miss the love that filled up that space.
That it becomes your shadow. Forever present even when not visible to all eyes. Most of all to acknowledge that it’s okay to talk about it. And, no, you won’t remind me of it if you bring it up. My grief is who I am now. The new me. I wish that everyone was more comfortable with my grief. It reinforces the fact that I lost my beautiful daughter and that will never change.
I don’t want their husbands. And being widowed is not contagious.
It has changed the whole dynamics of our family and I am no longer the person I used to be. I’m not quite sure who I am any more.
That it feels like an amputation and that it has no timetable.
That there is no right or wrong way to grieve. That everyone’s timeline is different. That it will reopen many times throughout your life and you have to work through it again when it is retriggered, but this does not mean you are stuck or not getting on with your life.
How heavy empty is.
That watching my children grieve is almost worse than my husband’s death. That I wish there was more talk about older teenagers losing a parent and that their friends’ parents knew more about helping their kids support my girls during this terribly hard time.
That it’s changed me in every way.
I wish the world knew that my grief has touched every emotion from sadness, anger, guilt and unbearable heartache. In the early months I felt off balance, out of control and lost. With time I have forgiven myself and my father for his death by suicide. There are still days it all feels like a nightmare that I just can’t wake up from. The sorrow comes in waves, then subsides into acceptance. Sometimes worry and anxiety take over and I wonder how I can possibly survive the loss of another loved one.
How bad it hurts.
That it doesn’t go away. I always feel it. I am changed because of it. But I don’t think others feel comfortable knowing that I still hurt and that I always will. That I want to talk about how much I miss my mom, but I suck it up because I don’t think others feel comfortable with my grief. That it doesn’t mean I’m crazy or need “help.”
That every new loss sets in motion a renewed loss of everyone else. Compounded with each loss.
That it hurts like no other pain you can possibly describe and yet no other person will experience this. Because even though they will experience grief, their pain will be different. All grief is unique and individual like snowflakes. No two are the same. I wish it was talked about more. I wish it to be acceptable, that’s it’s okay to not be okay. I wish for all grievers to be heard and not tried to be fixed.
That we don’t choose grief. The mind cannot turn off and on what the heart and soul feel just because “they” want the old you back.
That it softens but it’s something I will carry with me the rest of my life.
That they are the same as they always were and I am not. My life did not go on after my loss as theirs did. And my life will stay in this realm unknown to them forever. I would like them to know that they will never truly feel profound loss like this until it happens to them.
That I will never stop grieving my losses.
I wish people knew that the grief parents feel about their child with special needs is something they have to carry and honor and process their whole lives.
That even a year later there are days where it hurts just as bad as it did the moment I found out; that even when the number of years reaches fifty, there will still be those crippling days.
When we humans trust our capacity to hold other humans, to let unfold and be told our deepest layers of humanity, rich with heartache and love, something powerful happens. In the pause before we reach for a way to fix someone, that moment where we choose to sit with what is uncomfortable and unfixable, we find a sweet spot of being human, where all that is required is showing up to listen, see, hold, and honor another person’s truth or pain.
There is an organization here in Washington that has been assisting the law enforcement community in Colorado during a particularly difficult month.
Behind the Badge, an organization supporting families and law enforcement that have lost someone in the line of duty, has spent the last month helping out in Colorado.
The Issaquah-based organization is preparing to respond to the shooting death of El Paso County Deputy Micah Flick.
“It’s really sad they’ve had three line of duty deaths in less than a month’s time. It’s just horrible,” said Vicky Stormo, the interim executive director that helps coordinate line of duty response teams.
“A group of volunteers to come forward they have different skill sets to help put the memorial together, work with the families as they go through grief, and work with law enforcement as they go through grief,” said Stormo.
Over the last month and a half, they’ve been helping out in Colorado.
“[Behind the Badge] helped them through the first one. We were consulting with them on the second one and we’re available to help them with the third one.”
Stormo says the work is necessary but tough.
“When you have a line of duty death response team you’re mourning yourself so the team is also exhausted.”
For Stormo showing up is not just about being there those in your backyard
“We’re a law enforcement community across the nation. It’s not just in each state or not just in a small community, there are impacts across the nation as well,” she said.
Law enforcement officers from across Western Washington and other parts of the country are expected to help lay Pierce County Deputy Daniel McCartney to rest tomorrow. Deputy McCartney was shot and killed earlier this month in the line of duty. Two suspects have been arrested.
Fellow deputies and police officers have carried on an around-the-clock watch over Deputy McCartney and will continue to do so until his funeral. And his family is not alone, either, thanks to friends, colleagues, and help from an organization called the Behind the Badge Foundation.
The Foundation’s interim Executive Director, former UW Police Chief Vicky Stormo, shared more about what the organization does to help families of injured and fallen law enforcement officers.
Learn more about the Behind the Badge Foundation by visiting its website or Facebook page.
Memorial service details:
The public memorial service for Pierce County Deputy Daniel McCartney takes place tomorrow (Wednesday, January 17), at 1:00 pm at Pacific Lutheran University’s Olson Auditorium in Tacoma. More information about the processional route and public parking can be found at the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page.
Help for Deputy McCartney’s family:
Donations can be made to the ‘Deputy Daniel McCartney Legacy Fund’ via PayPal by clicking on the orange “DONATE” button at the top of the page, or by visiting any TAPCO Credit Union location or TwinStarCredit Union. More information can be found at the Crime Stoppers of Tacoma and Pierce County’s website.
Christmas is a notoriously difficult time for people who’ve lost loved ones.
Georgia Elms lost her husband to meningitis in 2006. The day after he died, she found out she was pregnant with their second daughter.
Georgia, who is chairperson of Widowed and Young (WAY), a charity supporting men and women aged 50 and under after they lose a partner, tells HuffPost UK: “There’s no getting around it that Christmas is a difficult time when you’ve been widowed – as many of our members know only too well.
“Your first Christmas on your own is likely to be one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face, and it’s best to make sure you have lots of friends or family on hand to help with cooking, shopping and entertaining.
“You’re not likely to feel much like celebrating yourself. And even in the midst of all the jollity, there will be times when you will probably feel wretched.”
With 25 December fast approaching, we spoke to six people who have lost a partner about their coping mechanisms for surviving such a painful period.
Rebecca Farwell, 55, Norwich
Rebecca lost her husband almost seven years ago, during the Christmas period.
She says: “Christmas is a terribly difficult time of year for all bereaved people – but when you are widowed at Christmas, as I was, it becomes hard to see the festive season as anything other than the anniversary of your partner’s death. And my husband loved Christmas so much – this season is full of memories of him.
“I try to remind myself that despite all the hype, it is really just a few days and will be over soon. But it takes more than that to survive it. The best Christmas I’ve had since being widowed was the one I spent in Hawaii. On Christmas Day, I ate a fish wrap by the pool and posed for a photo on the beach with a Santa dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. My friends commented that it really didn’t feel like Christmas – something that was absolutely perfect from my point of view.
“But I obviously can’t afford to do this every year. So sometimes it’s just about not giving myself time to think. I accept almost every invitation and try to have as little spare time as possible between 1 December and New Year’s Day. Not trying to recreate Christmases from the past helps too. For example, instead of going out and choosing a Christmas tree, with all the memories attached of doing it as a couple, I bought a rooted Christmas tree in a pot and that now comes indoors every year. It’s a new tradition – I like to think that my husband would have smiled at that.”
Susannah Harrison, 49, South Bucks
Susannah lost her husband Tim five years ago.
“I survived it by completely ignoring it last year. It was our first Christmas where we were at home alone and we did stuff-all about it. The kids wanted to do nothing so that’s what we did. I didn’t even buy one present, as the kids had big things early.
“We managed to decorate the tree but that was it. My daughter is always in panto so I help out loads there and we collapse when it’s done.”
This year, things will be a lot different for Susannah, who is a member of the charity Widowed and Young: “We are counting the days as a bunch of us who don’t know each other are off to Lapland for five days with 33 kids ranging from 4-16 years old. We’re all hoping to reset the Christmas spirit button.”
Veronica Currie, 43, Perthshire in Scotland
Veronica’s husband died in June 2016. They have two daughters aged 12 and 13, and this Christmas will be the second without him.
“Last year we did something different by spending part of the day at my cousin’s house,” Veronica, who is also a member of WAY, explains. “It was busy with lots of family and younger cousins so lots of distractions. I took a bottle of my husband’s favourite whiskey and everyone raised a toast to him.
“This year we’re going to my husband’s parents’ house. It’s going to be tough but lovely to be together. Christmas is painful… so much emphasis is on fun and celebration. Our missing loved ones are glaringly not there.
“Last year my eldest daughter wrote ′dad’ on her Christmas list. This year my youngest daughter said there’s no point in Christmas as the only thing she really wants she can’t get… her dad. It’s tough for everyone.”
Tips from WAY for coping with grief at Christmas:
:: Do something different – go away or visit a different relative, or perhaps friends. By changing your routine you won’t have the same memory cues.
:: If you have younger children, make sure someone takes them out to buy you a gift.
:: Don’t push yourself beyond what you feel able to do. Bereavement is exhausting so remember to get enough sleep and don’t feel you have to do everything you used to. You could email a Christmas message to friends instead of writing cards. They will understand.
:: Use the Christmas tree as a place to hang special mementoes, or photos or letters. You could also have a candle in a corner of a room to burn throughout Christmas, perhaps beside a special photo.
:: Let children buy a present for the mum or dad they have lost, if they want to, or write cards. You could send letters up the chimney when you’re doing letters to Santa.
:: Buy yourself a gift from your partner – he or she would have wanted you to have something and you deserve it.
Stuart Scarbrough, 36, Lichfield
Stuart’s wife Katie died from bowel cancer in May 2013. For the first couple of Christmases after her death, the family went to Lanzarote.
″I didn’t feel like having Christmas dinner with an empty chair at the table so opted for Christmas in the sun,” Stuart explains. “It was my version of escapism and distraction from our loss. The kids were happy playing in the pool, the sun was shining, the cocktails were flowing so I was happy too.
“On Christmas day, Santa left a present each on the balcony for Sam and Sophie with the rest waiting at home on their return, the hotel organised for Santa to come to the hotel on Christmas day with some small presents and sweets for all the children. Instead of being at home sad and upset we came back rested having spent quality family time in the sun, which worked for us.”
This year things will be a little different for the family. “We will have 20 people at ours for Christmas day with my new wife’s family and mine. I got married to Colette this summer who is also widowed so it is a very hectic household,” Stuart says.
“I buy a heart shape wreath with purple decorations each year for Katie’s grave.”
Gemma Mason, 35, Birmingham
Gemma’s husband passed away a few days after their daughter Bethany’s second birthday in between Christmas and New Year. This Christmas will be their fourth without him.
“The days in between Christmas and New Year are a strange time for most people I think, there’s a bit of a lull,” Gemma says. “Our daughter is a great distraction for me and I don’t want Christmas to be anything other than a happy, exciting time for her.
“For our first Christmas we spent time with both sides of the family, it felt very important to me that we saw my husband’s parents and grandparents, it was a very painful time for them and I think our daughter’s presence helped.
“We then went to Butlins for the days in between Christmas and New Year, it was great to be somewhere new and different that first year, but I have no plans to do it again.
“Now generally we try and embrace Christmas, we keep busy doing lots of different activities, making as many memories as we can with laughter and smiles but it does mean that we are shattered come New Year. January is probably harder, starting a New Year without my husband for me means we are getting further away from each other.”
Gwen, 49, Berkshire
Gwen’s husband Rob died suddenly in April 2014. This will be Gwen’s fourth Christmas without him. ″Every year has been different and every year has been hard,” she explains.
“There has always been a new ‘first’: the first Christmas without him, the first Christmas with his family without him, the first Christmas at home (and the first with me cooking the dinner). This year’s first is being away at Christmas with my fellow WAYers on a Lapland trip.
“It seemed easier to cope when the kids were younger as you could gee them up a bit with decorating, but I now have two teens and it’s actually harder in many ways.
“I’ve started two traditions since Rob died: the first is where the kids buy a new decoration each and it goes on a special little tree I bought called the ‘daddy tree’. They will build up a little collection of decorations each.
“The second is where, on Christmas Eve (usually), we write a few lines or a letter to dad and pop it in an envelope and put it in his stocking, which we still hang. The idea is that one day we can all read back on those letters and see how far we have come.”