Monthly Archives: July 2015

Can you love someone who is gone?

Can you love someone who is gone? Really. Can you?

I think the vast majority of people are saying, “Yes, of course you can.” Just because your loved one is no longer here, you can still love them. You loved them when they were alive, you cared about them, you hugged them; you nurtured them. But now they are gone.

But can you still love them the same way?

Perry and DadWhen it comes to parents, I think that is a different question. We expect them to pass before us. They were here our entire lives, they raised us, they actually taught us how to love someone. They gave us life and taught us our values and our morals, and we love them for that. Now that they are gone, we still visit them, we talk to our kids about them, and we still love them. We honor them at events, we have pictures of them, and they are our children’s namesakes. But I think it gets harder as time goes on. As many of you know, I lost my father when I was a young boy, just fifteen years old – it was over thirty five years ago. I still love my dad. There are pictures of him in my office, I talk to him once in a while, I post pictures of him for Veterans Day. I talk about him to my few friends who knew him, his words and teachings are still a big influence in my life, and I named my beloved son after my father. I still love him.

Perry 10006

My father, with Laurie and I, in Brooklyn.

But, how do we define love though? unfortunately, the memories of my dad are fading. I was young when he passed, and it was so long ago. I have thirty five years of new memories that have been replacing those older ones. Like all memories, those that I have with my father fade – and it kills me that I have a limited number of them. I look at pictures of trips we took, places we visited, family pictures, and I recall memories from them, but still, they are limited. So what do I love? Do I love the person who I only knew for a brief fifteen years, and who was taken from me so long ago? Or do I love the concept of the person who was my dad, and do I love the person who was in those memories, who happens to have been my dad? I am not really sure. I go to his grave, and sometimes I cry, sometimes I do not. I cry because he never got to meet my family, never got to become a grandfather, and he never got to live the life he wanted. Do I cry because I miss him, or because I miss someone who I loved so long ago? Do I still love him the way I loved my father when he was here? I really don’t know.


Andrew and Dorothy were always smiling when they were together. Andrew never fought or argued with his mom – ever.

Now for the hard part.  My son. The relationship between a father and son is special. I loved my son so much for the twenty one years I had him. I never knew I could love someone that much, or care about someone that much, and be so concerned and worried when he was out, or when he did not call home enough. Now he is gone; there is no more physical relationship, there is no more hugging or worrying, or caring – of him physically. But do I still love him? I think anyone can answer that question – of course I do. I love him as much now as I did before, and probably even more. Dorothy says it all the time – she loved Andrew when he was here, he was her life, he was what every mother wants and loves. She says that she has grown to love him even more in the past two years. Her love for her son has grown deeper, and more profound than she could have ever imagined. Pam also says that she loves her Doug even more, now that he is gone. During his life, she loved him because he was in her arms, because he was her son, because he was hers. But now, she loves him even more because he is in her heart, he is a part of her soul, part of her forever – and she loves him more now than ever, and that love keeps growing each day.

Will that love fade over time, as the memories might? Or will it change over time and become something else? Who knows, but I doubt it. I know parents who are ten or twenty years out, and they still talk about their children as if they lost them yesterday. They still think about them every single day, and love them as much as the day they were born, and every day they lived. They are still their children, and will be forever; as they will still be loved forever.

So, to Marge, can we still love our lost children? Of course we can. We have to. They are still as much a part of us now as they were when they were alive. You can argue that they are more a part of us now, they are in our hearts and souls forever. And If we don’t love them forever, who will?

A Healing Hallelujah

This is such a touching version of Hallelujah. Listen to the words. They mean so much and are so well sung, they really touch the soul. Songs like this express the pain and words that I can not. You can see the pain in his face that we feel in our hearts.

Please Click on the Image below to see the video.



What do you see in the flames?

Signs. We talk about them quite often in our bereavement groups. We see them, you see them, but really? Are they signs? Or what are they?

Stephanie talks about one fall day when she went to see her son at the cemetery. After she spends her time at the graveside, she walks back to her car. Arriving near the car, she sees a beautiful butterfly fly in the open passenger side window. He lands gracefully on the steering wheel for what seem quite a long time, then flutters out the other side and flies away slowly. She smiles and knows her son is there – in that butterfly. It seems pretty normal to most people, but she interprets it as a sign from her son – she knows it was him. What is interesting is that this happened in late fall – way after all the butterflies have disappeared.

Lea’s daughter’s favorite thing was ladybugs. She had ladybug trinkets, ladybug pictures, she drew ladybugs, and loved to see them around her. After her passing, Lea even got a ladybug tattoo to memorialize her daughter. Now she sees ladybugs every time she is sad or is having a particularly bad day. She knows it is her daughter saying hello and telling her that she is still here. Ordinary ladybugs now mean so much to Lea – that is her daughter’s sign.


The rainbow was there just long enough for me to take a picture.

A few weeks ago I was sitting at my desk, home alone, working, and having a particularly hard day. Missing Andrew. The wind blows a little, then again. A picture of Andrew blows off the shelf next to my desk where I have his pictures and lands face up onto my desk. Then the wind stops. The picture is sitting there next to me; Andrew is looking up at me with a smile on his face. It has happened more than once. I say thank you and go back to work.

This is just a few instances of what I hear bereaved parents see during their normal days. is it signs from our lost children, or just a lot of coincidences? Do we think these things up in our heads and create them, or are they truly our children communicating with us the only way they know how? I also hear signs that come from parents, or spouses, or friends. But not as much.

When we lose a parent, or a spouse, we miss them just as much. We loved them equally as we love our children. But we know they will pass, maybe unexpectedly, maybe suddenly, but their passing is not devastating – as that of a child. I am not minimizing or comparing losing a parent or spouse at all – just saying that the loss is very different from that of losing a child. When we lose a parent, our minds can deal with it much better. We can still live and go forward. It is not unconscionable to lose a parent – like it is to lose a child. Do our parents send us signs? Are we as open to them or in need of them? My sister sees signs from my father all the time. When she makes jokes and the lights in an ordinarily flicker free room start to flicker – she knows it is my dad laughing with her, telling her he is still with us. It is nice to see signs from our parents. It gives us some comfort that they are still around and looking over us.

But the words “nice”, and “comfort” are not what the parent of a lost child is looking for – no matter how old that child was when we lost him or her. We are more in need of seeing a sign. We desperately need to know our child is alright – wherever they may be. We lost the most precious thing in our life. We lost the thing that gave us meaning, the purpose of our existence, something we gave life to and nurtured. We cannot just move on without knowing. We want to know they are somewhere – in a better place, in a different place, whatever, we need to see something. We need a sign from them.

Some people believe in signs, others do not. Some of us are more open to them than others, or just more accepting of them. Some people seek them out and everything becomes a sign. Every time a bird chirps, or a raindrop appears it becomes a miracle. But they find peace in that and it helps them get through this terrible journey we are on. It is hard to say if something is a sign, or just a coincidence. Why did that happen on the way to a special place? Why do we see something so much more now than before? We never really know. But in our minds it is a sign. It is something that gives us some peace, that we find solace in. We are looking for a reason why our children were taken from us – which we will never find. But a sign is something that we can find, and we can find hope in that sign.


Double Rainbow I shot many years ago. I wonder if someone looked up at the same rainbow and thanked their son or daughter for it….

Butterflies appear when and where we least expect them, and where we have never seen them before. Ladybugs land on our arms and just stay there. A rainbow appears in the sky on the way to visit them. For me, I find quarters. Not just regular quarters, but Colorado quarters or Vermont quarters, never a Nevada one or a Florida quarter – but the quarters from where Andrew loved to ski. A light flickers when you talk about them. Someone walks past you and says something your son would say. There are so many signs. You just have to be open to them.

A few days ago I was sitting at my desk having a harder than normal day, upset. This is the week that our family, all four of us, used to go on vacation. We went to the same place for many years  – East Hill Farm in New Hampshire. Andrew and Nicole loved the farm, and Todd joined us on vacation there many times as well. They made many special friends at the farm who we still keep in touch with. I have posted many pictures of the kids smiling, laughing, playing Bocce Ball, making friendship bracelets, and having a very special week. Andrew was also at peace on the farm. No anxiety, no school issues, just smiling for an entire week. It is truly a special place. So on this particularly crappy day, I am sitting at my desk looking at pictures and the scrapbook from the farm, trying to work.  All of a sudden a small straight line rainbow shows up on my file cabinet next to me. Never before has it been there. Probably never will again. But I know it was Andrew saying he misses the farm as well, and that he was enjoying looking at the pictures with me. It was a sign, the sign, I needed to get on with my day. Thank you Andrew.