I am the mother of Johnny Bag-lier, who was kidnapped and murdered Nov. 9, 1996. Since his death, I have dedicated a large portion of my life to helping people whose lives, like mine, were forever changed.
I often am asked by complete strangers to continue my letters to the editor because they, or people they know, are suffering from a traumatic loss.
Even though it has been 16 years since my son was murdered, the holidays still are challenging. However, I now am able to look forward to being with special friends over the holidays, but that took a lot of years and hard grief work.
Grieving is hard work and takes a tremendous toll on one’s physical as well as spiritual being.
The first lesson here is to not over-commit. Make new traditions. Let another family member host the holiday dinner this year.
One important thing I learned when I was newly bereaved was to pick and choose what activities I could attend and which ones I knew would be too emotional.
Another way I learned to live again was through reading and learning about grief, even though it was nearly impossible to concentrate. I learned that my feelings were both normal and temporary and that I eventually would get better.
Learning about grief was therapeutic for me; so was talking about it. I would talk with anyone who would listen. I also joined a grief group at Thompson-Miller Funeral Home designed for parents who had lost children.
I highly recommend that to anyone who experiences a loss of any kind. Robin Miller’s compassion and caring were so helpful to me. Meeting other bereaved parents was such a comfort as well.
In this safe place, I found understanding, love, support and a shoulder to cry on.
As people grieve, they should give themselves permission to take the time they need to make decisions. Everyone’s grief journey is uniquely their own.
I know our grief never will end, but it will change and lessen over time. Our memories are in our hearts and will one day make us smile again.
Those grieving now will learn to reinvest in life, and that doesn’t mean forgetting the person who died. I think of my son every day, and I feel blessed to have had him for 18 years.