Donor Family Voices Archive
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From the next issue of For Those Who Give and Grieve.

Often the loss of our loved one is strongly associated with a particular place. It could be a room in our home, a location on the road, a hospital, or another location where a significant event related to that person’s death occurred. Please share with us if there is such a place for you, and if so, how you handle the reactions that are associated with it.

Our 9 year old daughter and youngest child was struck by a car in front of our house while trying to board her school bus. Michelle was a 4th grader and we were new to the neighborhood and country life.

At first, I never wanted to look at our front road again and it was traumatizing for me for a very long time.

Slowly I was able to cope and started to see this spot as a Holy Place where Michelle was ushered to Paradise, a Sacred place.

It has been almost 18 years and I no longer have the pain and havent for some time because I was able to work through it as I know Michelle would have wanted me to, with a positive mindset.

Our Michelle lives on as a Organ and Cornea Donor and this also brings light and peace to my life.

Posted by: CindyJo Greever


Entering the hospital where my mother passed was quite difficult the first time- however I was returning to witness the birth of my oldest friend's first child. The continuation of life and ability to see how birth and death are compliments to one another help me to heal each day.

Posted by: Kelly Schmitt


I love to cook and Bobby was my kitchen buddy. He would come in and show me that I am cutting the vegetables incorrectly gently stepping behind me to hold the knife correctly in both of our hands - ultimately to take over the job. After he passed away I struggled with cooking and eating in the kitchen was avoided. The night before the first Thanksgiving I prepared the stuffing and other items with tears rolling down my face. As the years have passed, I still have times when the tears flow freely but I also have those cherished memories that I can feel Bobby's hands on mine and hear him giggle under his breathe telling me I am still using the knife wrong and asking when am I going to learn. I treasure those moments and grateful for the warmth of those memories. His smile lingers in my kitchen.

Posted by: Linda Coyle


Robbie's accident happened less than a mile from our home. Honestly, it took me a year to drive past the site. I took the "long" way around to avoid having to look at it in the daylight. After the first year I would occasionally go that way but it was at least three years before I resumed that route. now I realize it's just a place. Robbie goes with me wherever I go and I can't take another route to avoid the pain of his loss!

Posted by: Tammy Sisemore


While on a train ride into the Verde Valley in Arizona celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband fell hitting his head, causing a hemotoma that took his life 10 days later. When he could not get up himself, a man dressed in white picked him up and set him on a nearby bench. When I turned to thank him he disappeared into the crowd that had gathered around us. My husband loved the desert and while on the train had expressed his desire to have his ashes scattered in the desert when he died. I honored his wisheszhhd4 and did just that. Now when I go into the desert I feel him all around me and know his cremains are where he wanted them to be. I also believe the man in white who picked him up was an angel sent from God. When I remember him I feel sure that fall was God's call on his life and a sign to me that my husband's soul is now with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Sally


Our downstairs room was my husband's office. He died in 1997, and emotionally it was a hard place to try to change because it felt it was still his office.
Over the years I kept wanting to change it. Finally this summer we got around to redo the bathroom and then my husband's office was remodeled.
The walls are a different color, the floor is different, my mother made new beautiful curtains... it is now a very relaxing room.. but in my heart it still is my husband's room. People may leave your life physically but they stay with you in your past memory and your life.
I find this very comforting. 13 years later my husband is still with us!

Posted by: Muriel Orcutt


There is a glider rocking chair and ottoman in my living room that I got just a few months before Kimberly died. It was my place to sit and spend a few precious moments relaxing. I was usually the first person awake in our family of 5 and would gently rock as I prepared myself for the day. Kimberly was usually the next to rise. She would come to me and place her head on my chest and lay on my lap with her legs sticking out over the end of the ottoman. It didn't look comfortable for her 4 foot 8 inch long body, but it was a quiet time we spent together. I remember that time together each day when I sit on the chair. I close my eyes and remember the pressure of her body resting on mine, the feel of her hair as I stroked it, and the chuckle as I saw her legs hanging out into the void. It is a time together that we still share. When I miss her, I sit in our chair and we rock together. And I smile.

Posted by: Susan Adams


My daughter died in her bedroom so when I am in there I not only see her laughing and sleeping but also dying. The memory of her death seemed to block all the other happy ones.
In our previous home, the one she grew up in, she had asked me one day if she could paint a small star on her bedroom wall. I answered yes, we both loved to paint so I was expecting to see a small star on her wall. What I saw instead was a rainbow of green stars covering one wall. As the years went on the room became covered in graffiti art. Most of it was speaking out about peace and love, typical teenage girl stuff. Here friends joined in as well so there were memories of them all in that room.
I will always remember her hand prints on her wall....
On the first anniversary of her death the family and some of her friends got together and painted graffiti art on her bedroom wall. The room was then changed into her daughters play room.
Now I can see laughter and feel a sense of closeness when I'm in there playing with her little girl. I know my daughter is with us both in there and it makes it just a little bit easier to be there

Posted by: marelda abney


We no longer live in the house we owned when our son, Jason, died over 16 years ago. I do however, feel his presence, in different ways.
Jason was a high school baseball player and his uniform number was "31." Whenever 31 shows up either in a newspaper article, picture, check book, etc., I believe this is Jason letting me know that he is with me.
Also, since we are all energy, I associate a street light flickering or going out as I am driving by in my car, as another sign that Jason is with me, all of which brings me comfort.

Posted by: arnie zepel


My mom loved being down the shore. She always talked about the sound of the waves, the salty air, and even the sound that the seagulls made. During the summer, she spent most of her time down the NJ shore with friends and family. When my mom became ill, it made it harder for her to travel there. When I think of her, I see her laying on a towel, the straps of her bathing suit pulled down so she didn't get tan-lines on her shoulders, with big metallic sunglasses over her eyes. She always looked the most beautiful when we were at the beach. My favorite childhood memories of my mom have been those family vacations to the Jersey shore, relaxing with her in a pool, or shopping along the AC boardwalk.
Going to any of these places now is bittersweet. While I feel closest to her when I can hear ocean waves and taste salt on my lips, it is also a stark reminder that she is no longer with us. The night she passed away, she was hanging out with friends by in and around Atlantic City. She died in the place she loved the most.
I miss my mom every day. I miss her at home, at school, and anywhere else I travel. But when I'm at the beach, and I see the familiar sights of my childhood, I can still feel her with me. I can hear her laugh and see her smile. I can't really think of a better place to cherish her memory, and mourn the loss of my very best friend.

Posted by: Katie E.


I haven"t been able to go to the place of business where this happened yet, but my husband has been there several times to ask for donations for the schlorship fund that we have set up in our son"s name. They are always so receptive and have helped with donations every year since this happened. This is what helps us to carry on, knowing that we are helping someone in his name to go on to school.

Posted by: Bernadette LeBlanc


After my younger brother, Shane was suddenly killed in 2003, I journaled every night after climbing into bed. It usually was telling him about my day, kids, thoughts or feelings. My journal wouldn't mean much to anyone else, but I treasure it. It gave me so much comfort when I needed it the most. I miss my baby brother daily but knowing that he saved 5 peoples, he lives on. I tell everyone to donate Life. God Bless, Jennifer Webb Turnage

Posted by: Jennifer Webb Turnage


I am constantly reminded of my son, Christopher, who while riding his bicycle at age 13 was killed by a motorist chatting on her cell phone. There are so many locations that remind me of him; the accident site, as I pass frequently to go to my daughter’s home, the cemetery, which is located one block from our home, the school he attended, within walking distance, the adjacent soccer fields, which can be seen from our home’s parking area. Additionally, our home is about a mile from the Delaware River, where we fished together, the local park, where I walked while he rode his big wheel as a young child, and later his bicycle. Then there is the baseball field, where “slugger” hit many home runs during his little league years, which has a small park on site named for Christopher.

In the beginning I was sad when I passed any of these location, I wept each time I drove by the place of the accident. Now, each of these places is a reminder that Christopher was an active part of my life and many others in the community. Hearing the children on the soccer field brings joyous memories of hours spent at practices and games discovering the sport along with Christopher. In fact I occasionally walk to the fields and find solace in watching the kids learn the game, just as he did. As I drive through our community I often notice the storm drains with painted blue fish, many of them that he and I painted together as a school ecology project.

Over time these places have changed with roads being broadened, parks being modified, and soccer fields being reorganized. But one thing has not changed, that Christopher was an amazing and wonderful part of my life and I am grateful for the mammoth amount of time we spent together. That said my preferred location of Christopher are the memories and love he holds in my heart, as there the memories of our days together and his legacy will remain forever.
Christopher's Mom

Posted by: Pam Colvell-Gleason


As I near the 5 year mark of my son's death, I realize how time does fly. My son, Rocky, died in a motorcycle accident on May 24th and every day I am reminded of that as I look at his daughter. She was 8 months old when he passed away and she is now 5. Her looks, her attitude, and her smile help me re-live all of his youth. I used to just cry every time I saw her and think why? It has been hard especially now that her wants are dirt bike riding, snowmobiling, the things my son lived for. I have learned to see the positive in that. When I drop her off at school in the morning, she tells me that her daddy says, Have a good day and be nice! When she is mad, she tells me that it is time for her daddy to come home. He cannot be an angel anymore! The plus for us is in telling her about all of the people that live because of his gracious gift when God decided that it was time for him to come home. Every day I tell myself as he always told me, Mother, I can die crossing the street today, if we all live in fear of death, we never live. He was 16 when he started quoting that and died at 22. Motorcycles stil make my heart jump. However, I take that anxiety and turn it into something positive. Speaking about motorcycle safety and giving the gift of life helps me to realize that we cannot change the course of that terrible day, but we can help change the course for others. What an awesome gift and what an awesome legacy for my grandaughter.

Posted by: Kelly Duren


May 22,1982 my two sisters had been out partying it was very early in the morning on there way home about 10 minutes from our family home when her car started to drift into the opposite lane, two brothers one driving a truck the other bei g towed in the car attached claimed they saw her car drift and thought they would come between her and the telephone pole she was about to hit well he hit my sisters car head on! My eldest sister who was driving was injured badly but my younger sister her side caught the most damage she was critically injured in fact she would die two weeks later. At first i was drawn to the spot where the accident happened and my heart would race overwhelming sadness would grip me and i would just cry then one day as i was approaching the area my younger sister use to make these funny sounds and in particular as a car would pass she would make this sound like in "the jetson s" as the cars pass each other and I smiled and then laughed as I remembered her silly sense of humor and in that moment I knew I could pass by this spot and remember how she could make me laugh and I held onto that and it made it a little easier each time.

Posted by: Denise Nathan


For the first five years after my son's death, I was unable to drive down the road where the accident happened. I could not bring myself to see the place where he had taken his last breath and me not being there. Reading the police report I knew the exact spot on the corner by the utility pole. The first time I drove passed that location the tears were non-stop. All I could think about was him lying in the road. I had made the decision one day not to focus on the death. My new thought was "This is the place where the Angels met my son to take him home". So now when I pass that area I smile. God is still comforting me although it has been 13 yrs now.

Posted by: Carolyn Leavell


There are many places that remind of our son, Andy, but the most significant is a baseball field. He loved the game so much. He played as much as he could. We feel a strong pull to a field full of kids playing baseball. The memories are pleasant and bring us back to a time of warm weather and carefree play. What a pleasure to have watched him and to revisit those times.

Posted by: Pat Capps


My husband passed away in the middle of Grand Central Station, NYC. At his funeral mass, our Monsignor referred to GCS as not only the portal to places all over the world but now it is a portal to Heaven...I no longer think of it as chaotic but rather a peaceful transision.

Posted by: soleman54@yahoo.com


My husband died, very suddenly (heart attack), in the foyer of our home. My daughter and I had to turn him over, and I did CPR on him while waiting for the ambulanc. The EMTs worked on him in that room when they got there,to no avail. For the first couple of months after he died, I would visualize that awful and chaotic scene every time I came down the stairs, and seriously considered moving. I'm glad that I didn't, however. Over time, that terrible memory faded and the many good ones of all the times we had enjoyed with our children in that home took their place. My young son was able to remain in the neighborhood where he had many friends and in the home he was growing up in. I am still living there today.

Posted by: Valerie Stalnaker


I visit the accident site where my son was killed, often. One of the officers who were on the scene asked the owners of the business near where Nick's accident took place, if I could place flowers ar whatever in memoriam. They were very kind and told the police that I could place whetever I needed for as long as I needed. I placed a small photo of Nick along with an angel and cross. Four years have come & gone, I place a small tree there at Christmas and flowers on other holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. If you drive down Rand Road in Arlington Heights, just north of Thomas, you might see a small memorial on the east side of the road, that's for my Nicky, who gave gifts of hope to over 20 people. Some people look at me strange when I stop and clean up this site. Friends and family also question why I go there. Whenever I pass by, I say hello. Most people don't understand. For me, this is what I need to do. I wasn't done taking care of him, so now I take care of this spot. It's the least I can do. I miss him everyday.

Posted by: Julie Prangl


our bedroom.....my husband died in bed, and when I called 911 the paramedics said you must get him on the floor and on his back.....so the space between his side of the bed and that flor space which I walk on to get to our bathroom daily....I sleep on his side now.....that is if I sleep. When I sleep I have started to dream about my husband.....he dies so young....I loved him so very much that I never ever thought I would have to live a minnute without him much less a lifetime. we never had a chile together because he had 2 boys from his first marriage and we knew what it would cost to raise them and eventually send them to college so now I have 2 stepsons who I adore and visa versa but they do not live with me........so...our bed.....room! Rest in Peace my love

Posted by: Susan Waite


Bradley died as a result of an auto accident. The accident occured on the road that we took at that time to go to and from church. It was difficult for the first 2 to 3 months, but we put a cross at the site and it became much easier. The grandkids always look for it. It made it easier to deal with.

Posted by: Linda Jordan


My toughest moments - still after 10 yrs and 9 months is food shopping. Sabrina was the only daughter that still lived home and I took pleasure in cooking specific different dishes for her.

Consequently, especially near a holiday or a specific date, I have an emotional block when I go to the market. I buy doubles or things I don't need sometimes - so it's still very difficult.

I try to make out a list or my husband will come with me and when we are shopping, we now will try and make the memory a good one, and laugh at the things our Sabrina did, during these special times - she LOVED EATING AND MY COOKING.

I miss that, and also when I'm preparing a dish that she really liked, I'll talk to her and make sure she knows I haven't forgotten, and ask her if she dips her finger in and still tastes the food like she did when she was here!! It makes me smile.

Posted by: Denise D'Eletto


Yes. For me it is a road. The spot where my 13 year old son was killed while bicycling. I try not to travel that road but need to occasionally. It still brings a tear or two when I pass "that" spot. At Christmas time I place a small Christmas wreath, on a stick, at the side of the road and then remove it in January.

Posted by: Steve Gardner


My place to remember Bob is his chair. I know it sounds funny but it is like I can see him rocking and looking over to me and always smiling at me. I often sit in his chair and I feel such a warmth, I feel he is right there and a flush of memories come rushing in and I feel good after sitting in his chair. I miss him everyday but I know he is right there beside me rocking away. They say time heal all wounds but I think that its not time but the memories around the house or where ever it is, is how I see him cooking and anything else that he use to do. I hope this helps and remember you can cry,be mad at seeing a older couple waking down the street and wonder why. Its ok. It will just bring you closer to your loved one. Thank you for letting me tell my story and God bless all of you that lost someone special.

Posted by: Jeanne McDaniel


My son was killed on his motorcycle just a week after my husband and I were married. Our first anniversary and also the first anniversary of his death I couldn't even think about our wedding or anniversary. It was such a bitter sweet memory. It has been seven years since he died and gradually I have been able to celebrate our anniversary. I knew it wasn't fair to my husband and I knew my son would have been so unhappy with me if he knew I let his death spoil the happiness of our wedding. I still associate the two together and it is still a bitter sweet memory but now it is easier for me accept.

Posted by: Anna Parham


Our son died in a hospital. My husband could not bear to drive by the location for years following the death. I went to work at this hospital and found it somewhat consoling to care for others in this place where our son was cared for. Only afterward did my husband tell me that if he ever had to drive by this hospital, he closed his eyes even if he was driving! Grief does strange things to us...a consolation to me was only a painful experience for him!

Posted by: Jayne


My son died of suicide on May 6,2002, he was 14 and I found him hanging in my garage. It is hard for me to say/write or read that word.(my nephews birthday) I buried my son on May 10th mexican mothers day.My nephew invites me for cake and ice cream since he is 7 years younger than my son he tells me its ok if i dont want to go. For mothers day i just remember i still have other kids that like to celebrate it for me. I also lost my mother 4 months later. I try to make the best of it for my children.

Posted by: Monica


Our daughter dies of suicide abuot 10 years ago. I came home from work that awful day and fuodn her hanging from the ceiling fan in her bedroom. I can still see that image right in front of my face and will, for the rest of my life. The room is as it was on that day. We've never cleared outher things or refrubished it. We've had no reason to. We also still have her car and I drive it once in a while as I remember the lovely lasy she was. I cope by reminding myself that it was not the LOCATION of her death or her car or anything else. It was her decision, sad though it surely has been.

Posted by: Dave Boswell


Christmas has always been a special time for us because of Christs' birth. My husband's birthday was Christmas Eve, and that is when he wanted to get married. We shared so many wonderful Christmas' together. Since his death was sudden, that first Christmas was especially hard for me. The next year I began to see the Season in a very different light. Because my husband was a organ donor, I started thinking of the families whose lives he changed, and what a wonderful Christmas they must be having.This has brought me much Joy and happiness as this special season of Christmas is viewed once more as a Magical season. May God Bless all of the Donor Families.
Mrs. Archie E Smith

Posted by: Marlene J Smith


My daughter Georgia died in 2008 and in 2010 her brother Pete followed. My head and heart are still reeling from this great loss. I find that praying for them and saying the rosary helps ease the pain when I am reminded of them which is daily. My consolation is that someday we will be reunited. I hope this will help someone.

Posted by: Genevieve Medina


Even though it's been 20 years since I lost my Son, I still have a difficult time going into Regions Hospital. They did everything they could to save him, so it isn't anything they did or didn't do. It's me. Two years ago, my husband's Brother passed away at Regions. Again, it wasn't anything the staff at the hospital did. When my son had his vehicle accident, he was hooked to life support and we spent hours and hours there for 11 days. It was very difficult.

Posted by: Bonnie Jotblad


Snow and ice always make me uneasy now. Amanda and Alisa were returning home from church when their car hit black ice. When I cross the bridge their car went over, I try to shut it out of my mind. I always check in with my other two daughters to make sure they are safe when the weather is bad. Even though it's been 14 years, I still get an uneasy feeling for those who are driving during snow and ice.

Posted by: Cheryl Manley