Penny Pinching Peach


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Creative Comfort

Comfort Coloring

Comfort Coloring

Creative Ways to Comfort the Grieving.

If anyone has noticed my silence the past three weeks, it’s in the largest part due to a sudden death in our family. My husband’s mother, my children’s Ganna, unexpectedly passed away shortly after her 60th birthday. The last while has been a whirlwind of the overwhelming aftermath such a sad and sudden event leaves behind. This experience is not entirely new to me, having lost my own mom far too early and quickly in 2006 when she was only 44 years old. Every loss is different, though, in the same way that every person is unique and every family dynamic is all it’s own. Anyway, going through this loss with small children of our own has given me another perspective on grieving, loss and the process of laying a loved one to rest.

When a friend loses someone close to them, we are often left wondering what we can say or do to make things better. Truth is, there is nothing that can take away the sorrow or fill the void left by death. There are some things that can bring a measure of comfort, help the family feel less alone, and let them know you truly, actively, deeply care about them in a way that words alone just can’t express. You may never know the impact your small gesture made in helping a grieving person make it through. You don’t have to have a lot of time or money to let the bereaved know you are there and care. I’m going to share some ideas of ways you can help ease the transition into life after loss. Some are pretty conventional, some not so much. Hopefully you will find something you can use.

Comfort for Grieving Children:

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I’d never been through the loss of a close relative as a parent of small children, so this opened my eyes to some ways to bless the grieving that I hadn’t thought so much about previously.
Offer to help with the children in the immediate family. It may be babysitting while they make arrangements, keeping them occupied during visitation, letting them sit with you during the funeral or just offering to be on standby in case the parents realize that they do need help at some point.
Get busy gifts to occupy children quietly. Give the little ones “busy bags” filled with things to keep them content and quiet during a difficult and confusing time. Some parents won’t realize how hard it is for little ones to behave through all of the tedious rituals they don’t truly understand, and won’t come prepared. Things you could include: Crayons or Colored Pencils , Coloring Book , sketch pad, On the Go Water Painting Bundle ,Reusable Sticker Pad , candy or packaged snacks that are not messy (super important detail, so I’m repeating: NOT MESSY!!! 😉 ), a small stuffed animal, like this adorable Marmoset Mini Flopsie , or any small quiet & clean activities. My daughter literally colored almost the entire time we were having visitation, and gave a picture to nearly everyone who came. She said it was to make everyone feel less sad about her Ganna going to Heaven.

Pictures to Remind the Grieving of Good Memories:

Pictures are such an important thing when you are remembering someone who once lived life with you. Many people now do a photo montage at the viewing. If they need help scanning or copying photos so that they aren’t leaving originals with the funeral home, this is a way you could help. If you have a great picture in your personal collection of the recently departed, that would be an extremely meaningful gift to include with a sympathy card or even put it in a nice frame like this one that has one of my mom’s favorite sayings on it “Live Laugh Love” Picture Frame. When someone has passed away, you will never be able to take another picture of them, so this is a way of getting a new memory when you thought there were no more.

Music For the Funeral:

If the family is going to use recorded music and you have a knack for finding and burning just the right version of that perfect song, offer your services to help them. Chances are that they are overwhelmed and don’t really have the time to search it out. Just make sure that you communicate clearly and definitely have the songs they really want played.

Comfort Food For Grief and Loss:

Families who just lost someone dear to them often forget to eat, and certainly don’t have the desire to cook. If there is good food sitting there, they are likely to eat it just so it won’t go to waste, and it will keep them going. See where they need it most: At home, during visitation or after the funeral. After all, everyone needs to eat, whether they feel like it or not. A handy tip? Use Disposable Aluminum Foil Baking Pans so they don’t have to worry about returning a nice pan and you aren’t concerned about your nice cookware.

Financial Help:

Something we rarely think about is the financial burden a death can bring to family. It’s not only paying for the funeral, but lost work, gas money, and other incidentals that are unplanned. This is not a big deal if you are financially secure, but can be an added devastation if you are barely scraping by to start with. Ways you can help with this when you know the family is struggling? Let them know you included money, a gift card or a gas card in your sympathy card. Buy a small potted plant to hand deliver instead of a big arrangement from a florist, and give the difference, if you feel you still want to give flowers and can’t do both.

Share Your Favorite Memories:

In the weeks and months following a loved one moving on, the family settles into their new life without a significant part of their daily existence. Everyone else moves on, and often forgets they are still grieving and adjusting. Write a letter about a fond memory of the person who is no longer with them, and send it to them. Write a card letting them know you’re thinking of them. Dig out the pictures I mentioned before and share them. Visit and talk about the good times. Remember.

Death is never easy. Grieving is complicated. No one should have to go through it alone.

If you are reading this, you know someone who has lost someone dear to them. If you haven’t already, you will most likely lose someone one day yourself. We will all have our turn to move on. Show compassion, be a blessing, do what you can for others while you still can. Live life while you are living, and love on those who are still here with you.

To read about something that has brought me sweet comfort in the years since losing my mom, read my story about my butterfly greetings from Heaven.

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Black and Blue Butterfly Greetings From Heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Losing my mom to cancer changed so much about me.

It changed my personality, my perspective and even my life plans. Everything about myself was intertwined with her, and suddenly a huge part of the fabric of who I was, the life I had and my hopes for the future was ripped away. I was left feeling torn apart, broken and irreparable. Visiting her grave was no comfort to me, and I felt at a loss for any tangible way to feel that connection with my mom while she was gone. It hurt in such an achingly empty manner, I can’t even explain it in words.

One day as I was walking outside, praying & crying & wishing I could talk to Mom about whatever crisis I was coping with or just get another one of her warm, loving, mama hugs…it happened. God sent the comforting symbol I needed. I was randomly surrounded by fluttering blue and black butterflies! To most people, this would seem magical and beautiful. To me, it was a sign from Heaven of my mom’s continued love. You see, her favorite color combination was blue and black. One of my favorite things in the world is butterflies, and she would often give me little things to do with butterflies. The unique combination of those two things that were so special to each of us and personally significant between us was a symbol to me, and something I latched onto. Finally, something tangible to bring me comfort and help me to feel connected to my mom!

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These black and blue Butterfly Greetings from Heaven have recurred over the years many times, usually at moments when I was thinking of my mom or dealing with something difficult and feeling alone.

Sometimes it’s a lone butterfly, others an entire swarm of them, and at times they even land on me as I watch them and try to listen to whatever message may be whispered to me by God in that moment when He has my attention.

The butterfly hello has also become an unexpected and beautiful way for my daughter to feel connected to the grandma she was never blessed to get to know.

When she sees blue and black butterflies- after hearing my story of the time the black and blue butterflies swarmed me when I was feeling sad and missing my mama and how they always make me think of her when I see them now- she will say “Hi Grandma! I love you, too!”. It brings bittersweet tears to my eyes every time it happens, and is yet another thing that is special about these particular butterflies for me.

If you have lost anyone close to you, is there something special that makes you feel connected to them in particular, like they’re saying hello, or just plain brings you comfort when you see it? Read my Letter to My Mom.

Below are some beautifully touching products following the sentiment of butterfly inspiration:

Girl Nursery Quote – Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,she became a butterfly – Wall Decal Sticker (Black, Medium)
DaisyJewel Azure Blue & Silvertone Butterfly Hoop Earrings
Vietsbay’s Butterfly Collection Necklace Pendants Pewter Silver


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Mom In Heaven

Mama and me

Mama and me

December 20th was the seventh anniversary of my mom’s passing. She was only 44 at the time. I had no idea how I was going to face life without my mom, because she was my best friend, mom and everything all rolled into one amazing woman. Life has gone on, but it will never be the same. I wrote a poem about her on the 20th, but was hesitant to share it here. It’s “off topic”, and not my best work. I decided to go ahead. Maybe it will touch someone else struggling with facing life and/or the holidays without a loved one they feel should be here to celebrate with them…

If you had asked when I was young

How long I thought my mom would live,

I’d have told you she’d outlive us all

And still have time to give.

If you had told me she’d be gone

When she was only 44,

I’d have called you crazy

And not listened anymore.

If I had known that she’d be gone

Before her time should be,

I’d have done all I could do

To keep her here with me

If I were given the chance

To see her once again,

I’d tell her how much I love her,.

Thank her for all she’d been.

She lived more in her short life

Than many who are old and gray

She was the best mom she could be,

And I miss her every day.

When she knew the end was nearing,

She had little left undone.

She just wished she’d see me married,

Get to hold the children of her daughter and son.

When I look at her grandbabies,

I see her sparkle and her smile,

I feel her love and laughter,

See her dancing silly and wild.

I know her love is with us,

And in our hearts, she’ll never die,

But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss her

Or in the darkness cry.

If I could give my mom a present

I’d fly all of us up to Heaven,

And spend a day with her in

The place she’s been for seven.

In Loving Memory of My Mom, Dorinda

Mom, Nana and me

Mom, Nana and me


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Continuing the Kindness

Mom & Dad in 2005

My parents taught me how to be kind.

“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2006, we had no idea how quickly it would take her away from us. She had always been so strong, healthy and active that it was hard to imagine something so seemingly intangible & mysterious as cancer could beat her. To our shock and horror, it stole her life, and rapidly. In a short two months, my vibrant mom was gone.

I won’t go too deeply into the details of her sickness and our loss right now, since that isn’t the point of sharing this. The point of sharing is the legacy of kindness that my mom left behind and the ripples of kindness others showed when she was taken from us so quickly.

When I lost my mom, I also lost my best friend.

The hole left in my life and heart is something indescribable, and nothing anyone could understand without having been there. There were those who probably didn’t know what to do to help me, so they did nothing. There were many more who probably knew they couldn’t make my pain go away, but they still reached out to let me know that I was not alone. Most of the latter were probably unaware of the difference they made for me and my family, but every little thing someone did for us made a huge impact. Without the kindness of those around us, I don’t know that we could have made it through our loss as well as I have.

Do you want to know some of the many acts of kindness I was blessed with during the loss of my mom?

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I had just started getting really involved with a new church community. I didn’t expect much support or love from them, since I’d had alot of negative & unkind experiences with church people in my life previously, but they were there for me every step of the way. They didn’t just pray for me, which is always appreciated, but they actively let me know they cared. They’d come to me and ask how my mom was and how I was handling things and if I needed anything. They also reached out to my brother, and were a strong support for him during his grieving process. I would never have asked for help, even with the offer, but the offers still mattered and the concern made it’s impact.

Mom & Brother At a Family Reunion, 2005

Mom & Brother At a Family Reunion, 2005

Family and friends alike called and emailed regularly to check on us and let us know they were thinking of us. Some offered help. Most just let us know they cared. All were an important part of our family’s survival of my mom not surviving.

My dad owns his own business, Cue Man Billiards and Hightower Cues http://www.hightowercues.com, and my parents had no health insurance. Other business owners and individuals in the billiard industry organized a fundraiser to assist with the mounting medical bills. The money helped. The fact that all of those people cared enough about our family and had that much respect & concern for my dad to reach into their pockets and open their hearts to help us in our time of need meant even more than the cash, though. I saw my dad- who is not a very emotional person- with tears in his eyes because of what the gestures of so many people in his business world meant to him. The billiard industry doesn’t have the best reputation in some circles, but I can say from experience that there are some amazing and good hearted folks who love pool. 🙂

Speaking of my dad’s business… even his customers showed kindness to us. I was working with my dad at the time, and we would have customers who were aware of our circumstances ask on a regular basis about how my mom and our family was doing when they called or emailed to order . They probably didn’t know, but the moment it took to show care and kindness made a lasting impact.

I was involved in an online community who consistently kept up a thread just for prayers and encouragement for me through this time, and each post reminded me that our family was not alone on an island of sickness. Friends who were distant would send e-cards and messages of well wishes, prayer and just reminders that they cared. I didn’t realize how many true friends that I had until I was going through something I could never have handled alone.

The women at the gym my mom & I once frequented together now saw me coming in alone, and kept up with her sickness and sent well wishes to her on a regular basis.

When my mom passed away, I was shocked at how many people from near and far came to pay respects to her and show support to those of us grieving this loss of this amazing woman. Each and every member of my Bible study group showed up either at the funeral home for visitation or the funeral. Women from the gym my mom had once loved to go to came to show their final respects. Most of our relatives, both close and remote, seemed to have shown up. Old friends even came from states away to be there for us. I was amazed at all of the names in the sign-in book.

(On the topic of that sign-in book… please, please, please always sign that book when you go to a visitation, viewing or funeral! It is so important to the grieving family, because they may be in such a daze that they can’t recall or even notice everyone who is there. That book will tell them you were there for them.)

Brother at his daughter's 1st birthday in 2008, passing on the love mom left with us.

Brother at his daughter’s 1st birthday in 2008, passing on the love mom left with us.

There were tons of flowers and cards and even a beautiful painting from people whose lives had been touched by the radiant & loving life my mom had led.

People from my church, my dad’s church and my uncle’s church provided us with food for meals we would never have bothered to cook for the first couple of weeks. Our next door neighbor even brought us a hot breakfast the morning of my mom’s funeral. In our grief, we would most likely have forgotten about eating anything significant, but these people literally gave us comfort food.

A couple of people donated to the cancer society in my mom name. Some told me stories of ways that she had touched their lives. Others simply said they were sorry for our loss or said nothing and gave me a hug. All of them touched my heart deeply, because the feeling behind the act is the most important thing of all.

Noone made anyone do anything for us. They just cared, and showed it through their acts of kindness.

There were many more that I’m not mentioning, but it would fill pages upon pages. The point of sharing all of this is to encourage everyone who reads this that no kindness is too small, no word too insignificant, no action too simple to make a difference.

For my fellow penny pinchers out there, kindness costs you nothing and gives so much. Just telling someone who is grieving or having a difficult time in life “I care” or “I am here for you” goes a long ways, if you truly mean that from your heart. All of those tiny acts of kindness, along with the legacy of my mama’s love that I have kept in my heart, helped carry me through the murky mire of overwhelming and debilitating grief that eventually threatened to drown me.

In my everyday life, I’ve also experienced many acts of random kindness, but… well, that’s another story of kindness for another day. 🙂

Mom in Joyful Times

Mom in Joyful Times. She taught me so much about what it means to be kind! Help me pass that on!

 

Is there some small kindness someone did for you during a low point in your life that helped you to struggle on another day? Please share!

Remember…

“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”

To see the first post of this series, you can go to: Acts of Random Kindness or read the next one at Share the Kindness!


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Acts of Random Kindness

Mama and Me

You Can Change the World One Act of Random Kindness At a Time!

I originally wrote just to share with my friends only seven months after my mom passed away. She diagnosed with lung cancer (as a non-smoker) on October 19, 2006 and passed away December 20, 2006. She was only 44 years old when she died, and her 51st birthday would’ve been this month. In her honor, I’m sharing this, and intending to renew my vow to do little “acts of random kindness”. Feel free to share your own thoughts and feelings on the topic…

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

Acts of
Random
Kindness

Tonight I went with my dad & brother to see the movie Evan Almighty.

Going into the movie, I was expecting sheer stupidity & goofiness and maybe a few laughs. I wasn’t disappointed. I giggled & cackled my way through the film. (Any story involving a guy who is told to build an ark in a high class modern neighborhood has gotta be pretty funny!) However, the part that stuck in my mind wasn’t anything that brought snickering to my soul. It was a simple statement that went along with something I’ve been thinking about alot here recently. That statement was this…

“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”

Mom, Nana and Me

Mom, Nana and Me

Do you know what is the most amazing thing about that simple little statement? It’s true! If each & every one of us took it in our hearts to do all those acts of random kindness that we know we should do, but are usually rushing too quickly through life to do- it would change the world in wonderful ways. People would smile more, blood pressure would lower, heart attacks & churning stomachs & bad nerves would be less of an issue and the world would be much less stressful & more happy than we can even imagine.
This past Monday night, our Bible study group leader challenged us to spend this week trying to look for small ways to serve others and show kindness every little chance we get, and observe what sort of difference it makes in our lives & our outlook. Since this was something I’d already been thinking on, and it was reiterated for me in a goofy comedy tonight, I’m taking this on as a seriously fun challenge. I’m going to be looking out for itty-bitty ways to share joy, help others, be kind, and randomly serve those around me.
How about trying this with me? Open a door, carry some groceries, give someone a hug, compliment someone on a job well done, let a car in front of you even if you have been stuck in traffic for an ungodly length of time…just go ahead and do any kindness you can see to be done. Don’t leave it for someone else to do. Don’t think that it isn’t important. Think about the times your life has been positively impacted by a kindness that was fairly insignificant…and pass along that impact!

Don’t forget…
“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”

Is there some little act of random kindness that has impacted your life in a big way? Share it with me! I wanna hear about it. Please share this message with anyone who could use a little kindness in life!

~Keisha~
July 4, 2007

Has a small act of kindness impacted your life in a big way? What acts of random kindness have you done lately, or had done for you? I’ve had seemingly random or small acts of kindness that were pretty huge to me and sometimes life changing. I plan a follow-up post (or series of posts, even) in the nearby future telling a few of those stories. Share, people, share! I’m all eyes here. 🙂

This is a beautiful little book about random acts of kindness you can do Wisdom From Random Acts of Kindness

Interested in the rest of this series? Please read Continuing the Kindess and Share the Kindness!

Loving My Babies Like Mama Loved Me

Loving My Babies Like Mama Loved Me