or being a survivor


Do a web page
If you don't have the expertise but you really want to do a memorial and/or personal page, hire a teenager. No joke, this is what I did. I also took a couple of one day classes at the local college and watched my young 'webmaster' very closely. Now I'm able to do most of the uploading and links myself. I feel like I've accomplished and learned so much by doing these pages, and, I get to think about all the fun things our family experienced with Jared too. That's the best part! 

Surf the web
There are so many resources for help with grief it could fill a telephone sized book. The first stop I made was at the Compassionate Friends website and then I hit some educational sites dealing with suicide and depression. Over time I have added some really good links here in Never give up learning what you ache to know. 

Read good Books
The first few weeks after Jared died it was very hard to concentrate on anything except my pain but when I started reading various books on the subject of suicide, what Heaven was like for those with a "death" experience, the Purpose of Life, and the Holy Scriptures (John 14:27), I began to feel a lot more peace inside. Don't read trash or senseless books or magazines that have no real meaning, especially things that will get you down. Use your reading time wisely with uplifting, self improvement and educational books. And if you have someone in the family who can't read, read to them out loud. They will enjoy the time you spend with them and you both will benefit in healing. 

Plant a memorial tree
Put the tree anywhere you are allowed to put it. Some people have planted them at the Cemetery where their loved one is laid and others in their own back yard. Some very nice people from Bill's work came to our home a few weeks after Jared died and planted a little tree in our backyard. I even put Jared's magstep's (magnetic insoles) in with the tree's roots to help it grow. It's beauty, as it grows, help us remember how awesome life is. 

Design your loved one's headstone
The headstone doesn't have to look like everyone else's. Bill took on this project himself.  Thinking of Jared's life, Bill added mountains where Jared loved to camp, a river where canoeing and swimming were fun, a log in the river because Jared was good at balancing on a log, a cactus because Jared was born in Arizona, and a boy standing on a bird rock (at his grandparents home in Idaho) because Jared would climb to the top and act like 'Rocky Balboa'. 

Make a treasure box
Take an old shoe box and wrap it in decorative paper. Wrap the lid separately so you can get in and out of the box as desired. Put things in the box that remind you of your child. You can live your child's life for him/her through the treasure box. I made a treasure box for my brother, Jared, and I wrapped it in brown paper (it appeared more masculine). I decorated the outside of the box with pictures I had cut from magazines (bikes, angels, etc.). When Jared would of turned 16, I will put a small toy car in the box. When Jared would have attended college, I will put something in the box that has to do with college. As time goes on, more things can be added to symbolize Jared's aging. (written by Sonja High) 

Keep a journal
I have been writing in my journal since I was 9 years old and it is a wonderful way to express your thoughts and feelings. When Jared died, I made an account of the incident and continued to record my feelings in my journal. I write poems that express my thoughts and I record memorable experiences that I had with Jared. I recently went back and read my journal before Jared died and months after his death. I noticed the phases that I went through and noted the improvements. It is amazing how much we change when we lose a loved one, we either get better or bitter and I could see in my journal that I took the better path. (written by Sonja) 

Use anniversaries to have fun
Do something your child enjoyed doing. This year, my family plans to go hiking or camping on the anniversary of Jared's death. Jared loved hiking and camping so we felt this would be a good way to remember Jared's outdoor, adventurous spirit. The last thing you should do on an anniversary is sit home and think about your child's death. This is not only painful and depressing, but it has no healing benefit. Your loved one would want you to have fun and live life to its fullest. Life is too short to not have fun, even on a sad day. (written by Sonja) 

Surely there is a hymn or song that is uplifting to your heart. In your moments of despair, hum or sing a song that puts you in a good mood. Maybe you think there is nothing to sing about, but there is! You are still alive and your loved one is watching over you from the most glorious existence of heaven and you will someday reunite with him/her. (written by Sonja) 

It's not only healthy but it will keep you busy and on the move. I taught Jared how to do "The Bump" a few years ago. That was a lot of fun for both of us. There are many different styles of dance, from formal to square dancing, country, and waltzing. Turn on the stereo and go banana's!  Don't let anyone see this, or you might get embarrassed... or they might get embarrassed, ...or, what the heck and who cares,...  ask your friend to join you!!

Enjoy your child's autograph. Jared's autograph is so spirited and childlike. The papers in Jared's room with his autograph on were all saved. Some people have them copied and make letterheads and stationary with them, a great way to help others remember your child.  And other parents have their child's autograph put onto photos before hanging. Try putting the autograph on a plaque with a cute verse or saying that your child was remembered for.  Remember, with computers, copiers and scanners, just about anything is possible today. 

Create stationary and letterheads with your child's picture or artwork on it. As mentioned above, technology makes anything possible. The local Technical Schools usually have printing classes and they might be happy to help you with your printing and designing needs for a small fee. Also, local printers will give excellent suggestions for your project. 

Do your own personalized, special Christmas cards. Christmas is a great way to help others remember your loved one. Remember, that The Savior, his birth, his life, his death and his Resurrection is the hope and faith we have in seeing our loved one again. Christmas is a wonderful way to remember the eternal purposes of our tests in life. Let Christmas time be a time of hope and celebration, knowing that you'll see your loved one again. 

Use a deep frame box to display special items. Check out the hobby stores for the deep inset frames, or build one yourself.  Make it deep enough to put in the special items your loved one enjoyed. How about some fabric from the first prom dress your child wore, a little McDonnalds toy that was especially liked, or the first pair of glasses they wore. There is a lot of room for imagination here.  May I suggest that each sibling in the family could add an item they most remember their brother or sister for. This makes the frame box even more meaningful when it's ready to be hung. 

Attend a Survivor's of Suicide (SoS) group - Look in your local paper for locations of these groups. Many times they are coordinated with a Hospice House or a Chaplain. When Bill and I have attended, we have been able to receive non-judgmental love and encouragement from our Chaplain friend. Communication of our feelings and listening skills in the family are encouraged and developed.


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