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Jeffery Veatch talks about living with the painful loss of his son Justin, a talented musician who tragically died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of seventeen and how he and his wife, Marina struggled with surviving.

He describes the unbearable moments he experienced after reaching work early one morning and being told to return home immediately. He doesn’t know how he was able to drive home that fateful morning but goes on to describe pulling up to his home and seeing the coroner’s van in his driveway and viewing his son’s body.

Jeffery talks about Justin’s normal, happy childhood and how his passion and talent for music grew with him into his teen years. When Justin slipped into drug experimentation and addiction, his parents did all they could to support and keep him out of drugs.

Today, he honors his son by taking the love he has for Justin and sharing his story as a way to keep others from the same fate. Through a foundation set up in Justin’s honor, speaking to young adults, and sharing the beautiful music his son wrote and recorded, Jeffery and his family are making a difference in the midst of one of the worst drug crises we have experienced as a nation.

"You have put together such a powerful message in Justin's honor. I am just amazed at how you have been able to do that. I can't even imagine how many lives you touched and saved based on the work you are doing."     Linda Trignano, Podcaster - Workplace Trauma Solutions

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Jeffery produced a film which took two and half years to finish. It’s called “Whispering Spirits”,  named after one of Justin’s songs.  We got a grant to make it available to people anywhere in the country such as teachers and other groups that could hold a film screening and then have a discussion afterward about the situations surrounding drug use and loss. Jeffery said the file has become a tool that he and his family are very proud of. We offer the film free of charge because we didn’t want to ever make any money off it. Anyone who goes to the website cannot only watch the film but if they’re going to show it in a community format, they can get a copy of it free of charge, and there’s a discussion guide goes with it.

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Her Mom Died. What Should I Do and Say?

Her Mom Died. What Should I Do and Say?

Recently I learned that a dear friend’s mother passed away.  As I collected myself, I had many thoughts and feelings, which included sadness and concern for my grieving friend. I thought I would list a few questions that most of us ask ourselves when hearing about a loss. Perhaps it will give you some guidance and help you to take steps yourself to comfort someone grieving a loss.

“Should I call?”  “Is now the right time?” Since my friend’s mom lived across the country, I had no idea if my friend was alone, busy with the details of the wake and funeral, helping her dad or any other tasks that needed her attention. I decided to trust my heart and reach out to her right then. I was only able to leave a , but I felt better knowing that she knew I was thinking about her. A return message from her told me that she felt better knowing that so many of her friends were letting her know that they were thinking of her with loving support.

What should I say?

“What should I say?” “Will I make things worse?” For me, there is often that moment of doubt when first reaching out to someone who has just suffered a loss. What if I don’t know what to say and end up saying nothing? Somehow the right words might come or perhaps saying nothing and being present with them in the moment might be what the grieving person needs. Trusting yourself is the right path to choose. In times of grief, we want to know that others are supporting us whether it is in thoughts, prayers, words or action.  Even the strongest person needs comfort and support during difficult times.

After the call, then what?

One way to handle this question is to ask them what you can do to help them. Avoid saying “Call me if you need me.” Sometimes the best thing to do might be bring dinner and spending time with them. Sometimes make yourself available for a phone conversation and listen to them talk would be the best choice. If they are not up to talking, send a card with a note to let them know that you are thinking about them.

Even if you are uncomfortable (and many people are), it is better to extend yourself and reach out to someone experiencing grief or loss.

Coach Linda

Call or connect via email with me if you have a suggestion for a blog post or if you would like to be a guest blogger on this site.

You Just Never Know

You Just Never Know

Recently an article appeared in my local newspaper that caught my attention.  A woman wrote to the newspaper to apologize and thank a man she had encountered at the post office.  Seems the man held the door open for her as she entered the building but lost in her own thoughts, she failed to notice or thank the man for his kindness. 

With no word or acknowledgement from her, his loud booming  “you’re welcome!” snapped her out of her own thoughts and back to the present moment.

She continues writing to say how sorry she was for not acknowledging the kindness (as she usually does) but was distracted that day.  A close friend called to tell the woman that her father just died suddenly of a massive heart attack.  This woman had been a support to the writer whose own father was gravely ill in a nursing home the past few weeks.  As she entered the post office, she was thinking about the irony and sadness of it all and how she could help her friend when the man mentioned above delivered his “you’re welcome”.

How often do you play that role?

The story reminded me of just how often I play one of those roles in my own day-to-day life.  Since I work with those in grief or very difficult life transitions, job loss, death, or divorce, I am often lost in thoughts of how they are feeling or how I can help them, or even my own personal issues at the moment. 

How many times have I not acknowledged a kind gesture another person extended to me?  How often do I just not see it as I drift in a sea of my own thoughts?  Other times, I extend a kindness to someone and they ignore the gesture or don’t seem to notice or care.  Do they just not care?  Are they lost in thoughts and difficulties I can’t see or imagine?  Fact is, I just don’t know.

When I encounter a stranger….

The newspaper article gave me an insight; a reason to pause and reflect on the burdens each of us carries at various times in our lives.   When I encounter a stranger I don’t really know what is going on with them at that moment.  I don’t know if they are experiencing a difficult time in their life or if they are just the ungrateful type who would never acknowledge a kindness extended to them.  I do know that I have a choice.  I can extend the kindness.  How the person on the receiving end takes it is really up to them.  I have no part in that. 

Extending the kindness enriches my life.  That in itself is a wonderful gift to me.  If the receiver takes it and acknowledges it, I’m doubly blessed.

The flip side of this however is that these are difficult times for many of us.  The newspaper article reminded me to allow room for others to grieve, to work through their difficulties in ways that work for them.  The path of grief is often jagged and sometimes causes the behaviors that we see and experience to seem a little harsher than normal.

My insight? 

I’m best served by choosing to extend love and kindness to others I encounter throughout my day.  I just never know what they are going through.  Easy to say, tough to do?  Yes but the woman in the post office served as a reminder to try and walk in love and kindness each day.