Wednesday, February 15, 2017

To piggyback off Marci’s post.....(BY Brian)

it got me thinking about some things.  With today being the 15th, yes it has been 5 months since we lost our little man.  However, if you go by the day of the week then 5 months is tomorrow.  But that’s not what I want to post about and what I was thinking about.  This is actually what I am thinking about that made me want to share.

September 15th, at 7am Ian was unfortunately pronounced dead.  To date, this is the most devastating thing in our lives so far.  As we have continued to say, we have known it was going to happen someday but no one can really EVER truly prepare themselves.  So everyone that knows us knows we made the best of almost every single day we had with Ian and as a family of 4.  True, we will always be a family of 4 but physically we are a family of only 3 now.

With today being the 15th, it will be exactly 5 months, to the day, since I last looked in to my sons eyes and told him I loved him.  Twenty-two weeks since I held his hand and him knowing I was holding his.  One hundred fifty-four days when I told him everything was going to be ok and if he needed to go then that was ok.  Three thousand six hundred ninety-six hours when I had my best buddy, my superhero, look at me and know I was there.

Not a day, not a minute, not even a second goes by that I don’t miss that little guy.  I may not mention him every day all day but it’s there.  I can feel it.  I feel it right now.  I feel it when I don’t expect it.  I see something as I’m driving in my car and my heart just starts to race.  I see him that morning when I close my eyes to go to sleep.  I keep being told this is all normal and that it will change.  There is no time frame for grieving.  I believe that, I really do but what IS hard for me to believe at times is that our precious boy, our amazing son and everyones superhero is really truly gone. 

This world has lost a really REALLY amazing person in Ian.  Our loss is certainly heavens gain.  Just wish we could see what he would have become in life.  But I think I already know.  He was such a kind, caring and loving individual that there is no way that could have or would have changed in him.  He loved everyone and everything and everyone and everything loved him.  

Even though Brian wrote feelings and emotions are the same as his....

Remember Me

I found this poem on a website but don't remember which one....however I wanted to share as today marks 5 months since Ian has passed.

Remember Me

To the living, I am gone,
To the sorrowful, I will never return,
To the angry, I was cheated,
But to the happy, I am at peace,
And to the faithful, I have never left.

I cannot speak, but I can listen.
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.
So as you stand upon a shore gazing at a beautiful sea,
As you look, upon a flower and admire its simplicity,
Remember me.

Remember me in your heart:
Your thoughts, and your memories,
Of the times we loved,
The times we cried,
The times we fought,
The times we laughed.
For if you always think of me, I will never have gone.

This photo was take approximately 2 weeks before Ian passed away at a friend Bar Mitzvah.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

In Honor of Ian's Memory - by Wyatt Sherman

Dear friends and family,

I am writing to you because I know I can count on you to help me raise money for my bar mitzvah project. 

Camp Simcha Special is a summer camp run by Chai Lifeline that enables over 250 children with special needs to experience summer camp life.

Every year, Camp Simcha launches the new summer season with an Opening Day celebration. During Opening Day, the kids are individually escorted through a tunnel and are greeted by the entire camp staff dressed up in costumes. A DJ and other fanfare creates an exciting environment for the campers.

My cousin Ian Scher was a camper at Camp Simcha . Ian suffered from an extremely rare degenerative disease that was a mutation on the VRK-1 gene. Although he was unable to move his body, Ian kept his fun loving attitude.

Ian especially loved the Opening Day entrance . His parents explained to me that watching him reminded them of when Charlie opened the door to the chocolate factory. When Ian got to the other side of the tunnel he felt like he could do anything he wanted. He was a fun loving kid at a sleep away camp who couldn't wait for his parents to leave, so he could start having fun.

Ultimately, Ian lost his battle with the disease September 15, 2016.
To honor his memory, I am raising money to donate to Camp Simcha to sponsor their Opening Day festivities.
Therefore, I am asking you to donate to this worthy cause.
Thank you- Wyatt Sherman

Please visit my personal page 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Me Too & Just Teens

Over the years, especially since Ian has passed away, Becca has been asking to met others like her...other siblings who are going through what she has, having a sibling who has a disease like Ian's. Well given how rare his disease is, we could not find anything like that...after he passed away she expressed the desire to meet other kids who had lost a sibling, again not an easy task. I put many feelers out while looking high and low on the internet. I came across a group called Compassionate Friends, a support group for those who have lost a child or a sibling. I thought great a place for all of us to go. After speaking with the facilitator of the local chapter, we determine that Becca was too young to go to one of the meetings. I then came across Me Too & Just Teens through Stella Maris. A retreat for kids 5-17 who have experiences a loss. According to their website, Me Too & Just Teens is a one-day retreat designed to help grieving children and teens learn ways to explore their grief through innovative techniques in a safe, therapeutic environment. I was hooked....signed her up and waited the 2 months for February 4th to arrive.

Brian and I dropped her off unsure if there would be anyone else who lost a sibling, we told Becca before that the loss could be a parent, grandparent, sibling, or anyone the child or teen lost. There was a brief introductory for kids and parents together, we found out then there were a few who had lost parents, grandparents and sibling (she was the only one). The hope was that it did not matter who lost who, just that she knew she was not alone in her grief, other teens had experienced a lost and they could relate to each other. After the introduction, the kids were separated into kids and teen groups, the parents and caregivers were pulled aside so one of the counselors could go over the day with us. We were also given a handout on grief in children. The counselor informed us there are 7 steps to remember in a child's grieving process:
(1) children need to be informed to make sense of the reality of the loss; (2) children need to experience and feel the pain of the loss; (3) children need time and space to express their sorrow through tears, talking, art and play; (4) children need to identify and express their range of feelings; (5) children need to know why others are sad and why they themselves are feeling sad; truth and understanding bring clarity; (6) children need to remember, revisit, review and relinquish their loss at each developmental stage of life, to the extent that their current understanding of loss allows; (7) children need to participate in rituals of remembering as a healing tool. Communication, information and a safe, supportive environment provide children the time to absorb the loss and reconstruct their new world. Grief is unique to each child, and the time for integration of loss is theirs alone.

At pick up, the kids and parents were back together where we got a feel for how the day went...most of the kids had smiles on their faces and were happy to be there. The counselor stated the retreat is done 4 times a year as well as there is an overnight camp at the end of April. Becca is excited to go to the overnight camp as well as another retreat. After the 5 hour retreat was over, we talked about the day...of course only what she would share. As she said they were only allowed to share what they talked about not what other teens talked about. Becca told us the morning started off with a icebreaker. Then it moved on to one of the hard parts, each child got to share their story...she said that was the hardest part of her and when she cried the most. By the time everyone was done sharing their story, lunch was had. After lunch, the counselors had them go through a meditation and explained meditation can be helpful with anxiety, grief, sadness, etc. She said the breathing helps to calm those feelings. In addition, they did some playing in sand (I'm unsure why as Becca didn't go into those details and we weren't going to force her). And then a coloring/drawling project. Becca showed us hers and what stood out to me was the slogan she put on it..."I love you to the moon and back".  She told us that the day was hard but knowing there were other teens who had lost like her was good.

There are no words...knowing we were able to find comfort for her while she is grieving is a relief.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Silver Award Project

For almost 50 hours, close to a year, Becca and her girl scout friends have been working on their silver project...Disability Awareness Day. Their moto is equality on the inside empathy on the outside. They had 6 stations on different disabilities....physical, learning, behavioral, speech, hearing and vision. The girls worked together to plan most of the event but when it came to their individual stations they did it all on their own. They became experts on their disability, answering all kinds of questions. There were approximately 30 Girl Scouts there ranging from 2nd to 6th grade, Becca and her friends did a great job leading the girls in the activities they had planned. They still have to do another run through of their project in order to video it for sustainability. 
Brian and I are beyond proud of all the girls but especially Becca for continuing to work on the project after Ian passed. He is the main reason they chose their project and are finishing it in his memory. Way to go girls!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Grief Stinks...And That is Saying It Nicely

There are plenty of books, websites, articles, etc regarding grief. The definition of grief, according to Web MD is: "Grief is a natural response to a loss of something or someone such as a death of a family member or friend, loss of a pet, divorce, retirement, and many other situations. Every person responds to loss differently." Also according to Web MD and other sources there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
  • Denial: When you first learn of a loss, it's normal to think, "This isn't happening." You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It's a defense mechanism. Denial has come and gone for me over the years, months, weeks, days, and minutes...There have been times when I don't believe Ian is gone. I come home from work and look to where his bed used to be waiting to hear the cluck for me to say hi. I get home from taking Becca to school in the morning, go upstairs to go into his room to say good morning and find out from his night nurse how he slept. Then reality comes back and I realize his bed is not there and his room is empty. 
  • Anger: As reality sets in, you're faced with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too. Over the years, anger has come and gone. Up until last night, I thought anger was gone for me, however, due to some recent situations, it's back. I spent some time crying, while yelling at the higher power that I HATE him. I am hoping the anger stage, I am currently in, doesn't stick around long. I know in my mind being angry doesn't get me anywhere. This is a time when the mind and the heart don't want to agree with each other. 
  • Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell on what you could've done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are "If only..." and "What if..." You man also try to strike a deal with a higher power. I think I have skipped this step. I have known that bargaining isn't and wouldn't get me any place. Once we learned Ian had VRK1 and the prognosis was grave, there were no "If only" or "What if". I knew it would not change so wasting time bargaining wasn't in my plan.
  • Depression: Sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful and lonely. Depression comes and goes for me. Over the years, I have struggled with depression. For me I feel anticipatory grief has played into my depression. The depression comes in different ways...crying, sadness, I wish the decreased appetite, staying in bed, not wanting to go out with others...all different ways. Sometimes, I am aware when it hits and try my best to not let it get away...I think that is all I can do.
  • Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can't be changed. Although you still feel sad, you're able to start moving forward with your life. I think this comes and goes as well for me. Years ago, I accepted Ian was going to pass. We didn't know when or how but we knew that VRK1 would physically take him from us. Just as in the denial stage, there are times I come home from taking Becca to school in the morning and don't think about going to check on him and see how is night was. There are times I have started moving forward with my life, I get up in the morning, go to work, go to the JCC to exercise, go out with friends, Brian, Becca and I go out there are times I have started moving forward. But I also know I have a long way to go. 

Every person goes through these phases in his or her own way. You may go back and forth between them, or skip one or more stages altogether. Reminders of your loss, like the anniversary of a death or a familiar song, can trigger the return of grief. Only 21 short weeks ago, we lost our sweet little man...only 21 long weeks ago we lost our sweet little man. From speaking with others who have lost a child, this is a life long journey, grief will come and go as the years come and go. Facebook brings up a memory and a smile comes to my face, I know there will be times when a memory brought up brings tears to my eyes, maybe it will bring both a smile and tears. This week, the loss of a friends husband, has brought back memories and the grief has gotten worse. Ian and Bernie are together, playing and having a great time. They are looking out for each other. Maybe they are playing catch together, maybe Bernie is teaching Ian some of Avi's favorite games or maybe Ian is making Bernie watch a spiderman movie with him. Regardless of what they are doing, I believe they are doing it together. 
Time will come and go and so will my grief in all the different stages...just one minute, day, week, month and year at a time. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

12 Things Harry Potter Taught Me About Grief

An article from

Children grieve family members they can't remember or never met.
Harry's parents died when he was a baby, before he was old enough to really remember them. Harry's grief for his parents, and his relationship with them, is a theme throughout the entire series. It's evident that Harry experiences an ongoing sense of loss because he never had his parents in his life. Not having known his parents doesn't diminish his grief.

Relationships continue even after a person dies.
Harry's relationship with his deceased parents continues throughout the series and this relationship is portrayed as normal and healthy. Harry learns about his parents through the memories of those who knew them and we see how his understanding of them changes as he learns for about them and as he himself ages. I'm not sure if JK Rowling was aware of the Continuing Bonds grief theory when she wrote the books, but Harry's ongoing and evolving relationship with his parent's memory (despite never having know them) perfectly embodies the ongoing connection many children maintain with deceased parents. This theme is reinforced later in the series with other loses Harry experiences, like Sirius and Dumbeldore.

Maintaining a relationship with those who have died can be wonderful and healthy, but it is important to also keep living.
In the very first book in the series, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone, eleven year old Harry discovers a mirror that shows him his deepest desires. When Harry looks in the mirror he sees his parents and other family members who have died. After that Harry becomes just a wee-bit obsessed and he visits the mirror regularly. As a reader there is a sense that the mirror is appealing but dangerous, sucking Harry into the hope for the reality he so desperately wants but that simply cannot exist. When Dumbledore realizes what Harry is doing he tells Harry that, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that." It is not until many books later that we learn Dumbledore understood Harry's grief and the pull of the mirror all too well when it's revealed that Dumbledore lost his entire family very early in life, and his own deepest desire was seeing his family alive and safe.

Grief can make even the most meaningful things in life feel empty and meaningless.
After meeting and building a relationship with his godfather, Sirius Black, Sirius dies and Harry is left to grieve another devastating loss. In the wake of this loss, a moment arises when Rowling writes, "He would have been so interested to know all this a few months ago, and now it was meaningless compared to the gaping chasm inside him that was the loss of Sirius, none of it mattered." In another instance, when Harry is in grave danger, Rowling describes Harry's apathy, "Sitting here on the edge of the lake, with the terrible weight of grief dragging at him, with the loss of Sirius so raw and fresh inside, he could not muster any great sense of fear." This is a feeling all too familiar to someone who has experiences a loss, but one that few children's authors have been willing or able to depict.

Sometimes family members are not the best source of grief support/support in general. 
After Harry's parents die he is placed in the care of his aunt and uncle who are...pretty terrible. Harry's aunt and uncle treat him horribly and have little sympathy for his grief. They lie to him about how his parents died and don't let him talk about or ask about his parents. It is not until Harry ends up at Hogwarts that he finds a community that is supportive of his grief and encouraging of developing a closer relationship with the memory of his parents.

You can grieve someone who is still alive.
Neville Longbottom is a classmate of Harry's at Hogwarts. In the forth Harry Potter book Harry learns Neville was raised by his grandmother because his parents were tortured into insanity by evil Death Eaters. Though there is much to Neville's role in the books and his unique relationship with Harry, it is here that Dumbledore helps Harry understand that both he and Neville grieve the tragic loss of parents, though Neville's parents are still living.

People who have experienced devastating losses often see the world in a way that is different than those who have not.
In Harry Potter this abstract concept plays our in a very concrete way. In Book 5 Harry sees something known as a Thestral, which is a dark, winged horse. Harry realizes that not everyone can see Thestrals and ultimately learns that 'The only people who can see Thestrals', she [Hermoine] said, 'are people who have seen death.' We learn that many Hogwarts students have not seen death, and therefore cannot see the misunderstood animals. Harry learns that he, Neville, Luna (and an unidentified member of the Slytherin house) can also see them. Though many fear them and see them as bad luck, Hagrid explains to the students that, "they're dead cleaver an' useful".

Life isn't fair and anyone can die.
You have to hand it to Rowling, she didn't create a sugar coated world for her readers. She didn't give us the happy endings we wanted, especially when killing off characters like Sirius and Dumbledore. Harry already lost both his parents as a baby, it just seems mean and unfair that these surrogate parents should have to die too! But even in the fantasy world of Hogwarts, we see the reality of life and death. People die--good people, wonderful people, important people--and it isn't fair, but it's true.

We grieve four-legged and feathered friends.
Harry Potter's beloved pet is Hedwig, an owl who first comes to Harry before he learns he is a wizard, when he is living miserably with his aunt and uncle. Though they don't exactly have an Old-Yeller style bond, the death of Hedwig is devastating. In an interview, JK Rowling once described this death as representing a loss of security for Harry, and also as marking the end of his childhood. If this loss crushed you, please accept JK Rowling's apology. In that same interview, she said she was sorry and knew the death upset a lot of people!

Learning things we didn't know about someone who died is....complicated.
Dumbledore is Harry's mentor and father-figure. He was also (literally) about 150 year old so, understandably, there is much Harry didn't know or understand about him. Needless to say, this is also often true about children and their parents or other adults. Throughout the series, Harry struggles with rumors that he hears about Dumbledore and he tries to make sense of things by piecing together what he knows with the things he discovers. As a reader we feel this lesson deeply. We, like Harry, have put a lot of trust and faith in Dumbledore throughout the series and it is confusing and unsettling when there are things about Dumbledore we don't know or understand. However, we learn as the series evolves that Dumbledore had his reason for being mysterious and there were many secrets that Dumbledore had wanted Harry to learn, but not until he was ready to understand them.

Depression can be soul-sucking and also difficult to explain.
JK Rowlings has been open about the ways in which experiencing both depression and grief have influenced the Harry Potter books. For example, the dementors "...are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness our of the air around them....Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked our of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself...soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life." Rowling has shared on numerous occasions that her experiences with depression was the inspiration for the dementors. This makes sense when you parallel Rowling's remarks about her own depression. "It's so difficult to describe depression to someone who's never been there, because it's not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it's that cold absence of feeling -- that really hollowed-out feeling."

The people we love are always with us, and that provides us strength.
There are so many Harry Potter moments that one can't help but see as metaphors for grief. Near the end of the series, though, Harry believes he is about to go to his death. At this moment the resurrection stone brings forth the ghost-like presence of his parents and other loved ones. His mother tells him they have been with him all along and when Harry asks them to stay with him, his mom confirms to him they will always be with him. I know I know, it might sound a little cheesey, but at a moment when Harry felt so utterly alone, this experience/reminder provided a palpable comfort and strength.