10 types of support The Shore Grief Center provides

 

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Participating at a Shore walk in 2014.

  1. First and foremost, we hold grief support groups each month for those grieving the death of a significant person in their life.
  2. Provide a group, Cameron’s Kids grief group, for children ages 6 – 12. This consists of six consecutive weeks with a meal provided before the group starts. We hold this once or twice each year – depending on the need.
  3. Provide a group just for teens (13-18). Save the Teens grief group is held for eight consecutive weeks. We have lots to teach the teens such as healthy ways to deal with their grief; not by using drugs or self-harm.
  4. Beyond the in-person groups, I answer calls from grieving adults, concerned friends and family, school counselors, mental health facilities and more requesting information about our services. Those grieving deserve, and receive, a soothing voice to help them through a confusing death (suicide, drug overdose or other expected death). There calls come in at all times during the day and night.
  5. We also provide comfort and information on our websites and Facebook pages (The Shore, Bereaved Parents, Save the Teens, and Wake Forest SOS). We are considering adding a closed Facebook group and are seeking volunteers to monitor the group.
  6. Provide support for those who have lost someone to suicide. This type of death slaps “survivors” in the face. Survivors are unclear why their loved ones choose to die. Just walking into a SOS group helps because you see there are other people who understand your pain and confusion. These groups helped me survive in 2005 when my 18-year old son choose death over life.
  7. Provide groups and support parents who have lost a child of any age. The death can be from drug overdose, murder, suicide, vehicle accident, illness – any type of death. The Bereaved Parents groups are here for them. We currently have groups in Wake Forest, Cary, Youngsville and Wilson for bereaved parents.
  8. Provide a sounding space for those grieving to express their fears, concerns, and even relief sometimes, after a death. We don’t judge or tell anyone how to feel or act. This allows bonds to form between group members who “get” how they’re feeling.
  9. Hold events where everyone can come together and relax and have a good time. Our next event (for anyone) is on 3/23. It’s our annual Comfort Food Cook Off. Click for additional details.
  10. Keep our main website, the Shore Grief Center, current with upcoming groups and events as well as helpful information and resources.

I hope this illustrates the depth and breadth of exactly what The Shore Grief Center does for those grieving.

Thanks for learning more.

Carolyn

http://carolynzahnow.com/

 

Pet loss – let’s feel free to talk about it

I have always felt strongly about the connection between adolescent’s loss of a pet and depression or at least grief. So much so, I held a talk for the public about pet loss and grief. I hired a pet loss expert and then it was lightly attended. It could have been that it was a Saturday afternoon but I really think people are afraid to say, “I miss my pet!”

Yesterday I was invited to share pet loss information at a huge dog event. It was a strange speaking situation in that no one was sitting directly in front of me – or even on the side – it was outside. I did see one little girl listening intently so maybe I reached one person. I let her know that her feelings do matter and it’s normal and okay to miss your dog or cat when they die.

Today’s pets in the U.S. live as long as 20 years (some cats even longer!).  Anything, animal or human, that lives with you for a long time becomes part of you. Your routines are based on their needs. Your needs are based around their routines.

For example, my alarm clock goes off in the morning at 6:25 am. I know that Sheila (our cute little Sheltie mix) will be ready to go outside and then eat her breakfast.

It’s expected and I gladly do it for the happiness she brings me everyday. I’m rewarded when I get home at the end of the day with her little nose right there at the door waiting to welcome me home. She then jumps up on my legs, ready to provide a kiss if I need one.

Sheila is 11 years old and I am so fearful of the day that she can no longer be here for us. Or that we can no longer be here for her. See how it works?

She is showing her age by moving slower and not wanting to play for long. And she’s gained some gray hairs on her muzzle. But she’s still our girl.

The reason for my extreme attachment is that Sheila was at home the morning I found my son after he died by suicide.

That morning was quite chaotic but I seem to remember putting her in the guest bedroom downstairs after EMS and the police showed up. I don’t think she went upstairs when I was up there with Cameron. She was probably scared!

When I was asked to go to the hospital with my son that morning, I was worried about Sheila. I told the detective to be sure not to let her out. He promised he’d leave via the garage so she would be safe in the house.

She has been my comfort, as well as some humans, ever since.

There are two other pets I had that I still miss to this day. I had other cats and a couple of dogs but Albert and Canzas lived longer than the others so those are the ones that remain in my memory.

Albert was a beautiful black cat that had a penchant for fighting. His ears were gnarled up from fighting other cats. He came into my life, gosh I don’t remember how, but he grew up with Canzas. Canzas was an Irish Setter we acquired in Memphis and then moved to San Diego with us and later to Raleigh. Canzas was a bit daffy but sweet all the same.

Canzas was seven when he died. A vehicle on Highway 70 in Raleigh hit him. We lived on Ebenezer Church Road quite close to 70. We always just let him outside, which was the norm during those days.

One night a band member came over and I shooed Canzas outside since we lived in a small space. He didn’t come back that night. Our neighbor came over to give us the sad news. He even offered to bury our beloved pet for us in the woods which we accepted. Losing Canzas was as hard on my first husband as it was for me.

Albert met his demise while I was living in Five Points on New Road. Albert was an indoor/outdoor cat. He loved it that way. He was a frequent visitor of our next-door neighbors, an older couple who loved Albert, too.

When he didn’t come in one morning, I suspected he was at my neighbor’s house. But instead the neighbor came over and told me that a pack of wild dogs had killed Albert. In Raleigh – wild dogs! I couldn’t believe it. I took Albert, wrapped him a quilt and buried in my to-be-husband’s back yard. Albert was 11 years old at his death.

I have gone over my time here. I have provided resources for those affected by pet loss on The Shore Grief Center’s website. You can find it here – go to the bottom of the page to Pet Loss and Grief. Take time to heal after you lose a cherished pet. You have every right to grieve – don’t apologize for it.

Take care of your pets and yourself.

Please share with your friends, families and neighbors! Thanks.

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Sheila and Carolyn Sept 2014

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Albert

Carolyn Z

Two / nine years – celebration and remembrance

The Shore Grief Center officially turns 2 years old on August 10, 2014! This is cause for celebration for many reasons. The biggest is, if a business is going to fail, it’s within the first two years. We continue to grow and want to do more!

The nine years part; that’s the anniversary date of my son’s death which was on August 11, 2005. Yes, I know, how ironic that the Shore’s anniversary date and my son’s death are only one day apart. Cameron must have been looking down upon me that day saying, “Go for it Mom. Go out and help those who are struggling with a death or considering suicide. If anyone can do it, you can.”

I know in my heart that I have touched others and helped them along their grief journey. People share that with me often. I never considered myself a savior by any means; just someone who knows the hurt and confusion when someone you love dies, and unexpectedly.

My son experienced death too early in his life. His dad died when he was almost 15 years old. Cameron did not live with his dad during that period but he did when he was 6 years old until the 6th grade.

A bit of background info; I was left by my first husband, Cameron’s dad, to raise him on my own when Cameron was a mere three months old. This was quite shocking and unexpected. I lived in a fantasy world for a year thinking that my husband would come back and love us. That didn’t happen. I remember the phone call clearly to this day…”I don’t love you any more. I won’t be moving back.” My heart was ripped into pieces. 123952412_6d42c1429e_q

How was I was going to raise a baby by myself? Surely I must have done something wrong. I kept this secret that my husband no longer lived with us for a year. Only two of my closest friends knew the truth and they helped me along this new path which was laid out in front of me.

The path took shape; I went back to college to receive a BA degree in Communications at NCSU, met a wonderful man who loved me and my son, traveled to other countries, lived in beautiful houses – overall life was much improved.

Life changed again after my ex’s death though. Cameron’s grief turned into major depression and was fueled by teen angst, alcohol and meth addiction. Then his death by suicide. Yet another path was to be formed.

I left my heart and mind open so the powers greater than me would lead me where I could sort all this out. And I can happily say it has all culminated with the creation of The Shore Grief Center.

I hope we can help you one day in some way. We’re here for you and your family. Thank you for your continued care, love and support.

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10 Things Crutches Have Taught Me

ImageOn December 19th I had ankle surgery. It was nothing major – arthroscopy – the surgeon peeked in, cleaned up lots of scar tissue and got out that annoying piece of cartilage that had been floating around for too long. Two minor cuts and now scars. Yet I have recovery to do in order to get my ankle working correctly again.

Which meant learning to walk on crutches.

I have never in my 50+ years broken any bones requiring me to use crutches. But I have learned much while being stifled on my metal “sticks.”

  1. The handicapped restroom should be used as a last resort if you’re out in public and you aren’t handicapped. I have struggled to get into the regular stall in our office building and it isn’t fun!
  2. People are generally very nice when they see me coming. I hope to be more accommodating when I see someone in my current state.
  3. When not in use, lay crutches on the floor. Otherwise when leaned against the wall which I like to do, they tend to fall down by themselves – a lot!
  4. Dogs don’t like falling crutches or when you accidentally swope them when walking. Sheila, my dog, could probably write a book about this!
  5. Going out to eat is a whole new challenge! A restaurant is best because people bring food to you. Fast food – not so good. You can’t walk with crutches and carry a tray of food. And you can’t take your leftover drink with you either!  P.S. I miss the salad bar at Whole Foods 😦
  6. Walking around without crutches when it’s not time, is not a good idea! I was angry at my “handicap” so went to lunch with a friend the other day without them. I paid dearly the next day. Fortunately my physical therapist fixed me up!
  7. Crutches are adjustable – mine at set at 5’9″ and I’m 5’7 3/4″. This adjustment makes them fit under my arms better. Play with them to make them work for you.
  8. They have devices called knee walkers which must be heaven if you know you’re going to be on crutches for a long time. But then it must be a pain if you go anywhere in a car.
  9. People don’t understand “toe touch” walking with crutches. Of course, I have gotten a little sloppy with my toe touch but hey! that’s what my doctor said I could do!
  10. Don’t break any leg bones or a hip so I don’t ever have to use “sticks” again! That’s my final lesson from my ordeal.

Friday is my last day on crutches!

Well, maybe I’ll use one for a bit until I’m walking without pain but that’s an improvement in my book!