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GRASP Meeting Follow Up – May, 2016

Friday night we welcomed Karen, Valerie and Kim to our meeting, as always our arms and hearts open as they shared their stories and feeling with us.  A special mention to Kim (Linda's daughter), who has recently given birth to a beautiful baby girl Allie Ryan ....(her middle name was chosen in honor of her brother Tim's middle name....the name he loved most).  A beautiful example of showing the world how we keep our loved ones close to us always, because they are.♥
After a quick visit from Fr. Ken, and listening to his beautiful words of encouragement, our discussion began with sharing information regarding other sources of support outside of our group.  Many thanks to Denise for sharing her experience with **Good Shepard Hospice, and their Bereavement Group Workshop, as she continues to fill her "toolbox" with many coping skills needed to survive this devastating loss. I always encourage our members to find other ways to fill the month between our meetings....some ideas shared are:  Yoga, Meditation, Hiking / Nature walks, Art Classes, One on One counseling, Animal Shelter Volunteering, Assisting with Narcan Training, etc...Baby steps can lead to larger steps and oddly enough, these steps can lead us to places we never thought would be possible in our suffering.
As we went around our very large circle (one of the largest groups in attendance so far), we shared with each other ways in which we are coping with our loss.  As Mother's Day has passed, and Father's Day approaches, parents, siblings, sons and daughters feel the burning sting of these days in particular.  Siblings find themselves walking a fine line as they celebrate their beautiful Moms and Dads, while they understand and painfully acknowledge the sorrow and void that is ever present. And, for so many who have lost their parents at far to young of an age, we try our best to share with our children their spirit and loving bond that can never be broken.  Birthdays are arriving, also demanding a balance between gratitude and sorrow.  Emotionally exhausted, we continue to work, take care of our families needs, and function in a world that seems unaware of our struggle.  That is..., until we find ourselves opening up about our loss to those of our choosing.  In time, we find that there are many, many people who begin to share their struggles with us. We come to realize that a large part of our circle has been touched not only with tragedy as we have, but have also been touch by addiction disease.
Addiction is a disease, this is not an opinion, this is a medical fact. ( www.asam.org).  As more and more people speak out against the stigma, more and more help is being afforded to those affected.  I encourage everyone to do the research, and empower themselves with the knowledge of Addiction Disease, so that you are able to hold your head high when you speak of your loved ones courage as they battled an illenss that our society knew little about....until today.
"President Obama proposes $1.1 Billion in new funding to address the Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Use Epidemic."  "The President's Budget includes new mandatory funding to help ensure that all Americans who want treatment, get the help they need....." https://www.whitehouse.gov/2016.05.14, Three and a half years ago when our Billy passed away, nobody in the White House was talking about this epidemic, much less the President.  We are making strides in this effort, and although our heads hang low wishing we had this knowledge when our loved ones were suffering in silence.....the silence has been broken. There is no shame in disease whether it be Addiction, Alzheimer's, Cancer, AIDS, Depression, etc.  When the time comes and you can find your voice, become part of the solution and change the language and judgment that society has created.  Our loved ones were/are so much more than their Disease.♥♥

Peace to all,
Debbie

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April 2016

Last night we welcomed Janet and Santiago to our group with open arms.  Janet has been receiving our group emails for a few years now, however health related issues have prevented her from joining us.  I may have mentioned before,.....there are many people that I include in our emails even though they are not present at our meetings.  I find this can be a helpful tool for them to stay connected with us, and know that we are always here for them.
Our discussion was prompted by the recent article and obituary written by Kathleen Errico, for her daughter Kelsey, that has gone viral.  "The disease of addiction is merciless.  It is up to us to open our minds and hearts to those who are still sick and suffering.  Kelsey does not want us to cry for her, She wants us to fight for her.  She wants us to fight for her memory and all she believed.  She wants us to use our voices to speak up about what's happening to her generation.  She wants us to tell her story and never forget she was an amazing young woman with a bright future....not a statistic."
Many of us are struggling with the truth of our loved ones passing.  We may not be able to speak the words of "how" they passed. Perhaps because of the way our culture views addiction, we feel protective of their reputation, or maybe we are embarrassed of the reflection on us.  Others, are speaking out, as this mom is.  Spreading the word that addiction is a disease, and the only shame associated with this disease is the "stigma" that it is a moral failing.
We went on to discuss forgiveness.  Forgiving ourselves for whatever choices we made or didn't make regarding our loved ones life and recovery.  Forgiving ourselves for any regrets we may have associated with the idea that our parenting skills, or closeness with our sibling/loved one, may have been the reason for this outcome.  Knowing that it is human nature to try and rationalize, or lay the blame somewhere, we are trying to move over or around this obstacle that serves no purpose in our grief and healing.
"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change" - Wayne Dyer - One of my favorite quotes, and one that can be very useful on our journey.  Our loved ones are not to blame for their death, we are not to blame for their death.  We were blessed with the gift of their lives, and their love. Everyday we honor them by living our lives the best we can, keeping them close to our heart.  We are proud of their many accomplishments while on this earth, and continue to love them, letting this love guide us.  Love never dies....Energy never dies ♥

We ended the meeting with a surprise.  Although I hesitated to share in a group setting, as I didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.....once again, I felt the "need" to share and open up as I knew someone in our meeting room would benefit, and it did :)   Theresa Caputo a.k.a "The Long Island Medium" came to our home for a group reading a few days before Easter Sunday.  The timing couldn't have been better, as we received many healing messages and validation. Of course, I will let all of you know when it will be aired on TLC.  I do realize that many people find this quite "far fetched" or perhaps they view those who connect with mediums to be in "denial," and that's fine for them, as long as they are not upset by those who do believe.  All I can say is...."eventually, we will all know the truth."  ♥
Peace to all,
Debbie

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February 2016

Friday night we welcomed Mike, Claire and Michael to our group. As always our arms and hearts were opened wide as we spoke of our loss, our love and our lives as we make this profound adjustment without the physical presence of our loved ones. We have come to understand that although our grief is as individual as we are, we do share many similar emotions and feelings that can sometimes leave us in a state of continued despair and confusion.  Empowering ourselves with the knowledge of Addiction and the Human Brain is the first step to overcoming the blame and guilt demons that may choose to occupy space in our minds.  Coping strategies such as writing, reading (positive self-help literature), meditation, talking with a professional / clergy etc...we can begin to see some light through the storm.

Perhaps doing "one" thing to honor your loved one can put you on a different course on this journey.  As time goes by you may want to do something else for your loved one, and so on.  Larry, Chrissy and I have learned that when the storm begins to clam down, it really doesn't matter how our loved ones died, what in fact matters is that they "Lived and Loved!"   We were chosen to have the privilege and honor of receiving their love and loving them......and we know "Love never Dies".
I wish all of you some Peace filled days ahead.
Warm Regards,
Debbie

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December 2015

As we gathered Friday night, we listened to music (playlist created by Chrissy :) from summer BBQ) enjoyed delicious appetizers, lasagna and amazing desserts. We discussed ways of protecting ourselves from hurtful comments regarding Addiction Disease. Some of our members attend various meetings between our monthly group, and reminded me why we began our Chapter In the first place. Ours is a group that has empathy and compassion for every... story that is shared. We have knowlege empowerment regarding Addiction Disease. And, above all else, we respect, encourage and support each other.
If you do plan to attend an outside meeting (other than GRASP), remember to protect yourself and understand that there are many people who "blame" those with Addiction Disease. As if those who died in any other way should be held on a pedestal. Actually, I believe the day will come when our society will understand that those who suffer with Addiction Disease are the most courageous and brave, trying to fight a disease while the people closest to them tell them the choice is theirs. I'd like to see the reaction of a Cancer patients face if someone told them to make a choice!
Our group has grown to a place where we can journey down the road of spirituality, synchronicities and have a discussion of higher purpose. Coming together last night, sharing photos of our loved ones, certainly exposed our strength and courage. On social media I hash tagged our photo "we are warriors," we truly are

Best wishes for a Peace filled Holiday Season.

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GRASP Meeting Follow Up – Feb 2015

Many thanks to all who attended last nights meeting. For many it was courageous just walking through the door. We welcomed Stuart, Shelly, Tova, Larry, Carol, Lee, Mike and Annette. The sharing of stories, thoughts and emotions left us connected in an understanding of our loss and compassion for each other. This new terrain of indescribable grief brings us through a journey that enables us to see life with new eyes. We are no longer concerned with the "little things" that had impact on us. In many ways, it's the pain of grief that brings us to a transformation and clearer understanding of life. We understand that we all grieve different, our coping strategies are different, and most of our grief work is done alone, but that doesn't mean we can't come to a place that can actually bring us closer. Showing compassion for each other and "how" we grieve can grow a different love and understanding. Wishing everyone some peace this month as you continue your journey through the storm.

Debbie and Larry Garceau
South Shore Grasp - The Garceau Family
www.grasphelp.org

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December 2014

As we gathered for what we thought would be the meeting we are most familiar with, we were informed and all shared very heavy hearts for Frank and Margaret; who lost their second son (less than a year apart) on December 8th due to a car accident. We were, of course, all taken back by this devastating news and gave our ears and hearts... to them as they shared this tragic story of yet another unthinkable loss for their family.

We went on to discuss how each person on this earth experiences loss at different stages in their lives and how life (especially as we know it now), is a series of losses. In my great effort to "understand" such tragedy, not only with our situations but with the state of the world today; I continue to come back to the word "gratitude."
We have all been blessed with the presence and love of our loved ones lives, and although they are not with us in this physical place we know (or struggle with knowing) that they still remain with us in a loving bond that can never end.
I'd like to take this a step further and have each of you think about your life and how it would have been without the lives of those who have gone before us. The experiences, the joy, the laughter, the LOVE....Could you even imagine how your life would be if they never existed? Living in a state of gratitude isn't for the weak.....as it takes great courage to bring yourself to a place where you leave behind the "what could have been" or the "my life will never be the same." Our lives WILL never be the same, and that gives purpose to our losses....if we try to keep our eyes, mind and hearts open we begin this "whole other journey" through a life that begins to reveal the depths of our existence, with a clearer understanding and knowledge that we couldn't have learned in school, or books, etc...It's almost like a Super Power where we have this new strength to decide how we live and who we choose to share it with. No need to impress anyone, or waste precious time doing things we have no value for. And while not everyone believes......I do believe it is our loved ones who guide us on this new path. From our family to yours, best wishes for a blessed holidays and wishes for continued enlightenment in the New Year xoxo

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GRASP Meeting Follow up – September 2014

Hi to all,

Gathering this month we welcomed with open arms new members, Margaret and Frank, Donna, Terry and Robin. As well as Patti and Steven, returning.  Understanding the newness of their grief as well as meeting with us for the first time, we praise them for their courage and focus. As the night evolved we shared stories, and shared some strategies of healing. Trying to lift each other is never easy.  So many reasons why we shouldn't feel peace after loosing our loved one, or we just can't feel anything - like a blockage.  Giving ourselves "permission" to grieve, cry, yell and scream, write it out, read - read- read (positive self help books etc.) or just be quiet.....tune out the world and "be" with your loved one in thoughts, making a scrapbook of pictures, a quilt from their clothing, remembering the "good times."  Grief work isn't easy, it takes lots of hard work. 
Keeping in mind all the while that a passing from substance can complicate our grief. Our society has misconceptions of this disease, even though it is documented in all journals of medicine that "Addiction is a Disease of the Brain."  As we discussed, I have attached the link to the Dr. Kevin McCauley Video.  Please set some time aside and really give attention to this explanation of WHY Addiction is a Disease.  Those who have loved ones that pass from other diseases feel the surrender of power, while we dwell on so many "what if's" and "why them."  Believe me I also continue to do this!.... but understanding our son Billy had a disease of the brain helps us to mourn his passing with the respect and dignity that he deserves. 
Peace to all,
Debbie Garceau
South Shore Grasp - The Garceau Family
www.grasphelp.org

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GRASP Meeting Follow Up – January 2014


As we welcomed three new families, we shared in their pain of loss for their loved ones. As we begin to share our stories and feelings, we take solace in knowing that we can share, cry, laugh and even yell surrounded by those who understand.  Many have joined the GRASP Facebook Closed Group (I believe everyone was accepted by Marilee over the weekend).  For some, this can be used as another tool to vent, share stories, post pictures - once again surrounded by an empathetic community of sincere people.

I began this email speaking of a family event this past weekend....I just want to share a story:   Four months after Billy passed, it was my sister's 70th Birthday and I remember how difficult it was to participate.  Although we were surrounded by all of our loved ones who were supportive of our loss, as they too were in pain -  the reality of Billy not physically being there was just too much to bare.  The physical pain of grief was very real, and although I kept my mask on for my sister and the family, I remember coming home and throwing myself on Billy's bed, just crying my eyes out.  Awake most of the night crying and wondering how would I be able to go on.

Fast forward 10 months (14 months total) - still raw in my grief, but it's different now.  With lots of work, professional help as well.....I got dressed (It was a Black Tie affair), Chrissy looked beautiful, Larry in a Tux and of course, I pictured how Billy would look - so handsome I knew.... and that was the vision in my head as I put on my "anchor locket" and truly participated in the celebration of my great niece getting Bat Mitzvah'd (yes we have all religions and nationalities in our family - a true blessing). At the Candle Lighting my beautiful hearted great niece called all of our names "including" Billy's name to light one of her 13 candles.  I have come to realize, that because we have continued to include Billy in all of our events, discussions, etc...that others are doing the same.  His friends are a great example of this as well, as they post their thoughts or text me.....another support group I suppose.  Well, I know we all have much work to do just to function daily - but try to keep in mind good thoughts, thoughts that might bring some peace and calm to this horrific storm.

Regards,
Debbie

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