Episode 58: How does a parent meet life after the death of a child? In this episode, we talk with father, author, and director Colin Campbell about how he’s finding ways to live his life “with hope and purpose” after his two teen children, Ruby and Heart, were killed in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. We discuss the many challenges of intense grief and how parents can find their way through those darkest of times and into light again. Two other parents contribute stories about their grief after losing children to suicide and overdose. Also with us for this conversation is psychotherapist, grief specialist, and writer Kara Bowman. Join us for this honest, tender, and surprisingly hopeful conversation.
Broadcasts: 9/2/23 & 9/211/23
Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production and Patrice Vecchione for story coaching. And thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing, and donating the use of our theme music.
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* Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource
The Compassionate Friends: Supporting Family after a Child Dies – a national organization providing information and support for families who have lost a child. Website has an online meeting finder to locate the nearest meeting.
We Need Not Walk Alone –a free e-magazine by The Compassionate Friends featuring articles by and for parents, siblings, and grandparents who are grieving the death of a child in their family.
*The Compassionate Friends of Santa Cruz – a self-help organization providing hope, personal comfort, and support to families experiencing the death of a child, sibling, or grandchild and helps others better assist the grieving process. The Compassionate Friends of Santa Cruz has no religious affiliation and offers monthly support groups in person and online.
Grieving.com – a global community offering online support forums, including one specifically for loss of a child.
Helping After Neonatal Death (HAND) of the Bay Area – virtual and in-person peer support to parents and their loved ones who are grieving the loss of a baby before, during or after birth. Also offers online resources.
Heartbreak to Hope: Poems of Support for Grief and Loss by Kara Bowman (2021) – a sensitive and poetic accompaniment to the journey through grief. It captures much of the darkness and difficulty of that journey while holding out hope that through those difficulties one can still get to a sense of peace–even growth.
Finding the Words: Working Through Profound Loss with Hope and Purpose by Colin Campbell (2023) –a powerful account of one father’s journey through unimaginable grief, offering readers a vision for how to more actively and fully mourn profound loss.
Grieving to Gorecki’s 3rd by Tim J. Woods. August 18 2022 – a blog post written about the suicide death of his 23 year-old son, the profound grief he’s experienced and how he has come to bear that grief in a way that keeps him connected with his son.
Listen to Tim Woods’ favorite version: Henryk Gorecki ● Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 – Symphony No.3, Op.36 “Symfonia pieśni żałosnych” (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs) (1976) – Conductor David Zinman, Dawn Upshaw (Soprano) And The London Sinfonietta – Henryk Gorecki, Composer (1933-2010)
The Unspeakable Loss: How Do You Live After a Child Dies? by Nisha Zenoff – a book written by a grief counselor and psychotherapist whose own son died.
Just Enduring: Living and Loving after Child Loss – website offering an array of guidance for the bereaved parents and for their friends and family. Specific guides for what to do after a child dies and helpful blogs on topics like surviving the holidays, getting therapy, engaging with meaningful rituals and more.
Open to Hope – over 7,000 searchable articles on loss, including loss of child.
Child Stats: Forum on Child and Family Statistics – national statistics on child an adolescent mortality through 2021.
Herbal supplement kratom targeted by lawsuits after a string of deaths – NPR news story on Weekend Edition Saturday. Reported by Peter Haden. Updated July 24, 2023, 8:22 AM ET (7-minute listen).
Colin’s Book and Self-Care Recommendations
Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore – “This was the first grief book I read, and one of the best. I sent copies to everyone in my family. It was a way for me to let them all know that I was going to actively grieve for my children, which meant talking about them and my grief.”
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine – “This grief book has many pearls of wisdom. One of the most impactful ones for me was how she delineates between the healthy and necessary pain of loss versus the unhealthy and unhelpful suffering that can so often accompany us in our grief. The tools she gave have helped me avoid much of that suffering.”
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl – Frankl is a Holocaust survivor who writes powerfully about searching for meaning and purpose even in the darkest of times. “I find his writing to be inspirational and practical.”
Support of Nature: “Staring out at the ocean, or desert, or mountaintop panorama and taking in the vastness of nature has helped me endure the pain of my loss. When I am thinking about the immensity of geological time, it helps give me some perspective on my loss. And the beauty of it all gives me some solace as I grieve.”
* Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource