Elizabeth Edwards: Can death letter, Council of Dads help kids cope with parent’s death?

I was saddened to read about Elizabeth Edwards death and keep thinking about her children. She is survived by 28 year-old daughter Cate, 12-year-old daughter Emma Claire and 10-year-old son Jack. And I am sure each age brings a different struggle with losing your mother.

Edwards has known about her cancer for a while and knew she would die from it so it makes sense that she started preparing the children to live without her. I was interested to read about her “death letter” to the children.

The Associated Press reports:

“Before her initial diagnosis with cancer, Edwards began writing a letter to her children with advice they could use after she died — such as how to choose a church or a spouse. The message became more poignant in her final years, brought home when Jack once asked who would be the grandmother to his children.”

From Healthland on Time.com:

“Letters from deceased parents become treasures, says Grace Christ, a professor of social work at Columbia University, who once led a community group where a mother dying of cancer wondered aloud whether she should tell her children how sick she was. Another participant, a man in his fifties, shared that his father had written him a letter before he died. ‘I’ve had it with me every day of my life,’ he said.”

“Now that Edwards is gone, her children — like any children whose parents have died — will have to grieve, then carry on. But unlike other children in similar circumstances, the announcement of each stage of their mother’s battle with cancer was headline news. ‘Everything is so public in that family,’ says Christ, who is also author of Healing Children’s Grief: Surviving a Parent’s Death from Cancer.”

“In her book — an analysis of 88 families and 175 kids who were tracked by a  study before and after their parents died — Christ found that when children were appropriately prepared, a parent’s death actually brought relief. ‘Death is always shocking even when you’re prepared,’ says Christ, who says it’s important for a dying parent to emphasize three things — I love you, I don’t want to leave you, it’s not your fault. ‘But you can prepare them so that after, they are able to begin to move ahead with their lives. There is a kind of confidence.’ ”

Christ says it’s also important for the children to know who is going to care for them and what will happen. Time says John Edwards had moved back into the family home and it is believed he will care for the children.

” ‘You want the kids to leave with the feeling that their mother loves them and wishes wonderful things for them, that they will be taken care of,” she says. “Then the mourning takes place after.’ “

My husband lost his mother when he was 20 and his brother was just 13. They were both heartbroken by her loss but each faced different issues. Michael was pretty much grown but still missed her terribly. His brother was so young and will still being formed. He needed her daily care as well as her guidance.

Michael saw last summer an article about the Council of Dads. The basic gist is that when a parent is dying they designated several people, not just one, to help guide their child through life. It really makes sense to me. You may have one friend that’s great with money so you want that person to help your child with that area, and maybe another friend is very compassionate and loving so you want that person to help them with personal issues and teach them how to love. I think having a dedicated support group around you would be comforting for a child. The question is could you muster such a group?

So what do you think of the death letter (or written or recorded advice) from a parent? What do you think of the Council of Dads idea? Do you know who you would appoint? Do you have a plan in case of death? What do you think provides kids with the most comfort and security after losing a child?

(We have two topics up: Please check out our topic on Ted Turner. He says parents around the world should only be allowed one child. And suggests that poor people could sell their “fertility rights” to rich people. Please discuss.)

(AJC reporter Katie Leslie is working on a story about Elizabeth Edwards death. If you would like to share your thoughts on Elizabeth, her death or her children, please contact Katie.Leslie@ajc.com. She’s looking for moms, wives and husband to share their insight.)

49 comments Add your comment

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Tom

December 7th, 2010
11:31 pm

I am saddened to hear of the death of Elizabeth Edwards. I read her book Saving Graces (http://amzn.to/hwDXTF) several years ago and really enjoyed it. It gave me great insight into what it feels like to lose a child and battle cancer. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

[...] all 8 news articles »Via Elizabeth Edwards: Can death letter, Council of Dads help kids cope with … – Atlanta Jou… [...]

DB

December 7th, 2010
11:37 pm

My sympathies go out to the Edward’s family — Elizabeth was a class act.

I think that the first, best thing that a parent can do is have a will and a guardianship plan thought out for their minor children. I am continually shocked at how few parents have a will and a plan — it’s always one of those things they’ll “get around to” or they assume a family member will take up the slack. When our children were younger and asked the inevitable question of “who would take care of me if you and Daddy died?” we were able to answer it firmly and confidently and give them a sense that they wouldn’t be shuffled off to the orphanage, and that there would be funds available for them to be able to go to college.

I don’t know what I would put in a letter. Hard things to consider — I guess you have to be in that frame of mind before it crystallized.

JATL

December 8th, 2010
12:30 am

I’m so sorry for her children. I think she was a smart and classy lady, and it’s always very sad to see someone die like this. I’m still getting over my own mother’s death too much to contemplate what I would put in a letter to my children without completely losing it. I hope it’s not a question I truly ever have to face before they’re grown.

My boys have a fantastic Godmother. If both my husband and I were killed, she and her husband and family would gain custody of them because I have no siblings and my husband only has half sisters in California. Before my mother died, she was insistent that she and my father would take them, but we always side-stepped that issue because we knew it would be too much for them to handle (my children are 2 and 4 and my parents are 73 (Dad) and my mother was 64 when she died). My mother-in-law couldn’t handle both of them on her own and neither could my father-in-law who is out of state. Their Godmother has been my best friend for 16 years and we are eerily similar. She also has young children and her value system, beliefs, goals for her kids, etc. are very much in line with ours. If I knew I was dying, I would ask her and my husband to make sure she was always an active and guiding force in my children’s lives as well as a number of our other friends who are their “aunties.”

LG

December 8th, 2010
6:40 am

My sister in law died of cancer last January. She died four weeks after finding out she had it. In her last week, she dictated death letters to my brother and my niece and nephew (23 year old twins). They were instructed to read them when they were ready. My niece told me that she had read her and it helped a lot. I imagine it will help when she gets married and when she had kids too.

shaggy

December 8th, 2010
6:50 am

I can only say that there is a certain feeling of being alone in the universe when you have lost both parents, even though you have kids, spouse, brothers, and sisters. It is really hard to describe, except a deep loneliness.
I have a couple of close friends that agree with this hard to describe feeling. They are my climbing partners and practically brothers. We have held each other’s life in our hands, and you don’t get BS from that kind of relationship.

shaggy

December 8th, 2010
7:07 am

Oh, I should also add that we have a survivor pact to help each other’s family in the event of death. If we all go at once, which I guess is a remote possibility, I guess our respective families would pull together anyway.

mom of 3

December 8th, 2010
7:18 am

@Shaggy – I am right there with you. I lost my dad in Mar of this year so I have no parents. Even though I am older and have children and about to have a grandson when dad died it was like I was completely alone. During the holidays I find myself feeling empty because a big part of me is missing. I know how you feel and it feels good to know someone shares this feeling.
My husband lost his dad unexpectedly when he was only 18 and had 3 younger siblings. 2 of them were below the age of 7. The sister doesn’t remember anything about her dad and is constantly asking Will if he has had his physical and all the heart test. It is as if she is scared that he will die and leave her just like her dad. So I don’t know if children ever get over the death of a parent at a young age because it is almost as if she feels abandoned.
God bless and keep the Edward children close.

BShepC

December 8th, 2010
7:44 am

She was a very class lady. God bless her children…

I think a great, great example of leaving something behind for you children is Randy Pauch’s book, “The Last Lecture”. Not only was it an incredible memoir to leave behind for his kids, but a wonderful book to read when you are feeling overwhelmed by..well, just everything. I’ve read it more than once and my husband keeps it on the dresser drawer, out for us to see it and remember what REALLY matters. I cry every time I read it.

JATL

December 8th, 2010
7:50 am

@Shaggy -you are SO right! I still have my father, and I’m thankful for that, but losing my mother last year left me with such an incredibly lonely feeling. Even with my father alive, I feel like an orphan -a big ‘ol 40 year old orphan. It’s a loneliness I can’t seem to shake even though I’m married with two children and many wonderful friends and family members. I can only imagine what it will feel like when my father dies. I hope that’s a long time coming. I really appreciate you posting that. I’ve only read one grief book that touched on it and it’s not a common feeling I’ve heard from others who have lost loved ones. I don’t know if adults with families of their own are embarrassed to admit it or what -or maybe just some of us feel that way -but it’s a deeper loneliness than I’ve ever felt. At times it’s overwhelming. I really feel for the Edward’s children -especially those little ones.

Jeff

December 8th, 2010
8:15 am

I think what she has done is great and I’m glad it appears she and Jon may have come to some type of reconciliation (whatever that means for them) so he could be by her side in the end.

I have mixed emotions about a parent passing on. It’s going to be very difficult when my father goes but I also know that other grown ups have had to let go before so I don’t want it to become “poor me”.

Knowing the nature of my ex and our current strained relationsip, I know my wishes for my daughter will most likely not be followed. That is why I have made my sister the beneficiary and manager of my daughter’s trust fund (from life insurace) so that my plan will be carried out. I’ve written a couple of letters to my daughter that I will give her later in lilfe so she understands better what I (and our marriage) went through. I was advised to do it earlier in life by a trusted confidant, and it’s worked out well so far.

Lawrencevillemom

December 8th, 2010
8:16 am

I lost my parents a long time ago but still feel the void. Dad when I was 23, after 12 years of being sick/debilitated. My Mom died in 2001 when I was 33 – we were fortunate to have her for 4 years after a brain bleed and a stroke in 1997. I think the death letter idea is a really good one – I have a friend who did that for her daughter …letters for her to open when she turned 16, when she developed her first crush, when she graduated. Luckily my friend recovered and her daughter is now almost 17 but now she has been diagnosed/treated for breast cancer – thank God the prognosis is good so maybe she won’t need the letters.

It is vitally important to have a will and make arrangements for your kids but also remember to review them periodically as things change. We realized recently that our will still had a guardianship arrangement for our girls (one is almost 20) and that now we need to arrange a trust to handle the estate (such as it will be) to ensure that they aren’t handed a sum of money with no guidance.

Denise

December 8th, 2010
8:52 am

My uncle was killed this weekend in a car accident and he has a 33 year old, 25 year old and a 21 year old. They have their mothers (2 different – he was 16 when #1 was born) but all are struggling right now. I’m sure part of it is because it is new but part of it is the fact that he is gone forever. That is MY struggle. I wish there was something to hold on to from him so I think the letter and the council of dads or whatever support that can be put in place is a great idea.

DB

December 8th, 2010
9:26 am

When my father’s parents died within six months of each other (at age 96 and 94), I was in my early 30’s, and remember being a little surprised when my father, in his mid-50’s, said glumly, “I guess I’m an orphan, now.” It never occurred to me that someone with children and grandchildren could feel like an orphan, but it was a great insight.

M1chelle

December 8th, 2010
9:28 am

I could barely watch the news coverage about Elizabeth Edwards because I felt so bad for her kids. I lost my mom at the age of 27. She passed after 3 months of being diagnosed with pancratic cancer. I took it very hard. The pain seemed to be emotional and physical – like my heart physically hurt. Ten years later, I can hear a song or have a memory that brings me to sob. I am now paranoid that something will happen to my dad, but I have pushed him to get more of his things in order so there are no issues.

I have thought about a death letter, but it seems so hard to do which makes it easier to procrastinate. So, my thought was to keep a journal for each of my kids so that they have a record of how I felt about things and what they were like throughout life from my point of view. One other thing I am going to do is to write my obitiuary and funeral program. I have helped many family members with this and we’re left wondering what we should include/not include to best honor our loved one.

motherjanegoose

December 8th, 2010
9:29 am

@Denise, I am so sorry for you!

@ BShepC…I too have read that book and thought it was profound.

My condolences to the Edward’s family.

For those of you who had a wonderful relationship with your Mothers…you are very lucky.
For those who still do, you are blessed.

I lost my Mother 15 years ago and I have never felt a void. Very sad but true. We were never close. She had her agenda and often it did not include her children…even though she never worked outside the home.

I make it a point to keep a strong relationship with my own 2 kids, whom I love dearly. We may not always agree on everything but I have learned that being a Mother is not always about demanding your way and criticizing everything your children do that is not exactly what you expected. It is loving them for who they are and who they might become….sometimes not easy for me to do but then I think of my Mother.

I love the letter idea and think this is something I will try to do. I also read the article about the Council of Dads …special men who commit to this gift

abc

December 8th, 2010
9:48 am

The death letter idea seems to me to be a macabre way to ensure that one stays in the thoughts of the living after one passes. At that, I think it to be the move of a pretty self-absorbed person. All the advice one would wish to impart could be given before death, I’d expect, in most cases — or at least, in many cases.

MomOf2Girls

December 8th, 2010
10:11 am

I have a slightly different perspective on this. Thank G-d both of my parents are still alive and doing well. However, my mother lost her mother at the age of 12, the same age Mrs. Edward’s younger daughter is. Her father remarried a wonderful woman when my mom was 16, but for those 4 years, there was a large void at a critical time. Even after the remarriage, there were still things that a stepmother just couldn’t replace her mother for, no matter that she was very loving towards my mom. That has had a ripple effect on my mother’s relationship with me in her ability to relate to me during that same time period in my life and beyond. There wasn’t any big event or issue I can point to; it was more about incidental, everyday things that my mom didn’t have her own experience to fall back on. Even at my wedding, my mother was saddened both by the fact that her mother wasn’t there and by her remembering her mother not being at her own wedding.

DB

December 8th, 2010
10:37 am

@abc: A little macabre, yes. But especially in the case of younger children. the advice that you might give them would go right over their heads. I think it’s understandable that someone would have life lessons that they would want to impart to their children, but sharing marriage and relationship insights with a 10 year old is probably is a exercise in futility. But a letter that they can read as they get older may be just the thing.

Self-absorbed? Perhaps. But hey, when you’re coming to the end of your life, I think you have a right to be just a tad self-absorbed and worry about your children. You’ve poured your life and love into them – to sit back and say, “Oh, well, didn’t get to finish raising you, I guess you’re on your own” is probably a prospect that most parents would have a problem with.

cc

December 8th, 2010
10:50 am

From my experience there is a void when a parent dies. My Dad was killed in a car accident a couple of months before I was born. I grew up with a void in my life that has never been filled. My mother did remarry but the man she married never seemed like a Dad to me. I think a letter from your parent will help you remember how much they loved and cared for you. A coucil of Dads will only be successful if everyone agrees to make it a life long commitment. I think the most important thing a child needs to know after a parent is gone is that they will always have someone to take care of them. A good way to leave letters for your child is to write them one every year on their birthday.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

December 8th, 2010
10:57 am

There was a great piece about one lady’s experience with death letters from her mom on NPR’s “this american life”. Her mom wrote MANY death letters to be given to her from her dad at certain milestones in her life (HS graduation, turning 21, getting married, etc.) It got to the point that she dreaded getting them and found it impeded her ability to complete the mourning and greiving process. “This American Life” streams their archives if anyone is interested in listening to it, it’s pretty moving.

[...] friend article: link Tags: death, edwards, [...]

Kate

December 8th, 2010
11:11 am

@MJG

“I make it a point to keep a strong relationship with my own 2 kids, whom I love dearly. We may not always agree on everything but I have learned that being a Mother is not always about demanding your way and criticizing everything your children do that is not exactly what you expected. It is loving them for who they are and who they might become….sometimes not easy for me to do but then I think of my Mother.”

Oh, how wish someone had given my own mother the same advice! Although I believe my mother has always tried her best to be a loving parent (and grandparent), she also has a lot of emotional problems (stemming, I suspect, from her miserable childhood) which have often made it very difficult for my brother and I to maintain a relationship with her, especially as adults. It’s very difficult as a mother to not have your own mother’s advice to rely on. Like you, I truly envy those who have great relationships with their mothers.

I’m not sure how much this has to do with today’s topic, I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your wisdom.

abc

December 8th, 2010
11:12 am

Suppose one passes and leaves behind a 5 year old child; that child might marry at age 30. What do you think one could impart 25 years earlier that would be very germane to the situation in which the grown child would now find themselves? How important would your advice be anyway, really? There would be no others of equal wisdom and caring in the child’s life? Now, maybe not, but it seems unlikely.

I hardly think that my sage advice is the end-all for my kids.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

December 8th, 2010
11:24 am

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/401/parent-trap

Here’s the link to that piece. I was mistaken, this girl was given one letter a year on her birthday from the time she was 17 to 30. Pretty interesting.

Wayne

December 8th, 2010
11:56 am

Thanks Tiger, for posting that link. Very interesting listening to her story. I’d be torn whether or not to write the letters. As abc says, what do I have to say today, will help my boys 25 years from now. The thought that brings that home is when you read the letter, you can’t disagree with the person, or explain your position as to why you didn’t do what they are asking.

Trying not to ramble to much here, so hopefully, I’m making sense…

motherjanegoose

December 8th, 2010
12:00 pm

@ kate…thank you for your kind words. I am taking this as an early Christmas gift …two topics today and two new friends. This from reader on the other topic today:
…we also need more people with your experience to stand up and share ideas that will help positively change our country/world… HUGS TO BOTH OF YOU!

The thing is.my mother’s mother was kind and loving to us and her sister is very generous to her children and now grandkids. I have NO idea what went wrong with my Mom. Most of the stories I could share are practically unbelievable but true.

I am glad my Mom will not be here if my daughter decides to get married. She was beyond difficult at mine….almost 28 years ago.

Prior to a Bridal shower for me, she came into town. I was student teaching 5 days per week in 3rd grade, taking a 7:30 a.m. class two days a week, planning my wedding and working 20 plus hours per week at Wal Mart in December. My Dad dropped her off with me to drive to the location of my friend’s house. She says to me, “YOU LOOK AWFUL!” Ya think? I was EXHAUSTED. Thanks Mom.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

December 8th, 2010
12:35 pm

@Wayne…that segment does give a real perspective to the topic, don’t ya think.

I think the moral of the story is that if you’re going to do the death letters….make them as VAGUE and ambiguous as possible, as well as providing closure with them.

LM

December 8th, 2010
12:41 pm

There was a movie called P.S. I Love You… the husband died and left death letters. A chick flick, but it also covered how hard it was for the surviving spouse to move on. And as cute and sweet as it might sound, maybe one letter but not a lifetime of letters to be opened at future dates. Too hard on the one left behind to be reminded of their loss and heal.

[...] article: read here Tags: children, death, edwards, elizabeth, father, godmother, [...]

JATL

December 8th, 2010
1:13 pm

@abc -Elizabeth Edwards left behind young children, so there’s no way she could have imparted everything she would have wanted in person to them. At 10 and 12 there’s only so much you want to lay on your kids when you’re in your death bed. I’m sure they will treasure the letters. I had a friend in college whose mother died of breast cancer when my friend was 15. She had written a letter for her daughter and that girl cherished it. She kept it in the back of a frame that held a picture of her and her mother and it went everywhere with her -even on overseas school trips. I’m 40 years old, and my mother lost her ability to clearly speak and then to speak at all as well as write at almost the exact same time she was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. She died in the hospital a week after surgery, and while she regained consciousness for 4 days after the surgery, she couldn’t speak or really communicate at all. I would give ANYTHING if she could have written me a letter after she found out she had cancer or even said anything to me. She imparted years of valuable advice while living, but it would be really nice to see what she thought were the most important philosophies, beliefs and ideas in this life. Self-centered? Hardly -it would have been the greatest of gifts.

As for the 5 year old marrying 25 years after a mom’s death -perhaps hearing what his or her mom thought were the most important aspects of a happy marriage or relationship would be nice and important. We read and use the advice of historical figures all the time hundreds or thousands of years after their passing (that’s what religious texts basically are, after all) -so why not your own mother or father’s? No one is saying your advice would be the only advice or the most important advice, but what a wonderful gesture and gift for your kids.

I’m sure you’ll find this the height of self-centered behavior, but I think it’s one of the most wonderful things I’ve heard of a dying parent doing -a father in our community passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. There were remissions and hope and then none. He knew for awhile he was dying and he was leaving a 7 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. Knowing that the 3 year old particularly would have very little memory of him, he compiled a video diary in segments for them to view each year as they turned another year older. How he ever kept his composure long enough to film even one is beyond me, but I think it’s a beautiful idea.

JATL

December 8th, 2010
1:19 pm

@Tiger -I did wonder that about the video diary, but because his children were so young -especially the 3 year old -I think it’s good for them. The 7 year old certainly grieved and misses her father, but the 3 year old (now 5) didn’t really understand or know to grieve. I like the video diary as a way he can experience an essence of his dad in some way. I also know in this case the segments are pretty light and very upbeat. There are no directives about the way the kids should be living their lives at a given time or making certain choices or anything.

abc

December 8th, 2010
1:27 pm

Sounds like a bad dream to me, JATL. What a burden for those children to have to suffer. They have to endure the loss of their father forever, instead of being able to leave it behind them. They have to judge their own feelings, intuition and actions vs. the advice of the dead.

You view it more from the terminal patient’s perspective, and I view it more from the survivor’s perspective, I guess.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

December 8th, 2010
1:45 pm

@JATL…I would do a letter to my son. But probably just one. I think it’s possible to convey universal truths and hopes that can be understood at any age and that can evolve in meaning with a child’s maturation. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable giving advice about things he is going to experience in life and suggestions on how to get through them, which it sounds like Edwards did. Advice on how to pick a church and spouse…seriously? There are universal wisdoms to pass on that sort out all the other stuff, IMHO.

And I certainly wouldn’t drag it out. One letter…clear, concise, and something he can hold onto that will always let him know how much I love him and hope the best for him. That’s really the point of the letter anyhow, right? Let’s face it, once I’m dead, my effectiveness as a parent who can listen to his problems and respond accordingly has pretty much died with me. Because to me, that’s what parenting is….a two way street where I learn from him as much as I teach him.

shaggy

December 8th, 2010
1:46 pm

abc,

If it were me, and all I had was “advice of the dead” from my parent (s), I would treasure that advice, whether I followed it or not. In fact, I wish I had that even now, and it has been years.
Sometimes you take what you can, no matter how small a piece you have.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

December 8th, 2010
1:49 pm

@shaggy…I wish my parents had given me some advice I could use too….and they’re still alive! I’m still waiting!!! ;-)

Kate

December 8th, 2010
1:55 pm

MJG – My mother loves making helpful little comments like that as well, only she usually likes to throw in something about my weight as well (I was chubby kid. I don’t have a problem with my weight now, but some habits die hard I guess). I read somewhere that that’s a control issue. When some mothers see that their daughters are growing up, getting attention, etc., they make senseless, cutting remarks like that in order to put the daughter “back in her place,” out of jealousy, or a need for control, or both. In may be pure psycho-babble, but I think there’s some truth to it.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

December 8th, 2010
2:05 pm

I think the perfect letter to your children is a complete plagarism of Jack Palance in that movie “City Slickers”. His character was Curly, I think, and when Billy Crystal asked him what the secret to life is Curly put up one finger and told Billy Crystal the secret to life was about one thing…Billy asked what that one thing was and Curly responded “that’s what you have to figure out.”

Perfect. Then tell them you love them and good luck!

LM

December 8th, 2010
2:18 pm

@Kate. I never thought about my mothers remarks as a way to keep control when I was growing up. It was not my weight, it was my hair. I have hair so different than anyone in the family’s, baby fine, wild curls that will dreadlock it left alone. She had me convienced that when I turned 30 I had to cut it short, what a nightmare. When my daughter was around 6 she started in on her hair, I stepped in and said for her to back off.

shaggy

December 8th, 2010
2:22 pm

Tiger,
Be careful what you ask for…..

Elizabeth Edwards Funeral

December 8th, 2010
2:22 pm

[...] Edwards Facebook, Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards Died, Elizabeth Edwards DeatElizabeth Edwards Funeral – Elizabeth Edwards, the political wife whose public battle with breast cancer, co. Read more: [...]

[...] The rest is here: Elizabeth Edwards: Can death letter, Council of Dads help kids … [...]

[...] Read the rest here: Elizabeth Edwards: Can death letter, Council of Dads help kids … [...]

Trudy Ford

December 8th, 2010
4:55 pm

My mother died 30 years ago at age 57 from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. (I was 25 at the time.) She worked full-time — in a funeral home, no less! — up until 6 months before her death, when she was almost too weak to walk. She even told me exactly what she wanted for her funeral, which casket and clothes she wanted to be buried in, and even which funeral director she wanted to embalm her body. She made all these decisions long before her death, which came as a relief to everyone, since her last days were extremely painful. Every one of her wishes was carried out, resulting in a memorial service that gave joyful thanks for her life.
I supported Elizabeth Edwards’ decision to continue campaigning for her husband after her cancer returned because I understood it in terms of my own mother’s experience. Doing something constructive for others is the best way to take your mind off your own problems, and can even make you stronger. Had Mrs. Edwards given in to her illness and retreated to the shadows, her strength would have soon shriveled and allowed death to claim her much earlier than it did. Instead, like my mother, she kept doing what she loved to do, and focused her attention on what she thought was important. My mother was initially given 5 to 7 years to live, but — beyond everyone’s expectations — survived for 10. She prayed daily for a miracle, and she got one — a small measure of extra time that she used wisely, lovingly, and gratefully.
I know from personal experience that there will never be day when Elizabeth Edwards’ children fail to remember her, or be guided by her wisdom and enduring love. They will always be living examples of the incredible gifts she gave them. As one motherless child to another, I wish them the greatest joy in their memories of her.

VIChic

December 8th, 2010
5:51 pm

My heart goes out to Elizabeth Edward’s family, especially her kids. She was a classy, gracious woman. My mother died suddenly two years ago on Thanksgiving Day. We were very close. She came to visit and assist me as I was having difficulties recovering from a brain tumor surgery a few months earlier. Everytime I watch or read the coverage about Mrs. Edwards, I break down. I miss my mom very much and I know what those kids will feel. They will have to draw on the many happy memories to get through the rough times. And by the way, I still need my mommy because I’m still dealing with brain tumor issues. Sigh.

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Catherine Haig Bonjukian

December 8th, 2010
10:44 pm

It’s been 9 years since my mom died and five since my pop passed and I feel their presence in my house every single day but I still miss them in this physical world. They were both a stand out couple and remember-able individuals as well and many people liked them, some of us loved them.

My heart goes out to Elizabeth Edwards kids cause I know how they feel. To their father all I have to say is “put it back in your pants and go home to your kids WITHOUT THAT BITCH who ruined your life”. Reille Hunter is a non-entity and should be kept apart from Edwards’ kids but his place should be by Elizabeth’s children’s side. Hunter has to go it alone because really, she planned this on her own so she should be on her own.

Some of the horrible things I have read, “John Edwards is planning to marry Hunter as soon as his ex dies”? That’s one of the most tacky things I have ever read and I voted for this maniac. I’m so glad he didn’t win but I am sad we had Bush for 4 more horrible years.

To John Edwards – Please, sir, grow some balls and go home to your family. Leave this bitch behind you and go to court to get your daughter cause the only reason Hunter had the kid at all was for the money.

Shelley

December 9th, 2010
9:51 am

Should parents only have one child? No. I used to think it was the best thing in the world to be a single mom of a single child. My son also loved being an only child and felt he got extra special attention. I’m not sure that is true because I was so busy working most of the time, but I loved have my little family of two. But he died just two years ago at 32 and he was my only family. My mom started dying of breast cancer when I was 16 and finally died when I was 21 when my son was two. Her death was harder on my younger sister than me because I’d already kind of grown up but she was only 18 and really needed a lot of guidance. Our father was always absent, we didn’t grow up with him. I wish I had a parent now to help me go through my grief in the absence of my son. But what I wanted to write is that now I tell everyone who asks about it whether to have more than one child that they should. I wish I had another child now. The death of an only child may not be that common but why take the risk? Children shouldn’t be seen as insurance policies, but there must be some comfort for parents, like Elizabeth, to have to keep going for the rest of her family. This is not always the case. I’ve spoken to kids of parents who lost a child and many feel they lost their parent when their sibling died. I don’t understand this, but it can be true.

Regarding Elizabeth’s death. I know cancer is widespread, but a little part of me wonders if she didn’t start dying when she lost her son. Not intentionally of course, but our ability to survive the loss of a child is not clear. Many of us who have lost a child do end up with illnesses we might not have had, or with illnesses that we didn’t bother to notice because something in us has given up on self care. I’m really sad for her kids, but know that we are programmed to outlive our parents. But I’m mostly sad for Elizabeth and all she had to endure after having lost her child. It just doesn’t seem fair.

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