Sharing a Letter for Father’s Day

Posted on Jun 10, 2018 in Child Loss

The following letter was written a few years ago, to a man whose daughter had been killed—suddenly. He gave me permission to post the letter for Father’s Day.

Steve –

After you read this letter, please put it into a drawer and every month or so, pull it out and reread.

Mandy’s death shouldn’t have happened. But it did. When you say “our family is ruined,” keep in mind that is a thought, not yet the truth. That said, what you convince yourself is “true” will have a lot to do with your family’s future.

Part of your journey is reconciling your belief that “it is up to me to keep my children alive regardless of circumstances, and therefore I have failed.” Another part of the journey is remembering you are the parent of two living children.

Can you get through this horrid time and eventually enjoy being a father to Sam and Elizabeth?

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Teen Suicide: A Life Worth Living

Posted on Jan 15, 2017 in Child Loss, General Grief, Suicide

We are featuring a recent video, “A Life Worth Living”, made by the NYC support agency, OHEL.

The Roth family shares their experience of losing their son, Jonathan, to suicide.  The video is particularly important because it emphasizes how easy it is to ignore, and/or miss signs that a teen is suicidal.

Watch Video>  A Life Worth Living

For more info on OHEL:


If you want to access free audios by Vicki to quell your anxiety, deal with your grief, find sleep or just become motivated, go to her YouTube Channel, ComfortCareConnection.

If you liked this post, please forward! Thanks!

Vicki Panagotacos PhD, FT is a grief counselor and life transition coach.  She writes for her blog,, is founder of, and author of Gaining Traction: Starting Over After the Death of a Life Partner.

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Hello to Her Stillborn Son

Posted on Mar 13, 2016 in Child Loss, Fresh Grief, General Grief

Hello Stillborn

I did not read the 2011 Salon article “My Stillborn’s Life After Death” until recently. Initially I wondered if the author, Elizabeth Heineman, had written a macabre spoof on the funeral industry.

She hadn’t.

It is a true story about a “straight-talking-why-not” funeral director who went off-script and made a difference in this young couple’s experience of burying their infant son, Thor. It is a sweet and redeeming story.

To the chaplains reading this blog post: you not only work with couples who enter the hospital with a dream and leave with a nightmare, you also work within a network of support providers who might be better at what they do, if they read this.

So pass this excerpt on. OK?


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Non-Government Work for the Dead

Posted on May 23, 2014 in Child Loss, General Grief

burialsToday I was reading the Sunday New York Times and came upon a story about Gary Gotlin, the NY Richmond County Public Administrator and Commissioner for Staten Island—the man responsible for handling the county’s residents’ estates who die without a will and/or without living relatives to claim their body for private burial.

Since 1999 he is also the man who has made sure no stillborn baby in his district is buried in a mass grave in the potter’s field.

The article includes a picture of Gotlin on a day he was burying 10 abandoned stillborn babies picked up from local hospitals. In the picture he is standing near a line of little white caskets with flowers on top – each with a nameplate—because he buries no one without a name, even if he has to make one up. (I have provided the link to the NYT’s story at the end of this post so you can read some good news in the middle of our current global chaos.)

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Grief Demands an Answer

Posted on Apr 12, 2014 in Child Loss, Parent Loss, Sibling Loss, Spousal/Partner Loss


Recently The Atlantic magazine published an article “In Grief, Try Personal Ritual” about the positive influence of private ritual for people dealing with the death of a loved one. The article’s author quotes Joan Didion from her book The Year of Magical Thinking, which is about how she survived her husband’s unexpected death from a massive heart attack. No mention is made, however, of the fact that Didion’s only child died a mere 20 months later.

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