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From Ukraine With Love
By Diane Schachter

It is a result of coincidence that I am writing this story about a unique family.   I met Cathy while chatting at a local dog park this past spring.  She spontaneously shared that she and her husband Martin had adopted five children from Ukraine.  “Five kids, that’s a lot of kids,” I remember saying.  But it was not until the ride home that it dawned on me that their story could possibly be a story for Thrive In Life. Too late, I had no phone number or knowledge as to where she lived. She was not present during any subsequent visits to the park.  Now, here is where the coincidence part comes in.  In autumn, I was taking the bus to the airport and just before I was about to dismount, I overheard a man saying to the person beside him that he and his wife had adopted five children from Ukraine.  My antennae went up and I quickly asked if his wife’s name was Cathy, and could I have their phone number.  He looked at me quizzically and provided the information on a small borrowed piece of paper as we exited the bus. Read more

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COMMENTS (7) | adoption, children, parenting, siblings
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Life After Murder, Life After Suicide
By Diane Schachter

On July 19, 2005, the unthinkable happened.  Marlyn and Ian Ferguson’s 27 year old son Graeme was murdered.  To lose a child to murder is devastating, and for Marlyn and Ian, moving through this proved to be the biggest challenge of their lives.  Marlyn went through an array of feelings: Shock, disbelief, anger, disappointment, confusion, regret.

Despite her pain, Marlyn was open to talking to others about Graeme’s death.  She found that talking about it eased her pain and gave others who had also lost a child, strength.  Marlyn soon came to realize that although regular grief groups are helpful, there is a unique set of feelings for those whose loved ones have died because of homicide.  Marlyn explains,   “The Homicide Group came out of a need to offer something that wasn’t happening.”  In 2009, through Valley View Funeral Home in Surrey, British Columbia, Marlyn launched support groups for Homicide and Suicide Loss. She can be reached at 604-506-8866. Read more

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COMMENT (1) | grief, healing, murder, suicide
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Black Humour And Other Happenings At A Jewish Funeral — Part Three
By Diane Schachter

My dad’s funeral was on a Monday in 1996, in Winnipeg.  It was a graveside service on an overcast fall day.  I didn’t shed many tears at the funeral.  I think that I had already said my goodbyes long before his burial.  Still, as I saw my dad’s casket being lowered into the ground, tears trickled down my cheeks.  In Judaism, the casket is minimalist and is made of cedar.  No rich or poor in burial; we are all equals at death.  Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | family, humour, relationships
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The Day My Dad Died — Part Two
By Diane Schachter

October 11th – a Friday, one of those perfect fall days.  The air is crisp and the trees are bright as they glisten in the sun.  Children are playing on the street.  How can all of this be happening while my dad lies in a hospital bed in our dining room, taking what will soon be his final breaths? Read more

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COMMENTS (2) | health, loss, relationships
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“I Want To Die At Home” — Part One
By Diane Schachter

It was a Monday, October 7th. I know that because it would be my Dad’s last Monday, just four days before he died. My family had to make a crucial decision.

It began on the morning my mother poured out her desperate words to me on the telephone: “It was a bad night.” My head was spinning with images of Dad uncontrollably thrashing in pain throughout the night.

Seven months earlier, my father had made his desire strongly and clearly known to his family. He wanted to die at home. Read more

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COMMENTS (12) | empowerment, loss, relationships, thriving
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“I’m A Bit Of Alright”
By Diane Schachter

Joan Campbell’s granddaughter loves to hang out with her 91 year old grandmother. Even when she’s about to go to a Lady Gaga concert, all dolled up in heavy eye makeup, see-through stockings and platform shoes, her grandmother smiles. The kids of today, Joan says, know how to have fun and laugh. And Joan believes that life should be all about joy and laughter.

I learned, however, that Joan’s life at times has been anything but a laughing matter. Read more

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COMMENTS (14) | aging, thriving
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Conversation With A Dog
By Diane Schachter

In March of 1997, 5 months after my Dad died, my husband and I decided to adopt a puppy.  We already had a wonderful 12 year old dog named Mitzi, a sheltie golden retriever cross whom we loved dearly.   It had been a very long and arduous haul witnessing my Dad die.  We had been enveloped in sickness, death and then mourning. After witnessing my Dad wither away and die, adopting a puppy seemed to be the perfect antidote to breathe life into our family.  Read more

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COMMENTS (12) | animal companion
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