Hello, my name is Paul Fredrickson. I just joined the group. About 27 years ago, my first daughter, Lindsey, died at 11 months after open-heart surgery conducted to repair a significant heart defect called Transposition of the Great Vessels. The surgery was successful but the stress of stopping her heart 3 times during the surgery was too much and her heart gave out about 3 days after the surgery (It was really tough for my wife as her father died the week before Lindsey did).
She was my first child and I began to look for a grief support group. I located a Compassionate Friends (CF) chapter here in Atlanta, and began to attend. CF is an international self-help support group for parents who have had a child die. CF saved my life, as it gave me hope that I could survive this terrible loss, when by myself, I could not see any hope. When I attended my first meeting, I could not believe that our leader had “bright eyes”, something that I believed I would never have again. She gave me the hope that maybe someday I would have “bright eyes” again---and I did. I attended two chapters monthly for about two years and then began to lead one of the chapter’s support groups. I led this group for about 4 more years, and then weaned myself away as my 2nd and 3rd daughters were born. Life is now wonderful with my wife and two daughters. I know Lindsey would want me and my wife to be happy.
Today, I celebrate Lindsey’s birthday and also celebrate Christmas at her grave site in mid-December. My experiences leading a CF support group was a real gift, as it gave me the opportunity to meet parents of other children and also “meet” the child they lost. It also gave me many ideas on how to deal with everyday issues that used to be easy for us in our previous life, but now are not. I continue to be phone-support to parents who have lost a child. If anyone wants to talk about their loss, I’m a good listener