Luke William Hahn Foundation

September 10, 2014

Grief Relief

“Grief Relief”


My husband, Kraig, frequently tries to help me out with the programs and/or our foundation’s direction. He’s not too bad with word play or rhyming (He tells me proudly that his father was really good at it too!) So, the past few weeks, he’s been bugging me to somehow use the name – “Grief Relief” as the name of one of our programs. Grief Relief, pretty catchy, easy to remember, its what our foundation is trying to do, right? So, then I wonder, “does that make us then, the grief police?” Aren’t the police supposed to protect and help it’s citizens to travel safely down the highway of life? Don’t they offer some sort of assistance to those who need it? I think they do. Hmmmm…..maybe my husband is on to something here! But, can (the Grief Police) really give people -relief on their journeys down the highway of loss? I’m not sure if that is completely possible.

I’ve read probably hundreds of times how each person’s grief journey is as unique as a snowflake or as individual as a fingerprint. No person’s journey is alike. What might seem like relief to some might just be a hinderance to others. For instance, I found the steady flow of people visiting in the first few months, a wonderful comfort. This support is what made our small, wonderful community so amazing. Whereas, others who’ve had losses just wanted to be left alone and didn’t answer the door when visitors came calling. Another example would be looking at photos of Luke – I kept them all out and about in my house (and added more) so I could see his sweet, smiling face everywhere I looked, others have told me they put every photograph away immediately because they were too difficult to look at after their loss. It can be so easy to make the wrong call when it comes to grievers, which makes naming our program, “Grief Relief” all the more difficult. How can I know what things give people solace, what gives them consolation when we are all so different in dealing with our sadness? When one way of coping with loss brings so much reassurance to some and the complete opposite to others?

If I could offer a little “grief relief” to other people on their journey, I would start out by saying, “no one is an expert on your grief, but you. What you need to get through each day only you can decide.” I could give you lots of advice about what helped me, but you need to figure out what works for you. Speaking of advice, there will be A LOT of well-meaning supporters who will offer it to you, take what you feel is right and discard the rest. So many people just don’t know what to say, so they use the “old standby” phrases like, “Well, he’s with God now,” or “His suffering is over”. Words that are most likely true, but just not what a griever wants to hear, since the bereaved just want their loved ones “with them here on Earth and here and not suffering at all.” Again, it’s just so hard to find the right words to say at a time of loss so just give a hug, hold their hands and later on in their journey, make a point to mention their loved ones name. How very sweet it is to hear someone mention how they remember something funny (or a lot of times NOT so funny) that Luke did or said. It is truly music to my ears! Just knowing someone thinks about my Lukey and then tells me about it, brings me healing like nothing else can. Sometimes the story might even make me cry, but that’s ok too. Since, the outward expression of grief is also vital and healing as well. It is the number one rule in all of my grief support groups, “It’s ok to cry.” Ask any of the students in my groups about our “group rules” and they’ll probably shout out, it’s ok to cry” like a teacher was asking them to quickly answer a question for a review. It has never been an easy one for me to show emotion in public and most times people don’t like to witness someone else crying either, but it is much more important to allow your feelings to surface than it is to push them down where they will come out in other ways at a later time. I’ve read of young children not being able to grieve in their own way, only to grow up (5, 10, 15 years down the road) and have various issues with physical or mental health which no one can explain. It isn’t until they begin counseling that the relationship with their earlier loss explains the problems. One last piece of advice, although there is so much more “grief relief” I could write about- that’s ok, maybe in my next writing. Anyway, find an activity (I must stress-a POSITIVE one) that you can do often to cope with all of the emotions that are experienced in grieving. For me, journalling (surprising huh?) was my soul saver. It was my refuge, my safe haven. I could write about anything in that journal that I might not say to another human being. At first, it was filled with feelings like anger and sadness, then the thoughts turned to letting Luke know that I was creating the foundation and doing good work for him, now I write about my everyday life and the accomplishments of the foundation, but hoping he knows about it all already since most of us know he hated to read! Ha! There are other great coping methods such as dancing, music, creating art and doing something in honor of your loved one. All of these positive approaches can make a huge impact on your passage through grief.

As to whether I will name a new foundation program, “Grief Relief”, I’m not sure, but it is our goal in whatever ways that we can companion both children and adults in our community on their journeys. And, I don’t mean to downplay our role in helping people by using the name, the “Grief Police” because we do take our mission very seriously. I am hoping that in whatever avenues we decide to be of service to others, we do the very best we can with love and compassion in the name of our Luke.

August 18, 2014

Reflections In the Mirror

As I watched the stunning news of the death of Robin Williams on T.V., it hit me with not just sadness of the passing of a wonderful man, actor and comedian, but also the realization of the ways others see us. Most of had known about the addictions he had experienced and probably everyone knew about the depression he suffered with, but not many knew the severity to which it affected him. That when he looked in the mirror, maybe he didn’t see the greatness to which we all saw him-his amazing ability to make us all laugh or cry-to feel. Maybe his reflection was a dark one-one we certainly never saw. His death-so tragic and unimaginable makes us all take a good look in the mirror and truly see ourselves. The image we must learn to see is not the one we want others to believe of us, it should be the reality of our own being.

For me personally I learned at a very young age, to suppress my true feelings and “put on a happy face” as they say. My father was an alcoholic in which at times he acted out in intense anger during those drinking episodes. I knew to stay away from him while (and sometimes after) those episodes that a lot of times wrecked havoc in our home. As my mom also did, I would just try to keep the peace by pretending everything was “normal.” We just found it was easier to grin and bear it, so to speak. I’ve learned by reading books on alcoholism that this is co-dependency and quite a normal experience for those living with an alcoholic. I could see just a little of the similarities in my life and the life of Robin Williams. Because maybe he didn’t feel it was acceptable for him to be depressed in the public eye, he displayed an image to the world that was truly different that what was actually the case. When he looked in the mirror, just like I did as a young child, we saw the image of a person not quite like the one reflected inside.

When grieving a loss, it can be the same kind of experience. When you lose someone, and for whatever reason you have in your head, you don’t truly reflect how you feel. Whether it is because you don’t want the world to think you’re “weak,” or that you cry. Or whether you “detach” from your feelings because of a learned experiences as a child, grieving can be a “touchy” occurrence. I have admitted to some friends that I found it difficult to NOT smile after Luke’s death. How strange is that admission? I know now that my coping mechanism made me want to immediately cover up my internal feelings and created a real reflex to just smile. One of the hardest parts of my grieving journey was to learn to reflect (truly) what was happening on the inside-on the outside. That when I looked in the mirror, if I saw sadness, anger, resentment or just anguish, I could allow those real emotions to show themselves not just to me, but to others as well. I’m absolutely positive that I am not the first grieving person to feel it’s inappropriate to mourn in public, whether you’re at the grocery store and you see your loved one’s favorite cereal or you’re at someone’s house and a song comes on the radio that reminds you of him or her. When these “reminders” show up and triggers a grief reaction-honor your feelings and then let them go. This is an essential part of healing and one that should not be overlooked.

To be able to express how you’re truly feeling on the outside is freeing. Now, when I’m feeling emotional and need to “break down” I’m learning to do it. I want to look in the mirror and know that I am truly ME. Sometimes, looking in the mirror and seeing your authentic self can be quite a harrowing experience, but I no longer want to feel, maybe like Robin Williams did, that he needed to be someone else in public than he was in private. He must have been in so much anguish when he looked in the mirror and only saw the sad, helpless part of his soul and not the part others saw-the funny, silly, amazing actor/comedian that could make millions of people laugh or cry. Hopefully, as with all souls that depart from this Earth, we will all learn from their lives one lesson or another. The one reoccurring message that keeps coming up for me is, love every person for who they are-for their ”flaws,” their dark sides, and bad moods, as well as their “good” sides because we may not always know what someone is going through in this life.

August 1, 2014

E.T. (L.H.) Phone Home



So, I thought I’d write a little on the subject of “heavenly communication” as I like to call it or the ability of E.T. (L.H.) to “phone home.” Let me say a little bit about Luke while he was here on his Earthly home in that he was not a big proponent of phoning home to tell his mother much of anything. I had to do all the phoning and the extent of our conversation was, ME: “where are you?” L.H.: (in an obviously annoyed/whining voice) “MA!” I’m at Keenan’s house! What do you WANT?” ME: “I need you home for dinner in 10 minutes.” L.H.: (again in an aggravated voice) “O K A Y” (with an over-the-top audible sigh) “UH”!!!’ I then would say, “Ok, get home, love you” and L.H. would answer with a much softer and noticeably quicker, “Bye, luvyoutoo!!” That particular common exchange made me laugh and or smile almost every time I hung up the phone. Which is why this next true story was so incredible to me and undoubtedly made me believe in a souls ability to communicate with their loved ones even after they’ve gone “home”.


First, I should begin this next story with just a little look into my belief system on this topic. A day after my beloved Gram passed into the next life, 17 years ago, I was sitting outside on my deck and encountered one of the most beautiful Monarch butterflies floating around my chair. From that moment on, Gram’s spirit was showing itself to me in a Monarch butterfly. I completely believed that the souls ability to communicate with us Earth-bound spirits was possible and stayed open to the possibility of being able to see/hear/feel more signs from loved ones. What a wonderful experience that allowed me and one that not everyone (I came to find out) believed in. It happened again, the same way, when Luke passed years later only, this time, with a yellow butterfly. Some people are just a little unnerved when I see a butterfly gliding past me and I yell out, “Luke!!! Hi buddy! Love you!!” I’m not going to begin to imagine what they are thinking.


Anyway, on to the experience….It was about three or four weeks after the accident, Sammi and I were upstairs sitting in my room talking about lots of things “Luke”. We talked about his crazy, sometimes “out there” personality, his unique laugh, and his really wild sense of humor. We discussed how much we missed him and both admitted that already after a few weeks, we were starting to forget what his voice sounded like-a most disheartening thing to both of us. In the meantime, Lexi was visiting her long-time friend, Laura and unbeknownst to Sammi and I the four of us were talking about the same exact subject- Luke’s voice. What happened next was, well, amazing. Sammi and I got very quiet after the voice discussion and my cell phone rang. I thought it might have been Lexi calling or maybe the hospital with some news about Kraig, but when I picked up the phone, it had gone immediately to voice mail. A tad strange, but I played back the voice message and nearly passed out! It was Luke’s voice saying he wanted whoever he was calling to “come and meet him at the quarry. Alright, see ya!” My heart was POUNDING!! I played the message over for Sam then and with eyes as big as saucers, she said, “I can’t believe it! How did this happen?” Needless to say, we were stunned for hours. It wasn’t until the next morning that we learned from Lexi that she and Laura were listening to old messages on Lexi’s phone and came across Luke’s message, she thought I might like to have it and sent it to me at the VERY moment we were talking about his voice. You cannot tell me that that little stinker, my son, had nothing to do with orchestrating that unbelievable happening. That as both, Sammi and I and Lexi and Laura were talking about forgetting his voice, he gave us what we all longed for, just that, his voice in an incredible, amazing way. L.H. phoned home. I still cannot believe that truly happened but it did and I’m a believer.


I continue to long for that sweet voice, for anything that proves he was here with us on this Earth if only for a very short time. I truly believe he gave us a gift that day just to prove he is still here. Maybe his presence is no longer in the physical, but he has shown me and his family and friends that he is still here with us in spirit. And, I’ll take his signs whether it’s the graceful, sometimes elusive, yellow swallowtail, his favorite song playing on the radio at much needed time or a “phone call” so I can hear his voice, It’s all of have left, so I’ll take them all, anytime. I have come to appreciate those signs and I look forward to the next one. As in the verse John 6:47 says, “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.” For me, believing is my eternal connection to my son of which I am most grateful.



July 22, 2014

“Gusty Winds”

I have been wanting to try out this blog “thing” for a while now.  In my head, I’d say, “but who is going to want to read what you write?” Then I’d say, “but I really want to put my experiences out there, who knows, I might actually connect with someone on some topic.” Boy, I should really see a counselor about this “talking to myself” issue I have! So, anyway, I set this “BLOG” feature up on the LWH Foundation website about two years ago and it has taken my that long to decide to at least give this writing thing a try.  About two days before the four year anniversary of Luke’s death, I woke up suddenly (not for my usual bathroom break as I normally do) and felt the overwhelming NEED to write.  Literally, my fingers couldn’t keep up with the stuff in my brain that wanted to come out. Now, I’m a huge proponent of journaling or drawing or whatever type of media that helps to get feelings out, relieve stress, etc. and this one a.m. writing madness was definitely attempting to do both. As the anniversary, or “angelversary,” as I have begun to call it was fast approaching the emotions, stress, and any other internal struggles were really making their way into the many areas of my day to day life. So, I started to do what in the past has never let me down, I poured my thoughts and feelings out into writing. And, this is what came next………

On July the 5th, life as I knew it suddenly became out of my reach…like an important paper that blows away in a quick gust of wind, you are desperate to grab it, but it keeps floating away every time you reach out to pick it up. The frustration, heartache and longing could literally be felt. That was my life that day and MANY weeks, months, after…trying to grasp at my old life and nothing I tried allowed me to return my life to it’s rightful owner. It’s that longing, that yearning that still to this day blows into my life wanting so badly to just return to the former imperfect life, with the imperfect house and the not-so-perfect family. Just one more chance to catch Luke doing something he shouldn’t be doing or saying something (like a swear word) he shouldn’t be saying- How I would throw this new life back to the wind, if I just could. In that one moment on that one day, losing the life I knew, was like that paper finding a new home in faraway tree branch or just rustling around in a unknown place I would never find. To say I miss Luke and our “old life” is an understatement. This new piece of paper, though important, that I am now holding can still at anytime float out of my grasp, but I now hold it with much more vigor-a tighter grip. To say that I value life, feel the joy (and the pain) more intensely than before is so very true. Whatever the reason for that tragic day four years ago, I won’t know until I am with my Luke again when he’ll explain it to me- when I’m holding him in my arms again, but until then I plan on living fearlessly-like he did. I have a new life’s purpose that may or not be part of a new plan and although I don’t like having to come up with a new plan, it is necessary and needed. Hopefully, Luke will maneuver those gusts of wind just a little bit for me, allowing me to keep hold of this new important paper I carry with me now. Hopefully, he knows how much I love and miss him every second of every day and that I move forward for HIM with all the purpose and love I can muster. Even when that gusty wind blows into my life.