Brittany Rebecca Helton

Thoughts and Feelings

How To Talk To A Parent Who Has Lost A Child, From Someone Who’s Been There

by on Jul.23, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings


The soul destroying agony of your child dying is only truly known and understood by those who have endured it. Four years on, I still glance down at my daughters grave in disbelief. Visiting my child’s grave is surreal. It’s almost like I’ve vacated my body and I’m watching someone I don’t know standing there putting flowers down.

Is this really my life ?

Only a parent understands the powerful bond you have with your child; that absolute undying love you have and that monumental desire that roars like an open fire inside you to protect that child at all costs. It is openly said that a parent will lay down their life for their child, but it is not until you have your own that you truly understand these fierce emotions. Parenting is wearing your heart on the outside of your body. Whatever you imagine it might be like to have your child die, multiply that by about a trillion and you’re probably not even close.

On the surface it appears society is accepting of this unbearable sadness and people are supportive and open to talking about it. However, in my situation I’ve been surprised by people’s genuine kindness and empathy as much as I’ve been repeatedly shocked & disappointed by their lack of it. It’s necessary for bereaved parents to be able to talk and, most of all, be able to talk openly. I’ve found it’s the only thing which dispels the trauma.

Sure, friends and family have been supportive, but it’s proven to be the case with me that there is a mandate as for how long their unwavering support, patience, understanding, concern and empathy lasts. The truth is, the situation is so unbearably sad that it becomes incredibly emotionally draining on the other person.

The realisation that they can’t fix your sadness sets in, the frustration builds because not even they can see an end in sight, then gradually it starts to impede on the happiness in their life. They haven’t lost their child so why should they spend all their time sad about yours?

I will, for the sake of all the other parents out there with empty arms, write ten things I wish people knew about the loss of a child. Maybe one of my ten points might make a difference to a bereaved parent’s life.

1. Four years on I get up every day with the exact same sadness I had the day Ella died. The only difference is I’m more skilled at hiding it and I’m much more used to the agony of my broken heart. The shock has somewhat lessened, but I do still find myself thinking I can’t believe this happened. I thought that only happened to other people. You asked how I was in the beginning yet you stopped, why? Where did you get the information on what week or month was good to stop asking?

2. Please don’t tell me that all you want is for me to be happy again. Nobody wants that more than I do, but it’s something that can only be achieved with time. On top of that, I have to find a new happiness. The happiness I once felt, that carefree feeling, will never return in its entirety. It also helps to have the patience and understanding from loved ones.

3. Please don’t say ‘I want the old Sam back!’ Or, I can see the old Sam coming back! Sam’s not coming back. This is who I am now. If you only knew the horror I witnessed and endured you would know it’s not humanly possible for me to ever be the same person again. Losing a child changes who you are. I’ve been told my eyes look haunted.

It’s a strange thing for someone to tell a grieving mother, but it’s true – I am haunted. My views on the world have changed, things that were once important are not now and vice versa. I feel as though you’re telling me two things here. Firstly you don’t like the person I am and, secondly if the old Sam’s not coming back I’m out of here. By the way there is nobody that misses the “old Sam” more than me!!! I’m mourning two deaths here; my daughter’s and my former self.

4. If you chose to acknowledge my daughter’s birthday or the anniversary of her death on the first year, it’s terribly gut wrenching when you didn’t bother to acknowledge the second or third or fourth. Do you think any subsequent birthday or anniversary is not as sad for me? It also says to me in very big neon lights that you’ve moved on and forgotten about my daughter.

5. Please stop with the continual comments about how lucky I am to have my other children particularly my daughter. Do I say this to you? Then why say it to me? I’ve buried my daughter do you seriously think I feel lucky?

6. It’s not healthy to cry in front of the kids? You’re wrong. It is perfectly healthy that they see I’m sad their sister has died. When someone dies it’s normal to cry. What would not be normal would be for my children to grow up and think “I never even saw my Mum sad over Ella’s death.” That would paint me in a light that would tell them it’s healthy to hide your emotions when obviously it’s not.

7. I have four children I don’t have three.  If you want to ignore Ella as my third child because she’s dead go for it but don’t do it for me. Four not three!

8. There are still some days, yes four years on, that I still want to hide away from the world and take a break from pretending everything is oh so wonderful and I’m all better.

Please don’t just assume I’ve thrown in the towel, or worse, actually be so thoughtless as to wonder what’s wrong with me. I still know I’ve married the catch of the century and my children are gorgeously divine and I have a beautiful house, but I’m grieving.

It’s mentally exhausting, especially raising three young children and on top of that maintaining a strong and loving marriage. Unbeknownst to you, I’m dealing with not just my own grief, but my beautiful husbands and my two boys.

It would be nice if you congratulated me on the state of my family because keeping it together, stable and happy, has been hard work.

9. I did notice. To the friends and family that found the entire death and dealing with my sadness all too hard and held secret events behind our backs that were lied about, stopped inviting us to things we had always been included in and slowly ended our relationship thinking I didn’t notice.

I did notice. The only reason why I never said anything is because I’m not wasting my words on your shameful behaviour. I am thankful for something though – I didn’t waste any more time on people that were capable of such shallowness and cruelty. Please don’t fear. I would be the first one by your side if the same thing happened to you. That should give you some indication of how horrible it is.

10. Grieving for a child lasts until you see them again. It’s a lifetime. If you’re wondering how long your friend or family member might be grieving for, the answer is forever. Don’t rush them, don’t trivialise their sadness, don’t make them feel guilty for being sad and when they talk to you, open your ears and listen, really listen to what they’re telling you. It’s possible you’ll learn something. Don’t be so cruel as to give up on them remember it’s not about you it’s about them.

I’ve been left repeatedly heart broken as friends that I truly loved and never thought would walk away from me tossed me into the too hard basket or – more hurtfully – the crazy basket. Phone calls stopped, text messages stopped, comments on Facebook stopped and I get the same thing every time. “Sorry darling I’m just flat out”, “Let’s catch up soon” and “I miss you.” The list could keep going but I get it. I’m not the type of person either that is going to pursue a friendship I know the other person doesn’t want. Everyone has a conscience and thankfully I don’t have to live with theirs.

You would think there are a lot of articles that raise awareness of the awful process associated with grieving for a child, but even stories from other parents are a rarity. The sad reality is there just isn’t enough said or printed. You seldom hear through the media about grieving for a child and the impact their death has on all the various people involved.

It can destroy a marriage instantly, it can leave siblings hurt, confused and angry. Often siblings are too young to understand, they’re angry that their family is not the same and even angrier that they don’t recognise their parents. Losing their sibling is bad enough but so much more is lost for these siblings that is never recognised. I could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been asked how my boys were.

You might hear about the gory details surrounding a child’s death in the media but that’s about all. There should be so much more written about this topic, and additionally it should be talked about more openly than it is. I’m disappointed not just for me but for all the other grieving parents in society that this topic is met with so much fear and silence.

The bottom line is people are uncomfortable with the situation and I really don’t know why. My feelings tell me it is such an horrific thing that most people don’t want to know about it. Maybe they fear through knowing so much they might become obsessed with their own children dying. Parents worry enough about their children already. Do they really need the added worry about knowing how your child died?

Without question, my daughter Ella dying suddenly has been the worst thing that has happened in my 37 years here on Earth. I doubt that anything in my future is going to top it. Actually, just between us, I beg and plead with God on a daily basis that nothing ever does top that experience, but the truth is I just don’t know.

I’m not a mind reader nor do I have a magic pair of glasses where I can see how the rest of my life will unfold. I just have to hope that nothing ever does, but I have a very real fear it will because it has actually already happened to me. I know without having to hold a psychology degree that having those fears is normal.

depressed How to talk to a parent who has lost a child. From someone whos been there.

“I don’t think I would be able to survive something like it again.”

What I’ve endured, losing my little princess, has been so unimaginably horrific that I don’t think I would survive something like it again.

What I have had to give emotionally to get through it has dwindled away all my mental strength – just like twenty cents pieces in a kid’s piggy bank.

I’m broke – not broken – I’m broke emotionally. I know all the energy I’ve needed over the last four years has not just been spent on my grief for Ella.

It’s been on trying to get my friends and family to understand what it’s like to walk in my shoes. I’m angry about that. When I should have been grieving, I was defending myself.

I’m probably very close to being as angry about that as I am about her death. I wish I wasn’t angry. Lord knows I don’t need another emotion but I don’t know how to not be angry, especially with some of the things that people have said and done to me. I talk and talk yet I’m often never actually heard.

I’m not sure if it’s a lack of literature around or perhaps that people simply don’t want to read it because it’s so awful and they don’t want to know someone they love and care about it experiencing so much agony. I  personally know though, if I found out a family member or friend had been diagnosed with an illness or disease, or worse, their child, I would be on Google immediately finding out more about it and how I could help them the best. So why is it that this doesn’t seem to apply with the death of a child?

Most people just think they know. I find this extremely frustrating. The death of your child is the worst thing that can happen to a person, yet most feel educated enough to advise, to criticise, to lend their words of wisdom when they don’t know the first thing about it. Get over it? Why don’t we see if you could get over it first!

Most people wouldn’t know that when I meet someone new I instantly become uncomfortable and filled with dread. I know at any moment when I engage in conversation the question is going to arise about my family and how many children do I have? I would love not to have to tell them. Life would be a lot easier if I could take that path. However, I do have another child. Her name is Ella. She would now be four but she died when she was 19 days old. She isn’t lost – I know exactly where she is, she’s dead.

Ella is my third child and she deserves to be acknowledged just as much as my other children. I’ve lied before saying I have only three children, but the guilt that follows me around for days on end is just simply not worth it. I can actually hear Ella saying to me “don’t I matter anymore Mummy?” “Why were you too ashamed to talk about me?”

So personally for me, as much as I don’t want to tell someone I don’t personally know very well that my daughter is dead, the guilt of not acknowledging her is worse. I don’t have three children, I have four and my daughter is not my only daughter – I have another as well. It’s pot luck what their reaction is going to be. There’s no telling what they’re going to say. You just have to close your eyes, cover your broken heart and hope they don’t plunge that knife further in.

If I could have my questions answered on why people give so much advice on a topic that they know so little about, it would really help me. What has surprised me so much since Ella’s death is how little empathy there is in the world. Empathy to me is a no brainier. You just imagine you’re in the other persons shoes, simple yes? Apparently no. Just think how you would like to be treated and if you wouldn’t like it don’t do it. You never know what your life holds – one day it could be you wearing my shoes!

I hope this article about my personal thoughts and opinions helps at least one person understand to some degree what life is like for the bereaved parent ❤

I dedicate this article to my soul mate, Darren. I’m the luckiest girl in the world having you, my darling. I love you more and more everyday you’re simply perfect and after fifteen years my heart still skips a beat with I see you. My friend Natalie Donnelly & her daughter Eryn. To put it simply: she is an angel and if the world was full of Natalies, it would be a better place. Also my bestie Liv thank you for letting me be and never smothering me with pointless words. Love you both xx

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AFSP Field Advocacy Forum Trip June 2013

by on Jun.24, 2013, under Suicide Prevention Public Policies, Thoughts and Feelings

The trip to Washington DC was a huge success! We were able to meet with Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader to discuss with him the need for his co-sponsorship on several different topics that revolve around suicide prevention. Being a survivor of suicide himself (having lost his father many years ago), it was especially touching to be able to talk with him about the help that he knows we so desperately need to make this a world without suicide. He is an extremely busy man, but was so nice to take time to sit with us, even for just a few minutes.

Phil had so much great information to share with the people that we met with as well as the people that were there for AFSP. His insight in regards to the military is so very valuable and very much needed. We can all speculate about what is going on in the military, but with him actually being active duty and with the specialty position that he holds, everyone was very interested in speaking with him about it. Thank God that he was there with me because I do not think that I could have made it through without him.

me and phil Capitol

Phil and I on Capitol Hill

Harry Reid photo

Phil, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) and me at the Capitol Building in the Senate Majority Leader’s suite


Me, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (CA) and Phil

Me, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano and Phil at the AFSP awards event

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AFSP Advocacy Forum June 2013

by on Jun.05, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings

I am so very honored to have been asked to participate in the 2013 American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Field Advocacy Forum in Washington DC this month. Next week we will leave for what I hope will be a moving and life changing experience. I have already set in stone an appointment with one of the most influential men in politics who happens to be from Nevada and who also knows what it is like to be a survivor of suicide. Senator Harry Reid is going to take some time from his busy schedule to sit and talk to Phil and I so that we can work together to do more for suicide prevention, not just in general, but also in regards to the military and the tragedy that continues to hit our armed forces. I’m so very nervouse and excited at the same time and I have received some amazing words of advice from others who have already been to the forum in the past.

Alright little girl…I hope that you know that this is all because of you. I am doing this because we lost you. You left us and I want to help others know that there is help out there. No one has to go through things alone in this crazy world. I wish that you had known that. I can go on and on with the ‘If Only’s’ but that is not going to bring you back, so I crusade. I crusade for you and for all the others that felt the only way out was by suicide. I crusade for the other parents that have had to put their child in the ground instead of watching them graduate from college, get married and have babies. I will crusade until I can no longer breathe.

I love you. I hope you are resting in peace and I hope that you know that there are people here who miss you every day that we walk the earth.

Until we meet again, never forget that you are my baby, and I am your mommy.

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May the 4th be with you….

by on May.06, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings

Well, it finally happened. We got to finally have the wedding of sister and Jeff. It was such a beautiful day. Everything was perfect from the weather to the smiles on everyones faces to the food and the dancing. There was only one thing missing…..

We thought about you all day. You were there with us in spirit and in thoughts. We had pictures of you and others in our family that we miss dearly. We saved a seat for you.

Your sister was stunning. She was everything that I imagined she would be on her wedding day. Even though her and brother have been married for 3 years, it meant so much to see them actually have a wedding ceremony. Your little sisters were the junior bridesmaids and they did a great job.

All in all, everything was just amazing! It is a day that I will not soon forget. We love you, we know you were there with us, and we miss you everyday.

Rest in peace my sweet angel.


Britts Chair

 Ashley and Jeff Wedding

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No Negativity…No Drama…Just life

by on Mar.27, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings

It’s funny how people handle stress and drama sometimes. They try to bring stress and drama into other people’s lives simply because they can’t learn to be happy. People don’t seem to get a clue when they are not wanted in others lives. They continue to reach out and try to contact people that want nothing to do with them. They even lash out at said people and try to make them look bad. It’s a very sad life to lead. To constantly be consumed with the thoughts of people that could care less about that other person and to be dismissed from someone’s life. To still be angry about something that that person brought on themselves but to not have the mental capability to actually accept responsibility for their actions and to realize that they are the ones at fault. I guess it’s easier to put the blame on someone else for their actions than to be and adult and to reflect back and actually realize that they were the one that was completely at fault. To continue, even after 2 1/2 years, to throw the blame on people that had nothing to do with what happened. To blame others for not being allowed to be a part of something. To not allow others to help even after it was offered. To go from one extreme to the other. To actually not reflect back and realize that perhaps they were the reason why they lost what was most precious to them. That if they had been a better person, someone would not have felt the need to so desperately get away from them that they did the ultimate life altering action. The life ending action.

It’s also funny that said person is saying that people need to stop being so self absorbed when said person is so extremely self absorbed that they made losing a child all about them, instead of about the child that has left this earth too soon. Not focusing on the children that are still living, but obsessing about the child that has left. Neglecting those that need said person and dwelling on the hateful ugliness that they themselves have created. Sad that said person thinks that everyone around them agrees with their opinion. When the truth is that those people that are around this particular individual are just simply afraid of them. They are afraid one minute to the next how said person is going to react if they were to actually tell the truth to this person about how they really feel about the way this person treated the child that left. It is easier for these people to just stay away from said person because they never know when (never IF) said person is going to SNAP.

And YES…..If you are reading this…and you know who YOU are…..this is all about you. Being that you are so self absorbed.

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BB and AB…Before Brittany and After Brittany

by on Mar.19, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings

Last night Scream asked me (after being VERY hesitant and almost afraid to ask) why when I reference something, it always starts with the phrase ‘Before Brittany died’ or ‘After Brittany died’.  My answer to him was that because he was not in my life at the time that you passed, it was just easier for me to use your passing as a baseline for events that have occurred in my life. But, I have found that I do not only do it with him, but with everyone that I speak with. I feel like the day you died, I died also and was born again as a different person. I have found that I am handling situations and people differently than I used to. I no longer dwell on the bad and the negative, but instead I remove THAT from my world and try to only focus on the good and the positive.

Yes, losing you was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I never would ever wish that on anyone…not even the people that I dislike most in the world, but, losing you also made me a ‘better’ person if that makes any sense at all. You have made me want to make the world a slightly better place. I want to try and help and prevent others from going through what you were going through and other families from going through what we as a family as gone through.

Life is not always easy….I can definitely relate to that more than most, but there is help out there. I wish you had reached out for help. I wish you knew that you could have turned to me or to Gram or to sister or ANYone to get the help you needed. I wish I had fought harder for you to get you out of that miserable house and away from those miserable people. All I can do is thank GOD that your sister got out when she did. Losing you was so hard, I would not be able to imagine losing any of your sisters as well.

I love you my angel. I hope that you are resting peacefully and that you know that you can never be hurt again. You will always be young and always be beautiful…but most importantly…you will always be SAFE from harm.

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2013 Las Vegas Out of the Darkness Walk

by on Feb.11, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings

What a huge success it was on Saturday Feb 9, 2013! There were over 400 people at the walk ( and we are thinking closer to 500) and the valley raised close to our $25,000 goal! We are at $24,850. We are so close to reaching it, but we did hit all times highs on walker participation and money raised!

It was so cold that day, but still so many people came out to support such an incredible cause!! I know you were there also! I know you were watching us to make sure that everyone was ok.

You don’t know Dan, but he is a friend of sister’s and he was the Celebration of Life Speaker. He told a moving story about his friend Roswell, whom we also honored this year as part of our walk team. I know that you have already met him and have become long time friends. I wish I had the chance to meet him also. He sounds like he was an amazing young man.

I hope you are resting peacefully knowing that we are continuing your fight down here.


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AFSP Leadership Conference

by on Jan.29, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings

This last weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with some amazing, inspiring individuals that represented 59 chapters from 37 states from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I met mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, sisters brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who all have been affected by the tragedy of suicide.

One woman that I found extremely interesting was the mother of one of the shooters from the Columbine tragedy. She held her head high and was such an amazingly strong woman that I had the incredible opportunity to have a moment to speak with. She still, after all this time, lives in the town where the tragedy took place. Not caring what people thought of her. Not caring that people are still judging her for what her son did. She brought me to tears. I am forever moved by her.

So many people with so many sad stories to tell, and there they all were….trying to make this a world without suicide. Trying to help others not feel the pain that we all feel on a daily basis.

The 3 days were filled with conferences that provided some interesting information, and some controversial and enlightening conversation. I walked away feeling a renewed sense of energy and hope to get the Las Vegas Chapter up and running and to hopefully be as successful as some of the other chapters that have been running for some time. They are my guiding light, just like you are.

It’s because of you that I have the energy to do this. You and your sisters are what keep me going on a daily basis. I am nothing without the 4 of you.

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A New Year, another year without you

by on Jan.02, 2013, under Thoughts and Feelings


 Happy New Year my angel! I hope that you had an amazing party up there with all of your new friends! There have been so many people lost this year and I know that you are watching over them, especially all the little children that have been taken from the families and loved ones too soon, just like you were.

Continue to do the work that you are doing….Pet Bubby, Sasha, Daisy and the rest of the pets that are there? I know how much you loved animals and I am sure that you are surrounded by them all the time. You probably go out looking for them just to be close to them! That does not surprise me about you. You get that from me. Your sisters are the same way when it comes to animals. It must be in our genes.

2012 was a very strange and trying year for all of us, but I don’t have to tell you that. There were also some very good things that happened. This last year brought some very old friends back into my life. 2 very dear friends that I was close to when you were just a baby have resurfaced as well as some others that I was in the military with. It’s funny what time will do to people. We never stopped thinking about each other and then POOF…we were reconnected. My relationship with grandma is better and stronger than it has been in a very long time. We talk about everything and we talk about you alot. We miss you so much and we are still so lost without you.

Sister and brother are getting ready for a big move this year. Sissy is very excited about it….wish I could say the same. She will not be within driving distance so it is going to be more difficult to see her. I am going to miss her like crazy. I guess I will have to rack up those frequent flyer miles.

Sheridan became a cheerleader this year and she is so stinking cute in her uniform! Her legs are a mile long!! She is in 6th grade and is such an amazing little girl…well, not a little girl anymore. She is now a teenager and is quite the little lady.

Tee is still doing her girl scouts and she reminds me so much of you. The looks that she gives and her features are so you!! She is 10 now but it seems like she is going on 23! She makes me laugh, she touches me with her generosity and she makes me cry with her feelings.

We all love you and miss you so much my itty bitty. I cannot believe that it has been almost 2 1/2 years since you left us. You and I missed out on so much, but now all of us are missing out on so much more. We will never get to see that gorgeous smile ever again, so we keep that photo in our minds and we look at it all the time.

Rest in peace my angel. I will see you again one day on the other side.


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Christmas 2012

by on Dec.26, 2012, under Thoughts and Feelings

Yet another Christmas has passed that you are not here. It was a quiet day for us. Sister and brother were here for the day only and were quite busy with visiting everyone. Your baby sisters are always so much fun to be around. We opened presents and then had breakfast. Nothing major. I just did not feel in the spirit this year. If it had not been for your sisters, I would not have even bothered with everything.

I am missing you something fierce this year. Not sure what is going on with me.

I love you. Rest in peace my angel, until I see you on the other side.

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