Grief Into Acts of Kindness


A Pennsylvania’s family pumpkin spice latte act of kindness in honor of their daughter’s death has turned into a viral chain of good deeds and raising awareness for epilepsy. On Sept. 3, Alyssa, 18, texted her mom to ask if they could go to Starbucks the next morning before school so that she could try her first pumpkin spice latte. Her mom agreed wholeheartedly. “Unfortunately, my daughter passed away early [the next] morning and we never got a chance to do that for her,” Alyssa’s dad told Alyssa died of an epileptic seizure. “She really wanted a pumpkin spice latte. I know we can’t get her one, but we’ll each get one and then we’ll pay it forward and let some other people enjoy what Alyssa didn’t get a chance to have. And maybe they’ll spread the kindness and do a nice thing in honor of our daughter.” The family bought 40 pumpkin spice lattes for the next 40 customers and asked that a purple sharpie be used to write #AJO (Alyssa’s middle name was Josephine) on each cup. “It’s kind of turned into a phenomena in Erie and now it’s just spread all over the country and it’s not about coffee.”


Grieving husband turns grief to kindness by organizing group of farmers to help grieving family harvest more than 1,000 acres. It was like a sad country song was playing, daughter of deceased farmer said, as she watched a line of tractors rolling through her father’s fields Monday morning – the machinery belonged to friends, family and neighbors, all volunteering their time to harvest for a fellow farmer who had gone too soon. “I lost my wife a year ago, so I know what the feeling is, and I know how shocking it is,” he remembered. “I know how anybody’s help – anything they can do to help – it really makes a difference. Family and friends, that’s what gets you through the tough times, and that’s just the way neighbors are here. They get together and get it done.”


Teen turns her grief over the death of her 89 year old great-grandma into commitment to carry out 89 random acts of kindness towards others in 18 months.  The 18 year old granddaughter cannot be happy now, but she is doing what she knows her great-grandma would have wanted from her – To turn her pain and grief into a positive by making other people happy. One of her first acts was to anonymously pay the bill of the customer behind her at a fast-food drive-through.  It was only a $5 dollar bill, but the customer felt as if she had just won a major contest.


Grieving man whose younger sibling died mysteriously last year took his will and multiplied his good intentions by over 100x.  His brother had asked that the family go out to dinner, and leave an unsuspecting staff a very large tip of $500. The grieving brother took his last wish, and turn his own personal grief into a positive by raising not just $500 but over $60,000 and now traveling the country and giving his brother joy to workers once a week throughout the US.


Grief-inspired brother of a 9/11 volunteer firefighter and EMT killed in the line of duty turned his grief into co-founding “the 9/11 day of servants.” The organization he founded has turned a tragedy into something very positive by promoting observing 9/11 as a day of charitable service, and doing good deeds. They encourage people to just do some form of good deed, whether small or large, it doesn’t matter, something in their own comfort zone – the same way people responded in the immediate aftermath of the attack. That really resonates: People clean up parks, clean up beaches, they donate books or blood or write to our troops. They do all kinds of things to help other people and communities in need.


Grieving father, who is surviving the pain of losing his grandfather, father and son in a 13-month span, is used to healing wounds for others as a surgeon. He says survivors get better with time in dealing with change, but they never put the loss behind them. He believes suicide’s end will come when love rises, and since Antonio died, he is doing what he can to help make sure love rises for other children so they feel love from the people around them.  Franco would go to the local high school almost every Friday on his day off, and anonymously buy lunch for the first nine students who went through the line. If some of the students would ask from who, they were told it was a gift from someone who loved them, requesting that they show kindness to one person that day.


Their son loved rugby, and a grieving 9/11 family has raised about $250,000 in scholarships for need-based rugby players at their son’s alma mater. This year, a photo of the father’s private moment mourning the son he lost on 9/11 went viral much to his surprise and that of his family, who said today they wouldn’t have otherwise known about his quiet prayer.


Mom, who without any previous warning gave birth to her stillborn daughter, becomes advocate for parents of stillborn infants. “I can’t even explain how deafening the silence is in a room where you’re expecting to hear a newborn cry.”  She is trying to make something positive out of her grief. “The way I’m coping is to help others. Parents need to know it’s OK to talk about their little angels. Those babies need to be remembered.” She makes bereavement kits for parents of stillborn children. The kits include informational packets about stillbirth and the resources available to help with the grieving process; a disposable camera, awareness bracelets, a candle, a stuffed teddy bear for each parent, a handmade blanket to wrap the baby in and a notepad and pen.


Grieving parents turn their loss into a positive for others in their community. After the death of their 12 year old daughter from a heart arrhythmia, they began by doing what her daughter would have wanted them to do. They try to help others by first donating her daughter’s corneas, organizing a blood drive and starting a scholarship fund to support all the things that their daughter loved. She played the clarinet so the largest portion of the scholarship fund is going to fund local public school district music education.


Grieving widows of fallen officers turn personal tragedies into something positive. They know the pain does not go away, it just changes, but they both feel strongly that the best way to heal a broken heart is to help others heal theirs. The grieving wives help others cope with grief by volunteering their efforts to help others in their time of need.


Grieving mom remembers the sermon her preacher gave the night she would find out her daughter had been shot and killed: ‘Uninvited, Unexpected, Unprepared.’ She said: “I didn’t let my tragedy stop me. It made me stronger for the next person who comes by.” She turned her grief into a higher purpose, a mission to help others in need. She knew how she felt while trying to mourn her loss and at the same time deal with the many frustrations of the judicial system, so she dedicated herself to helping others going through similar situations. Her dedication was applauded by the State’s Victims Assistance Network when they named this 65 year old grieving mom their “Volunteer of the Year.”


Grieving brother has used education and the Kit Faragher Foundation as a memorial for his sister and a catharsis for a family suffering the double pain of losing a loved one and of not being able to find even a molecule of her remains. In the past decade, the grieving brother and his family have raised funds and given away $55,000 in scholarships to a dozen high school seniors.


A 9 year old grandson, left devastated by the loss of his grandfather to a rare form of cancer, turned his grief into an 11 mile walk to raise funding for a charity that he hopes will one day find a cure for the disease.  He raised more than £1,300. “I thought I might raise £50 or even £100 and I was really amazed when it just kept getting bigger – I’m really happy. The walk was tiring but I didn’t want to stop. The thought of my granddad made me determined to finish.”


Grieving father turns his very painful grief into a promise to his family to reach out to other dads that have lost a child and help them come to terms with their loss and to help them find their way. The best thing any father can do for himself and for others around him is to reach out for help and to know it is not a sign of “weakness”; it’s a sign of courage, courage to face these feelings head on. He founded the “Grieving Dads Project,” and is now working towards a Masters in Counseling Degree to provide grieving parents with support from someone that has walked in their shoes. He also channeled his grief into an award winning book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back to help others.


Grieving firefighter, whose 22 year old died in a car accident, turned his grief into an opportunity to help other grieving parents.  He had made a promise to his son that he was going to do something special. He did not know what that was until he came across the faded billboards asking for help in finding a 20 year old student who had vanished two years earlier.  While her parents are desperately trying to keep the case public, there had been no new developments. The billboards in Bloomington had faded like the publicity that once surrounded the case. He shared: “I’ve got closure, can’t imagine what it’s like for them.”  So using donated materials and help from his fellow firefighters, they built 20 large wood-framed signs to replace Lauren’s aging and weathered billboards around the city.


Since 1995, Smith has cared for 45 foster children from Allegheny, Westmoreland and Washington counties. Her Third Avenue home has played host to as many as six foster kids at a time, including three teenage mothers and their infant children. The New Kensington native once even harbored a family of five for more than three years. But perhaps most notable is the time she finds to help grieving families. Smith, upon request, bakes and cooks for families and funeral services of deceased New Kensington residents at her own expense. “I’ve gone through it, and it’s terrible when you lose someone close,” she said. “It’s good for people to know there’s someone out there who cares.” y9 


Grieving grandparents and family, whose son was stabbed to death, turn their grief into hope by raising funds for scholarships to award seniors in local schools. “We’re doing something positive for the community, as they reached out to us we’re able to reach back to them.”


Turning Grief Into Giving. “We decided that we would try and help people when we could. So, we take a collection each week and then decide what to do with it. We have paid for breakfasts, helped an elderly man fill his oil tank, bought Christmas gifts for needy families , helped fire victims, and sometimes just sent flowers to someone who was feeling blue.  We usually do this in a way that no one knows and that makes it even better.


“26 Acts of Kindness” movement grows as feel-good trend goes viral after Newtown. A group of women in Westchester County, New York, turned their Christmas gathering into a “26 Acts” vigil and fundraiser. “I have three daughters and it affected our whole family. We’re all grieving together,” said one of the organizers. Turning their grief into action felt like a way to break through their darkness. “There are simple things, you don’t need money to do them, but just be kind and do them.” One by one these women talked about their acts of kindness, like volunteering at a homeless shelter and helping teenagers and young adults find their way.


The loss of a child is something you cannot prepare for, but a woman who has been through it wants to help others, both practically and emotionally, in their time of grief. “I wanted to help people cope,” she said. What started as a simple idea to make clothes for tiny babies has now grown into a practical pack to help families who lose a baby anywhere in their pregnancy, up to full term. She created the “Angel Baby Packs.” “The packs have information specifically targeted at dad and mum, and information for friends and family as well, because it’s quite difficult for them [when someone loses a baby]; they often don’t know what to say,” she said.


When a grieving daughter lost her father four years ago to cancer, she needed some comfort to get through the grieving process. An only child, she adored her dad. And those feelings of loss would overwhelm her at all hours, sometimes late at night, when there wasn’t always someone in whom to confide. So she started a personal journal on her father and in June, created a website, “Grief By Notes” to help others who are bereaved. Visitors to the website can anonymously post stories of up 150 words about their departed loved ones. The free site aims to allow those grieving a chance to heal by reading and sharing these stories.


A family turning Grief into a blessing. Dealing with the loss of a child is heartbreaking and devastating, but one local couple chooses to act out in love “to honor the short but precious life” of their little one. Confident that God had a purpose for their child’s life, they decided to do a service project each year. They call it “Caleb’s Project” after their son, and they encourage others to join them.