Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I don't know what to say...

My response to death has been forever changed.  It isn't that I haven't done appropriate things in the past, but now I know more....

In the two and a half weeks since my son-in-law, Chase, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly we have learned a lot and been blessed and touched by the very, very kind actions of family, friends, and strangers.  My sweet daughter Emily and her children have been the recipients of many tender actions, words of love, prayers, kind thoughts, and financial contributions.

I am choosing to record many of the kindnesses shown so I will remember and have a working list of ideas when sadness invades the lives of others.  I hope my need for this list is limited, but I also hope that it may be of benefit to others who wonder what to do when a loved one steps into the next phase of life.

  • Many people simply said, "I just don't know what to say..." but they came anyway.  They held our hands, offered hugs and loved us in our grief.  This helps more than you'll ever know.
  • Orange Juice -  A dear woman brought two gallons of orange juice, and then a couple of days later, another gallon.  It was the only thing Emily ate or drank for 3 days.  It kept everyone hydrated when nothing else sounded good.
  • 6 boxes of Kleenex with lotion.  We cried lots.
  • The snack box.  Emily's sister created a box of granola bars, fruit snacks, candy items, protein bars, etc.  It was wonderful for kids and grown ups alike.
  • Meals - Amazing foodstuffs appeared.  Soups, bread, desserts, sandwich supplies, casseroles, a full out thanksgiving feast, granola (it was a godsend the day of the funeral), and a breakfast casserole for the day after the funeral.
  • Visits.  Just people stopping by to offer condolences.
  • Gifts for the children whose daddy was gone. Books, bracelets, toys, crayons, clothing.
  • Fruit.  Baskets, bowls and trays.  Every bite eaten up!
  • Money tucked into cards.  Some signed and some not, but all with gentle notes of love.
  • Letters. Letters to various family members who have suffered the loss of husband, father, son, brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law and friend.
  • Help.  Babysitting, house cleaning, and car cleaning inside and out.
  • Dishwashing.  I'm not sure how all the dishes were washed or by whom, but they were cleaned by helping hands.
  • A party for the children on the evening of the viewing.  Our son's in-laws planned a wonderful party and invited all the cousins (all of my grandchildren) to the event.  It was so good for them to have fun and for the parents not to worry about them.
  • WATER:  An ice chest full of bottled water was provided at the viewing and then at home for the next few days.  It was a huge blessing for all the family {both sides} at the viewing and then again at home.
  • Alterations.  A sewing wizard/friend made sure that all the viewing and funeral clothing was in tip-top shape for the whole family.
  • Floral gifts.
  • Homemade fudge.
  • Phone calls from near and far. We have heard from dear friends from each phase of our lives and the love and support warms our hearts and alleviates our sadness.
  • Music. Someone dear came and played the piano.  I watched Emily's healing begin.
  • Donations to the memorial fund to help care for the children, and the child yet to be.
  • Attendance at the viewing and the funeral.
  • Ongoing offers to help, and follow up calls to make arrangements to do so. Never again will I say, "Let me know if you need help."  Not because I don't mean it, but because those in grief don't know what they need.  The concrete offers have been such blessings. {"I want to come over once a week and help with housekeeping.  I want to come at the same day and time each week.  Would Thursday work for you?"  "I am free on Saturday evening from 5 -11 and I'd love to watch your kids."}
  • A friend attended the viewing and was "on call" for anything that was needed. She ran errands and was the "go to" girl of the evening.  I'm not sure what we'd have done without her that day or the day of the funeral.  She was discreet, but our family all knew she was there if we needed anything.
  • The evening of the viewing friends came to the house and said, "Can we take anything up to the church for you?"  When we arrived at the church the items had not only arrived safely, but had already been set up in a display.  I was SO thankful!
  • A nursery was provided on the day of the funeral so young children could be occupied while the parents attended the service.
  • A text to ask Emily what her favorite beverage was, and then it showed up for her, along with lip gloss and extra water. Just in case...
  • A utility bill paid on Em's behalf. (For a whole year!)
  • Folding Laundry.  It seems some of the most basic household chores seem insurmountable for the first week or two. This was a blessing.
  • Dry cleaning drop off/ pick up.
  • Ongoing help, messages of love, expressions of concern, and check up phone calls. 
I know this list will continue to grow. In the midst of great sorrow we feel extremely blessed by the goodness and love that has been shown to our family.  God bless us, everyone.

PS... If you are wondering how Em and the kids are, here is an update: Em's Family

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Tribute...

My oldest daughter, Emily, has endured a week that no young wife ever wants to consider.  The loss of her husband, Chase on March 10, followed by all the necessities that follow a death.  

His funeral was yesterday, March 16.  She was brave, brave, brave. -- The words of the funeral were a blur for Emily, so I told my her that I'd write the words she'd most like to remember.

Chase was a fine man who adored his family.  He fell in love with Grace, his step-daughter, first and then, in very short order, her mother.  Chase adored them both and went to great lengths to DO things to make them happy.  He often sent flowers, brought home candies and small treats, took them on walks, and designed family play dates.  He once told me that he couldn't bear the thought of ever losing Grace --- or Emily.  :)

Chase and Emily loved road trips.  They enjoyed National Parks week and traveled throughout Utah. Just two weeks ago their family enjoyed a trip to California and spent time at the beach, Sea World, Disneyland and Universal Studio.

They spent many weekends at Bear Lake with Chase's family enjoying boating, fishing and hanging out with family at the lake. -- Summers were full of backyard picnics, cousins, and making fresh pasta. Winters were filled with snowball fights, snow play, and hot chocolate parties with passionate kisses.
(If you've never had "Passionate Kisses," here's the recipe:  Drink hot chocolate through a Thin Mint  (or Grasshopper) cookie.  Take a tiny bite out of each side of the cookie and use it like a straw.  The inside with melt from the hot chocolate, but it's your job to slurp up the cookie just before it melts.  If you don't, it will be a melty pile of yumminess in the bottom of your cup.)

Chase loved to cook with Emily and they loved hosting guests for dinner. They were delighted to have company and often did. They loved movies, concerts, and window shopping together.

Henry was born with some challenges and teaching Henry to walk and sign (talk) has been Chase's delight. He was Henry's greatest cheer-leader, as a good dad ought to be.   It was delightful to watch the father/son bond grow.

Their children were the light of their lives and they eagerly looked forward to the birth of their new child in July. They were busy trying out names and discussing just who their new little one would be.

Chase often came home for lunch just to kiss Em and see the kids before nap time.  He was always helpful at home with household chores, and especially so when Emily was expecting a baby.  He always washed the floors, cleaned the bathrooms and took out the trash.  He was also a diaper-changer extraordinaire who never complained about diaper duty, and even volunteered for it.

When it came to discipline of the children he was kind and attentive.  He believed in talking gently and calmly and listening.

Last year Chase decided to learn to knit and loved the new hobby. He and Emily spent many evenings watching movies while he knit and Em crocheted.  The long waits at Primary Children's during Henry's surgeries were spent knitting.

Chase was a delightful son-in-law.  He often dropped in to talk and frequently told me I was his "favorite mother-in-law," assuring me that even if he had more than one, I would still be the favorite.

Chase adopted Emily's love of musical theater and had decided to learn to sing and dance so he could audition for a local theater production.  He had great plans to become an actor.

Emily is lost without the love and companionship of her best friend.  The children miss their dad and don't understand their new life without him.

He is loved and missed.

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Chase's Obituary

Chase Roger Nielsen, born November 28, 1983 in Ogden, UT passed away unexpectedly Sunday evening March 10, 2013 leaving his sweetheart-wife, Emily and step-daughter, Grace, son Henry, and a new baby anticipated in July. They were a happy family residing in Hyrum, UT. Chase was 29.

Chase was a brilliant man who loved to learn and excelled in many different fields. He graduated from Roy High School class of 2002. He also received his Associates degree from Weber State in 2002.  Chase was accepted in to the Nuclear program when he joined the Navy, and after his military service he continued his education at the University of Utah and later at Utah State University.

Chase worked for Great Western Park and Playground and loved his job and his work family. He was able to tell every one that he was a project manager, but lovingly told friends he was a “parkitect.” Designing playground space brought him great satisfaction.

Chase enjoyed spending time with his family at Bear Lake.  He enjoyed fishing, boating, knee-boarding and wakeboarding.  He loved spending time with his family playing video games with his brothers and children, watching movies, taking the kids to the park, and making fresh pasta in the summertime.

Chase is survived by his wife, Emily Ann (White) Nielsen, his step-daughter Grace, his son Henry, and a new baby who will be born in July. Also, his parents, father, Roger Nielsen (Shelly), mother, Nancy Gale Knaus, brothers, Eric Nielsen, Cory Nielsen, step-sister, Jessica Trythall (Kenny), step-brother, Tyson Spencer (Ryan), and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Chase will also be missed by his in-laws, Chris and Dana White and Emily’s extended family.

The “Chase Nielsen Memorial Fund” has been established to assist his family at this time of loss and sorrow.  Contributions can be made in person or by phone at any America First Credit Union Branch.

Services for Chase Nielsen include a viewing at the Hyrum North Stake Center, 245 Apple Drive, Hyrum UT from 6-8 pm on Friday, March 15, and again on Saturday morning from 10 – 11 am. Funeral Services will be held in the same location Saturday, March 16 at 11 am.  Interment will follow at the Roy City Cemetery.

Many thanks are extended to Great Western Park and Playground, the Hyrum EMT team, the Cache County Sheriff’s Department, and the ER at Logan Regional Hospital.
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We will miss Chase so very, very much.  His laughter, his love for his children, his adoration for his sweet wife, his devotion to learning and constant desire to make a better life for his family.

We love you Chase.