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A Child’s Loss | ACCESS

A Child’s Loss

In 1965, I was a 19-year-old freshman in college. The director of my drama class assigned an exercise called a “Zeigeist.” We were to re-enact an event that changed our lives. I walked up to the stage, lay down on a couch with a stuffed animal my father had given me and cried out “My daddy is dead!” I started crying and could not stop for days.

My father was a Navy pilot and died when his plane went down in 1959. I was 12 at the time. Those seven years were a time of denial and confusion for me even though I had been present at the full military funeral at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

There was no grief counseling or support groups in those days. All attention and sympathy were poured on my mother – the widow. My younger brother and I were left to figure things out for ourselves. I think that people in those days believed children were better off not discussing life’s hardships. However, I remember how drastically it changed my life and how I had to learn to cope with my loss on a day-to-day basis – especially the feeling that no one understood or cared about my heartache.

I saw Heidi Snow being interviewed on television soon after the Alaska Airlines Flight 261 disaster and realized that in my entire life, I had never met or talked to anyone that had survived the loss of a loved one that had died in a plane crash (other than family members).

Although I came to terms with what my life may have been – “if only ….” – a long time ago, the question is still there occasionally. I also tend to wonder whether the whole experience would have been less confusing and frustrating if there had been mentors, grief counselors or other people who would just listen.

I think ACCESS is a wonderful organization. I am enthusiastically available to reach out to anyone needing to express their feelings or share the pain they feel. I would also like to encourage adults to communicate with the youngsters involved – the pain is different but is definitely there as well as the need to express it.

Diane von Rivenburgh lost her father in a Navy aircraft disaster, February 23, 1959

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Families We Have Helped:

Below are some of the air disasters that we have responded to:
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Rockingham County, VA
Private Plane - 2/27/11
Abu Dhabi
Private Plane - 12/22/10
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Private Plane - 7/17/10
South Portland, ME
Air India Express 812 - 5/22/10
Mangalore, India
Afriqiyah Airways 8U771- 5/12/10
Tripoli, Libya
Ethiopian Airlines 409 - 1/25/10
Off of Na'ameh, Lebanon
Air France Flight 447 - 6/1/09
Atlantic Ocean
Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 - 2/25/09
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Continental Flight 3407 - 2/12/09
Clarence Center, NY
US Airways Flight 1549 - 1/15/09
Hudson River, NY
Aeroflot Flight 821 - 9/14/08
Perm, Russia
Spanair JK 5022 - 8/20/08
Madrid, Spain
TAM Airways JJ 3054 - 7/17/07
São Paulo, Brazil
Comair Flight 5191 - 8/27/06
Lexington, KY
Airbus A320-211 - 5/3/06
Off Sochi, Russia
Bellview Airlines - 10/23/05
Nigeria
West Caribbean Airways 708 - 8/16/05
Machiques, Venezuela
Air France Flight 358 - 8/2/05
Ontario, Canada
Kam Air Flight 904 - 2/3/05
Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan
Corporate Airlines 5966 - 10/19/04
Pettis Township, MO
Kish Airlines Flight 1770 - 2/10/04
United Arab Emirates
Georgian Express Flight 126 - 1/17/04
Ontario, Canada
Flash Airlines 604 - 1/3/04

Red Sea

Turkish Airlines 634 - 1/8/03

Diyarbakır Airport, Turkey

US Airways Express/Air Midwest Flight 5481 - 1/8/03

Charlotte, NC

American Flight 587 - 11/12/01

Queens, NY

The events of September 11, 2001

Private Plane - 12/3/00
Milltown, WI
Singapore Airlines 006 - 10/31/00

Chiang Kai-shek Internat'l Airport

Gulf Air Bus A320 - 8/23/00

Persian Gulf, Bahrain

Air France Concorde 4590 - 7/25/00

Gonesse, France

Alaska Airlines 261 - 1/31/00

Pacific Ocean

Egypt Air 990 - 10/31/99

Atlantic Ocean

American Airlines 1420 - 6/1/99

Little Rock, AR

Swissair 111 - 9/2/98

Atlantic Ocean

Private Plane - 8/4/98
Phillips, WI
TWA 800 - 7/17/96

US Air 427 9/8/94

Allegheny County, PA

Long Island, NY

Pan Am 103 - 12/21/88

Lockerbie, Scotland

TWA/United Airlines - Mid-Air Collision- 12/16/1960
Brooklyn & Staten Island, NY
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See Full List