Raw Reflection

It’s been 17 years since my firstborn child died by suicide, two weeks before his 31st birthday. I asked the “why” questions for a long time until I was tired of shouting to the sky and hearing only howling wind in return. What still echoes in my mind are the unanswered questions. Within the realm of possibilities, what if my son disliked himself? What if he was fearful of more broken relationships or fearful of the future? I am talking about “what ifs” not facts, and I can come up with a long list of “what ifs.” Maybe you can, too. Some grievers may have more facts than I have which makes me wonder: Do more answers lower the intensity of grief? Did your child leave a note? Does it help?

The reason I wonder aloud if my son disliked himself is because I grew up with feelings of low self-esteem. I don’t know why I lacked confidence. Maybe I had older sister envy. To me, she had it all: looks, figure, steady boyfriend. Some girls grow up self-assured. Poised. Assertive. I wasn’t one of them.

When I look back at the early years of mothering, mostly I remember being exhausted from caring for two lively little boys. What did I instill in them? Did I teach them the all-important attributes? Did I have the wisdom to see beyond the present to what they might become? Looking back, it’s easy to doubt.

Self-reflection answers some of my questions when I examine them closely. I know that I did not cause my child’s death. Neither did you. That is a fact that may be hard to swallow, but it’s true. Sure. I could have been a better mother. If I had had the wisdom then that I have now, no doubt I would have shared it with my children. I know I wanted the best for them. We all did.

It makes my heart ache to look back at my firstborn’s life because I think he suffered from low self-esteem, too. Maybe he had little brother envy. He was not athletic like his brother. He was shy. He didn’t have girlfriends like his brother. These negatives don’t add up to positives. I don’t think my firstborn could see that he was beautiful, inside and out.

I’m going to open my heart up a bit more and reveal a painful truth. My son had made attempts twice before. Both times he was in the company of others. Looking back it signals to me that he really didn’t want to die, but was crying out for help. For one of those times he was home and I quickly took him to the ER. Somehow I never allowed myself to think that he might actually complete suicide one day. I refused to let myself think that it was possible until the day I got an email that made my heart nearly stop. He wrote that his girlfriend had broken off their relationship and he wanted to kill himself. He lived too far away for me to speed to his side. We were in contact later, and he reassured me that his email was written in the heat of the moment and he regretted sending it. He said he was okay. My mind wanted to believe him, but it was running wild with worry. Surely he wouldn’t follow through with his threat, would he?

Later when we had time together he talked and I listened. He cried and I cried. I rubbed his back and we hugged. I told him that if it were possible I’d die to save him. He nodded. Could he hear me? Did it make a difference? He was seeing two therapists so I trusted that they would work out some of his issues with him. Sadly, I trusted too much.

That was then. This is now. Time marches on but cannot change the truth. My child felt too much pain to live. He did not believe in himself. I now think that he was a troubled teen. His issues followed him into adulthood. The last girl was the last straw. She tore him down and maybe he believed her. Maybe he believed that he would never be happily married with children, a future he craved. The darkness closed in. The negative voice of the enemy beat a steady drum in his brain, and to my sorrow, he took a permanent way out.

I share that my child made attempts because maybe your child or another loved one did, too. No matter the details it hurts our hearts that they completed. We miss them more than we can say, but we won’t always miss them. I live in hope of the Grand Reunion when my son will swoop me up in his arms. We will laugh at the sheer joy of seeing each other again. I know you have a picture of your reunion, too. Let’s not lose Hope, but cling to it, letting it carry us forward to that wonderful day.

We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 

Verses shared from The Message (MSG)

More stories at Healing After Suicide


This entry was posted on June 3, 2023. 2 Comments

Loss in Layers

Onions have layers. I’ve chopped my share. Likely you have, too. Each fragrant layer releases more tears. The deeper we peel the harder we cry. In my writing, I struggle to describe what it feels like to live without my beloved child. As I grapple with my own feelings I’m always looking for new ways to express my deep sorrow. Like the onion, does grief have layers, too?

If I look at my life in layers I can see the growth from one layer to the next. What about grief? For those of us on a grief journey is it possible to weep in layers? Like the onion, each layer peeled releases deeper, more “fragrant” anguish as we are reminded that our beloved children or other loved ones will never return to us in this life.

Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep. ~ Carl Sandburg

Like you, over my lifetime thus far I have experienced the loss of loved ones. First my grandparents, then my parents. With each loss, each layer peeled, I felt the loss more deeply. However, no loss I had yet experienced could touch the loss that was to come. I didn’t know that the grief which lay in wait would nearly snuff out my life.

Time had a way of marching on as my children grew up and flew the coop to make their own marks on the world. I had to face an empty nest and that, too, brought tears and required some getting used to. Now there were just two of us rattling around in our house. I had to learn to cook for just two, not four. There were visits from the kids which were never long enough, but it helped to spend time with them as the months pushed on.

None of the onion layers peeled off and the tubs of tears cried could prepare me for the worst sorrow on earth, the loss of my firstborn to suicide. The crushing blow to my heart, the thunderous roar to my mind, I had never experienced before. My body throbbed from head to toe and I thought the pressing load of anguish in my chest would cut off my oxygen and snuff out my life. Many of you lost your children when they were just “babes.” I had my firstborn son, Greg, in my life for 30 years. Still, I was not ready to let him go. I would never have been ready to let him go. I’m sure you feel the same way about the child(ren) you have lost.

I will mourn the loss of my son for as long as I draw breath. My heart will always carry a puddle of tears in its depths. One does not “move on” from the loss of a child for any cause. If there are those in your circle who tell you it’s time to return to the person they once knew, politely tell them it’s impossible to do that, and even if it were possible you choose not to. We carry our children with us in our hearts until we have them in our arms again.

As my readers know I am a blogger on social media. My focus is to share my feelings as a mom who has buried a child. I share my experience with those who are on a grief journey from child loss or other losses. We are fellow travelers. We know deep heart pain which sets us apart from those who don’t. Some of us have even tried to help those who have not experienced such loss to understand what we are going through. We want them to show compassion, even sympathize with us in our sorrow, but empathy is impossible unless they, too, have lost a child.

I have read so many responses from grievers who have been told in various ways to get over it and get on with their lives. It makes my heart ache to read such nonsense because I know those words are barbed arrows to a shattered heart. Our hearts ache with longing for the loved ones we’ve been forced to bury. Why can’t people understand that? Why do they insist on putting a timetable on our grief?

Back to the onion illustration. No one can tell you ~ and I have no intention of comparing our losses ~ which layer of grief you are on right now. If this analogy works for you, only you know what you feel and that’s all that matters. I am here for you as are other grievers. Arm in arm and with tears in our eyes we take small steps forward together.

You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:9 

Verse shared from Living Bible (TLB)

More blog stories appear on my author page, Healing After Suicide.



Sorrow’s Long Shadow

I lost my son to suicide at age 30. He would’ve turned 31 two weeks later. Grieving is unique to each individual, and I would not attempt to tell anyone how to go about it. Like Scarlet O’Hara, I have often put off thinking about things that trouble me, but sorrow is like a long shadow that follows me wherever I go.

We who grieve quickly figure out that we can’t box grief up and stamp it “Do NOT return to sender.” We can’t stuff it in a storage unit and lose the padlock key, or put it on the highest shelf requiring a tall ladder and we don’t have one. Grief will return, even after years have passed and demand to be dealt with. Those who refuse to grieve in the beginning might find themselves acting out and hurting someone within their circle of relationships. Grief says, “Let me take the lead. Yes, it will hurt, but I am thorough, and you will feel better in time.” If grief is allowed to lead it will likely unfold slowly. It takes lots of time but eventually, it will take its rightful place inside your heart. At least that’s how I describe my experience.

“I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Most of us have watched the movie, Gone With the Wind and heard Scarlett repeat the phrase, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Apparently, her troubles could wait. In a sense, an ancient book says the same thing when it suggests that we should not worry about tomorrow. Instead, let tomorrow worry about itself because each day has enough trouble of its own.

Trouble has followed us from generation to generation and so has sorrow. History bears this out. Trouble and sorrow often appear to travel hand in hand. Although there are countless grievers who have unique stories there is a similarity to our grief. We’ve all experienced trouble and sorrow. Often together.

I write about losing my child to suicide because this is my own experience with horrific loss. I was forced to bury my firstborn son after he took his own life some years ago. You may not have buried a child, but buried another loved one. Although our experiences differ we are alike in that our grief is difficult to bear. Like Scarlet, it hurts so much that we fear facing it. We would rather put off thinking about it until another day. Grief, however, must be faced and felt. It’s painful, the worst pain I have ever experienced in my mind and body, but if we allow ourselves to feel it, really feel it, it does soften in time. It took me years. It might take you less. The ache that remains is a constant reminder of the child I loved and long for to the depths of my soul. I will ache for my son until the day I clasp him in my arms again.

Those of us who don’t object to looking back to the beginning of our history are reminded that we have a lot in common with David and other ancients who had their own sorrows. Here is a sampling from the 256 verses containing either the word “trouble” or “sorrow.” Verses such as these have been giving sorrow a voice for thousands of years:

Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. (Job 5:7)

How long must I endure trouble? How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night? (Ps13:2a)

Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow, to end my life in disgrace? (Jer 20:18)

[Jesus] became distressed and filled with sorrow. (Mk 14:33b)

I think sorrow should be expressed or it can make us sick. Please know that it’s always safe to share your thoughts here. Not all of us are fortunate to have friends and family who are willing to be a sounding board for our grief. Often they soon tire of listening and want us to “move on.” We know that grief won’t allow that. Instead, it’s a long shadow, a lifelong companion so feel free to speak your mind. I think it draws us closer as we share our personal experiences with terrible grief.

I like to end my posts on a positive note. Please know that our troubles and sorrows will end. When we reunite with our loved ones, and this time forever, we will soon forget all the bad stuff that happened on earth. My God says that He will wipe away our tears. Here’s a promise to look forward to . . .

You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy (Ps 30:11). 

Verses shared from New International Version (NIV); Good News Translation (GNT)

Other blog stories may be searched for on my author page, “Healing After Suicide” by clicking on this piece.

This entry was posted on March 3, 2023. 2 Comments

Soul Sisters

The title of this piece may sound sexist. It’s not intended to be. I blog to encourage all grievers on social media; it just happens that women are in the majority. Let’s face it. Women (mostly mothers) aren’t afraid to pour their hearts out to other women suffering the same loss. In doing so we discover that we are soul sisters and not alone in our grief. May this piece encourage us to make connections with other cyber grievers who share a similar sorrow.

Grievers, who survive the loss of a child (or other loss) get each other. Although there may not be a shred of similarity in our particular way of life we get the deep pain in another parent’s wounded heart. My child died by suicide. Perhaps yours did, too. No matter the cause of death we are connected heart to heart in shared sorrow. If it were possible to link us together we might circle the globe. Sadly, the numbers are staggering (see my archives “Better Together” January 2021.) Already we have grown beyond those numbers.

Although grievers are connected to other grievers via social media our hearts can still be lonely. I speak for my own grief journey when I say that loneliness has nibbled at my heels with each step I’ve taken since I was forced to bury my firstborn a number of years ago. For me, sadness and loneliness are intertwined. One may be surrounded by people, but the heart can remain untouched and hurting. Deep in my heart, the ache remains which leaves me feeling isolated at times. Do you know what I mean?

The longer I am on my journey, the more likely others think I should be finished with grief, even those closest to me. I suspect they would shame me (intentionally or not) if they knew that I will always grieve for my child. Once our loved one is buried most people expect us to get on with our lives as soon as a few weeks or months have passed. It did not work that way for me. How about you? Are you forced to keep silent around friends or family who think you should be through grieving by now? If they say hurtful things to you, I am so sorry for your added pain. For those among us who have lost a child, I firmly believe that unless the other person has lost a child they cannot understand our deep grief. Those who cannot understand should keep silent unless they can offer a hug, a listening ear, or a word of encouragement no matter how long it’s been. And wouldn’t it be nice to hear our loved one’s name said in our hearing once in a while?

I just returned from a trip to see my twin granddaughters, age 5. They know that their uncle has died. I doubt they have been told much more than that. They brought up their uncle’s name, referring to him as “auntie” Greg until I clarified. Mostly they wanted to hear stories about their daddy and uncle when they were little boys. I shared one story and they begged for more . . . and more. They love their Uncle Greg even though they have never met him. Just hearing them say his name was sweet music to my ears. Children are not afraid to speak what is in their hearts. As adults, we could learn lessons from their innocence.

Has anyone ever said to you, “You are so strong” or “You are so brave?” When someone says that to me, I feel a further sense of isolation. It’s as if a cold wind blew through their words and clutched my heart with icy fingers. It makes me want to turn away, knowing I cannot trust them with my grief. I know I am far from strong. I am the weakest of the weak. Although grief softens over time, most days I feel like I am barely surviving. You, too? People mean well. Perhaps they are willing us to be strong and quickly put our grief behind us. Well-meaning as they may be, they are wrong. I am naturally drawn to those of you who “get it.” When we’ve suffered similar losses it’s unlikely that we will say something hurtful. We can offer support without all the details. We can offer understanding while being total strangers. We are strangers who become soul sisters.

When it comes to my heart no one knows it, not even me; therefore, I’m grateful that I don’t have to understand it all, but there is someone who does. He will never hold against me what He knows is in my heart.

More than ever as we head into the New Year, I will seek my higher power’s support. He who created me knows me best. He is my master designer and He gave me a mother’s heart. This heart feels deep sorrow with tears of anguish. He, too, knows deep sorrow and is there to wrap His arms around me and cry with me. He is there to guide me to another soul sister whose beating heart hurts like mine. For those who are lonely and in need of hope, He connects us heart to heart.

Yes, Lord, let your constant love surround us, for our hopes are in you alone. Psalm 33:22

Verse shared from Living Bible (TLB)



This entry was posted on January 6, 2023. 12 Comments

Taking a Look Back


It was sad to lose my mom to Alzheimer’s disease and then my dad to cancer five years later. It was sadder still to lose my firstborn son to suicide four years after my dad died. The former First Lady, Nancy Reagan referred to her husband’s mental decline as the “long, slow goodbye.” Thinking about Ms. Reagan’s description of former President Reagan’s slow fade from life, I felt the opposite was true with the death of my son to suicide. For me, his sudden death was more like a swift goodbye. Way too swift.

It’s been 17 long years since my son died by suicide. Years of reflection have afforded some clarity. However, there will always be questions without answers. Thinking back to the final decisions we had to make at a time when my mind was a blur, I find myself asking questions like couldn’t I have done this or that? I am referring to all those final tasks others did for our family. At the time total exhaustion required many helping hands, and I will always be grateful for them. It’s now after years have gone by that my hands ache to do more than just put flowers on my son’s grave.

I find myself thinking back to each activity (that I can recall) that took place following my son’s death and wonder, couldn’t I have been involved in each step? I was involved in the process of his birth, why not his death? Didn’t I think to ask? I remember feeling rushed. I would have preferred to slow the process down so that my mind could catch up. I was walking in a fog at the time. Someone alerted my other children. I don’t even know who called them. I think now, couldn’t I have done that? Perhaps someone thought they were “sparing” me added grief. There is no sparing us from grief after we lose a child, of that I’m sure.

People hurried us here and there to make decisions while we were dazed and shocked to the marrow. We agreed to arrangements no parent should ever have to make. We signed documents no parent should ever have to sign.

Hubby and I were “the walking dead” as we were led into the box room. I don’t remember putting any thought into casket selection, having never shopped for one before. I have only a vague memory of that display room. My eyes brimming with tears, I probably pointed to one and rushed out of the room. Thoughtful friends offered to buy burial clothes, and I agreed. Years later I think, I would have loved to have done that.

It seemed like an eternity before our family was allowed to see our son and brother at the mortuary. Following the shocking news I had been praying, “If possible, please, please let it not be my Greg.” Unfortunately, there was no denying that this young man with his short, sandy hair, fine handsome features, and beautiful hands belonged to us. This man-child had captured my heart from the very first flutter I felt in my belly. I was certain that I could protect him always. Isn’t that the expectation of every parent?

It seemed to me that there was little time allowed for closure before the final service. Did you feel rushed, too? Does death have an expiration date? Losing my child to suicide shocked me beyond belief. It was as if I was wading through a soupy fog during the final preparations. Now I look back and wonder, couldn’t we have slowed it down a bit? Why the rush? 

All that remained of our final goodbye was to lower the heavy lid and shut out daylight forever from the light of my life. Again, why the rush? Couldn’t I have had some time alone with my boy? Perhaps it would have eased the shock a bit if I could have sat by him a little while longer: touching him, kissing him, studying his features, and crying endless tears.

I was forced to accept my son’s death, but he remains in my heart. I will always love him. I could never stop loving the baby I struggled to bring into this world, bottom first. My mind was already filled with the hopes and dreams I was planning for him. I will keep each detail. Each memory of him is tucked inside my heart. Although my memories are covered with a blanket of sorrow, I’ll keep them anyway. 

Soon there will be no more sad goodbyes, only happy hellos as we greet our precious children and other loved ones. My son will look just like I remember him when he was alive, only better. I picture us laughing as we run into each other’s arms, dancing for the sheer joy of being together again. This time it will be forever! Until then we live with hope, my friend. Let’s keep hope alive for it helps fast forward our minds to that wonderful Grand Reunion Day.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 

Verse shared from New Living Translation (NLT)


This entry was posted on October 28, 2022. 4 Comments

Beautiful Hands


~ Hands in movement represent life ~

 I wondered if I needed revision surgery on my dominant hand. It had been a few years since I had the first surgery. I did not relish repeating the recovery process, but returning pain finally forced me to get a second opinion from another surgeon. Such a decision demanded scrutiny of a body part I had always taken for granted. As long as my hands worked properly and without pain, I didn’t give them a second thought. In the end, I chose to put my right hand in the hands of the second surgeon and trust him to fix the problem.

Hands are amazing, aren’t they? They are strong, yet delicate. They can do the most complicated surgery, pound a nail, swing a golf club, thread a needle, type a letter, perform sign language, and tenderly caress a newborn. The human hand has been designed with five metacarpals and eight carpal bones which give us the fine motor coordination we often take for granted.

We can do limitless things with our hands such as give hugs, chop wood, drive, clean, teach, nurse the sick, worship, brush teeth and trim our nails. Most importantly we feed ourselves and our babies. Funny how the most basic of tasks, usually personal in nature, can be hard to do with the non-dominant hand. I have never mastered writing with my left hand. Somehow I managed to brush my teeth and dry my hair, but it wasn’t easy. Forget putting on makeup!

If you are blessed with children think back to your first baby. Remember how curious he or she was when she discovered her fist? I remember my baby moving his fingers all around, studying them, totally fascinated. Of course, it became all the better when he realized that his fingers could help him move, pick up things, and feed himself. Hands are indeed an integral part of the marvelous human machine.

I’ve had plenty of time to study my hand while working to get my function back. During that period my thoughts quite naturally turned to my firstborn son who died by suicide some years ago. He had beautiful hands. As a grown-up, he put them to work skillfully repairing medical equipment used in the care of hospitalized children. Those same hands wiped away tears in times of sadness. Those same hands wanted so much to hold someone who would hold him back. Those same hands were the extension of a heart that longed to be happily married like his friends. Those same hands were part of a lonely heart that longed to be a parent. Those same hands will not show me his first baby, making me a proud grandma. Those same hands were connected to a heart that became so sad that he used them one last time to end his pain.

I find myself looking at my younger son’s hands. Exquisite like his older brother’s, they are especially beautiful to watch as they hug his precious twins. Hands are designed to move. To see hands in movement represent life. Hands in repose are still beautiful, but they don’t represent life. A lump comes to my throat as my mind returns to the last scene of my firstborn’s hands. Forever still.

Dear Reader, you may be thinking about your own hands or those of your children. Their beauty. Their usefulness. Perhaps you are remembering how your children held you by hand and heart. Close your eyes. Can you see the precious child or other loved one you had to say “goodbye” to? Can you visualize him or her happy, active, and planning a future? Sadly something may have come between their hands and your hopes and dreams for them or you may have used your hands to hold them as they took their last breath.

I can’t help but think of the Creator of our beautiful hands. With His hands, He held children on His lap, stroked cheeks, wiped tears, hugged,  taught, and healed. He clasped His hands in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before others used their hands to drive large spikes into His beautiful hands, nailing Him to a cross. I looked down at the tiny pin in my thumb (which kept my thumb immobile after surgery) and thought my pain is so small compared to His.

Those same hands have the skill to recreate our hands perfectly for heaven. They will clasp our long-missed children and other loved ones to our breasts. They will guide us as we fly in space. In heaven, we will be perfect. Any scars we had in this life will be gone. In fact, the only reminder of our suffering on earth will be the scars in Jesus’ hands, visible throughout eternity.

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. Ephesians 2:10 


Verse from The Voice (V)


This entry was posted on September 30, 2022. 4 Comments

Love Me Tender

Back of Bride Image of back of bride in wedding dress Wedding Veil stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

We are on separate journeys into grief, and yet we might share similar losses. Above all, we travel together, sharing our thoughts from time to time. We all know what deep grief feels like. We live it. Be it day one or day many, we understand each other’s pain. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’m always looking for new ways to express our shared sorrow. As my kids celebrate their tenth anniversary, I dug into my blog archives and refreshed this story . . .

I am about to repeat a phrase I hated hearing as I grew up. My loving parents would say, “back in my day” to make a point. Like back in their day, they didn’t listen to hip-hop music, or back in their day, they walked three miles to school uphill both ways, or back in their day kids weren’t allowed to talk back to parents. Sound familiar? If it does, then you’re old enough to remember songs by Elvis Presley.

“Back in my day” I probably didn’t anger my parents too much about my music choices, but I did love Elvis, and they didn’t. I loved his soulful, crooning tunes like Blue Hawaii, or Harbor Lights. My all-time favorite was Love Me Tender. What a dreamy song for someone at the crazy-about-boys stage.

Now in my over-the-hill stage (and picking up speed), I don’t listen to dreamboat music. I selected one of those “dreamboats” years ago and he’s not going anywhere, (although his hair is waving “goodbye” :). But we did take a trip, a very special trip out west some years back for a very special occasion. The “baby” had finally found his bride. A lush outdoor celebration was planned and we were not disappointed. Our son’s smile was continuous, his bride exquisite, and even the light rain shower couldn’t dampen the mood.

After the ceremony, we were seated at tables that hugged the edge of the dance floor. We ate and chatted with new family members and friends. Then it was time. In the soft lighting under the canopy of heaven, the bride and groom put their arms around each other on the dance floor, looked deeply into each other’s eyes, and swayed gently to the ole tune from my memory bank, Love Me Tender sung in liquid velvet by the lovely voice of Norah Jones.

Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go.
You have made my life complete, and I love you so . . .

It was not really a thought, more like a reaction. The sweet, yet mournful tune opened the floodgates and tears poured down my cheeks as I frantically blotted them before they could ruin my makeup. I was over-the-top happy for the marriage of our children, so why the tears? As hard as it still is to put my grief into words, I’ll try. I fell in love with this song by Elvis when the future of love and marriage was a hope and a dream born out of youth. Hearing it again after all these years hit me in the gut. So much life had passed. So much pain from losing my firstborn son to suicide. My precious firstborn son was not there to see his younger brother marry the girl of his dreams.

Yes. This must be what bittersweet tastes like. This must be what it feels like to laugh and cry at the same time.

When we are early in our grief, our tears are all about our sorrow. We cannot fathom ever feeling joy again. In fact, the very thought is nauseating. We lost our children or other loved ones we loved deeply. How can we ever feel anything but pain? Wouldn’t it be dishonorable to feel something besides sorrow?

At the time of my “baby’s” marriage, I had been on my grief journey for seven impossible years. When the big announcement came I was already beginning to wonder how I could handle my feelings on the day of the wedding. Would the kids want to honor Greg in some way, say leave an empty chair? I struggled with whether or not to ask but finally settled on letting them design their own special day without giving my two cents worth. Looking back, I think it was the right decision since I was the only one shedding tears.

Marriage is never perfect, but may these kids continue adding years to their ten. May they experience their love deepening. May they also know how deeply their heavenly Father loves them. After all, it’s about the love of the past, present, and future, is it not? Heaven will be all the sweeter with none of the bitter to mar its beauty. In heaven, my sons will be together again. Your children will be together again. Our families will be reunited. That day is longed for, hoped for, and prayed for. May it come soon!

 He fell in love with her and spoke tenderly to her. Genesis 34:3

Verse shared from New Voice (V)


This entry was posted on September 1, 2022. 2 Comments

Final Goodbye

Honoring by Remembering

August 1974 ~ August 2005

August is the anniversary month for my boy. His birth and death are in the same month which rolls around every 12 months whether I like it or not. I would imagine that you don’t like your annual reminders of loss either. You may not appreciate reading my story as I recall it if you are early in your grief, but I will share it with those who may be interested. Feel free to share your story in the comments.

I still struggle to put my story of loss into words although it happened years ago now. Emotions still slam into my soul, wrenching me anew like it was yesterday. The news back then was shocking and mind-blowing. My mind dug in its heels and rebelled, absolutely refusing to accept the awful words said in my ear from the other end of the phone.

“It has to be a mistake! Please tell me it’s a mistake!”

My heart was nowhere ready to receive the horrific news that my firstborn son had done the unthinkable and had taken his life. Soon our house was filled with friends, and out-of-town folks were on their way. Hubby and I just wanted to shift this exploding locomotive into reverse and take us back to a time of sweetness when our family was complete.

Soon it would be time to make plans no parent wants to make. I just wanted to see my son, but I couldn’t. This was all so new. It made no sense that he was at the morgue awaiting an autopsy. My soul ached for what he was going through even if he couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on. Finally, he was at the mortuary, but I still couldn’t see him. I was so anxious; I needed to verify that he was really ours. Then I could. And he was . . . much to my fraying hope to the contrary.

Much of what happened those first few days remains a blur, but I do remember standing for hours, greeting friends and neighbors who cared about us. It felt like formalities when all I wanted to do was open up that box and take my son home. We managed to get through the funeral service. I’m thankful that my children wanted to do what I could not; they stood up front and talked about the pride they had in their brother. I was moved to tears as they spoke.

Soon it was time for the graveside service. I dreaded saying goodbye, yet I longed for it to be over. I couldn’t prepare for this service any more than I could prepare for my son’s funeral. We had decided to bury our son so now the time had come to place our beloved child in the ground . . . in the same cemetery I had driven by hundreds of times, but never felt a connection to before. Now it would be the final resting place for my firstborn child.

The funeral director got out of his vehicle as we got out of ours. He was holding a red velvet-covered box in his hands. “Would someone like to carry this?” he asked. Our youngest had grown years in the last week. He has done things to relieve our minds, things that had to hurt him deeply. He was the first to respond, “Yes, I’ll carry it.”

I watched as he clutched the box to his chest. He hugged it tightly as if it might break should it slip from his grasp. Tears ran unchecked down his cheeks. How I ached to enfold him in my arms and tell him it would all be okay, but I could not change the awful reality of this day.

We were ushered to our seats. I glanced around to see who was there, but the faces were blurred by my overflowing tears. The minister said some kind words I am sure, but I don’t remember. I couldn’t take my eyes off my son who still cradled the velvet box. I tried not to stare and invade his last private moments with his beloved brother.

The service was over and it was time to say goodbye. One by one, we took turns clutching the remains of our precious son and brother. We turned to leave, but not without one more symbol of love, respect, and honor . . . a crisp salute from our oldest son who proudly and faithfully served our country.

It was over. To this day all that remains of my boy is a smooth granite spot with his name and dates staring up at me. I visit and shed tears as I place fresh flowers on his grave. That’s all I can do until His promise is fulfilled. Therein is my bright spot. Although I mourn I also have hope! I have hope in the promise that soon our family will be together again for eternity. No more sad goodbyes, dear friends. Eternity will be our happy place forevermore.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18       

Verses from New International Version (NIV)


This entry was posted on July 22, 2022. 4 Comments

Sweet Cherries

Does your life resemble a bowl of cherries or more likely a bowl of pits? The line “If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?” is a book title by Erma Bombeck. Many of us grievers can relate, thinking does this title apply to me? Bombeck had her own problems, but somehow she did not take life too seriously. Her newspaper column was full of one-liners that kept her readers laughing. You may not feel like laughing yet. Grieving is not funny and this story is not funny, rather, it calls attention to “Pittsville” where many of us may feel we live after losing someone precious.

I love summer for all the luscious fruits produced in abundance, like peaches, plums, and bing cherries. Both red and yellow sweet cherries are hands down my favorite pitted fruit. In spite of the pricey yellow-skinned Rainier variety with the rosy blush, I dig a little deeper in my pockets to have at least a few of them every summer. To me, they taste like heaven on a pit.

When we traded city living for country living many years ago, to my delight I discovered that we were the proud owners of a sweet cherry tree! The thought of eating my fill of sweet cherries a mere three seasons away, well, I could hardly wait!

The farmer’s daughter in me kept a watchful eye on the cherry tree as winter thawed into spring. Everything blossomed including my cherry tree. Before long there was just the teeniest hint of a crop, and already I was planning the harvest.

Let me see ~ in addition to a ladder, I would need equipment like sturdy shoes, old clothing that could take a few cherry stains, and buckets. Lots of buckets. Almost daily I walked to the cherry tree and gazed up into the branches, searching for signs of maturing fruit. As harvest time grew closer the branches of the tree became so heavy with cherries I feared they would break. I wanted to sample them, but unless the fruit was dark red I knew it would taste sour. I had to be patient.

At last, the cherries were ripe. After careful scrutiny of the impending crop, I decided that early the next morning would be harvest day so off to bed I went with visions of luscious cherries dancing in my head. The next morning I was up bright and early. As soon as it was light enough I was out the door with a bucket in hand. Finally, I would get my fill of sweet cherries! I looked up into the branches, rubbed my eyes, and looked again. My mouth dropped open. There was not a single cherry on the tree. Not one! There were no cherries on the ground either so the wind didn’t do it. Birds. The winged varmints stole my cherries! Who told them they could swoop in during the wee hours and eat every single one of my cherries! I was livid, but what could I do? Give them a piece of my mind? Like they’d care.

I was forced to settle for, “Oh well, try again next year.” However, that sweet cherry tree never blossomed again and eventually had to be cut down. I had been given just one opportunity, and I missed it.

Isn’t life like that cherry tree sometimes? Full of missed opportunities? One final decision by one of my children changed my life forever. His sudden death by suicide shredded my heart and left me living in the “pits.” Many of us on the grief journey of a lifetime may feel like we have moved to “Pittsville” with the death of our precious children or other loved ones.

After losing my child my sentences often began with the words “I should have” or “Why didn’t I?” Moaning about the cherries ~ “Why didn’t I pick them yesterday” ~ was a far cry from the “Why didn’t I” questions after my firstborn’s death. The difference? The former question didn’t drive a stake through my heart. The latter one does.

It is particularly overwhelming to have the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” thoughts hound us after losing a beloved child. From my personal experience with the death of my son, it is particularly painful because it was his choice to end his life. Could I have prevented it? Could I have saved him? Looking back with 20/20 clarity I think he would have found a way. He was in that much pain. I imagine that you have similar thoughts in your grief.

It doesn’t matter if questions after a loss make sense or not. Grief has to ask the questions, and often over and over. It’s part of the grieving process. It’s part of the healing. For me, eventually, Hope was added. Hope followed me to Pittsville where I will live out my life with the Hope of seeing my firstborn again soon. We eagerly wait to trade Pittsville for a better destination, Heaven. I anticipate that Greg and I will have the time of our lives stuffing our faces with all the sweet cherries we can eat.

Know this: children are a gift from the Eternal; the fruit of the womb is His reward. Psalm 127:3

Versed from The Voice (V)






This entry was posted on July 1, 2022. 2 Comments

Ropes of Sand

Life as I once knew it was gone, and our family would never be the same. The suicide of my beloved firstborn left me reeling in shock and grief. Hurled into helplessness and free-falling without a net I needed something to grasp, something to cling to since my world had just turned upside down. My pain was off the charts. Anger, Pain’s sidekick, was right up there, too. You know Anger, right? Somehow Anger felt like it had the backbone I needed. Guilt was right there, too. I needed their strength while I fought to hold onto the last shreds of the connection I once had with my boy. Could they help hold me up?

Anger and Guilt were the “pillars” I leaned against for support. I stayed there for a long time. Looking back now with the vantage point of 20/20 vision, I see how Anger and Guilt helped me cope in the beginning; they were an adrenaline boost providing a false sense of control. Although misguided we can’t let go of them while in the throes of deep grief for we have little else to prop ourselves up with.

Questions, questions, and more questions swirl in our minds after a sudden loss, like how could my child be gone! Why my child? How could my child do this? Will I ever see him or her again? How can I go on living without my child? How could my higher power allow this to happen? Some say suicide survival is hell on earth. I’m sure that no matter how our children die, we know our grief is the worst imaginable. I am sorry for your loss and pain, my friend. We have a time of it, don’t we?

I cannot tell you how to get unstuck if you are there. Time does not heal this wound, but time does help us heal slowly within this lifetime journey of grief. It is in looking back over the years I have been on this journey that I see more clearly. Time will help you to see more clearly, too. It may even help you realize that blame, anger, and guilt are not pillars at all. They are more like ropes of sand that stick together for a time, but they will eventually dissolve in the ebb and flow of grief, leaving you with nothing to cling to. By the time that happens, you will be stronger.

Just in case you feel like yelling at the screen about now, I get it. People around us who aren’t grieving have no idea how much we hurt. We hurt from grief and from carrying guilt on top of grief. We have added pain from the stones thrown at us by those who blame us in one way or another. I don’t know what you may be holding onto that you can’t let go of. I can’t force you to let go of your ropes of sand and I wouldn’t try. Perhaps you will choose to let go in time. I am so sorry for the additional pain others have caused you. If they have heaped guilt and blame upon you, shame on them! I do understand this. I was also a victim of my son’s choice to die. I did not cause his death, but family members chose to blame me anyway. Going forward I was no longer welcome in their home. Their actions enraged me for a long time. So you see, I do get it.

Misguided guilt and blame not only leave us feeling empty in the long run they hurt the heart. One’s heart is shattered by the loss of a child; there is no denying it. Although shattered hearts can eventually mend there will always be scars; however, scars are strong. I am realizing how much deeper my heart has grown. I look at life differently now. It’s fragile, and change can come at any moment. I take nothing for granted. I love my family and I work to make lasting memories. Also, I feel the need to help others in their sorrow. By doing so, I honor my son’s memory.

I try to share with my grieving readers what helps me heal. This is what worked for me so I will share it. No one can take the anger, blame, or guilt from you. They are yours to hold onto as long as you need them. By this time in my journey, I had concluded that God did not take my son, rather, it was the actions of the enemy that caused Greg to make that final decision. Now I realize that God weeps with us when we grieve so it was natural for me to ask Him to free me from those who blamed me for my son’s death, and He did. I must say, freedom feels so much better than rage. My chains are gone. My ropes of sand have dissolved away. Grieving is a process that takes time. Hold onto what you need to until you are ready to let it go.

His grace lasts a lifetime. The deepest pains may linger through the night, but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning. Psalm 30:5b 

Verse shared from The Voice (VOICE)