Worn out


Ready to drop




I wasn’t created to carry this burden.   I cannot do it.

Jesus invites me to lay it down:

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 VOICE





Surviving Social Situations After Child Loss

The first three months after Dominic ran ahead to heaven were full of social obligations.

Dominic left us in mid-April.  My youngest graduated college five days after we laid Dom to rest.  My eldest son graduated as a veterinarian two weeks after that.  He married two months to the day from Dom’s funeral.

Friends and family members stepped up and lent a hand.  Most people present were very aware of our recent loss and didn’t force small talk. My living children were amazing-flexible, supportive and loving even in their own deep sorrow.

But I’ll be honest, it’s mostly a blur.

I have photographic evidence of each event, but not a lot of personal memories.

Fast forward a few months and there are other social occasions I must attend.

By this time, for most folks, Dominic’s death was an event marked on a calendar they discarded at the end of 2014.  For me, it was as fresh as ever and the pain had actually increased as the absolute truth that he was gone, gone, gone was settling in my bones.

Without a thought, people I’d known for years trotted right up and said, “How are you?” They didn’t really want to know.

Smiling stylish woman showing sign excellently, isolated on red

They were tossing me the conversation ball in the only way they’d been taught to do it.

At that moment, I had a choice:  I could give in to my inner child and shout, “How the heck do you think I’m doing???? I buried a child!!!” OR I could extend the grace I long to receive and say something more controlled and measured.

Now, I’m not nearly as grace-filled as I ought to be or long to be, but I did manage to construct some “pre-recorded” answers to that question in a sincere attempt to be kind. They continue to serve me well.

Heres how I do it:

  • I give an honest, brief response that does not leave room for additional questions. Something like, “As well as you would expect” or “It’s hard, but I’m trying to hold on” or “I’m here” or “Today is a hard day”  or “Today is a better day”
  • I turn the conversation back to them.  I might ask, “How are you and your family?” or, if I had information about a specific event or person in their family, “How is so-and-so doing?” or “I heard you had a new grandbaby-tell me about him/her!” It’s absolutely amazing how easy it is to get people to talk about themselves.
  • If the person is insistent or persistent in questioning me and digging for details I politely say, “I can’t talk right now.  I want to be able to enjoy the (whatever event we were attending) as best I can.  Sorry.”

I also plan a physical escape route if needed:

  • Whenever I enter a space, I scout the restrooms and exits so that if I need to, I can leave a conversation usually by saying I need to go to the restroom.
  • I take note of who’s present and keep an eye out for a safe person I can migrate toward in a crowd.
  • If it’s a sit-down event I make sure to choose a seat where I can get out without having to depend on anyone else-the end of an aisle, table near the door, etc.
  • If I feel myself losing control, I try to leave before it becomes obvious to anyone else.

And I come prepared:

  • I carry tissues,
  • drink plenty of fluids,
  • have some aspirin and usually an anxiety pill with me,
  • wear one of the special pieces of jewelry my children have given me in honor of Dominic and touch it often to keep myself grounded, and
  • wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

I choose a focal point if I must look in the same direction for a long period of time (like at a wedding) and force myself to consider details so my mind won’t wander as much and possibly take me places I don’t want to go.

I remind myself that when that one person I thought would be there for me and but wasn’t floats up like there’s no rift in our relationship, this is not the time nor the place to correct that.

I smile and wave and preserve the dignity of the situation.

Most of all I try to remember that the people most likely to be insensitive or rub me the wrong way are blissfully ignorant of the weight of the pain I carry.  They can’t see the fragments of my shattered heart. They don’t know how much courage it takes to show up.


I thank God they don’t and pray they never do.


Trying To Be Brave

A few weeks ago I came face to face with a fear I thought I had under control.

Hurrying, one of my kids almost ran a red light with every surviving family member in the car.

In that moment all my fears of losing another someone I love bubbled to the surface.  I reacted.  My child reacted. And ugly oozed out all over the place.

I hated it.  And I was so, so sorry.

I am trying to be brave.  I am trying to not be afraid of what MAY happen and cherish what IS happening.

I love each of my children-the one that has run ahead to heaven and the ones that walk the earth with me.  That love makes me brave.

I will not waste the time I have with them worrying about what MIGHT happen.

I will not allow the enemy of my soul to steal my joy, kill my passion for life or destroy my relationship with my living children.

courage and perseverance


It is a lot of work and it’s exhausting.  

But it’s worth the fight.

I won’t give up. 



Arguing with God

I don’t expect to win and I don’t think I’ll get an audible answer, but I will tell you I’ve had some rip-roaring, humdinger arguments with God.

Now the pious among us will probably be shocked. They may tell me I’m pushing the envelope of grace or even sinning by asking God what exactly He is doing in this Valley of the Shadow of Death.

That doesn’t deter me-there are plenty of scriptural precedents for asking God, “why” and begging Him for an answer to the pain of this broken world.

Moses wanted to know how come he got stuck leading a bunch of whiny migrants tramping through the desert.

Paul begged God to take away the thorn in his flesh.

Jesus and Job both asked the question.

Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.
‭‭Job‬ ‭13:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

We usually don’t quote the last half of that verse, do we?

We stop at the affirmation and leave off the doubt-Job’s desperate desire to understand just what God was doing when it seemed unfair and capricious.

Most of the book of Job is full of questions.  Job asking why he was targeted and his friends asking him what sin he was hiding.

Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 NRSV

God invites us to ask.  He opens the door to questions.

He is willing to “talk”.

But He doesn’t always answer every question. 

In the end, Job’s mouth was shut not by God giving him assurance of anything except His “otherness” and the fact that He IS God.

A difficult truth to embrace.

One I ponder often.

I hurt, I sorrow, I agonize over the loss that has come into my life. A precious life has been taken away. I feel great grief and pain. It sears my every waking hour and casts a puzzling dreary shadow across my life’s journey.

At a time like this, it is imperative that I remember that God has not promised to keep my life bubbling with pleasing sensations. I must not prostitute God by giving Him the responsibility of being an indulgent Santa Claus in the heavens. God is not my servant. I am His servant.

As I come to grips with my grief, I reject the sentimentalized, sickly religion so popular today. God’s comfort is not insulation from difficulty; it is spiritual fortification sufficient to enable me to stand firm, undefeated in the fiery trials of life. God’s provision is not always green pastures and still waters. Sometimes God leads into the valley of the shadow, but I may walk there with confidence, assured of the love and presence of God.

No longer can I offer a mindless, frivolous assertion that God always measures up to my every expectation of Him and always gives His children goodies. I must declare that some things are beyond my human understanding in the ways of God. Those mysteries have destroyed my comfortable existence, but I proclaim: ‘Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him’ (Job 13:15). I will hurt for years to come. A hundred times a day I feel keenly the void left by death’s cruel blow. That pain, however, must drive me to stronger trust in God whose providence is not always compatible with my desires.

~James Means, A Tearful Celebration

The Complex World of Child Loss

On the other side of child loss, many things that used to be easy just aren’t anymore.  

It takes so much energy to get through a day and navigate the minefields of conversation.

I wrote this a few months ago as I was pondering this aspect of my new life:

“One of the things I’ve been forced to embrace in the wake of child loss is that there are very few questions, experiences or feelings that are simple anymore.”

Read the rest here:  It’s Complicated


Burning Bridges and Other Impulsive Acts

If you’ve followed the blog for awhile you’ve noticed that I rarely use this space to comment on current events unless they intersect with my experience of child loss.

So I have pretty much stayed away from our crazy political scene during this presidential election cycle because why add another voice to the screaming chorus when no one is listening anyway?

But as we make our way to the inauguration and I see heightened animosity, ugly speech and cruel separation of previous friendships, I realize that my experience is relevant right here, right now.

Until you wake up one morning to find out that your child whom you love, whom you raised and whom you were absolutely certain would bury YOU is gone, you have the luxury of assuming whatever bridges you burn can be rebuilt someday.

You may feel pretty confident that in a few days or months or years you will have the opportunity to pick up the pieces and reinvest in the relationship. You might justify your arrogance and impudence and violent speech that pushes others away by standing on principles, waving the banner of your just cause or simply being adament that YOUR viewpoint is the absolutely only correct one.



I’m a firm believer in social justice, political action, correct theology, and strong opinions.

If you’ve been around me for more than five minutes, you know this.

But I believe even more firmly that nothing gives me the right to be hateful, to be dismissive, to act superior or to cruelly treat another human being.

I am also a believer that whatever happens in Washington is only part of what makes the world.

Laws have consequences.

Policies have impact.  

Politicians make decisions that make life better or worse for millions of people.  BUT-how I treat the people I come in contact with every day also matters.

You can call me a coward or tell me I’m “selling out” but I am convinced that I can champion a cause without condemning a friend. I know I can disagree without being disagreeable.  

If my goal is to sway opinion, what hope do I have of that if I am blasting holes in the fabric of relationship?

Each one of us is making the world-day by day, decision by decision, interaction by interaction.

We are burning bridges or building relationships.

Todayjust for a single daylet’s all be kind.

be kind2

Let’s not bash others with our team banner, our polical banner or the banner of our favorite cause.

Let’s just love one another and offer a smile instead of a smirk- a hand up instead of a put down.

We might find we like that world a whole lot better than the one we are currently making.



Why is Anxiety Part of Child Loss?

It surprised me when I felt anxious after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.

Not that the doorbell startled me, or that passing the place of the accident was hard nor that hearing motorcycles made my skin crawl.

But that every single day for many, many months anxiety crept up my backbone and made a knot in my neck.

It surprised me that I felt like I was literally going to explode.  I would walk and walk and walk just to push the negative energy out of my body.

I was also surprised by what seemed to be random triggers-smells, sights, foods, voices, places-that could send me into a tailspin of rapid heartbeat, hurried breathing, sweaty palms and a feeling of abject terror.

I didn’t know it then, but my experience is common.

It shouldn’t be surprising, really.

We all operate in the world as if it is predictable, as if it follows rules.  It’s how we stay sane.

If our minds perceived that most of what we experience has at least a small element of the random, we would sit frozen, terrified to move.

Who can live in a world where you never know what to expect?

When Dominic left this life suddenly, unexpectedly and without warning, my sense of safety and order was violated.

The illusion of control was stripped away.  The grid through which I viewed the world was ripped to shreds.  What I thought I knew about how things worked was proven unreliable.

Truth is, I never really had all that much control, but burying Dominic made that undeniably obvious.

This brutal disruption in worldview created a kind of internal panic.

I wasn’t conciously aware of it at the time because I was overwhelmed with sorrow and the pain of loss.  But my mind was trying to wrap itself around a new understanding of how the world works.

I needed to learn to live in a world where I couldn’t predict outcomes, I couldn’t guarantee safety (even if I did everything “right”) and I couldn’t REALLY plan for tomorrow because tomorrow might very well never come.

I had to figure out how to get out of bed instead of cower under the covers. To get in the car instead of stay at home.  To continue to love the people God gave me even though they may be taken any time.

Anxiety is an outward expression of the inward reality of this disruptive process. My body was screaming what my mind was silently sorting out.

As I have worked on incorporating my experience of losing a child into my worldview, the anxiety has decreased.

I don’t expect to ever live free of anxiety again-how can I when I know by experience what most people only imagine?

But I’m learning ways to deal with it when it rears its ugly head.


And I’m learning that every time I triumph over it, I’m stronger and better able to do it the next time.  





Shadows and Sunlight

The sun streams just so

and turns my head

I’ve learned not to look too long at that wall

But today

Well today I am face to face with HIS face

I didn’t mean to linger

but I did


No remedy but to let the grief wash over me

allow the tears to fall and the hurt to run its course

How can I push this down so well most days

How is it possible to NOT feel this all the time

Am I a monster that my heart can pretend it hasn’t been torn in two????


Not a monster just a mom

A mom with children left to love

Ones left to hold, to encourage, to champion as they keep on keeping on


shadow and sunlight

hope and despair

not either/or


Repost: Choosing the Eternal Path

For most of us in America it seems that we rush from place to place, from event to event, from meal to meal, from crisis to crisis.

But when I read the Gospels I don’t feel a sense of rush at all. 

Jesus expressed urgency when proclaiming that the kingdom of God was near, but He was never in a hurry.

Read the rest here:  Choosing the Eternal Path

Treacherous Travel

My husband had to make a plane on Saturday and it took us over two hours to drive the 50 miles to the airport from our house.  We took a couple detours around accidents that stopped traffic but we were still reduced to an agonizing crawl for most of the way.

Down here in Dixie we don’t do winter precipitation well.  A half inch of snow calls for a complete city shutdown and ice means days trapped inside our homes.

Northerners laugh at us slip-sliding across the interstate but how are you supposed to travel on snow and ice when you don’t have the equipment necessary to make the journey?

Even snow tires don’t matter when you hit black ice.

As I watch the sun melt the remains of our latest winter “storm” I’m reminded of at least one reason this journey of child loss is so. very. difficult.


There is nothing that can prepare you for it.  No way to suit up or grab gear or train for burying your child.

It’s treacherous travel and there’s no opting out.

You can’t wait a few hours or a day or a week and rearrange your schedule. You are dropped right down in the valley and forced to keep moving.

And the whole way is black ice-slick and scary.

You are in a spin before you know it, panicked and trying to straighten out without crashing.

I haven’t crashed.

It’s good to be reminded every once in awhile that all things considered,  I’m doing pretty well.

I am making progress-slow, slow progress-but I’m still on the road.  



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