Stages of Grief ? Nope.

Ever since Elizabeth Kubler Ross published her best-sellling book, “On Death and Dying” both professionals and laypersons have embraced her explanation of the “five stages of grief”.  

The model has been used as a faulty standard to measure grievers’ “progress” for decades.

Trouble is, she got it wrong.  

And it is especially wrong for bereaved parents or anyone who suffers traumatic or sudden death.

Grief does NOT look like this:


It looks like this:  


mixed stages of grief


Repost: How to Respond When Someone Shares Their Pain

We’ve all been there-we ask a routine question and someone refuses to play the social game.  

We say, “How are you?” and they answer honestly instead of with the obligatory, “I’m fine.  You?”

Suddenly the encounter has taken an unexpected turn.

“Oh, no!  I don’t know what to say,” you think.

Read the rest here:  How To Respond When Someone Shares Their Pain

Repost: What Does Healing Look Like?

As I continue to walk this Valley, my heart asks the question, “What does healing look like?”

Fewer tears?  Check.

More laughter? Check.

Better able to function? Check.

Read the rest here:  What Does Healing Look Like?

Repost: Silence Doesn’t Serve Anyone Well

One of the reasons I write is to share my grief experience with others.

I realized when tossed into the ocean of sorrow that of all the things I had heard about or read about, surviving child loss was never mentioned.

Read the rest here:  Silence Doesn’t Serve Anyone Well

Why Do We Turn Away?

The news goes out over Facebook, over phone lines, over prayer chains and everyone shows up.

Crowds in the kitchen, in the living room, spilling onto the lawn.

It’s what you do.

And it’s actually the easiest part.  Lots of people, lots of talking, lots of activity keep the atmosphere focused on the deceased and the family.  The conversation rarely dips to deeper waters or digs into harder ground:  “Where was God?”;  “Why him?”;  “Why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people?”

But eventually the busyness and noise gives way to stillness and silence.

That’s when the harder part starts.

The long hours of nightime darkness that invite questions that demand answers.  The quiet hours of daylight that insist on playing a home movie of the years that went before. Forcing me to wrestle.  Tossing me in the ring of trying to reconcile this tragedy with my worldview.

And many people turn away from the spectacle.  

Even good, loving, Christ-following friends find it hard to stick around and watch.

Because it challenges their worldview too.  

It makes them wonder if what they have always believed about God is true.  It makes them fearful that if it could happen to my son and to me, it could happen to their child and to them.  Ir raises questions, they’d rather not answer.

And they don’t have to answer them-YET-because their lives haven’t been turned upside down and inside out.

So they run.

They stop calling, they stop coming and they keep their distance in public spaces.

It hurts.

A lot.

It’s human nature to avoid pain.  No one marches headlong into suffering. Empathy requres energy.  Compassion demands opening your heart to the hurt hiding inside someone else’s.

I understand, truly I do.  

If I could find a place where sorrow and longing couldn’t find me, I would stay there forever.  But I can’t.  I have to carry this load, I have to face the tough questions, I have to work hard to give my heart a chance.

It is so much easier when others come alongside.  I feel so much stronger when others choose to call courage to my broken heart.  I find great comfort in knowing that someone is willing to risk their own comfort to bear witness to my pain and struggle.

Please don’t lower your eyes and hide.  Raise them and help heal.

I know it’s hard and you don’t have to, but please don’t turn away.  

compassion is a choice






Healing Comes In Its Own Time

I’ve lived with invisible chronic disease for a decade.

From the outside looking in, you’d hardly know that I am often in great pain.  I make daily choices about what I will do and what I won’t do based on what I can do and what my body refuses to do.

I take medication.  I do all the things I’m supposed to do to help my body heal.

But I cannot MAKE the healing happen.

No matter how hard I wish it were different, no matter how carefully I manage my treatment, healing comes (or doesn’t) in its own time.

I’m pretty sure that most people have experienced something similar if they’ve broken a bone or had a bad bout of bronchitis or pneumonia.

Other than following the advice of your doctor and taking your meds on time, resting and eating well, there’s not much you can do to force your body to get well.

A broken heart is just the same.

All I can do is place myself in the path of healing.  I can feed my soul with truth and drink living water from God’s Word.

I can lean in and rest in the promise that Jesus will redeem and restore.

I can do the work that grief requires.

And working on healing takes energy, effort and timelots and lots of TIME.

I cannot hurry the healing.

Please understand that as inconvenient, uncomfortable and disconcerting it may be for YOU, it is immeasureably more so for ME.

Please be patient with my heart.

I’m really trying.

grief is love unfinished



What Does Healing Look Like?

band aid and heart

As I continue to walk this Valley, my heart asks the question, “What does healing look like?”

Fewer tears?  Check.

More laughter? Check.

Better able to function? Check.

I’m definitely not as fragile as I was in the days and weeks and first months after Dominic left us.

I can do what life requires without falling apart (most of the time).

If you run into me out and about, I make small talk and answer questions about my family without breaking down.

So, from the outside looking in it seems the gaping wound of loss has healed pretty well.

But if I lift the lid of my heart ever so slightly, I’m amazed at how much it still hurts.  I’m astonished by the depth of pain and sorrow just under the facade of OK.

I cannot claim to have reached some higher plane of healing or restoration yet. I’m not sure I will this side of heaven.

And the pain of loss has tainted the joy I feel in what remains.

Instead of brilliant technicolor, my life is now lived in sepia tones that warn what joy I have could be stolen at any moment.

The lesson I’ve had stamped with fire on my heart is this:  Love is the only thing that matters in the end.


Love God.

Love people.

So the path to healing means I lean in and love Him and love the people He has given me with everything I’ve got.

Because love endures forever.