The Journey Begins

I was introduced to grief unexpectedly on February 13th, 1990 in a nondescript room of a local hospital that had a sign on the door that  read, “Quiet Room.”

Within five minutes of being ushered into that room, two more titles were added to my list of roles – wife, daughter, sister, friend, mother, R.N., volunteer.  I was now a widow and single parent.

There was nothing quiet about my journey through grief except for God’s voice whispering, “I am with you always” – even though I couldn’t hear it!

This blog is not only about my story but it is a way to share things I learn as I listen to, accompany and facilitate support for many others going through “the valley of dark places.”

May you find this to be a resource for HELP – HEALING  and HOPE.

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Tears Come With Joy and Sorrow

I visit my first husband’s grave to tell him that our son is getting married and I tear up.  And when I see our daughter in her wedding gown for the first time, the same thing happens.  Two children getting married, 5-weeks apart – that alone could make anyone cry. 

There are many times over the last year-and-a-half of their engagement period when my emotions feel raw.  Tears spilling out as I plan showers and think of the life-changing events that will take place. 

My 85-year old mother prays daily that she will be at both celebrations.  Despite the many ailments that she struggles with,  her desire to be a part of the celebrations keeps her motivated, and she crosses off each day on her calendar.  

Mom’s prayers are finally answered as we gather with friends and family from all over the country at the first wedding in May. Now tears flood her eyes when she sees her beautiful granddaughter as a bride, and five-weeks later as her grandson escorts her down the aisle.  Looking at pictures, tears come again when she sees five of her six grandchildren gathered beside her, and she recalls highlights of each wedding.

She deserves those tears after fighting through all the adversities that could have made her participation impossible.  Those tears signal her victory and they are tears of JOY

But, the most difficult tears to watch come on our last day of the second wedding as she gathers with her family before going home.  She has enjoyed every minute of both celebrations, but as she pushes her walker to the awaiting car, she seems tired and frail.

Hugs and kisses from her loved ones bring out the final set of tears as she says, “I was just getting used to being around all of you.  I have my whole family here, and now I have to leave!”   Eyes move around the crowd and each of us chokes back tears or dabs our eyes with tissue.

Promises to call and get together soon can be heard, but we all know the unspoken truth.  We are a family that gathers at weddings and funerals, and sadly, we sense deep down inside that our matriarch just attended her last two weddings.



















Posted in Aging, family, grandparents, grieving, Life's Losses, My story, parents, Relationships, Transitions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mountain Top Moments

blog image - mountaintop

Two weddings, five-weeks apart.  Mountaintop moments galore as my summer fills with parties, the gathering of family and friends, travel, and fancy clothes – all to celebrate the marriage of our two children.  My mind revisits all the details, and I try to recall every minute of those life-changing days.

But whether it’s celebration or loss, replaying the details over and over in your mind, is part of the process. Details are foggy at times, yet others bring razor-sharp clarity.

I think back to the days soon after my first husband’s death and I know they were my darkest days so far.  I ask myself, “But when did I start to see the gifts?  How long did it take before I could remember the mountain-top moments within my grief?”  Now (26 1/2 years later) I see that they did exist!

The unexpected presence of a friend allowing me to cry on her shoulder, or a warm meal shared. The porch light left on next door, the toy given to my young son at his father’s funeral, the donation made to the zoo to support my husband’s favorite animal.  The notification that my husband’s organs gave the gift of life to three people on Valentine’s Day.

Those may not seem like mountain-top moments to you, but looking back they are just that – moments that took my breathe away, moments that touched my heart in a profound way.

Sometimes just looking up and out brings the gift of healing.  

So, if your view is blocked by the shadow of the mountain right now,  bring your gaze up – take a deep breath and give yourself time.  Slowly but surely, you might see with new eyes!  





Posted in Faith, family, Grief, growth, Healing, Inspiration, Nature, Summer, Widowhood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Help Within A Stone

The teary-eyed, middle-aged woman sits across from me with her head resting in her left hand.  Her little finger is in her mouth; the nail being bitten off.  The white-haired man beside her repeatedly wipes his weather-worn hands on his blue jeans as he introduces himself.  The young woman who sits furthest away from the group rolls her tissues into a ball between her two hands…

 I watch this nervous energy in every support group I facilitate, every time grievers gather.

 So, I hand them my stone.

FB pic

 A soapstone I purchased online years ago, when I started facilitating support groups.  I wasn’t sure how I would use it, but I love its symbolism.  The stone is heart-shaped, golden-yellow about 2 ½” x 2 ½”, and fits comfortably in one’s palm. 

 There are dark lines that seem to be cracks throughout the stone, although none of them have broken the heart in half.  The surface remains smooth, even and intact despite the presence of the lines.

 In Mark Nepo‘s book entitled, The Book of Awakening, he states: “Symbols are living mirrors of the deepest understandings that have no words…We ask the smallest items of everyday life to carry unbearable meaning for us, and the dearest one’s work like Aladdin‘s lamp.”

 So, when I offer this small symbol, every person I hand it to examines the stone, turns it in their hand and rubs the surface.

 Then I say, “This is a healing heart.  It has been held by hundreds of grieving people.  Their tears have spilled onto its surface and their hands have supported it just like yours.  Their pain was once as raw as yours, but they have continued to live and travel through the darkness.”

 I invite them to tell the group their story while holding the stone.  Of course, they are given permission to pass, never feeling pressure to share, or they can wait until the end if it feels more comfortable by that time.

 Then I sit back in awe of the transformation that occurs.  I see the deep inhalations as participants take their turn, rolling the stone over and over in their hands.

 Their brokenness is acknowledged.

 Their nervous energy has a place to land.

 A deep sense of connection to others is established.

 They now feel empowered to tell their story as they hold this small symbol of hope and healing. 


 Did you have a symbol or special possession that helped you through your journey of loss?  Tell me about it here…


Posted in behavior, Bereavement, caregiving, death, Grief, grieving, Support groups, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments