Presence is everything

I was listening to someone speak recently and it made me realize that I had some work to do with respect to being present. I don’t know about you but being present can mean many things to a person. The type of presence I’m writing about today is your whole self presence. Meaning your physical and mindful presence.

So often we are faced with the business of the day. We are pulled in so many directions, and something or someone inevitably suffers. Sometimes, that person or something is you. Grief is hard work. It takes a lot of energy, mentally and physically to move through this journey daily. Depending on where you are at on this journey it could be minute by minute.

For me I understand I have been “busy” these past 13 1/2 years. I am a self-confessed workaholic. I have a strong work ethic and I take it farther because it’s all I’ve ever known from my mother and her mother, my grandmother. What is really important here in this message is to have balance. Be present. You can be present in your work and also in your life.

I have done an incredible amount of work to get where I am with my grief. It’s not perfect. It’s not over. Never will be. But for growth to happen, and growth must happen; you must do the work. Being present is the first step. Recognizing when you need to just stop, put down what you are doing and spend time in that moment to understand where you are, how you feel and write about it. Don’t hide from grief. Manage it. Learn from it and better yet grow from it.

Here are a few steps for you to take in your own journey:

Be Present
Own It
Lean In
Be Clear
Be Engaged

In time, you will be able to lead someone else through the fire. The unfortunate truth is there is great need in the world for the “cloud of witnesses” who’ve walked this walk; who’ve owned it; who’ve been present and who’ve engaged in their own healing.

Until next time,



Easter is here and so many memories flood back to me of events from the many years.  From my own youth to the many years with Brittany, who was afraid of the Easter bunny but loved her Easter baskets and getting all dressed up for church. She was also afraid of clowns and I never really knew why. I have so many great memories of Brittany and I’m grateful beyond measure for that. But it is her death that leads to me write today and why Easter has so much more meaning to me than it might to others.

With Jesus’ death and resurrection, I have hope that I will be reunited with Brittany again. That hope my friends kept me alive for the weeks and months after Brittany’s death. It meant that death is not the end but rather the beginning of our new body with no more pain or anguish. No more sickness. That brought me so much comfort especially in those early days and months after her death. And even still today.

One spring a year or two after her passing, I attended a Good Friday service in my hometown where we got to visit re-enactments of the events that led to Jesus’ death. It was profoundly impactful to me because I felt the loss as my loss was still fresh in my soul. The last room before the foot washing was the cross lain across a stage and as I approached the cross, it was as the air left my lungs and I couldn’t catch a breath. I dropped to my knees changed by this depiction of Jesus’ death. As I attended that Easter service that Sunday after Good Friday, spent from experiencing that re-enactment and the message of Jesus’ resurrection filled me with such hope that I walked out a changed person. I’ll never forget that.

While a nurse in a Labor & Delivery unit one Easter Sunday, I had the privilege of caring for a patient that I had been “primary” for, meaning she was my patient for her entire admission when I was scheduled to work. We got to know each other so well over the weeks while she was admitted. That Easter Sunday, she went into labor and delivered her premature son who passed within a few hours. I have never forgotten her or that day on Easter. We sat and talked a lot during the day as she was my only patient. We talked about how we felt God had brought us together for a reason, neither of us knew until later that day why and to this day we remain friends. I still have the letter she wrote to me afterwards. I’ll treasure it for the rest of my life.

Death comes to us for what reason we do not know. The hope we have in Jesus is all we have; us grieving parents, to take a step, a breath, and keep moving forward in faith. Yesterday I attended a Celebration of Life for a family who lost their 15 year old son Josh. With the current pandemic, the service was online. As I sat on my couch watching what a beautiful soul Josh was, the pressure in my chest began to swell and tears rolled down my face. The moment came in the service when his parents and sister came on to speak to those of us watching and with tears falling from his dad’s face I couldn’t hold back my own. My heart broken for them. The loss is so unimaginable. I know the journey they are about to embark on and it’s one that you must claw and fight your way through each and every minute of the days as they pass. I know they have a strong faith and surrounded by many that will love on them.

I had many bible verses that I carried with me in the days and months after Brittany’s death. One specific verse I carried in my scrub pocket everyday for months. The verse was inscribed on a small, smooth rock and when the moments came, and they came often, in the beginning, I’d grasp it tightly in my pocket and recite the verse to myself until the moment passed. Sometimes those moments came while I was caring for a patient or in a store shopping. That is the thing about grief, it comes in unpredictable waves and times. I was armed with many verses, but this one I want to dedicate to Josh’s parents and his sister:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18.

Jesus Lives!

Until next time,


Grieving Long Term

Grieving has been called a lot of things by many. The rules of the road vary for everyone. Grief is unique that way. But one thing I think can resonate with everyone and that is “grief is long term”. There is no “short term” grieving. It’s a lifelong arduous journey that navigates us to places within our hearts, minds and souls that we could have not imagined.

My grief is so very different than it was 13, 10, 5 years ago. It is more “chronic” if you will. It doesn’t feel any different from day to day. Some days I do struggle more, but that is probably because I have opened the door to it. I keep grief at arm’s length and while I don’t recommend that to all, it is a way for me personally to manage it.

What I do know is that you DO have to manage it. Otherwise it can manifest itself in other ways – health, relationships and most of all your own mental health. We think it is much easier to just avoid it. But the long-term impact is that the emotions and stress of loss will continue to lurk behind the scenes of your life until one day you come face-to-face with it. Grief smacks you upside the head and says “yeah, I’m still here”.

Recently I’ve had my own struggles with how I manage grief. I avoid it now at all costs. And have been for years. It’s my idea of survival. Why wouldn’t I – everyone around me has moved on with their lives, as did I. But what is different for me is the hole remains. The dreams shattered of what I had hoped for my daughter and myself. A mother’s loss is so profound, I can not even put it into words. The death of an only child even more profound. There is NO escape from it. It haunts me every single day – whether is shows or not. Only I know it.

This is what long term grief looks like for me.

How about you?

Until Next Time,



From Toby Mac

This was me this morning. Fragile. So much going on in my mind. So much swirl around loss, grief and where I am today in this moment.

I had a dream I was at the Phoenix airport lost and looking for my luggage. Just roaming around asking people where am I and have you seen my luggage.

I wondered what that meant. I think dreams like this are a symbol of an underlying issue that needs solving.

I woke up feeling lost and fragile. I picked my bible and found this quote that I must have written and placed many years ago:

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective and unstoppable determination.” – Ralph Marston

This quote stopped me and after reading a few Psalms, I stood up and dusted myself off and got started with my day.

grateful #biblelessons #quotes #Marston #psalms #grief

Another year passes


We rise by lifting others.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted over the holidays. This is a first. I typically post some healthy information to help grieving parents get through the holidays. This year, I took some time away from this blog to heal. It’s been 13 long years since my Brittany passed and the raw emotion of it all got to me this holiday more than the last few holidays.

During this time I realized everyone who grieves needs a break from grieving. A time to focus on yourself and your healing. We all know that grief doesn’t take a break. It relentlessly pursues us and follows us wherever we go. Grief seeks us out in the most unpredictable places and reminds us of our loss(es).

When I look back at the years and years of posts, I am in awe of my journey and the places grief has taken me. I have met some of the most amazing people who are now my “framily”. Framily is the label we give to those we have chosen to be in our inner circle. Our confidants, our mentors, our sisters and brothers in life, those who would give you the shirt of their back and show up at your doorstep just when you need them. Sometimes even before you need them. I am forever grateful to those who I’ve known who have gone the distance with me. To those who met me where I was and listened to me endlessly talk about my Brittany. It’s not lost on me their love and support these many years.

This year I want to be a year of taking action to help others more. To be there for them in their moments. To walk the walk. I would love to hear in your comments below what topics you’d like for me to write about. This is your blog now, it is my story woven into the how, the why and the what of grief.

My book is in the editing phase and I hope to have that complete soon. I’ll keep you all posted on the progress.

Here’s to 2020 and may you find healing and support with your “framily”.

Until next time,


Motherless at the Holidays

I know I mostly post here about losing my daughter but this article really hit me. I lost my mom when I was 31 and pregnant with my only child. At various points throughout my adult life; I have reflected on my moms death and remembered how angry I was for months. I grieved in such a way that often left me numb and filled with emptiness. A daughter always needs her mama. Always! Even today I so wish I could get a big hug from her. Talk to her. Get advice and counsel from her.

But I cannot. The hole in my life created by her death is and always will be a defining moment in my life.


Forever 17

As I remember my Brittany today, I know she is spending her birthday in the presence of God and that I’m so very thankful for. I miss her terribly and on this day it’s not lost on me the gratitude I have that she was given to me for a short time not to exist but to live and give lessons to those whom she came to know.

So now our job is to release the pain, give it to God and walk in gratitude for the time we had and walk forward in love to those who are still with us.

Many thanks and gratitude I have for you all as we walk on this journey together.

Until next time,


Credit: TobyMac #speaklife, Lysa Terkeurst

Don’t be afraid of the dark

I saw this quote from Toby Mac and it resonated with me as I reflected on this time of year. The period between Brittany’s angel date and her birthday I spend a great deal of time thinking about her. How much I miss her and remembering how tough the early days were.

I cannot tell you how much of my time in those early days and weeks after Brittany’s death I spent either laid out on the floor or on my knees praying for my life; questioning why my girl and begging God to remove the pain.

Each time God responded but not always how I would have liked. What I know is God never left my side. I felt his presence every step of the way. Psalms provided healing to my broken heart and Job helped me understand I wasn’t alone in my grief. That there would be a restoration to what was lost.

My faith has remained strong over these last 13 years – although not perfect I know the restoration will come perhaps not on my timeline but Gods.

#tobymac #speaklife

Until next time


Tears still show up unexpectedly…

Age 15

Reminiscing through photos of my late daughter and this one popped up and my heart sank but at the same time brought me such joy because this picture to me speaks to her heart. Her soul was so rich with love and humor.

I miss her so much. I keep avoiding thinking about it – but even after 13 years, the tears come quickly if I let them.

#grief #griefjourney #griefandloss #griefsucks #sheismyheavenlyangel

Until next time,


October 13 – 13 years

As I laid in bed last night I couldn’t help but remember where I was exactly at that moment 13 years ago. Sitting in the PICU at Brittany’s bedside praying for a miracle as she continued to get worse throughout the night. It’s hard to believe it’s been 13 years. In space in time, it seems like a lifetime ago; but yet my heart feels like it was yesterday.
What I am thankful for are the people who knew her well, continue to remember her for the wonderful quirky and loving soul she was to all of us. Her best friends still send me notes honoring her memory on this day each year. This year has been no different.
I’m sitting here now in the beautiful landscape of the North Carolina mountains with people who understand my pain, allow me to be and do whatever I need to do whether it be cry, laugh, grieve, or just remain quiet in the sweet memories of my sweet girl.
I’m so grateful.

Until next time,