Strength vs Courage

I follow a blog on FB called Mitchell’s Journey. It’s about a father who shares the story of the journey his family has been on from their son’s devastating disease to his untimely death. He continues to share their story as they move through their grief. One particular comment he made struck a chord with me and I felt like I wanted to share it with you. The excerpt below is quoted from his FB Page:

I was raised to accept the reality life is tough, because it is. And at some point the world tells us we have to suck it up and take it like a “man” or a woman, or a lion or a bear. But I also realized in the privacy of our bedrooms or the quite of our minds there is often an unspoken dimension to us . . . a part of us that is vulnerable and mortal; a part that loves deeply and hurts honestly. Years ago I stopped pretending to be a lion or a bear. I decided to be human – and that has been liberating.

I too was raised to expect life would be tough and while I’m a woman, I was raised with five brothers so the reoccurring theme was to “buck up” and be quiet. I saw a great deal of hurt growing up. I won’t go into any details; however life was far from easy and there were times I wondered if we would make it as a family. I grew up believing that I had a sense of responsibility to help my mom raise my brothers. Because my mom chose not to hide much from me, at an early age (8 or 9) I saw and heard things a young girl should not see or hear.

So when people tell me that I’m strong or that I have shown great strength, I have a hard time understanding that. Life has been hard and I’ve learned to just “buck up” and deal with it. But like Mitchell’s father, when I’m in the quiet of my mind, I understand that I not all that strong nor do I have great courage. What I have is faith. A faith that helps me rise above all that is negative so that I can see the positive. Not easy and I don’t profess to say that, but it is a choice. I’ve never known any other way to live. Life has just always been rocky for me.

That is not to say I don’t have things happen quickly or exciting going on it just means I’ve worked very hard to be where I am today. It’s never been a gift. Just plain work. I do believe that my life’s experiences has prepared me for the losses of my mom, grandmother and lastly my daughter. Losing my mom during my pregnancy was a hard blow to me. I took to an angry stage for a long time. My daughter was not like your normal every day child. She had disabilities due from a high fever she had at 11 mos of age. Years and years of therapy, medications, doctors and tests she ended up with severe epilepsy and crohns disease. I grieved not having a normal child. But now knowing the amazing young woman she became – I would have never traded her for anything. She was simply an amazing spirit who was sent to me for a reason. I told someone the other day that I truly believe she was sent to earth for a job and she got it done very early and then departed back to Heaven and God saying “well done my child”. That makes me smile.

So yes, I am strong, but don’t mistake my strength for healing. I’m still hurting. I’m still missing my girl beyond belief. I celebrate her life this week as we move into the 8th anniversary of passing. But I weep for her physical being because she was a part of me a part of my story.

Until next time,





I’d paint a picture for you

But you wouldn’t understand

The colors are absent and the pattern is vague

The concept is hard to see; and you can’t

Wrap your head around it;

The thought of it you can’t imagine.

Picture dropping a family heirloom,

One that was valued at a gazillion dollars.

And you come home one day and it

Lay before you shattered into a million


But you wouldn’t understand

The pieces are just part of something

You cannot see; a vision of what was once

A form that brought beauty to one’s eye.

Now it is just a mess on the floor.

That is my heart…..

Malissa Moss

Grief Exposed

Last night I as I attempted to sleep thoughts of my journey played out in my head keeping me from a restful sleep. I said to myself – “you should get up and write” but I finally succumbed to the exhaustion and fell asleep. I don’t recall what it was specifically that I was dreaming about and that annoys me. I feel like at times I dream of things that have a message. But last night it was more like a restlessness that I cannot pinpoint. I cannot identify readily as this or that. It is just simply the restlessness that comes with grief.

I am coming into the dark days but it is a bit early just yet. I usually experience the dark days  beginning in September and it usually  lasts until the new year. With each year that has passed since my Brittany’s untimely death, I have called the days leading up to her death as the dark days. I have included the holidays for they have lost their luster for me. Can’t get that back. In fact, the meaning for many celebratory things have left me with a void that I cannot fill. I can only live in the moment and I cannot find the hutzpah to look into the future. Life for me is simply this….fill my day with busyness. Distractions work well.

Pondering on a past life that I longed for so long was ripped from me and in the wake of that,  I was not left with much to rebuild on. Not sure what the message is for me. I have resolved that I cannot figure it out and that I have to be ok with that. But haven’t quite got a grip on that yet. I still question “why me” a lot. I can look back over my life and say “why me” so many times that one might imagine any normal person would have gone berserk by now. I keep the faith that one day it will all become clear to me. Why so much has been taken from me. Why didn’t I get what they have. When I say “they”, I say all those who continue to enjoy their children, see them grow, graduate, marry and have children. My arms ache for the loss of so much. I cannot put it into words how profoundly empty that feels.

I hope that some day it will perhaps make more sense, but for now I am at a loss, my broken heart profoundly exposed and my sorrow spills over into a river of tears. I wrote today this which pretty much sums up my sorrow….

“Sometimes I just want to go back because going forwards means the distance between me and you fades and all I’m left with is the faint hint of who you were in my life.”

Until next time,



I recently had a chance to sit down with a dear friend and just talk about our girls. Ironically their names were Brittany. And more ironically it was a Brittany that introduced us. Coincidence – I think not. I believe Debbie and I were meant to cross paths and even more destined to become friends.

I cannot tell you how therapeutic it is to be able to sit and talk about my Brittany with someone who won’t judge me, won’t feel uncomfortable around me and won’t try to change the subject. Someone who gets me. Who understands why it is so incredibly important to talk about my daughter. It is just as equally important for her to talk about her Brittany. To understand that I want to hear about her. I understand what most do not… that is Brittany is a part of her, a part of who she is and who she has become. You cannot live a life of denial just because it makes someone uncomfortable.

This happened to be on the anniversary date of her daughter Brittany’s passing. I was so honored that she wanted to spend that day with me. But as a grieving mother, I understand why. Probably when no one else can or will. I have learned to release that into the universe. I cannot hold it against those who do not understand the importance of keeping my daughter’s memory alive. But spending time with people who get it – that is priceless.

I was so happy to spend time with Debbie. I thought I was going to be the one who offered comfort on this anniversary date for her, but in all honesty – it was Debbie that comforted me. I was the one who was given such an amazing gift. The gift of sharing, caring and most of all, genuine love of sharing our daughter’s.

I know they both are up there in heaven smiling down on us – knowing we have made that connection. That we will forever be connected by three girls named Brittany. One on earth and two in heaven.

Until next time,


Peace vs Turbulence

“Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.” – Frederick Buechner


The lack of finality in what I assumed would be a life with my daughter, has left me feeling a little sad these days. As graduations are celebrated this time of  year, I am quickly taken back to a time when I envisioned my Brittany walking up to get her diploma. Yet what happened in reality is that myself along with her father walked up to receive an “honorary” diploma because Brittany died before her graduation. It is not suppose to be that way.

I also envisioned Brittany living out a life that may not have been what most parents hope for. Her disability would have had an impact on her life; however I also know she wouldn’t have let that stop her from accomplishing anything she wanted to do. Despite multiple setbacks and roadblocks Brittany lived a life that no one could deny wasn’t filled with joy and happiness. She took full advantage of the life given to her not knowing her days would be very short.

I have learned a great deal from how Brittany lived her life. I think it some ways she made peace with her illness. I know she would question why God chose her to let her have epilepsy and crohn’s disease, however those moments of feeling sorry for herself were short-lived. She made peace with what had been given her despite the many periods of her life that were turbulent. Even in her last remaining months one would have not known she was getting progressively worse. She refused to let it get her down.

So when I look at how her death and the absence of her in my life, I have to look at how she managed her day-to-day life and understand that by making peace with what happened I have an opportunity to make something good out of it. To pursue a life with peace that can lead to happiness. As I sit here writing this, I still find that to be a concept hard to visualize. Happiness after such devastating loss. Multiple losses each individually impacting my life differently. It will always be a work in progress for me. A couple of steps forward a one back. That is how grief works.

I want to walk out of my door each and every day with a smile on my face and to experience life full out just like Brittany did. I talk to her a lot about that. I pray often that she helps to guide me there. To this place of peace, even in the midst of turbulence, to find a place each day when I can look back at my day and know I took every opportunity to experience life fully. That is one of the many ways I can honor her life. She did it so well.

Loss can be transformative. It can be life giving. It can help us move forward. That transformation begins with acceptance and ends with peace. A journey that will likely take the majority of my life but I am determined to find a way there.  The path to peace should be our desire for it will allow us to grow into our new destiny for the journey that lies ahead.

Until next time,


Surviving Loss


Over the past four years since my daughter’s death, I have found that healing comes when I have moved with it, leaned into it and accepted it. I know this because when I have chosen at times to fight it, to avoid it or be angry about it, my healing became stagnant as if I’d taken the wrong turn. – from my blog in 2010


The past few months I have spent a considerable amount of time avoiding this blog. While I admit I’ve been distracted, I have been fully aware that I was avoiding writing. Why? I’m not exactly sure – but I believe it had something to do with feeling stuck.

Getting stuck is normal when on this journey, and what I find most interesting those periods where I am I stuck in my grief is when something profound is about to happen. I posted the quote above as a reminder to myself and any of you who find yourselves stuck on your journey.

I found thoughts running through my mind that my writing no longer came easily as it did in the early years since Brittany’s passing. Now it is more thoughtful, I have to concentrate on staying on topic. I even struggle to find a topic I can write about. But that is not what this about. This blog has never been about finding a topic to write about – it’s always been about writing my deepest thoughts about loss. Finding a creative outlet for the pain that gripped my heart – an outlet that would not only help me, but help others along the way.

I have been praying for a while now that I would find the courage to write again. I wanted to know if my writing was helping others. Today I read a post from a follower and it solidified for me that indeed my journey, my pain, my sorrow sketched out before you in this blog, dripping with tears of grief, is helping someone. That snapped in me to understand that my journey is evolving. It’s no longer just about me.

Those of you who take the time to read my blog – I am honored. For those of you who take the time to comment and share your stories with me – I am privileged. Thank you for your support and your time – it is so very valuable to me as a writer and as a mother who struggles daily with the loss of her only child.

Until next time,


Margin of Space

This past week I heard a message about living though your days are numbered. As I listened to the message I realized that might be harder for some to come to terms with. That is, if you haven’t experienced grief or loss on some level the concept of seeing your days as numbered might be a stretch. In looking back over my life, I don’t recall ever thinking my days were numbered or that God had the exact day of my departure from this world. I don’t think I ever really gave mortality a second thought. That was until Brittany was born.

After having a child you come to understand that life is bigger than you. The decisions you make and the paths you take can directly affect your children’s future. It changes the way you think about life. You begin to wonder what life would be like in the future. You begin to dream of what will become. We plan for our children’s school years, we save for their college, we help plan their weddings and see them have their own children. Then we plan for our retirement. Worry about if there will be enough money to support the golden years. So are you getting the picture. There is a lot of planning going on during this time, and I would guess to say not much living in the moment going on.

When you have experienced loss, especially the loss of a child, all that planning, all that worrying, late nights up wrestling with what if, becomes unimportant. A waste of time. Now I’m not saying one shouldn’t plan for life; but the amount of time is what matters. It’s that margin of space in life that is very small in comparison to the universe. We have such a small amount of time here on earth. Yet we spend it planning, worrying, fretting, filling our calendars with various to-do items. Then one day you wake up and it has all been wiped away by loss; and you are left with an empty calendar, no plans, life lost and no idea what to do with yourself.

I found after my daughter’s passing that life matters more than we give it credit for. We spend so much time planning and scheduling that we forget to live in the moment. That margin of space called now. Don’t get caught up in the draft of a fast-moving lifestyle. Don’t forget to look at those you love and remind yourself that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Life is just a whisper of a moment in time. Stop and listen to what it has to say. Reduce the noise of your life for just a moment – the message you get may be life changing.

until next time,

Grief at Christmas

Red Haired Angel

Grief at Christmas is like no other. Grief knows no day or time, it comes and visits you when it wants and however it wants. No Christmas, or Easter or Thanksgiving holiday keeps it away. When a child dies, those holidays are hard. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been or how it happened. The holidays are never the same.

I have had to change my view of Christmas especially since the death of my daughter six years ago. This will be my 7th Christmas that I will not be wrapping fun gifts for her to open on Christmas morning. I will not be getting up early to watch her open her gifts and see her funny face and how she would always put bows on her head and face as she collected her gifts. If you haven’t lost a child, you can’t know the gravity of this space.

This space of grief is overwhelming at times to the point that nothing makes sense and y ou want to go back to bed and cover up and forget it all happened. But it did happen and it happened to me and perhaps it’s happened to you. I know it’s hard. There are no words that can adequately describe the pain and sorrow that the loss of a child can bring. The recent events in Newtown Connecticut brings it all back. As I imagine and know all to well, how these parents are feeling today. It’s numbing, it’s painful and it hurts beyond belief. Waking up to know and understand that there has been a huge hole created by the loss of your child is unimaginable.

The stages of grief are a welcome in the early days. Shock helps you get through the difficult early days that follow a loss. In fact, I found myself preparing to celebrate my daughter’s life during the three days that followed her death fairly painless. Even speaking at her celebration of life seemed to come easily to me. It was the days to come that made me drop to my knees and asky “why”.

My dear friends, these newly grief-stricken parents are going to need so much love and prayer in the days, weeks, months to come. Each day that passes the loss becomes bigger and harder to manage. Please don’t forget them. They need us. As a nation we need to lift them up in prayer and support them however we can.

I know and understand all to well just how much prayer and support means, even today 6 years later. I still get cards, Christmas gifts from those “angels” who supported me throughout my most darkest days. I know they are moved by God to provide and support, whatever means that is, it’s a gift to those of us who grieve.

Christmas, while it is a time to celebrate family, it is also a time to celebrate the greatest gift of all, Jesus. This is how I make it through – remembering the real reason we celebrate this holiday. Because if left to celebrate it as I have in my past, I’d never make it through. So I am thankful this holiday season. I have been given much. I have been blessed beyond measure. And yes, while I have lost much, I have been blessed with much more.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays however you celebrate.

until next time,



Denial and Avoidance

Denial is one of the stages of grief. We have all experienced denial at some point in our journey of loss. It comes and goes, the cost of denial can be great. In the early days of grief we are somewhat protected by shock. You just find yourself going through the motions to get through the long days. But once shock leaves, denial can bring you to a place of avoidance.

I visit avoidance more often than I’d care to admit. Even today just entering my sixth year of my journey after losing my only child Brittany, I find avoidance creeps back in when it comes to facing my grief. I know there are some that believe that at this stage, I should not be dealing with these feelings, but I’m here to say that grief never leaves you, it just becomes part of who you are. You learn how to live with it. You can even have a good life. You can even laugh. But avoidance – it’s always lurking behind the curtain of grief that covers your life.

This time of year brings more avoidance for me. The date Brittany died, October 13th has just passed. This year I did something different. Instead of staying home and wallowing in my misery, I went to Florida and spent some time in a place I love to visit. What I found is while that was a good thing, it was also a bad thing. After I returned home, my grief was waiting for me. I tried very hard to avoid it, but it showed up and demanded to be recognized.

So what I’ve learned is that you can deny your loss, you can avoid your loss, but grief will have it’s day and if you want to continue to heal – you must let the grief come. It will irritate you until you can no longer avoid it. You must wrestle with it. Cry over it and then get up and dust off the pain and sorrow – then move on. Denying it or avoiding it will only make it worse. Let it have it’s day and then say “ok” enough of it. It’s time to let it have it’s way and then you can breathe again.

Until next time,


What You Don’t Know

I woke up this morning compelled to write about something you may not know. If you have lost a loved one, particularly an only child, then you might have an idea of what I am going to say here. If you haven’t, then you might find it helpful if you know of someone who is in the grieving process. Let me quickly define that for you: it’s a lifetime of grieving. You might think that might be a bit extreme. Well life gets extreme some days and there is this little caveat about grief. Life happens and in the midst of life at any given moment we (the grievers) are back at the moment of our loss. This is how it works.

As time passes, the loss becomes part of you and you learn to live with the consequences of it. For the most part you can go about your day-to-day life and have some happy times, some laughter and even some joy. But there are dark times and there are moments when all of a sudden you are back revisiting the empty place in your heart where your loved one once lived. And I mean lived. Not saying that they are not there today, but it’s different.

Conversations take place in life and reminders are sent, unconsciously by others, and it’s as if you can no longer hear anything else that they are saying. All that you hear is deafening sound of grief hitting you like a tsunami and once again you are at your knees asking why. And again, you get no answers, you get back up and you dust yourself off and get back into the conversation. I welcome the times when there are periods of time between these moments. They are exhausting to me. They knock the wind out of me. They make me feel incredibly lonely.

I miss my daughter so very much. It’s a pain that I cannot describe, but I try and perhaps one day when I get it right, I will no longer feel the need to write. I don’t think that day will ever come. So I write for me and I write for all of the grieving mothers and fathers out there who may not have a voice. Who don’t know the that the power of writing can be healing.

Today the band-aid has been ripped off again. When that happens, the pain is just as powerful as the day she died. Thankfully that doesn’t happen too often, otherwise I’d not be able to stand it. Tears sting my face as I write this today. October is coming and the freight train of grief is on it’s way. I’m getting my armour on and will be ready. It’s coming and it’s loud and I can feel it in my bones.

Until next time