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,


Memories are a Gift

One of the things I think we all fear when a child dies, or for that matter any one that is close to us, is the loss of the memories of them. As time passes year after year it feels as if there is this unspoken distance where I feel that it takes more effort to go back to a place in time and think of some of the great memories I have of her and our life together. Especially the last two years of her life. This has been my greatest fear of all.

As on that fateful day October 13th, 2006, the day she disappeared from my life, I feel that the memories are now fading away just as she did in a physical sense. While I do have videos, photos, a few items I’ve put together of hers that meant the most to her; it is know that she lives on in the memories of those who loved her most. Her friends have stayed connected with me over the years and I’ve been so grateful for that.

At Brittany’s funeral I spoke of them, yes I was actually able to speak which was a miracle in itself. They befriended my daughter, loved my daughter and became a very important part of her life, while many distanced themselves, bullied her, excluded her, all because she was a little different. But not her closest friends. And of course, the love of her life. I have such great memories of how they would hang out at our house on Eastlawn and we would have so much fun. As a mom, I cherished those times because I knew they meant the most to my girl.

At her funeral they got up and spoke about her and what being friends with her meant to them. I had no plans to speak at her funeral but after hearing their stories and seeing the dog tags they made in her honor, I felt compelled to speak. As many of her classmates stood in the back, as there was standing room only that day, I shared my gratitude to her friends for taking the time and investing in my daughter. They were given the greatest gift back and that was her devoted love of friendship, a terrific sense of humor and many hours of laughing. I felt so strongly that many did not know this side of Brittany. On that day I think a few realized just what they missed out on.

The memories I have of my daughter are firmly fixed upon my heart and soul and while the business of life distract me from sitting and just remembering her, I don’t ever think they will ever disappear. Today, the sweetest gift came to me in a text from one of her closest friends. She shared a memory that means a lot to her and little did she know that it would mean more to me. It gave me the greatest gift, better than anything material. And it’s this simple, but profound message…..

Brittany is still alive in her heart and she still feels connected to her through those memories. I wept when I read it, and I laughed when I read it. But most of all it touched my heart in a way I am sure she cannot imagine. For that I am and will be forever grateful.

It’s so very important to those of us who have lost our children, that we know they have not just disappeared from this earth, but that their memory, the impact they had on others, that the love shared has not disappeared, but perhaps even moved them into a space now that has made a difference to them. The lessons we learn from those departed can be the best lessons of all.

So if you live in GR, go sit on her bench and spend a few minutes remembering her and laughing out loud because you know she is…..

until next time

Stepping Stones

Chapter 15 – Stepping Stones
Grieving Forward – Embracing Life Beyond Loss
by Susan Duke

Throughout my life I’ve had many experiences with moving on past a tragic or bad event. Each time, the movement forward was propelled by the people that were present in my life. Whether be a friend, a family member or GOD – there was always someone there who helped to clear the fog from the path I was walking.

I think for the most part it was my mother that consistently believed in me and helped me to believe in myself. Ultimately the choice to move forward though is our own. After my mother’s death in 1988 I was so angry. Even while 7 months pregnant, I found myself in such a state of depression that I wasn’t sure where to step next. It was my pregnancy and the birth of my daughter that helped provide the stepping stones for my journey. While it took close to 5 years to come to terms with the death of my mother, it was my daughter and her desperate fight for life near her 1st birthday that forced me to look beyond my pain and put my faith back in God.

During Brittany’s first 5 years of life, my thoughts frequently would go back to my mom’s death and the lingering questions I had that remained unanswered and have been even now. After Brittany was diagnosed with Epilepsy at age 5 many things in my life moved forward because there was so much to do. I was also in nursing school at the time and juggling so many stressful events. It’s as if I just kept moving forward – whether I wanted to or not. Life was happening so fast I could barely keep up.

I always wondered why God chose me to have Brittany when for the majority of her life she would deal with life-threatening illnesses and the eventual untimeliness of her death. Why would God put me through such a tragic time? I just wanted to know why. In retrospect I think back and see that God put one of the most profound people in my life for a reason. That reason was to teach me that I wasn’t in control of my life, God was. To teach me that love conquers all pain and sorrow. To teach me that God wants us to know him, to love him, to believe him and to extend that love to all.

I learned all of that through my daughter. She so understood the most simplest of lessons that God teaches, yet we as humans fail to recognize in our daily walk in life. To walk in love without prejudice. To walk in love without judgment. To walk in love without looking back. Today I still find myself shaking my head because I struggle with remembering that lesson. It’s only when I look at her life and the grace with which she chose to live her life despite many setbacks. It’s only then, that I know I have to, we have to – look for the stepping stones of our lives and keep taking those steps – one by one – out in faith.

It is through those steps that we can move beyond our loss, beyond our pain and into the light with a zest for life. If you are not there, you will  be. There will be one day when you can wake up and remember without crying. There will be one day when you can look through mementos and not cry with anguish, but perhaps with the joy of a great memory. There will be one day when you can know that part of your life was a gift, and so is the part – where you are now – right now – is the greatest gift of all. Embrace it. Live it.

until next time,


What Grief Teaches Us

Something I’ve learned about grief is it changes who you are. By that I mean it gives you a different perspective on what’s important in life. Once you have been “schooled” in the classroom of grief – you have two choices – be a good student and learn and grow and move through the journey. Or you become stagnant and lifeless. No one says it’s easy. I know I have come across those who have thought I should have been “over” it – or farther along than I was but if you haven’t been in the mess of it all – you just don’t know and you just shouldn’t talk about what you don’t know. That’s my opinion and since it’s my blog – I can write.

Now moving on. What I found most helpful in Susan Duke’s “Grieving Forward: Embracing Life Beyond Loss” is Chapter 13 – Grief’s Classroom. As I reread this chapter I found many passages I had highlighted and as I evaluated their importance today – still very valid and still very real.

I recall once when I was attending a Grief Share class at my local church, probably about 3 months after Brittany died, and as I sat there listening to everyone’s story – an overwhelming thought came to me: Dear God don’t let this happen to me. Some of these attendees had been on the journey for years and remained stuck in a place and couldn’t find their way out. I believe it was at that moment that I realized I had to take control over my journey but led by my deepest faith in God and giving him the control instead of letting it control  me. I also knew that my journey would help others.

One of the things that is crucial is seeing progress. But if you don’t measure it, you won’t be able to see it. I think that is why people often get stuck, because they cannot see how far they have come. Writing has been my way of tracking my progress. When I look at the posts on this blog and in my own private diaries – I see profound change and progress. I see a lot of pain and sorrow too. It’s all there, I’ve held nothing back. I’ve been as real as I can be and sometimes I’ve been too real and it has scared my readers. But know this: I’m a child of God and while I have moments of weakness and sometimes want to give up – I know that God takes control then and puts me back on track.

I have fought many battles with the devil over the death of my daughter. Guilt, shame, anger, mistrust, and sorrow so deep I couldn’t see my way out. When  you are so wounded it’s hard to fight the devil. His little games he plays with  your mind – it can be devastating to your progress if you don’t ask God to take control. Prayer warriors have saved me so many times I cannot count. Below is an excerpt from Dukes book that I think is critical to overcoming this weariness:

“Warriors cannot fight when they are wounded. The kind of battle that rages in a grief-filled heart is one of hopelessness. When we don’t care if we survive, it’s hard not to give up on everything, even God. It’s hard to lay down the heaviness of grief long enough to put on our spiritual armor, but it is the armor that equips us for the rest of our journey.”

I remember as I read that passage the first time, I went and wrote down scriptures like Romans 8:37: I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me” and I put them up on my bathroom mirror so I could see them everyday. I put messages in my pockets. In my books. On  my laptop – anywhere I would see them to remind me I was NOT fighting this battle alone. I won’t deny that there weren’t times I couldn’t pick up my bible and read. My heart was so heavy I couldn’t bear it nor did I care. I was so wounded I had no desire to move on. I just wanted my  baby back.  But through friends, scripture and the shear determination of my God he got through. The light began to shine again in my life and it is only by the Grace of God and his constant viligence over my life that I am where I am today.

The following comment from Duke really helped me see I wasn’t alone, nor was I crazy like some people made me feel: “it takes at least eighteen months before anyone who grieves begins to experience longer stretches of time with less pain” – that was from H. Norman Wright’s book Experiencing Grief. It is during that eighteen months that you have to be mindful of every choice you make. To be careful with your heart, your life and the decisions you make on how you deal with your grief. This can be a time when one could become addicted to drugs, alcohol or behaviors that are not conducive to healing. Lean on God!!!!

My journals and my blog have allowed me to reflect upon my journey and most importantly it allows me to see my progress. Grief changes who you are and you become someone different. As Duke says – “we have to own our grief” “There is no formula, no set of instructions, no twelve-step program that works for every individual. Grief can shake, change, convince, challenge and contradict every preconceived notion or idea anyone has ever said or written about grief.”

Grief teaches us that there is pain in loving. Now that I know that, my challenge today is to begin to let love into my life again. To trust that God wouldn’t send me someone to love if it wasn’t someone good and who will take my heart and keep it like a delicate flower. No one could ever take the place of my dear sweet Brittany – but so much more happened to me on this journey than just losing my daughter – I lost myself. I lost my desire to love or to let love in. Now it is time for love.

until next time,


A Community of Brokenness

Chapter 13 – A Community of Brokenness
by – Jerry Sitser

My viewpoint of this authors words and experience in comparison to my loss and my life. Nothing more…..

I could seriously stop after the first paragraph because it is where I am today and where I appear to be stuck. You see when you have lost, you have lost hard, lost much, lost hope, lost love, lost joy, lost self. So when the author says “Loss is also a solitary experience. …like physical pain, we know it is real only because we experience it uniquely within ourselves. When a person says, ‘You just don’t know what I have gone through and how much I have suffered,’ we must acknowledge that he or she is entirely correct. We do not know and cannot know.”

For me that is one of the hardest things to understand both from the griever’s perspective and the very people who try to help. I find myself getting very irritated when someone “assumes” they know my pain. They cannot. Loss is so unique to each and every person. It begins way before the loss and flows through into the loss and breaks open after the loss and sometimes, the pieces are hard to put back together.

I find it hard to explain that this is something I have to face alone. Because I experienced my loss alone. It was mine to experience, not that I wanted it, but it was mine. I know it well, I’ve experienced numerous times, each uniquely different and devastating in their own ways. There is though a fine line between working through the loss alone and being alone. But it’s in the finding of the right people to be alone with that creates much angst for me.

Sharing my pain, my loss, my experience is hard to do. I find it makes me uncomfortable to have people share in what I find revolting to experience. Why on earth would I want to share it. I don’t even want it. But over the years I have shared it and I still find it uncomfortable, in fact, sometimes it’s  harder to face.

Interestingly enough people have helped me more than I could ever have imagined. Came to my rescue when I was at the bottom of my pain and lifted me up. My family came when I needed them. A few people knew instinctively when to call and when to just “show up” at the door. Those were the times when, as I look back, were the most critical to my recovery during those early months.

But there were others in my life that chose to stay away. I imagine for various reasons, I mean really why would you want to face mortality in the face of people you love while you watch them react to the very thing you don’t want to think about. As a griever you feel like you have “leprosy” as the people begin to stay away. Fall out of your life – creating more loss – more pain. Not intentional by any means, but the damage is staggering.

The community of brokenness comes from so many sources during times of loss. Loss is universal as Sittser explains. It happens. It’s inevitable. I know my community came from some unlikely sources and from places I didn’t expect. Some come because they have lost something at some point. Some come and go and stay just long enough to make  a difference. I felt a sense of calm much like the eye of a hurricane. Just hanging on the edge of insanity – life out of control and just waiting for me to burst.

I’m thankful for that community who chose to serve and stand by me during that time. I couldn’t have made it through those early months and years without them. But now I find I’m back in familiar, yet unwanted territory. You see my friends, my loss of Brittany left me blind-sided. It took the wind out of my sails. It blew a hole so large in my life that I felt the value of my life had been sucked out and into the hurricane of grief. That feeling is still present today. It wanes. It pounds. It crashes.

Sittser touches on a subject very close to my heart and that is this….the fear of loss again creates a dilemma for him and it does for me. The problem of choosing to love again is that the choice of love means living under the constant threat of further loss. And that is where I stand today. I can’t seem to move beyond that space. You know that space I’ve written about before.

“The space where I exist and the space where I want to be is paper thin.” – Malissa Moss

I feel I’m at a crossroads so to speak with moving forward or remaining frozen in time without hope. I know in mind that love is good. But my reality is I know love is loss.

I can read all day, Sittser reminds me of so many things I try very hard to believe, to live, to embrace – loss increases our capacity to love says Sittser, but it also increases the sorrow and suffering when loss happens again, and it will. Choosing to love again brings me such anxiety as I know it will also bring loss and more grief. I am not so sure I am ready for that. But I also know I am human and need love to survive.

until next time,


The Absence of God

Chapter 11 – The Absence of God by Jerry Sittser

“I yelled at God to acknowledge my suffering and to take responsibility for it, but all I heard was the lonely echo of my own voice.” – Jerry Sittser

For as long as I can remember I have believed in God’s existence. Surrounded by family members who believed in God, lived a Godly life and seemed content where they were in their lives. On the other hand I was also surrounded by people who would abuse, hurt and abandon me. For me my view about God was that He was God and He created me and that was about it.

I remember thinking when  I moved to Dallas in the early 80’s that something profound was missing from my life. So I set out to find whatever that was and in the end it was God. Even more significant was my awareness of God and what He wanted me to do. I became involved with my local church.

After getting married and moving to another church I began to teach Sunday school. I think now in looking back to that time, it was just a superficial relationship with God that I had. It was until my mother’s untimely death at the age of 48 did I begin to wrestle with the idea that God was real to me. I spent many hours, days and months thinking that God existed, but chose not to be present in my life.

My thoughts about God were for others, for how could the God I had come to know, the one who was held to the most high, the one who created the heavens and the earth, let such horrible things happen to me. It was my mother’s death that threw me into a downward spiral about who I was, who God was and what my future might hold.

Sittser writes about his thoughts on God and who he is and who he was. He gets into so very interesting, yet theological viewpoints that go beyond what I have to say here. For me it’s simple. I have to keep it simple. For when you have suffered much, your thoughts can take you to some very dark places.

I can’t rationalize why my mother was taken so early, during a time when I needed her most. Seven months pregnant with my first and only child. I wrestled with my faith daily. Quietly I would sit in the empty nursery rocking in my chair and asking God “why me?” He remained quiet.

 I battled and fought for my faith for five years until I realized that I would not get the answer I was looking for. That God wouldn’t come to me and say “Malissa, I took your mother because……” God doesn’t work that way. But one night, I had a dream about my mother. She was standing at the end of my bed looking at me. What is crazy is that at the time I was collecting Wizard of Oz items. So in God’s great humor my mom was dressed as Dorothy. I still think about that and laugh because it’s absolutely ridiculous, but true. In that dream, she said to let it go.

I believe that God sends us messages in ways that we will listen. For me I was so wrapped up with school, raising my daughter who had just been diagnosed with epilepsy and struggling to keep up with life. There was so much “noise” going on I’m certain I would have just not paid any attention to anything that was said to me.

At that moment I chose to listen and let my pain and anguish go. I stopped asking “why” and began to have “faith”. That doesn’t mean it was easy. For the next 10 years were far from easy. I daily prayed for things to be easier, but they were not. It wasn’t an easy life, caring for a child with a life-long disease. A marriage that was in turmoil and beginning a new career in nursing.

When Brittany was in the last weeks of her life, I found myself on my knees often praying why again does she have to suffer, why do we as a family have to endure another round of illness. Little did I know at that moment that my question would change two weeks later to “why God did you have to take her” and at some point I asked “why did you let her die”. Today I choose to believe it was her time to go. I have to believe that. Anything else would make me go insane. I could easily go to the place where I think of all the reasons she could have lived had people done what was right. I can’t do that for when I do – I lose ground.

My soul was very restless then and it is today. My faith in God is stronger than ever, but my resilience to life has diminished as I have become tired of the battles. Not much has been easy for me. I stopped asking “why me” because the answers never came. I now find myself asking “what can I do” what should I do” and still because of all the noise I cannot hear. Finding my way through the noise to find a quiet place is my job now.

Faith to me is the greatest gift God has given me. It has ebbed and flowed throughout my entire life. It is my faith that allows me to still see blessings that come into my life. I can still stop and view the beauty of nature and know God is good. It is a choice I make each and every day to get up and start again because of my faith.

until next time


Forgive and Remember

I have been away from writing for three weeks now as I’ve had some life changing moments to get through. Now I will return to the book “A grace disguised” by Jerry Sittser and proceed to look at the various ways a grieving soul moves through the journey after a loss.

Chapter 10 – Forgive and Remember

Perhaps my avoidance of this chapter indicates that I still am in the process of forgiving the people who were involved with my daughter’s care during the  months prior to her death. I have come to know that forgiveness is a process just like grieving. It takes time and you take steps backwards and sometimes you just can’t move. It has been for in those moments I have had to cling to God. But as you will find out later, forgiveness or the lack thereof, isn’t easy, nor is it a one-time deal.

Sittser talks about those of us who have experienced a loss, tragic, random or premeditated look to  have revenge or justice in order to feel that our loss has been heard. I can remember there have been so  many times in  my life that I have chosen not to forgive. And because of that I suffered more. The relationships that were involved were broken and have remained broken to this day. Despite finally forgiving those who have hurt me over the many years – it came too late for save the relationship.

Shortly after Brittany’s death I was struggling with how I felt about the medical professionals who were involved with Brittany’s care. I was angry at them because I felt they gave up on  her. Not once did I, her mother, ever give up on her. But they didn’t seem to care or so it appeared by their lack of persistence on finding out what was wrong. To  me it just seemed as though they took the short way out and covered it all up with medication. I knew it wasn’t the right decision. And I felt powerless to fight it.

The pain of that anger is still very present as I write this because tears are flowing effortlessly down my face. The power of being powerless is staggering. It was the first time in my life that I can recall feeling hopeless and helpless and it made me angry. I wanted to know why they gave up. Why couldn’t they find something to fix her. Why did they just send us home and not explain what happened.

In the weeks after her death I wrote a long letter to her primary neurologist. In that letter I told him how I felt, how I trusted him because he begged me to trust him just three years prior and I did. That letter was very freeing for me as it started the process of forgiving him. Yet as I sit here and write this post I am feeling more pain than ever before. Why? This is when I have to lean very hard on my faith. I had to put myself in his shoes and hope by some measure that he too was grieving her loss. That I will never know.

I suppose I might see things differently had he shown up at the hospital or her funeral. Her other doctors where there. Offering condolences and assistance. But it was the absence of her neurologist that brought me such pain and sorrow – for his absence made me feel as if he didn’t care. That was the driving force behind my anger.

As Sittser reminds us in this chapter, “Forgiveness rarely happens in an instant.” That I know all to well. Although I did feel a large sense of relief after I sent the letter, it didn’t go away. It just found a quiet spot on my soul and rested there slowly destroying my faith in the medical profession.

Forgiveness is a life long journey, and just as grief washes over you at times so does the process of forgiveness. As Sittser states in this chapter we may have to forgive again and again when those special occasions arrive like when I go to a wedding of a couple Brit’s age or when some of Brittany’s friends begin to have families of their own. I have to relive that again. That moment of anger shows up and I have to chose to forgive all over again. Because you see my loss is eternal there will always reminders of the magnitude of my loss.

I have begun the journey of forgiveness and like my journey of grief – my faith in God keeps me on the right path. At the times when I choose not to follow my faith or my belief that God is in control – that is when I feel lost and alone with no map and no guide to get me through.

A few weeks ago I did something I’ve been trying to do for years since Brit’s death. I’ve been holding on to all of her medical records, maybe one day thinking I’d change my mind about suing the people involved. It occurred to me it was time to let that go. So I sat down in a chair and began the process of healing by shredding each document. As the tears flowed and with each page I felt a sense of relief that part of my life, that anger was released.

Forgiveness is hard, but a necessary process. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean I have forgotten what happened on October 13, 2006. The flashbacks still occur. The nightmares still keep me up some nights. The pain in heart is always there. But in forgiving those who were involved, I have started moving forward and replacing those bad memories with good ones of my daughter. This story, my story is an on-going process and like Sittser our faith in God is how the story gets re-written. God changes everything. Faith gives hope in the midst of grief.

But also know, for those of you living this now or you know someone who is on this journey. It never goes away. This kind of pain after a sudden loss is hard and some days still unbearable. Keep in touch with them, don’t forget and pray constantly because we need it. Our faith, our trust, our future depends on the prayers, love and compassion of others and the mercy of God.

until next time,


Another Loss

I am choosing to take a break from the book “A Grace Disguised” and wanted to talk about someone very special in my life that passed away Friday morning. Yes it is indeed another loss and for my family it just doesn’t stop.

My grandfather passed away Friday and just on the heels of my step-grandmother who passed away in late November. It of course falls in what I refer as the dark times for me as this is the time when I lost my mother and my daughter. I have gained two more reasons to not like this time of year. I spend many a day pining for January.

My grandfather and I were estranged for so many years due to various family reasons that I will not go into now. It didn’t help much that I lived out-of-state and didn’t travel back to Indiana but maybe one to two times a year. With such a big family to see, I spent my time with immediate family members.

It was only after my mother died that my relationship with my grandfather began to grow. I recall it being a very difficult thing for him to experience. Losing his daughter, my mother, so young truly was hard on him. I think it really solidified for him the sadness he had on his heart that their relationship hadn’t been a better one.

Once my family had moved from Dallas, Chicago and finally Michigan, trips to Indy were much easier and happened on more of a regular basis. So on every trip down we would stop in Anderson to see granddad and Irene. Brittany always looked forward to those trips. She enjoyed getting to know her grandparents.

Brittany only knew her father’s parents well and grandparents. Since my mother was gone before she was born, she only knew of her. My father and I are estranged, even to this day. For other reasons I will not get into here. So our trips to Indy always included a stop in Anderson.

Once Brittany’s father and I were divorced, I began making more trips down and visiting more with granddad. We would talk often about my mom and he would tell me stories. Always with a tear in his eye he would talk about how much he loved her and I felt that.

Brittany would spend time with him and he would teach her things like how to shoot a BB gun out in the back yard. She reveled in the fact that he would take her outside and spend quality time with her. She loved him dearly.

I have some really great photos of them together and two in particular made into her memory book. I will cherish those moments of them forever in my heart. I sit here with tears streaming down my face because the life I once knew is just that a memory, a moment in time that hurts like hell and no one really knows to the depths that my pain goes.

After Brittany died in 2006, my first visit with granddad was so very emotional. I recall as our eyes met, and the tears began to fall, that he knew my pain and I understood his for the first time. We both lost our girls. It was the bond that tied us so closely together and I think for the most part it was unspoken. We just knew.

Over the past four years as I have grieved the loss of my daughter, it has been my grandfather that has been most helpful in my feelings of being validated. That the pain and sorrow in my heart and that permeates my life was something he understood. I didn’t have to say a word. Now that one person who understood is gone too. And that is such a loss for me.

I wished I had seen him more often, but as life has it way of keeping one busy. My life has been crazy busy for the past few years. And I won’t apologize for it as it is what keeps me from going absolutely crazy insane from the sorrow I live with daily. But it has kept me from developing deeper relationships with those I love. I have a fear that when I let those close to me into my life in a deeper way – that they will die. Because it is what I have experienced.

Now I know that is ridiculous to hear and it is ridiculous for me to believe. So I work on that daily. I pray about it often and I talk about it with someone when I need to. As I always say my life is a work in progress. My faith in God carries me when I cannot take another moment of sorrow. It is God who lifts me up and brings me through.

Now my faith may look different to some of you who either know me or who read my blog regularly, but my faith – it is a simple faith. It isn’t all decorated up in man-made rules. It just simply knowing who God is and who He wants me to be. Shinning the light into a dark world by loving and loving only. No judgment, hate, discrimination – just simple love and acceptance. That is what I know is true. Anything else is just hypocrisy.

So to my grandfather – thank you for understanding me and thank you for the bond we had as it has helped me become who I am today. May you rest in peace and I know without a doubt you had one heck of a receiving party at the gates of Heaven. I know for sure my Brittany and mom were some of the first to greet you.

until next time,


A Grace Disguised

I’m so excited to blog through this next book “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sittser. As some of my dedicated readers know I have found it rare to find a book that can come close to seeing grief through my eyes. Although our experience of loss is not the same; for his is much more tragic, he chose the right words that so creatively and accurately describes my pain.

I hope you get something out of this series as I did reading his book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has suffered a loss for it offers hope, spiritual rebirth and a new-found belief that the soul can heal and grow through loss.

“The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us.” – Jerry Sittser

In the beginning of the book the author writes about the previous edition and reflected back over the years of his experience. What I related to most was on page 19 of the book where he talks about writing. I believe as he does that writing about one’s experience, thoughts, feelings, emotions can be healing.

At times during my four years I felt as  if my writing would either make me or break me. In the early days the writing was so porous one could see my pain on the pages of my blog. I allowed many of my readers to “feel” my pain as much as I could. Not because I wanted to bring everyone else down; but to allow you to see that the clichés of the past needed to go about what grieving people need to do or should do. But to allow you to see what’s real about grief.

Sittser talks about being able to read his own journals and was able to see his journey and how far he’d come. How he had changed as a person. He believes as I do that the hope is that our words can bring help to others. But in no way does it diminish our own losses. That our losses are as real and horrible as they were the day they happened.

“The good that may come out of the loss does not erase it’s badness or excuse the wrong done. Nothing can do that.” – Jerry Sittser

So much of what the author writes about in this book has been very validating for me as someone who has suffered so many losses. So it is my hope that you, my dear and cherished followers and any of you who have come upon my blog for the first time, take a moment and reflect that even though our losses have been great. The power to heal resides within  us. It is how we live on that makes the difference between living or just existing.

until next time,