Thursday, December 30, 2010


This is the time of year that people often go on vacations for the holiday season. Wonderful trips are planned, suitcases are packed and people fly or drive away to fantastic destinations.

For people who have lost children I have found that they have often have one of three different reactions to vacations and traveling...

1. The families absolutely do not go anywhere that they did go with that child. We just can't go to the same places we had been with DJ--too many memories, too many triggers, too much pain connected to these fabulous places. We used to travel around every six months especially to the Florida Keys but now I can barely imagine going somewhere that DJ has been. Our youngest son Jake has gotten robbed by this development but it is what it is and we are trying to go other places with him.

2. The families leave town all the time. I know many families that just cannot stand to be alone in their home too much and travel and travel and travel. Their houses are quiet and empty and staying in the home too long is unhealthy for them. They need the diversions, the change of pace, the new locations that are not connected with their child. They chose to be gone a lot, they chose to make new memories with their remaining children and family members.

3. The families flat out don't go anywhere at all that is not required. I have interviewed families that do not like to travel at all and find their comfort in their homes. They feel the safest surrounded by their things and the things of their child. Many people I interviewed ended up changing jobs after their children passed away--they just couldn't fathom leaving town and traveling for their jobs anymore. Often familes that have lost children don't even like going out to dinner with friends, they find comfort in their homes and that is where they try to stay the most. So traveling doesn't just need to be going far away on a trip it can be going to the neighbors for coffee.

If you have friends that have lost children and you ask them to dinner or to an outing, again and again and they just don't show up--don't give up or take it personally. Most likely their comfort is in their home, or they just aren't ready yet. It has been 5 Christmases for us since DJ passed away and we are just barely saying Yes to people--it takes time, it takes strength. There is no time schedule and everyone is different--be patient, be kind, be understanding or be gone. (yes that was harsh but we as parent's that have lost children often don't have the energy to help others understand our pain sometimes--that is why I blog)

My ebook is available at

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Too much time alone

I used to mow my lawn, we have an acreage so it gave me a lot of time to think and reflect on life. I used to really like to mow. This was before DJ passed away.

I used to love shoveling snow--okay, YES I know that is weird but I really like the challenge of getting it done before my neighbors get theirs done. I used to like doing this before DJ passed away.

I do not like doing these things anymore, I don't even mow my yard anymore-we hire it out.

I used to like to escape in a movie on television and get recharged by being alone, not so much anymore.

Why, don't I like these things anymore?

Too much time alone. I am not good at being alone too long anymore. It gives me too much time to think, too much time to reflect on life and this reflection is often painful.

If I am alone I am usually doing a specific task--something that takes up brain power and makes me concentrate. I don't do casual idle time very well. Actually I don't do idle time at all--most people who know me know that I don't sit down until the day is over. Once I sit it is time to sleep and that is my idle time.

I need to be busy. I need to be busy with my hands--baking, cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc. I need to be busy with my mind, writing, creating Captain Tag books with my family, homeschooling Jake. I guess it is a good thing that I have lots of things I like to do at home because they keep me busy.

Maybe there are other grieving parents out there that need that time alone, time to think of their child and ponder on the relationships they had. I just can't do that, I think of DJ all the time anyway and I can't be alone too long in my thoughts or I just get sad and go down that hole that is dark, deep and hard to get out of. A rabbit hole....

A complete side not here--There is a movie coming out called The Rabbit Hole--about a family 8 months after they lose a child. I don't plan on seeing this movie, if you have read my blog much you know that I just can't see movies like that---however, I have to say that the title is brilliant and the death of a child is like going into that Rabbit Hole--everything is different and seen from a total different perspective, you feel small, you feel too big, you feel lost, you feel crazy. My hat is off to the writer of this broadway play and movie because there is little else that encompasses the death of a child in just three words--it is brilliant.

(My book is out on ebook at It will be out on hardback in 4-6 weeks)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dearest readers and followers,
Dearest families and loved ones,
Dearest survivors and parents,
Dearest families who shared their words, wounds and stories,

I don't have enough thanks in the world to tell you all how much I appreciate you and am so thankful for you all!! So many of you have shared words of support and words of grief. So many have touched my heart and inspired me to continue to go on. You have all been brave and strong (even when it doesn't seem you have enough strength in you) and continued to live on for your children's memory and for your loved one's, I am sure they are all proud of you!!

After almost two years of work and hours of typing and retyping and reading and rereading, here is the culmination and completion of familie's stories and words--

My ebook is finally available for purchase and the hard back will be available in 4-6 weeks. Once that is available I will have all the families who shared their lives with me to Jones Brother's Cupcakes for an official unveiling but until then here is my site for ordering my finally completed ebook---

Thanks to you all and God Bless your Christmas and New year!!! Lisa--forever DJ's mom

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Celebrating versus Observing

The holidays are here. The holidays are stacked upon us for the next couple of weeks.

As a parent who has lost a child holidays are awfully difficult. There is so much to deal with in so many different ways--

We can feel guilty about enjoying the holidays without our child. What if we are having a good time? Our child is not with us and we can feel guilt about enjoying life and the holidays. How can we be happy watching our remaining children open up gifts if one is missing? Well this is where logic needs to come in--we need to remember that our child would not want us to be miserable during the holidays. They would want us to continue to live. Also we ABSOLUTELY have to remember that we have other children (or other family members) that we need to continue the holidays for. It is not fair to "punish" our remaining children by not enjoying them. They are enough for us, we must remember this.

We have traditions that we have to figure out what to do with now. The same place for the tree? The same food, same date? Same type of gifts, stockings? We no longer celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve at our house anymore--old tradition. We now have it the day before Christmas eve. Initially right after DJ's death I needed to get the holiday over as soon as possible and moving it up just one day helped me. I have started putting the tree up in a different room. I can't relive the memory of DJ climbing under the tree in his red boxers looking for gifts. I remember it every year but seeing the tree in a different spot lessons the pain of the memory. It lessons the pain and makes it a happy memory.

I did not have Emilee or Jake decorate their own tree this year. Every year in the past they had their own ornaments to decorate their own tree together. Well this year I just didn't have it in me and they absolutely did not miss tackling that job. I did end up finding a perfect ornament for DJ this year and bought it and did as usual buy the kids their own--but going through all the ornaments and sorting out which ones were DJ's and which aren't just isn't happening. Will I do it next year? I don't know. I never know what is going to happen year to year.

I no longer send out Christmas cards or a family Christmas picture. DJ is missing, the picture would be incomplete and I just don't do it. Every year we would do something but we haven't since 2006. If I could copy and paste DJ's picture into a photo maybe I would but that seems a little morbid for me. Old tradition completely gone.

Also it is hard to say Happy Holidays, Happy anything--again guilt here. Someone posted something on twitter awhile ago stating to observe the holidays instead of celebrate them. Wow, that was like a lightbulb exploding above my head for me. Those few words take away so much guilt of being happy about the holidays. Usually I am not a guilt ridden person, I truly feel guilt is from the enemy and is completely useless but I was struggling with this senseless guilt. Observing the holidays is just plain easier than trying to celebrate them. Do I have a reason to celebrate?--you bet--DJ is in heaven, Christ's death and resurrection allowed that. Because of Christ I will get to be reunited with DJ again--CHRISTmas can be wonderful if we truly remember why the holiday exists at all!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thank you all for your comments

I had a blog in mind today about time lines but then I got distracted and saw that many of you have been leaving comments to me. I didn't know that these comments were being posted. I am so thankful to you all for the words of encouragement and understanding you have sent to me via the blog. I am sorry I can't respond to you each individually because for some reason my site doesn't allow me to or I just plain haven't figured it out yet.

Julie--thank you so much for what you said, it touched me so much--I am so sorry you have had loss as well-we all have been touched by loss in so many ways. I wish I could respond directly to your words but again, I haven't figured out how yet. We need to do coffee or thrift shop together, apparently you know of where I go :)

Angie--no one is immune and that sucks! I am glad though that your life has continued to go on in a way that I am sure Jack and Garret are proud of!! You rock!!

Please officially follow my blog because then I believe I can respond directly back to you--I am not sure but it could be the case. With all the wonderful things said I would love to chat with you all!! Plus we all need to communicate in ways of encouragement and uplifting to each other--so much pain and we all need each other for sure!!

I really needed this boost in the arm today, holidays are always hard and this year isn't any different. I can't seem to see beyond myself this year, I am only seeing within the blinders and this has helped me see a few feet in front!

Again, thank you all for your kind words, it shows me that these words and ramblings are not in vain but hopefully are offering help to those of us in the world walking the loss of someone we love!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A dieing plant

There is a plant at my in-laws house that is dieing. Everytime I walk by the plant it bothers me. I have watered it, I have told my mother in law that it needs water and the water ball thingies aren't working anymore. The plant is in a prominent corner of her home, there is a white bow in the pot--it once was beautiful and full of shiny leaves. It once looked for the sun to shine and was drawn to it.

She tells me it needs replanted and that she has the dirt. I hate seeing the plant's leaves drooping and hanging. I hate seeing the brown beginning to show and I absolutely hate the curling the leaves are beginning to do. It no longer looks for the sun to shine, it just droops in disregard.

I hate walking by this plant because it is a plant I gave my mother in law from DJ's funeral. It is a plant the has survived over 4 years since DJ passed away and it is beginning to die. I don't think she understands how important this plant is to me. I don't think she realizes that this is a piece of DJ that she is allowing to die. I don't think she undersands how much I hate seeing it die. I cringe when I pass by it, it causes me to think of DJ's funeral whenever I see it and seeing it die does not make me happy.

The dieing plant has made me realize that people forget. I knew this fact, I know this fact but I guess I thought my mother in law (that family) wouldn't forget as quickly as some. I thought she would get the fact that an unimportant plant is still important to me even 4 years later.

I get it, I truly do. I can't remember the anniversary date's of my friends that have lost children. It is not that I have forgotten their child I just can't remember their death dates. I have a hard enough time trying to remember what the actual date is on the calender. So I get it, life is fast, life continues, life goes on.

Well for those of you that have not lost children, this is how we feel when our children's things are no longer treasured. When their name is no longer said. We feel hurt when things that we consider precious are no longer considered to be by others. When our children are forogtten we absolutely hate it.

That plant is dieing. I will have to repot it and bring it back to life because it is part of my memory of DJ. The leaves no longer reach for the son but DJ reached for THE SON. The leaves are lack luster and drooping while DJ will forever be perfect in His Glory.

As readers who have not lost children do not judge us for wanting the "plants" to stay shiny and new. Don't judge us or get concerned when we are still hanging onto things that our child touched or loved. These things will always be important to us, they may lose some of their luster throughout the years, the memories may fade regarding the objects but still we want these things held in high respect, in respect to our children and their memory.

If you have a plant, a toy, a piece of clothing, anything that was one of our children's please give it the respect and honor it still deserves--in honor of our child.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A dear friend of mine who has lost a son told me she was feeling melancholy lately and couldn't seem to shake it. I had to agree with her that my household feels the same way, it is a heaviness that won't go away. It lingers about like a fog.

I decided to look up the word in the dictionary and this is what it says...melancholy is a depression of the spirit, depressed in spirit.

Maybe this means our spirits are depressed. Jesus' Holy Spirit that resides in us is depressed. How does that happen?

This is my theory-(please forgive my hypothesis here it is only a guess and I am not a theological expert)---I think that we as parents have prayed for years about our children, we have prayed for their safety, for their relationships, for their futures and after they are gone we are lost too. I think this lost sense begins to fester into a loss of faith---where was God when my son was dying? Why did He not protect him or save him? There are a million questions we can ask God and until we are all reunited we generally don't get the answers, or atleast the ones we want. Anyway, this doubt can fester in our spirit as well. We lose faith, we hurt our spirit. Our spirit grieves our doubts, it grieves the loss of our children. God grieves with us too.

Is melancholy the grief the Holy Spirit feels within us? Perhaps, I don't know but it makes sense to me.

Bigger question is how do I take myself from this melancholy? How can I look beyond my own pain and be thankful to God for the things He has done for me? How do I remember that He is still walking with me everyday, every second and has held me up when I could no longer stand?

This I do through a relationship with Christ, through His word, through prayer--the three legs of a footstool. Without one of them the chair tips-I need all three to continue to stand up and be strong.

My challenge to myself is to find a scripture today to stand on--a scripture that can give my spirit confidence and faith. A scripture I can pray that will take me from melancholy to nonmelancholy (okay I know that seems to be poor grammer but I can't see the word joyful coming into this today).

I challenge you all today to get into His word and get guidance from Him as well--He does not want our Spirit grieved, it is not a weak spirit He has within us-we need to find our faith and strength in Him

Today I challenge myself and all of you to find strength in God's word and in Him. With His strength perhaps the melancholy will release and float away--

(Update--ebook will be out next week, my guy is doing last of webpage work this week. Actual hard copy book within 4-6 business weeks--will keep everyone in the loop!)

Monday, December 6, 2010


There are triggers everywhere that remind parents of their child....

Macaroni and cheese--DJ loved my homemade mac and cheese and was beginning to make it himself
Saucepans in the cubbard--just bought those for DJ 3 weeks before his accident so he could cook

A yellow truck--a friend's son had just bought his own yellow truck before he passed away
A stroller---a stroller that looks like the one your child should be in
An intersection---a section of the interstate where a child has passed away

A child walking down a sidewalk that looks just like your child

A television show that you watched with our child over and over again (fear factor and robot wars at my house)

A movie that your child watched with you or one that they had wanted to see but passed away before they actually ever saw it.

A package of cookies at a grocery store--any food that your child loved at the store

A plastic bb from a bb gun that was stuck behind a cabinet for over 4 years

Someone on the other end of the phone with the same name

A plastic car, a t-shirt worn by a younger sibling, a homework assignment in a backpack that has been stored away, a book touched by your child last, a cloud in the sky, a flower in the day light, a whisper, a prayer--so much can remind us of our child that it is no wonder we are thinking of them all the time--even when our friends and family have no idea---everything can be a trigger and nothing---we are only a thought away from our children--be kind to us all

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I still have a box of DJ's chocolate crunch bars in the refrigerator. I found them in his sock drawer after he passed away. He loved chocolate and had them stashed so no one else would eat them. Jake had a friend come over last summer, he saw the bars and wanted to eat one. Jake said No, I said No and then explained that they were DJ's and he couldn't have them. This friend had never met DJ and didn't realize the importance of the bars.

That is the thing about mementos. They are important to us but aren't truly to anyone else.

We keep these things close to us and around us. We keep them to remember our children in a physical way not just in our memories. We keep these things so other's will not forget our child.

What else do I have that no one else cares about? I have a coin that DJ got from a police officer that has the police department's emblem on it. It has been in my purse for over 4 years. I have DJ's t-shirts in my closet and wear them occasionally. I have DJ's skateboards that will never be used again and his helmet that he wasn't wearing that day. I have a small ceramic cat that DJ gave me, worth no more than $5.00 but worth the world to me. I have bright yellow ducks in the kid's bathroom--DJ hated being called Donald Duck so our family collected them and gave them to him just to be silly. I have the Daily Bread bible study that was sitting next to his bed when he passed away. His lamp, his cards he made into ramps, his schoolwork poster I made him work on when he didn't want to, a lock of his hair, some of his favorite books, the list can go on and on.

I know parents that have their child's stuffed animal in a bag and carry it with them wherever they go. I know parents that have entire rooms full of their children's things years and years later. Some people still have their children's coat and shoes by the front door, never to be worn again but still sitting there years later-never to be moved either.

The really sucky thing about all these mementos is that someday they will end up in the trash. Someday they will not mean anything to anyone else. Someday someone will look at them and not see my son holding them or giving them to me. Someday the memories attached to these things will be gone and then they will be donated or thrown away. Someday someone will not care about them anymore and to us as parents that is just like them not caring about our child anymore.

We keep these mementos to keep our children near--they may be trash to some but are treasure to us!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I had a dream about DJ last night. I woke up this morning after holding his hand in my dream. In my dream I was holding his hand against my hand and was measuring to see how big his hand was compared to mine. This is something I actually did when DJ was in the hospital before he died. I wanted to know, I wanted to never forget how big his hand was since I was never going to get to hold it again. In my dream it was just like it had been in the hospital, his hand was just slightly bigger than mine-barely but just. Funny it was also grubby, DJ's hands were always dirty because he was outside grabbing toward the ground at his skateboard so much all the time Also in the dream I was sitting in a circle and told DJ to come sit next to his brother. The rest is muddled but the importance is that I dreamt about DJ, I can even recall rubbing my hand on his back to touch his skinny back and shoulders.

The importance of all this to me is that I have not dreamt about DJ in four years. I have not been able to see him move since he passed away.

Many parents dream about their child all the time. God gives them this gift--I believe it is a gift! I know of a woman who has a dream journal because she dreams about her son so much.

My husband dreamt about DJ a lot right after he passed away. Was I envious of this?--you bet. I wanted to hear his voice again, I wanted to see him walk again, hug him again-even if it was just in a dream.

Why didn't God give me dreams? Did it make me feel bad? Yes. Did it make me feel like I wasn't worth the gift of a dream? Yes. Did it make me feel so incredibly sad? Yes. Did it make me wonder why God would not let me see my boy at least in a dream? Yes. Did it make me grieve that I couldn't dream of him? Yes.

Will I dream about DJ again? I don't know but today's blog isn't just about me dreaming about DJ. It is about the fact that some of us never dream of their child and it makes us feel unworthy.

Don't feel unworthy if you don't dream about your child. Try not to be jealous of someone (perhaps your spouse) that does dream about your dear, dear child. Don't feel that God is punishing you by not allowing you to dream-this is from the enemy to make you angry at God. Do not despair that someone else gets to see your child again while you wait for years and years. Do not be angry at God----

Most of all remember that someday you will again be able to see your child in heaven and that you will never be seperated from them again. Have this hope when their seems to be no hope. That is a dream that will come true and will last forever!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Different Christmas Traditions

Today I bought a Christmas tree for DJ's grave, I picked out some ornaments that made me think of DJ. I bought gingerbread letters that spelled out his initials-D and J. I bought a chocolate looking Santa ornament because he absolutely loved chocolate. Today sucked.

It did however remind me that after you lose a child, old traditions go away and different ones come about. I don't say new traditions because "new" means something exciting, something that someone wants. This change to my traditions I never wanted, they were thrust upon me because the old ones were just too painful to continue.

I now put our Christmas tree up as late as I possibly can, if I didn't have children at home I probably wouldn't put one up at all. We now put our Christmas tree in a completely different room. It is too painful to remember seeing DJ in his red boxers digging under the Christmas tree in the living room looking for gifts. It has to be somewhere that I do not see him over and over again in my memory.

Every year I would buy the kids their own ornaments and then they had their own tree to put up and decorate. Up until this year (the fourth since DJ's been gone) I have always bought all three kids an ornament but this year I only bought Em and Jake one. I saw no sense in buying DJ one. That sucks too.

We now celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve, eve. I tell people who don't really care that we do it because then you can take gifts back with no lines on Christmas Eve-and that we get to just relax on Christmas Day-little stress that way. The truth is that I cannot wait for Christmas to be over and this way it gets shortened up--celebrate it early and be done early.

People I have interviewed do many different traditions now as well--many families go out of town altogether during the holiday season--they just don't want to be home! People go to other family's homes, again leaving their house completely. People get rid of all their old ornaments and buy new ones--no memories attached to the newest tree. Some don't put up any trees or some go the other way and decorate like crazy so they can fall asleep in exhaustion during the holidays.

I have different traditions now, are they better? No. Are they worse? Yes because I have them because I have lost a child. I would much rather have the old traditions and my son. I wish my tree and my son were both in my living room.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Say my child's name

Say my child's name. It is that simple. To continue to be in my world say DJ's name. Do not be afraid to speak about him. Tell me stories. Remind me of silly things he did.

After a child dies people are often afraid to say our child's name. People are worried that it will make us sad. Silly, silly people. Sadness is always there, it is just hidden. It is masked beneath our smile--that Mona Lisa fake smile. If we are having a really good day it could be miles away from our thoughts and deeply stored away. Some days the sadness is a dark cloak over us that people can see and one that we don't wish to remove. The sadness is always just a thought or memory away.

I had a girlfriend that would text me after DJ passed away. She would tell me she was worried about me and ask me how everything was BUT she would never say DJ's name. I hated getting texts from her because she would talk about everything, would want to know everything but would not say DJ's name. I am no longer friends with this person.

Don't be afraid to say our child's name. Do not worry it will make us sad because again, sadness is just a hop and skip away. It will make us sadder if our child is forgotten, as if they never truly lived. And that to us is a horrible gut wrenching pain. Far worse than to hear their name is to not ever hear their name! Far worse is that they are forgotten.

Tell us stories--I remember when DJ would get in trouble at school because he would take food out of the trash can. It appalled him that someone would throw away a perfectly good bag of chips-he couldn't stand the waste. The staff eventually had to tell him to quit doing it.

I remember when DJ would make taco hot dog cheese wraps--yuck but he would eat them.

I remember hugging him and feeling his bony shoulders-I cannot wait to feel them again.

I remember listening to Johnny Cash songs with him and blasting them in the car so he could get charged to skateboard with Luke and his buddies. Hey, hey get Rhythm!

I remember driving him to Salvy, to Roberts, all over town to skateboard with his buddies.

I remember his constant smile-the one he was born with, the one that was always on his face!

I remember him asking to hear stories, he loved to hear about other's people stories-like he was storing them.

I could go on for hours with memories but I bet some of you have more that you could share--if not with me than with another friend that has lost a child--

My challenge to you all today is to remember our children and not forget to say their names.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The first and fourth Thanksgiving

I still remember the first Thanksgiving--no not the Pilgrim's and Indian's Thanksgiving- No, the first Thanksgiving without DJ. It was terrible-it was only 6 weeks after his death. I can still remember going to the in-laws and seeing the table without DJ sitting at it. Seeing all the other long legged young men and not DJ. I remember my husband not going, not being able to sit at the table and pretend to be thankful for anything. I remember how quiet it seemed at the dinner table that Thanksgiving. I remember getting up early from the table to go into the other room, away from where my son should have been sitting. Away from the pain--or atleast three feet away from the table. The pain did not go away.

Now four Thanksgivings later I see a different one coming. I see one where I am thankful for my husband-that we have survived this tragedy-that our marriage is still intact and I still love him with all my heart. I see one where I am thankful for my two children that are safe and under my roof. I am thankful that they have come so far in the last four years yet it still breaks my heart that they have so far to go.

The in-laws want to take family pictures of everyone this Thanksgiving--I have already told my mother in law that we no longer do family pictures. We are missing a huge part of our family and there is no way we will do one--we haven't done one since DJ died. I see a Thanksgiving where we are more thankful than four years ago but I also see one that is forever changed and different.

Don't forget to be thankful for the really important things this year--and remember they aren't things-- they are people and relationships and those that you love. That is what I am thankful for and longing to see again.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Okay so many of you know that I try really hard to not watch the news on television. Too many stories about too many children passing away. Too much pain all the time.

So I watch a television show today about brides to be buying their wedding dresses. Sounds like a safe show right? Yay right...A young woman talks about how she is trying to find a dress that will symbolize her sister who had passed away a year prior. Then one of the consultants starts speaking about how he had lost his sister when he was 12 years old and how he still carries that with him everyday for the last 30 plus years.

This brings about two facts---

One---DJ's friends are going to be getting married someday and I am going to have to pretend that I am happy for them. This has already happened to some of the people I have interviewed and usually the women end up crying during the service. They aren't crying for the joy for the couple but for the fact that their children are not there. It becomes so evident during these kind of events that their child is gone. It is too much of an expectation for some families to be happy during the weddings so many just don't go altogether.

Second---my children will be getting married someday and DJ will not be present for them. I had a friend who's brother passed away when we were in college and she represented him in her wedding with a special candle and a remembrance in the announcement. Is this what DJ's life is going to be summed down to? A sentence and a candle? That sucks.

I am re-reading this posting and realizing that it is not the news or the television that is causing me pain. It is life that causes me pain. It wouldn't matter if I was watching Sponge Bob or The Terminator. It wouldn't matter if I was reading a Sesame Street book or a Stephen King novel. Life is what it is and I need to bloom like the iris. I need to be strong and realize that life is hard and be prepared for it. Perhaps there will be one hundred purple irises at my children's weddings and you all will know why.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Birthdays suck for families that have lost children...

We miss our children, we miss the excitement of their day. We lose out on the enjoyment we had with them. We don't get to blow out candles any longer with them. We don't get to make them or buy them their favorite cake or go to their favorite restaurant. We no longer have the chance to tell them happy birthday one more time. We miss not being able to buy them something cool. We wonder what kind of gift they would like now-years later, we miss the future birthdays without them and the past birthdays we had with them.

We miss our children on our birthdays as well. Unfortunately for me DJ's visitation was on my birthday and he was buried one day after my birthday. Of course any day your child dies, any day that they are buried you remember but for me my birthday will never be a "happy" birthday.

We miss our children on our other children's birthday too. It is so evident during holidays, events, birthdays and celebrations that they are gone. It is so obvious that DJ is not here on our other children's birthdays. He is not here to take pictures with the video camera that was just beginning to use. He was not here to lick his fingers and put out the candles (just like Aragon in Lord of the Rings) on Emilee's 20th birthday. Jake has however found this thrill and does it every chance he can get, so in this way DJ's memory lives on.

DJ has missed four birthdays, four of his own, four of mine, four of his sisters, four of his brothers and four of my husbands. He has missed so much but we have missed him so much more.

We made a mistake on his birthday this year. In the past birthdays we had given the kids gifts and tried to make it a happy day for them. We would buy a cake and blow out candles in honor of DJ's birthday. This year though we decided not to do this new tradition. We bought the kids gifts but didn't do the cake and we didn't celebrate his birthday.

Instead we mourned him, we mourned his loss. We didn't realize any of this until the week later after his birthday and the entire family was suffering and in pain and depressed. We didn't see what we had done or what we hadn't done was wrong. Once we did see our mistake all the light bulbs went off--we then went out for dinner as a family, we bought a cake and blew out candles. This helped us process DJ's birthday, this helped us go from mourning him to celebrating his life.

What did I learn from this? I learned that the best thing to do is to celebrate DJ's life. Celebrate the child's life on their birthday, I learned not mourn that day.

My advice to anyone coming up to a lost child's birthday? First and foremost, the anxiety, apprehension coming up to the date is worse than the actual date. Secondly the day should be celebrated as best you can--your child would not want you to mourn them, they would want you to live a life and try to be happy during their day. Thirdly--do what is best for you and never feel you have to explain what you are doing to anyone. If it means staying in bed all day then do it. If it means buying your child a gift and putting it away in a closet do it. If it means going to dinner as a family and crying while sharing stories about them then do it. My point here again and this time I will say it louder--DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU, DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU AND CELEBRATE THEIR LIFE AS BEST YOU CAN!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Would it have been easier not to have had DJ?

After a friend posted a comment about my blog it made me think about something parents that have lost children think but rarely say...

Would it have been easier to never have had our children than have the pain we now have? We probably have all thought it quietly but never said it aloud. And really why would we say it out loud? We can't do anything about it, it is a useless question to even ask but it does come to mind.

So I will answer it anyway...

Absolutely YES.

Everyone would take the pain that can nearly destroy us just to still have the memories of our children.

We would all rather have had the joy and privilege of having our children in our life than not having had them and having no pain.

Immense pain comes from immense love. Without the love the children had for us and we for them we would not have such great sorrow.

Absolutely yes is my answer. I would not trade the 13 years of having DJ in my life and the great overpowering grief that I can have now for nothing. I would rather have the pain of losing him than the pain of never having had him.

Husbands and wives grieve differently

Men and women grieve differently. It is one of the most constant facts I discovered when I interviewed people for my book.

Generally couples don't grieve the same at the same time and this is a huge blessing. When one person is in a hole and depressed then usually the other help mate is not. The other is able to help the one grieving. When Donnie is grieving I am there to offer help and support. When I am in a hole he is there for me and keeps me going.

Often one or the other wants to talk about their child and express their grief while the other is quieter with their emotions. Donnie likes to talk about DJ and what memories he has. For me it is too difficult, I usually get quiet and don't talk much at all. For me the pain is always sitting their just below the surface and to talk about DJ too much is hard. Memories of DJ are always with me, they never leave me and I am just not able to talk about them as much as Donnie. Donnie doesn't want DJ's life forgotten and to talk about him keeps DJ alive.

Some people I interviewed expressed that the husband's would get angry and grumpy while they grieved. While the woman would get sad and cry.

Some men went to the gym to work out their pain and often the women ate to stuff their pain.

Parents drank, some did drugs. They would immerse themselves into their work and some would almost quit working.

It was almost completely universal that the men would take great care in the headstones and gravesights of the children. They felt the need to continue to take care of their children in this way. And they were all concerned about who would take care of their child in this manner after they too passed away.

With all this said I just want everyone to realize that it is okay for people to grieve differently. Fortunately it is a good thing that we do because if we were both grieving at the same time or both doing destructive behaviors at the same time we would not be able to support one another. Our remaining children would have more loss and devastation to deal with. Life has already been seemingly unfair and we don't need to burden our loved ones with more. This is God's way of protecting us all I think.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why I don't watch the news

I try really hard not to watch the news since DJ's death. It is tough to watch it when I see so many children die needlessly and endlessly on the news. I make a point not to watch it, even after four years. However, this week I chose to watch it. I wanted to know what happened to the local 13 year old boy that passed away. I didn't watch it for the curiosity of the facts and trauma. I didn't want to gawk at the family's pain but because I have an understanding of the loss, I had sympathy for the family and wanted to know what was happening. I have a kinship and have great sadness for them. I feel the pain they feel for losing their 13 year old boy. It is a kinship I wish we didn't share.

While listening to the interview the mother says, "my son wanted to be a professional skateboarder, that was his passion." These are the exact words I said about DJ after his death in many interviews. Not almost the same words but the exact words. What are the chances? Apparently really good.

So all that said, I am not happy today. I am not celebrating the fact that another 13 year old is in heaven. I am not rejoicing that DJ gets to show him all the cool skateboard places in heaven.

I am angry that another family has this pain. I am angry that I have this pain.

I miss my son. I am spiraling and sad and I am not trying to get out of the hole. Let the hole have me today, today I jump in.

This is why I don't watch the news.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When to offer support?

In the local news there is a story floating around that an older brother accidentally shot and killed his younger brother. Honestly I don't know if this is completely true or not. The one fact that I do know is true is that a 13 year old died this week and another family is suffering and in unimaginable pain. My husband asked me if I thought we should go to the family and offer any help right now. I said "No" but this is why--

This family is deciding where to have a funeral
This family is picking out clothes for their son to be buried in
This family is deciding on songs to be sung during the service
This family is trying to figure out where to have a dinner after the funeral
This family is selecting a place to bury their son
This family is figuring out how to pay for all this
This family is still numb with grief and shock
This family is putting on a "face" for family members coming in
This family is going through a hell that few people (including myself) can possibly understand- if the stories are true
This family is going through hell regardless because their child is gone

When to offer help? When to go to the families and offer support and some sort of comfort?

When the numbing effect of grief wears off (which unbelievably it does)
When the grief gets worse about 3-6 months after the death of their child
When the friends begin to back away because they don't want to "catch it" (death)
When family members become harsh and tell them "to get over it"
When people quit calling and asking how they are doing
When people only want to hear "Fine" when they are asked how they are
When people quit speaking their child's name because they don't want to make the family sad
When the family members no longer think they can live without their child anymore
When the family's pain is so strong they can only think to end their own lives and stop the pain
When the family is dieing it's own slow death while the world is moving around them

Right now this family is busy, right now they are surrounded by people and things to do. But soon, the house will become quiet and the pain will become worse. Soon when the world outside has forgotten their pain they will need their family and friends more than ever. Just because time continues to go by the pain does not get easier. The pain only gets easier to manage after years of practice. This family and all families need support beyond the "initial allowed grieving period the world allows."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No one is immune

A family I interviewed for my book lost their youngest daughter in a car wreck five years ago, she was only 15 years old. This month their oldest daughter was in a horrible car wreck and has been in intensive care for over a week. She is in a medicated coma because of all the injuries she has sustained.

No one ever thinks something this horrible can happen to them. No one ever has children and when they are born think that someday they will have to bury them. We all kind of live in a bubble of "it won't happen to me, it will happen to them..." (I'm not sure who "them" is but I was sure it couldn't be me)

But then you lose a child and you become one of them. You are the one that it happens to, not someone else. Your immunity wears off.

After losing a child I think there are two trains of thought as a parent regarding your remaining children...One that it could never happen again. Two that it could happen again.

In the case of this wonderful family it almost happened again. The young woman is still fighting for her life, she may never be the same again once she remains consciousness--so much is uncertain.

All this said their is one certainty I am aware of---parents need prayer. Parents who lose children need continued prayer even after 5 years, 10, 20-the need never goes away. But also parents who haven't lost children need prayer. Life is hard, life is very hard and we all need to be praying even harder for one another.

I didn't mean to challenge you all again but I guess I am-PRAY. Pray for those you love, pray for those you know, pray for your enemies, pray for your children, pray for our country, pray for whoever you feel led to pray for. As Nike says--Just do it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bloom like the iris!

I had a very thoughtful and kind of sad blog planned for today, life has thrown some things in the news this week and I had some words to share but......

Then I saw an iris. An iris blooming in Nebraska. An iris blooming in the shade in November in Nebraska. A beautiful purple flower that usually blooms in May was just standing up proudly along my walking path this week.

Why am I choosing this instead of the other topic? Because it was a great symbol of life. A great analogy of how we are supposed to bloom where we are. This flower doesn't know it is November, it doesn't know that it is not supposed to be beautiful right now. This flower doesn't know that it is supposed to be dormant and brown and bent over.

We live life and know that because of our tragedies in life, that because the world had taken away one of our most prized possessions in life that we should not bloom where we are. We know that we aren't supposed to feel beautiful or see anything beautiful now. We know we are supposed to be dormant and unhappy and sad and bent over like the flower is supposed to be.

But..... what do we really know? If this flower that knows nothing knows to bloom where it is and shine and be proud and just show so much strength then perhaps I should be learning something from it. I have had tragedy, I have lost my son DJ and life has thrown it's worst at me but I am going to chose to be like that flower and forget what I know and do what I need to do. I need to bloom, I need to live, I need to be strong and stand and shine and forget what the world wants me to do or what it thinks I should do.

I will be like the flower and bloom where I am not supposed to and shine when I shouldn't.

I challenge you all, whether you have lost a child or not to be like that flower, to do what you can't, to do the impossible and live your life. Not just let life live for you but chose to live life!

Side note--I just realized God is amazing because iris' are my very favorite flower! I am always so anxious when they start blooming in May and am so disappointed when they fade away. If it had been any other flower I would have not noticed it, it would not have gotten my attention. God got my attention!

Movie to add to "not to see" list---Cujo

Friday, November 5, 2010


Many people inherit pets from their lost ones. These animals can go into shock and grieve just like people.

Pets will wait anxiously at the door for their owners to come home not realizing that they will never see them again.

The animals often lay on the blankets and beds of their lost owners and refuse to get up.

They smell their loved ones smells and long to be touched again by their owners.

The worst part about inheriting these pets is that someday they will pass away as well. These animals are one of the last physical connections people have with their children.

I know someday DJ's dog will pass away and that I will grieve her and it will cause me to grief DJ again. Someday all these inherited pets will be gone and it will be another loss that the loved ones left behind will have to endure.

I know I have talked before about the loss of an animal being compared to the loss of a child and the bitterness and anger it causes in me -in this case however; it is another connection, another loss, another pain that causes great pain in us. To the new owners of these dogs we do not want to see them go, to see them go is to lose our children all over again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Haunts

Halloween can be tough on parents who lose children--tough for the what if's and tough for the what was. What if he was still here and what was once...

What if--what would my child be this year?
would he be trick or treating this year at all?
would he be hanging out with his best friend or would they have grown apart?
would he be taking his younger sibling out for some fun?
would he still love chocolate more than any food group?

What was--scaring neighbor kids with my husband
terrorizing the neighborhood with masks and fog machines
wearing my black slacks as part of his outfit-he was so skinny
elaborate set ups in the entry way
hay rack rides
bags and bags of chocolate stored away in his room for later

As a family we don't celebrate Halloween like we used to. We no longer scare little kids in our neighborhood, we don't even trick or treat in our neighborhood anymore. The first year after DJ was gone our family went to another town to trick or treat. We couldn't stand the thought of seeing any of DJ's friends walking along and getting candy without him, the chances were too big. It was best to go somewhere no one knew us. My husband no longer cares to be home at all for Halloween, it has become a difficult holiday for him even 4 years after DJ's death. He and DJ loved to scare the kids, loved to decorate the house, loved to watch the kids leave our entry crying. They loved to terrorize, they loved to go big on Halloween.

Now we just go away, we don't stay home, we don't hand out candy (though I leave a bowl for the kids that may show up), we don't do anything similar to our past.

Halloween is full of fun and full of candy but often to the parent who loses a child it is full of haunts of old memories. So if you see a parent that has lost a child during Halloween be extra kind, it may not seem a big deal to you but to us someone is missing and we are missing them.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A tail spin and thankfulness all in one

I was watching a morning show the other day and an author was being interviewed. He had questioned nurses and doctors that had worked hospice care for many, many years. I don't know all the details of his book or the title but I believe his last name was Kessler if anyone is interested in reading it. I however won't be able to because I am sure it would send me into a depressive tailspin. The reason I am telling you all this is because there was something he said that really touched me and made me cry my eyes out while I was taking my (almost) daily walk.

The author hadn't believed in the after life before his interviews. He believed most things could be explained like the bright light/tunnel because of excessive medications given to patients at the end of their lives, etc. However before the author's father died his father was acting miserable and was full of despair (apparently he was ill for a long time) but then one day he was full of joy and acceptance. The man asked his father what the change was and he said he had been visited by his wife who was already in heaven and she told him that she and others that loved him would be waiting for him after he died. So okay, I am still good with all this, no tears yet.

The next thing the author states is that the doctors and nurses told him that people about ready to pass away would almost always look to the left corner of a room and see their mothers. That the mothers seemed to almost always be the ones that were being seen and awaiting the loved ones. This is where it started to get hairy and heart wrenching for me because I realized my son DJ did not have me or anyone that he knew in heaven awaiting him. His grandfather-my dad Augie-had died when DJ was just over one years old but DJ would not have known him. This is what caused the tears while I was walking (some people cry when they drive, I am good at crying while I walk).

But after all the tears and awful searing pain to my heart God reminded me of my letter from my friend (see blog about best birthday present ever). God is good and he brought back to me the memory of Jesus sitting next to DJ. Who better could DJ have been greeted by? There is no one on earth who loved him more than Jesus and DJ knew Him and knew His voice. DJ may not have seen me, I may have not been there to greet him but Jesus was and for this I am thankful. Someday I will get to see DJ and he will great me and for this I am grateful. What a reunion it will be!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I never really thought too much about numbers before DJ died other than balancing a check book or the cost of groceries. Now however numbers have a totally different meaning...

The first time our family went to church after DJ's death we were asked "How many?" It was the first time I had to say we were a family of 4 instead of 5. 4 has become a terrible number.

Today is my youngest son Jake's 13th birthday. He is now almost older than DJ was when he passed away. By next May (when DJ would have been 18) Jake will officially be older than when DJ died. He will pass his brother up. This bothers me but I tell no one especially Jake. I don't want him to realize this-though he may have already. I don't want him having to carry the burden of 13.

Today Jake will blow out candles for his birthday-a 1 and a 3. These are the same candles that DJ last blew out. When I touch them today I will be touching something DJ and I had shared over 4 years ago. Still 4 years later there are things that come up that I can share a memory of about DJ. Where I can almost touch him again.

Songs parents shouldn't listen to--Three Wooden Crosses
Holes in Heaven both by Randy Travis

Friday, October 22, 2010

How to describe the loss

I often have people say to me that they can't imagine the pain of losing a child. And I usually tell them in a very quick reply that I am so glad they don't understand it! If they understood it then they too would have lost a child. This is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, ever!

Shortly after DJ's death though I came up with an analogy, a visual that I hope really kind of helps people get what it is like to the smallest degree. I don't want them to get "it" so they can understand my pain but to get it so they can help someone else in the same place.

My analogy:

Losing a child is like being in a terrible car accident and you have lost a limb. You learn how to live- deal without that arm-leg but you miss it everyday and think about it everyday even though it is no longer there.

As a parent who has lost a child it is like I (and everyone else out there) have been in a tragic accident. The loss has the same impact of a car crash, the searing pain and ripping of metal is the same of that pain and ripping of our hearts. The loss of the limb is just like our child being ripped from our hearts and souls. Never to be seen or used or touched again. The intense ripping of the limb results in scars and change that we will have everyday for the rest of our lives. These scars are just ones that people do not see on the outside, they are hidden below the surface but are still there none the less. That child is missed everyday and never, ever do we forget about them.

We as parents learn how to live without that limb/without our child. We learn how to do the basics again like putting on a coat or a pair of pants. We learn to take life steps with the help of crutches, friends, with the support of others. We learn to live again even when we don't want to.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prayer Part II

Prayers have been answered after DJ's death. The Pastor who did the service gave people an opportunity to accept Christ as DJ had when he was young. People came to the Lord at his funeral, he had classmates that accepted Christ and someday they will see each other again. Jake was able to reconnect with a friend specifically because of DJ's death and this friendship has been an answer to prayer and support for him. Our family has survived this tragedy which by all accounts is from the many prayers of friends and families throughout the years. I have had people tell me stories (after 4 years) of how they heard about DJ's death and immediately prayed for our family. It is my complete belief that these prayers are what have kept our family together, it is Christ's power through these prayers that have kept my family intact.

Even with all this knowledge though I forgot about the power of prayer a few months ago and can honestly saying I was on a big downhill slide of disbelief. Things in life are hard, as for any family and when grief overcomes you things just seem to multiply and seem harder. Well, I saw an evangelist on television who said to ask God for a sign, that it was biblical and He could handle it. I had never done that before, I kind of felt it was like challenging God but I had nothing to lose so I decided to pray and ask God for a sign---what kind of sign? I didn't pray for specifics, I knew God knew me better than myself and if He wanted to answer this prayer and give me a sign He would do it perfectly. My husband and my son Jake also decided to pray for a sign. We all only prayed "God give us a sign".

A few weeks passed and we were all still praying and asking for a sign and believing that God would do it if He wanted to. Well... all three of us were golfing one evening, Jake and I were in a golf cart and I looked up at the sky and saw a PERFECTLY SHAPED E in the clouds. This was not a mild, "maybe it's an E", it was not a "guess it could be an E". It was a perfectly, right angled capital E. (if you have forgotten, my last name is Epperson). It looked as if it was just written by the hand of God and it was. I asked Jake if he saw it and he did, I asked Donnie to look behind him and look up in the sky--he saw the capital E and just after he did it evaporated.

Well, okay--that was an E, did it mean anything? Yep, then as we were putting our golf bags away into our car we heard someone yell into the full parking lot "DJ". Perhaps some of you will feel it was all coincidence but for us it was God's incidence. If He can give me a capital E in the sky, if He can have some stranger yell DJ's name in the middle of a crowded parking lot then He can answer my prayers regardless of what they are.

I now have peace that God is hearing my prayers, that He is more than capable of hearing them and answering them. He sees the big picture and knows what is best. He showed me if He can give me an E, then He is in total control. That my prayers are truly important to him and that He does listen and answer them.

Does He always answer them the way I want them to be answered? No. What child always gets their way? God knows me better than I know myself and even though He has taken DJ to be home with Him, it is His plan. I have to believe that God knows best in all areas of my life, even when I don't agree with Him.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Things we hang on to

I got an ipod for my birthday this week and of course quickly got it loaded with songs. I have an entire section titled DJ's music. It has been over four years now but I cannot let his music that is saved on itunes be removed. I love some it like the Johnny Cash music and can't stand the screamo Christian music that he had downloaded. But I will never remove the music from my system, it is something that I will always hang on to. I have a box of chocolate crunch wafers of DJ's that we found stashed in his room that are saved in our fridge and no one is allowed to eat them. I have shirts of DJ's in my closet that I will keep forever and occasionally wear when I am missing him. I have hung onto lots of DJ's things and will never get rid of them.

Many of DJ's things are useless and worthless to the outside world but they mean alot to me and someday my remaining kids will have to decide what to do with them when I am gone--I will always have his things-his fireworks stash, his star war guys,the tech deck dudes he played with for hours, some of his goofy movies that I couldn't stand but will never get rid of. His skateboard that I bought for him three weeks prior to his death for doing so well on his grades at school, the list goes on and on.

Is this unusual? Absolutely not! We as parents need to keep things our children touched, things they had their hands at and smells on. I have some of DJ's shirts stored in plastic Ziploc bags to try to keep his smell in. Of course I won't open them up because his smell could escape and it may already have since I don't check it out for fear of the smell of him disappearing (vicious circle).

I have talked with many people who have taken their children's shirts and made quilts out of them and others who can't even seperate with the clothes long enough for a quilt to be made. Some people have made shrines of their children's belongings above the family fireplace. I know people who still have their child's hats and coats hanging up on a coat rack after years of the child being gone.

There are so many things that we hang on to because we cannot touch our children and this is as close as many of us can get.

If you have recently lost a child or know someone who has tell them to take time with their children's belongings, don't be too quick to make decisions about getting rid of things. I have interviewed people who were quick to get rid of the belongings and reqret it shortly after. Take time and decide, pack things away for a few years and get back to them if you want. Do what is right for you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why do I blog?

Why do I blog? I was talking to a close friend today that reads my blog, I don't ever really talk to anyone that reads it-I know you're out there but I just don't talk about my blog much. Anyhow we began discussing it and she was appreciative of how honest I am in my writing of it. I asked her if she knew why I started writing my blog or even the book and she didn't know which made me realize that most of you probably don't so here is the scoop...

I had a very close Christian friend of mine compare the loss of DJ to the loss of her dog a few months after his death. I couldn't believe she of all people was saying it to me. She had been my spiritual mentor for years, she was a strong mature Christian, she already had great loss in her family and knew what it was like to lose an actual person-not just a dog. I just had to walk away from her when she was talking and try to tune it out, I was dumbfounded by her ignorance. I know many of you are dog lovers so please don't get angry with me or tell me about the great love she had for her dog, etc. You all know I have too many dogs in my world and yes even though I pretend I don't, I do love them all but I would never consider them to be of equal importance to that of my children.

No parent should ever have their child's death compared to that of an animal. It is painful and hurtful. The pain is not the same as losing a child as that of a dog--they are not even close. As I have interviewed people I have discovered that this happens often and people say very stupid and hurtful things out of ignorance. Can you tell I am still angry about this? It so upset me that we are no longer friends.

Anyway, I didn't want another parent to hear those words, I didn't want pain to come out of people's ignorance. Please don't get me wrong, I have said stupid things to people at times of loss, I didn't mean to say stupid things but no one told me any differently.

With this blog and with my book I want to first and foremost help families that have lost children, help them survive this new and different life that they now have without their child. To help them with new horrible challenges they will have to face that they aren't even aware of yet. I needed a book after DJ passed away with real things that I could do with his clothes, etc and real information on how this was going to affect every aspect of my life forever. But I also do this so friends and family members of these grieving families learn how to help and support them and to have better understanding of what is really going on in their loved one's world.

I don't ever want to hear another loved one's child's death compared to the death a dog.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best Birthday present

I meant to post this yesterday on my birthday but was birthday busy and didn't have a chance.

DJ's visitation was on my birthday in 2006. I hate the term visitation, we are not visiting the dead, we are viewing the dead. When I got home from the funeral home late that night I had a note taped to my garage door. This single piece of paper is one of my most prized possessions, I would be sick if I ever lost it. I should probably put it in a safety deposit box-it is the best birthday present I have ever received, this is what it said--

Lisa, Wednesday I woke up in the middle of a dream about DJ. I tried to go back to sleep so I could see more but I couldn't.

It starts with DJ sitting on a curb near the commotion in the street. He's talking to Jesus who is sitting on the street beside him. DJ knows instinctively who he is. He says, "Oh man, that's it? But that was such a short ride." (I had the impression he was talking about his life not skating)

Jesus: Don't worry DJ there's a better one ahead. You ready?
DJ: My Mom and Dad are gonna freak.
Jesus: Don't worry DJ I'm sending them angels to help them.

I woke up.
I wasn't sure if I should mention it but I thought it was comforting. It was weird to me because I always imagined angels coming after people but who knows?

I wanted to do something nice for you for your birthday but somehow I doubt you're in the mood to enjoy it. Happy Birthday

Your friend, Rieta

Another movie to add to the list--Blind side-great movie, heart wrenching because I no longer can hug or save my boy

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grief has a high price tag!

I haven't blogged for awhile. I have been thinking about it the last few days and haven't been able to figure out why I can't think of anything to write. I have lots of information in my head about surviving the loss of a child, of my DJ. I have lots of great quotes from the families that I have interviewed for my book but somehow they are all in my head and not able to come out.

I finally got a hold of it this evening. Grief takes away your creativity. I know this, I have had to deal with it a long time but I forgot. It will come back to me again, maybe even in a few days. Grief takes away lots of things silently. It takes so many things away and steals things without your knowledge. And ironically it can add things as well. For my husband his creativity flourished after DJ passed away. He is an amazing artist, he can paint, sculpt, draw--it all comes relatively easy to him. After DJ's death he drew to escape and eventually all of his grief turned into a book series titled Captain Tag. Would he have done it without the grief, I believe the answer is a definite No. He needed to draw to escape the grief so in this way it gave him the creativity. It's a wierd circle. I know people who got heavily into music, others who got into photography and writing. So I guess it adds but it has an absolutely horrible price tag!

Tomorrow is my 43rd birthday, DJ's visitation was on this day 4 years ago. He was buried the day after my birthday-tomorrow I will share the best birthday present I ever got and suprisingly it was on DJ's visitation day from a dear friend.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bright clothes

I wear bright clothes when I am depressed. Today I have on a bright turquoise sweater that I usually never wear. If you see me and I am wearing turquoise pants with giant flowers on it then I am most likely in a hole. I do in on purpose because when I feel bad I need that extra ooomph, that extra brightness so people don't see it. Ofcourse now you all know it and will probably check on me when you see my bright pants coming but I don't really care.

4 years ago today my13 yr old son DJ was in intensive care with severe head trauma from a skateboarding accident. I was in a dark hospital room asking the nurses if they had known anyone with such severe trauma coming out of it and they told me no. I was standing against a wall as a doctor was telling me that my son didn't need any pain medication because he wasn't feeling any pain, that cold white wall was the only thing holding me up. I was taking calls from DJ's friends and their parents and had to tell them it wasn't good, that what they all had heard was true. I was listening to myself telling DJ to go to Jesus because he was not with me anymore. I was putting my hand against his to see the size, his were just slightly larger than mine. I was looking at his doodles on his right hand of dice and a star--he was always doodling. I was feeling his hand begin to harden because his body wasn't working correctly anymore. I was listening to my daughter scream in the hospital room for her brother not to leave her. I was listening to my younger son whale as he told DJ goodbye. I was crying in the halls where no one could see me, I was planning the songs I wanted at his funeral. I was answering questions about DJ's sexual history to the organ donor people--he hadn't even kissed a girl yet. I was sitting and sitting and sitting next to his bed watching all the tubes keep him alive. That was my life four years ago today, I never left his side though he eventually left mine.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hallmark doesn't have it

I have a relative who is dying. He has been sick for years but will probably finally succumb to everything that is wrong very soon. Hospice has been called.

I went to the card store to find something to give him that didn't necessarily say Get Well because that isn't going to happen, but something that let him know that I was envious that he will get to hold DJ and hug him soon.

Hallmark doesn't carry a card like that, maybe I should start a line of them---

Front- "So glad you get to go to heaven" Inside- Wish it was me
Front- "Wish I could take your place" Inside- I would hug my son
Front- "Hug my loved one for me" Inside- Wish it was me
Front- "Tell my son I miss him everyday" Inside- Wish I could do it in person
Front- "Wish you weren't there" Inside- Wish I was
Front- "Congrats on your newest destination" Inside- Wish I was going instead
Front- "Congrats on your heavenly departing" Inside- Wish I could go in your place

I don't have a death wish, I don't want to leave my husband or two kids behind to have more pain or grief but I am envious and jealous and wish I could hug my boy! He will have to do it in my place till Jesus calls me home. He will get to kiss his cheek and hug those bony shoulders that I miss. He will get to see those beautiful green eyes that sparkle when he smiles. He will get to see that wonderful smile that DJ was born with, the one I miss everyday. He will get to touch his hands that were just a smidge larger than mine when he passed away.

There wasn't a card there that I could buy so I bought a blank one and wrote that I was envious and that his best adventure will be starting soon! Wish it was mine.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Death brings Death

I am in a continued angry mood. Just got a call from a friend who's son passed away years ago. The daughter tried to commit suicide today and almost succeeded. I am tired of the continued fall out for families! I have friends who's spouses have gotten cancer since the death of their child. Two friend's spouses have died. I have friends who have spouses that have had heart attacks and passed away since the death of their child.

Please continue to pray for families that lose children because it doesn't matter if it has been 2 days, 2 years, 4 years or more the fallout continues to happen and families are losing more family members, the grief is building and things are not easy.

Death sucks, lose of a child sucks but it seems the fallout never stops and people's lives do not stop being changed.

Death brings death

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's in a name?

Today I was hit by two letters by an unsuspecting gentleman in the middle of my day. What were those two letters? They were DJ. My computer wasn't working well so I had to contact my internet company, after a few minutes I was transferred to someone higher up on the chain and his name was DJ. I didn't expect it, I wasn't prepared and it hit me hard.

This nice man was helpful and wonderful and the whole time I just wanted to tell him that my son's name was DJ and that he died almost 4 years ago. I wanted him to know that he had an unknowing connection with me and my son and my tragedy but I couldn't get the words out.

I felt them in my throat, I had them in my head but my heart would not allow them to be said. Thankfully he had to put me on hold for about 30 seconds which gave me time to cry without him knowing. Even now 15 minutes later I am on the verge of tears. And that is why I didn't allow the words to come out of my mouth, I would have been crying over the phone to the cable guy and I don't think I would have been able to stop.

How does this hit me so hard? Why am I nearly blubbering to the man on the phone. So many questions, I hate being hit so hard unexpectedly. I hate having to be prepared for whatever life throws at me, I hate not having my son here. I hate not being able to hold my tears in, I hate that the anniversary of DJ's death is only 9 days away. I hate that I am getting hit by it already, I didn't feel it yesterday but I sure do today.

What's in a name? My entire life..

(other movie to add to list--the Patriot)

Friday, September 24, 2010

We are not the same anymore

I have a wonderful friend that lost her son the same year DJ passed away in 2006. We met in a support group for mother's who had lost children and she is one of those friendships I will take to heaven. Today she told me that she will never be the same person she was before and that her family was struggling with that fact. That they didn't understand the change in her and though she didn't say it I am assuming that they also wished she would go back to being the same old person she had been before her beautiful son's death. Well......

Here is my take on it. None of us will ever be the same, no parent, no sibling, no best friend, no grandparent, NO ONE! And for someone to expect us to be is ludicrous.

We will never be able to hold our child again and feel their hair next to our skin.

We will never be able to hear them say Mom one last time.

We will never be able to serve their favorite food without wishing they were there to eat it.

We will never get to watch them glow in the sunlight or beam in the moonlight.

We will never get to watch them create and live in the world they love, that loved them.

We will never be the same, how anyone can expect us to be is wrong.

However, all that said--

We will also never be able to hear a story about the death of a child without our heart going out to the family.

We will never stop praying for our remaining children who are still grieving after so many years.

We will never have the same compassion we had before our own loss, our compassion is deeper

We will never understand how someone can hurt a child on purpose when we miss ours so badly

We will never understand why a child will take their own life when ours did not have a choice to continue living theirs

We will never forget to pray for our friend's who have lost precious children

There is so much that has changed within us and around us and to us that we will never be the same.

I have more and less compassion for people now than I did before, more for those that have the same unbearable, life altering, horrendous loss that I have had AND less for ignorant people who think life is not a gift and will strike and hurt and batter their children.

We as mothers tend to stand stoic, we are the glue the holds the families together and if after four years we haven't changed yet then just wait, it will come. Maybe it will come in small ways, like driving a different route so I don't have to be near the same road my son died on. Or maybe it will come in big ways like another mother I know that bought a Harley and now has two to escape the pain and just ride.

We are not the same people, we wish terribly that we were, that our boys, our children were still with us but they aren't and we will never be the same. My hope is that you all get to stay the same and never have to change because of loss.

(Got book back from editor this week, I am fixing errors, have to write my biography and back of book information and then soon we will be in e-book form-then real books after--hope I have been able to honor all of your children!) Thanks again for reading, Lisa-forever DJ's mom

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Our movie choices have changed so much since DJ passed away. There should be a list created for parents that lose children, movies we shouldn't see...

Here is my short list---Bridge to Tarabithia--children's movie (thought it would be nice to see a safe family movie but I never read the book-apparently everyone I knew did because they told me about it later) the family went about two months after DJ passed away and unknown to me the teenage girl dies in the movie. While we were in the theater a funeral is going on right in front of us all--our life and our pain was on the screen in front of us, it sucked!

Steel Magnolias--A adult daughter dies and Sally Field breaks down at the grave--what every mother really wants to do but doesn't

Terms of Endearment-Another adult daughter passes away and you get to see the tragedy fully in front of you, every emotion and all the pain

Animal Movies-DJ had a very valid point when he was young, he would say that he didn't want to go to animal movies because they were always sad and he was right and still is. Most if not all have an animal die or get lost and you become terribly emotional attached to these creatures and all of a sudden pain is back.

Toy Story 3--love, love, loved the movie until the Mom hugs her teenage boy goodbye as he goes off to college. It makes me tear up just thinking about it.

Haunting in Connecticut---Gee, I thought this would be perfect, a scary movie with ghosts and ghouls--but NOOOOOO!! Based on true story about a teenage boy dying of cancer and his mom holds him in her arms while she thinks he is dying--ugh, no more scary movies for me now.

Any movie where there is a strong bond between a parent and a child, any movie where there is struggling between the parent and the child, any movie where there is pain, any move that could possibly come true. Almost any movie is subject to causing pain.

After DJ passed away I began watching science fiction junk. Why? Because 99.9% of it can't come true and I don't become emotionally attached to the giant alien creature trying to shoot goo at the ugly alien.

My words of wisdom--be careful what you watch. If you want to cry and need that release, watch a movie that will make you cry--blame it on the movie-people won't blink an eye. However, do your homework before you go, check out the many websites out there that will help you make a good decision on your choices--the last thing you want to do is have a happy evening planned with the family and have your evening end with intense sorrow and pain--we all have had enough and don't need it absently thrown at us. I go to Kids in mind movie rating web site

My book Flowers on a Child's Grave-Now What will be coming out this late fall or early winter will let you all know when and where I will be having a book event--Thanks for reading, Me

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dinner and tears

My husband and my friends have changed since DJ passed away 4 years ago. We can become immediate friends with couple's who have lost children. Instantly there is a connection and an understanding that we have with them that we have with no one else. This weekend we went to dinner for the first time with one of these couples.

The husband and wife were so wonderful, we shared stories that didn't have anything to do with our loss, we laughed and we got to know each other over pasta and salad. Then we discussed in detail stories about our children, and on that topic we could all talk for hours. We had to make a point to quit discussing our children, to ending the conversations with sadness. We had to regroup and register what was happening and completely change the topic. Dinner was wonderful and sad at the same time.

We have all decided that we will definitely do dinner again but we can't do it and discuss our children so deeply and painfully. Does this mean we love our children any less? No. Does it mean that we have forgotten them? No. But it does mean that sometime the emotion is just too strong and too painful and too close to the surface that we can barely speak their name.

Sometimes we just have to put away that part of our lives for a small time and try to enjoy what is in front of us. We will never stop loving our children, they will always be with us but some days we have to carry them a little less closely to our hearts.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where does the glow go?

My husband has told me that he has a picture of me at his work where I am glowing. My eyes, my smile, my face is glowing. He's told me that it is his favorite picture. This picture was taken before DJ passed away and all the family is together. We are all happy and glowing.

When you are happy there is often a glow that appears that you aren't even aware of until it is gone. Since DJ's death he says that the glow has been gone, he is not complaining about it, he is just commenting on it.

This week he told me the glow was back, he could see it again. He knew there was something different about me but he couldn't figure it out right away, it is the glow.

Did I know the glow was back? No. Did I know it was gone? No. Do I have any advice on getting it back? No.

Having the glow back results in many questions though. Do I miss DJ less now because I have the "glow"? No. Am I less sad now? Somedays yes, somedays no. Do I have guilt because I now have the glow? No. So many questions from such a small thing.

Embrace the glow if you get it back, don't feel guilty if it comes back. Don't feel guilty if it doesn't come back--it took 4 years for mine to return and it might evaporate again, who knows. Remember your child, love your child and move one day at a time, live one day at a time, one second at a time if necessary. Just live.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prayer Part 1

I have been struggling with prayer ever since DJ's death. This is a common struggle for families after the loss of a child, though knowing this fact doesn't help me much within my own issue. You pray for years for your child, for God to keep them safe, for God to help them grow up to who they should be, for Him to protect them....And then there is death and no protection. Or so it seems. It seems that the power of prayer is gone, that God is going to do whatever he wants in the end so why really pray about it, what good does it do? He is God and I am not.

My heart tells me one thing about prayer but the life I have lived tells me the another. My heart tells me that there is power in prayer and that God did protect DJ so many times. DJ had a serious infection when he was around 2 that could have resulted in death, he climbed a small skinny tree way too high once. He heard it cracking and heard me hollar to get down at the same time-another time he could have easily died. He had a crash on his skateboard three months before the ultimate crash that could have been bad.

My heart tells me God has protected DJ, my heart tells me that God allowed DJ to be in our lives for probably longer than planned--so did our prayers actually mean something? YES, they did, God kept him here longer I believe because we did pray for safety and protection.

My life shows me that God didn't protect DJ at the end. All the years of prayer did not keep him safe in the end, all the dreams of his future died with him, all the dreams God placed within him died with him. Where was God when DJ was falling? Where was God when he fell twice? Where was God when DJ decided to go down that stupid hill? Where was God? Where were the answer to my prayers?

I have those answers in Part II

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fun Guilt

We went out of town this week. My husband and I realized that our youngest son didn't have any memories of his own of a city we liked to travel to. We had plenty of them with his brother DJ and sister but he just heard the stories. He didn't remember much at all since he was so little when he had gone along.

Most of our vacation spots are like that for him, he was so little when we went that he only has memories through the pictures he looks at. We just don't take vacations anymore, the whole family unit isn't able to go now since DJ's death. Without all five of us it doesn't feel right to go and enjoy some place-that is a guilt that parent's who lose children have. We don't feel that it is okay to go and have fun, we have to really work at it and make a point to do it or life does completely pass us by.

This week though my husband and I worked at it and went out of town to create new memories for Jake. In this case I can say "new" memories because these are good times, these are fun opportunities that he gets to experience without too much haunting from his brother's death. There are so few places that our family has gone to travel since DJ's death that DJ was not part of. Jake hears so many stories of when we were here or there as a family, as a complete family group but so few places are just his memories. Jake has gotten robbed of family vacations.

Even this trip, as short as it was had memories flooding in of old times. I had to make a point of not saying the memories out loud, I didn't want Jake to feel that it wasn't about him and that it was all about our own memories of his brother. I wanted Jake to feel important and special on this trip, not shadowed over by his brother's death. That is another guilt we have, if we talk too much of our lost child than the remaining can feel less significant, less important. How do we balance that guilt? We don't want to forget our child but we can't forget our remaining child. We have to try to balance it out, we have the memories in our head and not all of them have to be expressed out loud all the time.

Guilt is a circle for a parent that loses a child. Guilt of not talking about the child, guilt of talking too much about the child. Guilt of making the remaining children feel less important, guilt of not giving those same children the same opportunities the other child had. The guilt can go round and round until you are exhausted.

This trip though I have no guilt. I am not the type of parent that has much guilt anyway, I can't live my life that way and I make a real effort not to allow false guilt into my world. However it still lingers occasionally and I am thankful that Jake got to have an opportunity that was his. He got to enjoy life this week and have a new experience. Hopefully this will be the beginning of breaking that fun guilt down and creating memories and blocks of good opportunities for him and all of us in turn.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scrapbooking sucks!

Today is not a good day. This week I decided I would get caught up on my scrapbooking since I am almost 4 years behind. I worked yesterday and today and got around 40 pages complete. Unfortunately I am now done for awhile, I only have 10 more month of DJ's life left to scrapbook. What happens when I have the last photo to put in of DJ laying in his casket? What happens when there is no more life of his to put in the scrapbooks. Everything I wrote was past tense the last two days, everything was "DJ loved doing this, DJ loved doing that" This sucks. There was no present tense because there is no present day with DJ. I am done scrapbooking for awhile, all is put away-all of Em's pics and all of Jake's and all of the last 10 months of DJ's life.

I might jump ahead and go 12 months in the future, I don't know.

I don't have answers to my own questions on this one. I don't know how a parent gets through scrapbooking their child's life and the end of their life. I don't know, if anyone out there does then let me know because I don't have the answers today.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dentist-more fall out

A few days before DJ's accident he went to the dentist for a filling. A few weeks after his death my youngest son Jake went to the same dentist and sat in the same dental chair as DJ. It made him cry during his appointment. Now everytime Jake goes to the dentist he gets sad. Jake had a root canal, a very painful one and cried tears. He cried outloud for his brother saying how much he missed him and he wished he was there with him.

This has become such a negative association for him. Even now almost 4 years later when Jake had to go to the dentist and again was told he had to have another root canal he began to cry. At 12 he still gets sad whenever he goes, he left the building crying. His huge hate for the dentist just isn't about the dental work, it is about DJ. It is a trigger and it sucks for him on so many levels.

How do we get through this? How do I help him disassociate this? I don't know yet. People say time will help and it does. Second by second and day by day time does go by and time helps. It doesn't make the event less sad, less horrible but it makes it easier to manage the pain.

I am guessing time is the only thing that will help Jake. So much fall out, so many triggers after a child passes away. So much pain. I plan to start taking Jake to the dentist every 3 months after this root canal, perhaps normal check ups will help him learn to hate the dentist less. Maybe this will help him think of DJ less during his appointments. It may take years or he may always think of DJ during the dentist appointments. On this I am alone in solving the mystery of grief for Jake--we are all alone on so many levels.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


My husband and I decided the week of DJ's death that we weren't going to let this destroy our marriage. When we were both kids we had friends die and we watched it destroy their families. It's crazy what you see as a young kid sticks with you and unfortunately comes full circle to you as well. This of course is not as easy as it sounds.

Marriage takes lots of patience! Patience is the most important thing of all I think, actually I know it is! Even in a marriage without the loss of a child it takes patience but one which has struggled with the loss of a child needs extra loads of patience.

When my husband would be angry and just seething with grief I would have to be patient and realize it was not me he was angry with, it was the anger from losing DJ. When my husband was up late at night and not going to work the next day I had patience with him. I was wishing he was going back to work to create some normalcy for him and me but I had to be patient with the depression that was taking any drive for work out of him. When he was quiet and withdrawn I would have patience to not take it personally. I just had to keep talking to him to let him know no matter how withdrawn and depressed he was that I still loved him. When he would be grieving and I wasn't I had to be patient with him.

Now on the flip side, my husband has had to have patience with me as well. When I was exhausted at night and just couldn't fathom being intimate with him he would have to patient with me. When I would forget to pay a bill because my mind and memory were just gone with grief he would have to be patient with me. When we were just going through the steps of marriage and barely communicating he would have to be patient. When I was going down a hole he would have to be there to help pick me up and be patient with me.

Love is patient is so true. I take it a step further to say that a marriage where a child has died is in need of great PATIENCE.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another way to survive a funeral

Don't go!! It might sound easy to say but it isn't. Pressure from family members or friends may make you feel guilty to go to a funeral but if you can't handle it don't go. Give yourself permission to say "No" to people and events. Ofcourse a funeral is a place to offer respect however unless someone has lost a child they will have no idea how painful the event could be for you.
Saying "No" also is important in other areas of your life. You have to know your boundaries and that of your family. You have to be aware of the triggers or the events that you may need to stay away from.
About 4 months after DJ passed away I went to a company meeting, I wasn't prepared for anything of DJ to pop up--it was a business meeting, I didn't even think I would need to be ready for something. Within 15 steps of exiting my car a co-worker approached me about how sorry she was for my loss, this continued all day long. I wasn't prepared and it made me exhausted. I called my husband and talked to him about it during a break and he helped me through it and I remained at the meeting but I was physically and mentally drained after. I didn't say "No" to the event but I learned that I needed to be prepared for DJ things to pop up at almost anytime. I have learned this repeatedly over the years!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Surviving someone else's funeral

Two months after DJ passed away a friend of mine died from cancer. She was a woman in her late 40's and she left behind teenage children and a loving husband. My husband and I went to the funeral and got stuck. The church was full of people and the only seats we could get were in the middle row in the middle of the church. We were stuck. We couldn't leave, we couldn't get out of the row. Everything came back, all the emotions of DJ's death came back and flooded both of us. We were in our own little piece of hell.
How did we survive? We breathed in and out. We looked around, we quit listening to all the music and kind words. We ignored the event going on around us. I ignored the things around me but played my own movie in my head. My movie was seeing DJ at his funeral, replaying over and over his death, all the could of's and would of's. So while I was sitting there I was somewhere else. It didn't make the funeral any less painful, the funeral was horribly painful but it helped me get through it.
Now almost four years later my husband and I have another funeral to go to, a lovely woman who is leaving behind grown children and a husband of 40 plus years. You would think we would have this down by now, managing our grief. Well, no not really atleast not today. The death of this woman has hit my husband hard, it brings back all his grief all over again. I didn't know her but he did and he is grieving her and DJ at the same time. It gets intertwined, grief of her and grief of DJ. How is he surviving this? He left work for the day and he and I played golf. He got his head to think of something else for awhile, he got away from the pain. He removed himself from it so it could lessen. After two hours of golf the pain wasn't as strong, it didn't have the heaviness as before. He survived by taking his thoughts somewhere else and working physically hard.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I take my own advice

Having technical difficulties here, this is the second time trying to post so we will see what happens. This week I had to take my own advice and just do it. I previously blogged that family and friends of grieving parents should just do it and help them. Well, I did my own version of just do it and I made a decision to live life as an adventure--this was a way to help me and my family. My husband, son (Jake) and I went away for the weekend and took the back roads to get to our destination. We found a Madison County Bridge (from the movie). We checked out John Wayne's birthplace and also saw a bank that Bonnie and Clyde had robbed. We decided to live and have an adventure.
The 4th of July holiday was one of DJ and my husband's favorites and there were times when the grief wanted to poke in and express itself--there were memories of DJ blowing up the biggest and baddest fireworks he could find, there were sad thoughts of him not being around to teach Jake how to blow up GI Joes but we walked through it and continued to find joy on the other side. We made a decision to live life and not allow the sorrow and grief to stop us. My own advice back at me--JUST DO IT!