Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When was the last time you were happy?

A few weeks ago someone asked me to remember a time I was really happy.  Usually I can go around this question with no problem.  I can give a patt answer about a vacation, a memoriable event my family has shared in.  Unfortunately this person wanted a real answer and actually cared what the response was.  You know how it is, when it is someone who is  just asking you something out of civilty you can answer without emotion and give them the answer they are looking for.  But when someone truly cares about you and the response, the questions become emotionally charged and sometime difficult.

All I could think of was the very last time I saw DJ alive and happy.  I even tried to think of other things that had made me truly happy over the years but it just wasn't there.  Over 5 years ago DJ turned around and looked at me smiling, waving and saying"Goodbye, I love you" That is the last time I was truly happy.  How much does that suck?  I know it is a great memory, I am so thankful that I had that kind of memory (besides the accident scene) of DJ's last days on earth but to have that be the last time I was truly happy was quite shocking to me.  I didn't even know that.  I didn't realize it, I had no idea my mind would go there and it went there quickly.

I decided to look up the definition of happy and this one hit me the most--"quick or enthusiastic to use or do something".   I haven't been enthusiastic over anything in a long time.  I have had a lot of accomplishments personally and with the family over the last five years--writing and publishing my books, speaking and ministering to people, seeing my daughter Emilee graduate cosmetology school, watching Jake mature and grow confident in who he is since DJ's death.  Seeing my husband regain a positive role at his business and beginning to enjoy work again.  Regaining my real estate license after taking 4 years off.  Standing up and getting out of bed.  But looking back I see my life as if I am looking from the outside in.  I do not feel as if I am in it, enjoying the moments.  I see them, I am watching them but somehow the enthusiastic part is missing.  I am missing my son, and am thus missing who I am as well.  I am not in a depressive mood, only seeing the gloom in the world today I am just realizing that the happy, enthusiastic life is not part of who I am anymore.  I go through the motions, I have fleeting moments of joy and fun but they are viewed from the outside and certainly not internal anymore. 

I know I am not the only person who has lost a loved one, a child that deals with this.  We the bereaved parents only seem to get so close to others and often shut down.  We do not wish to share too much of ourselves with others--is this a self defense mechanism? Probably.  If we don't give too much of ourselves we don't have to worry about being hurt so much by others or the world.  I feel as if I am in a plane and just hovering above the airport, I am in a holding pattern in life. I am circling around, seeing what is going on below and around me but just not committing to becoming fully engrossed in it, engrossed in the emotions of life.  I do not land.

All this said, when was the last time YOU were happy? I hope it has been since your child has passed away, I hope you have landed your plane, are making the trips on and off.  Running along the tarmac with enthusiasm!!!

Side note--my book Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? isn't the typical stocking stuffer however, the holidays are here and 14 families have shared how they got through the holidays after they lost their children.(ages 20 minutes to 35 years of age)  If you are interested in ordering please go to my website at flowersonagrave.com.  Lia-forever DJ's mom

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Today I got slammed

     I had my book writing club to go to today.  As I got into my car to leave the radio was on a Christian radio station.  I heard a woman speaking about comparing "something" to the loss of her right arm.  I knew without a doubt almost instantly she was talking about the loss of a child.  As I was listening she was stating almost the exact same thing I have said before....The loss of a child is like the loss of a limb.  You can learn to live without it everyday but you miss it everyday.  As the program continued I became aware that she had lost a child almost 15 years earlier and she used almost the same exact words I have to explain the loss.  I was really struck by this fact that she too explained it the same way.  As the programming continued yet another woman came on to talk about the loss of her daughter.  Half way through the drive to the writing club I was a wreck. 

     Eventually I gathered myself together well enough to go to the group without anyone noticing the tears I had during the drive.  As I entered the coffee shop where we were to meet I recognized the cashier.  I wasn't certain where I had seen her before but was very much aware that I knew her somehow.  As I placed my order for coffee and a roll I asked her how I knew her.  She told me she had gone to Rumsey Station elementary school, I asked her how old she was and upon that I knew how I knew her.  She had gone to school with DJ, same age, same grade, same school. 

     So "Okay God, why are you putting all this is in my path today?"  I have often talked to you all about being aware of triggers but here I was minding my own business and got his twice in a row and hard.  I felt like I had been hit by a 2 by 4, cold on, square and hard.  Why did God put all this in my path today? I have no idea. 

Why did any of us lose our precious children?  I don't know
Why do any of us have to endure this world and it's pain?  I don't know
Why do we have so much fall out after we lose a child?  I don't know
Why does this grief live on so long? Because we loved and still love our children so much.

I don't have the answers today, I only know I lost my precious son and the world reminded me of it yet again today when I wasn't even looking---Be careful out there dearest friends

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

God has a way of putting people in my path where I least expect them...

Last week my youngest son Jake had some volunteer work to do.  I am a parent driver so I was also volunteering.  The first home was that of an older woman and her husband and we vacuumed and dusted as she requested.  As I was finishing up I saw a display case of butterflies and somehow I just knew this woman had a story.   I commented to her about the collection and she showed me a precious figurine as well, as we talked she told me she had lost a son 36 years earlier.  His name was John and he had fallen in a construction sight and passed away due to injuries. She told me that her and her husband made a point right after the accident to continue living their life, they even took polka dancing classes.  What was so difficult to hear though was that a traveling Pastor took her husband to lunch shortly after the accident, he had heard about the death of their son and wanted to talk to him privately.  The result of the meeting was that this man never went back to church after that.  He would not share with his wife what was said but it was evidentally the completely wrong thing because he still has not returned to church in over 36 years.

Again last week I was at a play practice Jake was having and began carrying on a conversation with another parent.  They told me they had a patient that was 88 years old and she had lost her daughter over 40 years ago.  This woman was still angry at God, was not speaking to God and that she would never forgive God for taking her daughter.  Wow, that is a lot of anger and sadness all rolled up into one.

The point  I want to make is that there is so much pain with losing a child and I do not want to be angry and bitter for the next 30 plus years.  Are you that person?  Are you so angry at the words someone shared with you that you have walked away from God?  Or maybe someone said the right thing at the right time that helped keep you strong in your faith?  Are you blaming Him for your child's death or are you thankful that you know where your child is and cannot wait for that reunion?

People say and do the wrong things all the time, especially when it comes to death.  People are stupid and sometimes heartless, but I say "There by the grace of God go they" because they don't "get it" and I truly wouldn't want them to understand 100%--for if they "got it" then they would have also lost a child.  Do not let the ignorance of other's change your faith, change your direction, change who are.  The entire reason I wrote my book Flower's on a Child's Grave, Now What? was because a close friend compared the loss of her dog to the loss of DJ and I didn't want other ears to ever hear that if I could help it somehow.  I took that stupid (but meant well) comment and created something positive out of it.  Don't let others hinder who you really are.  Don't let others make you feel more pain than you already do.  Be strong my dearest friends, rely on friends, rely on God do not take on other people's words and pain.  Again, there by the grace of God go they, and there by the grace of God go we.

Sidenote--I would like to thank all the people that came to my latest book signing.  It is always a pleasure to meet you and you all definitely minister back to me.  Lisa--forever DJ's Mom

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A year in retrospect

Yesterday was DJ's 5th anniversary in heaven.  It caused me to think about the last anniversary-the 4th.

On the 4th anniversary my daughter was having a terrible time, she had medical issues I think that were caused by the grief of DJ's anniversary.  She wasn't handling the loss well at all (not that any of us do but it was causing her to make some very poor decisions personally).  She had moved out and was barely getting through school.  She flat out was a mess.

On the 5th anniversary she is having a great time on a vacation with a friend.  She is done with school, she is on the verge of getting a great job at a hair salon.  She is becoming a little more reflective and I am hoping she is beginning to make better choices in friends and friendships as well.  She is happier.

On the fourth anniversary we were in a home we no longer loved, we were barely thinking of doing much more than going to work, pay bills and start all over again. 

On the fifth anniversary we have moved into a home we love, we have actually given ourselves permission to be happy again.  We have a few goals, a few desires of things to do in the future, we can see beyond our pain.

We still miss DJ badly, but we are on the road to having a "different" life, not a better one-the only way for a better one would be if DJ was alive and here.  All that said if you are new to this terrible grief journey realize that there will be a day when enjoying life is okay, you will find a time when getting up out of bed isn't such a struggle.  Life does go on, it doesn't mean we ever stop loving our children---never, no how!!!!  But someday you will be five years, ten years down the road with a different life and that's okay---be kind to yourself today! 

Sidenote--I want to thank all of you that came to the book signing at the Bookworm yesterday.  It was a pleasure to meet new friends and see old ones!!  Flower's on a Child's Grave, Now What?  is continuing to reach out and help bereaved families and those that love them and want to help them.
Ifyou care to read about me or the book you can check out my site at flowersonagrave.com

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I used to like October

October used to be one of my favorite months.  I loved the changing colors of the trees, the fall smells.  Oh and yes my birthday is in that amazing month as well--well it used to be amazing, now the month just sucks.

October 7, 2006--DJ, my beautiful 13 year old son,  fell while skateboarding and hit his head hard. 
                            The day I got a phone call saying "the ambulance was on the way"
                             The day that changed my life and that of my family forever

October 8, 2006--At 1pm on that Sunday DJ was declared brain dead by doctor's I didn't know and have never seen again.  On that day I told my son to go to Jesus because truly he was already with Him.

October 12, 2006--My birthday and DJ's visitation at the funeral home (I hate the word visitation, are we truly visiting the dead? No, it's just an exhausting day for the surviving family)

October 13, 2006--DJ's funeral and the last day I ever saw his physical body, the last time I touched his hand, the last time I kissed him, the last time I was able to touch his beautiful head of hair.

October 15, 2011--my father-in-laws birthday, he just passed away 3 months ago and I know ths is going to be a hard day for my mother-in-law.  It is a long list of "firsts" that she has in front of her.

October 24, 2006--my youngest son Jake's 9th birthday and all he asked for was for "his brother to come back, he didn't want any toys", that was not a "happy" birthday.

October 31, 2006--took DJ's sister Emilee and brother Jake to another town to trick and treat because seeing DJ's friends would have been entirely too painful

Every year since, every October since has sucked. It will always bring with it the falling of leaves, the array of pumpkins and the smells of bonfires.  It will always bring with it a million horrible memories that I wish I didn't have but do, a lifetime of memories and sadness.  I do not like October Sam I am, I do not like it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A challenge to help others

My father-in-law passed away just three months ago.  He was an extremely strong man and fought to stay alive for a very long time, defying most doctor's speculations.  Hospice eventually came in to help with his care and they did an amazing job for the family.  They prepared my mother-in-law with lots of guidance and support.  The nurses told her the steps he would take, the reactions to medications he might have and also gave  her insight about her own eventual grief journey. 

After he passed away I remember commenting to her that "she was grieving".  She was experiencing something and I saw her reactions as grief.  Her words back were that "hospice had explained the grieving to her and she had already grieved his loss before he was gone"  Truly, hospice did an outstanding job preparing her for his loss.

Well, it is now three months later and she is realizing that she is grieving.  I don't believe in the steps of grief, I believe they are circular and one stage can come back quickly as we circle into another stage.  For my mother in law it is a bit of the angry stage right now.  She is getting upset quickly with people that she probably wouldn't generally.  This is not a poor reflection on her in any means she is just grieving and doing her very best to be strong. 

I am telling you all this because I can see her grief because I have lived it and still live with it since DJ's death.
I am telling you this because you too have been there and are going through it. 
I am telling you all this because there will be a time when you need to help someone through the grief process because you have been there. 

Who better to help someone with their loss than someone who understands it?  Would you hire a painter to do your electrical work on your house?  No probably not, but you would hire a person you knew who was qualified, who had been in homes doing the work, a licensed worker who had the experience.  We the bereaved are no different than the qualified electrician-we are qualified in grief whether we want to be or not.  A bereaved parent should get a master's degree from their local college just for surviving the loss of their child--we have experience up the whazoo!


Are you going to go to that Compassionate Friend's meeting and hold the hand of a newly bereaved parent?  Are you going to send a card to a woman who has just lost her son to suicide because of a bully?  Are you simply going to give a parent a hug at church because you know their child's birthday is coming up? 

There are endless ways to help one another if you just open your heart to it.  Perhaps you are too short in your journey to help anyone today, just know that someday because the world is extremely small you will meet another parent who needs your insight and your help--it is inevitable. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grief is contagious

There is a saying "Smile and the whole world smiles with you, weep and you weep alone"

There is some truth in that comment---if you smile people will generally smile back.  Even if you are sad on the inside you can generally fake a smile well enough that most people won't catch it.  Those who know you really well might see that your eyes do not match your smile, that the sparkle in the eyes generally attached to the smile really isn't there-however most will not catch it.  In all honesty we the bereaved don't generally want others to catch our lack of smile, we just want to survive our days the best we can and as another saying goes we just "fake it till we make it".  Faking it one smile at a time, one day at a time often, one second at a time.

Then there is the back side of the quote.  Weep and you weep alone.  To some degree that is true, we generally weep alone even if tears are not dropping from our eyes.  Our hearts and minds weep on the inside, alone in our own world--keeping those around us safe from the contagious grief.  This is where the above comment has some untruth in it---

Grief is contagious-absolutely and without a doubt.  I can be grieving without sharing a word or a thought about it with my husband and he will begin to grieve.  Grief is like a cloud of dust from a blanket just shaken-it scatters and lands on whatever it is around and nearby.  It can land softly upon your shoulder without you even noticing it or it can land hard, nearly knocking you over, but in the end it spreads. 

Is spreads like a virus. 

For some of us it over takes us like the flu.  We end up in bed with the covers over our head.  We have no energy or motivation to even lift our head up.  We close our eyes and stay in our own little world.  The chills come and go, the waves of grief come and go. 

For many it is a little cold that just won't go away.  It hangs onto us and no matter what we try to do it won't let go of it's grip on us.  We live with a Kleenex box by our side since we never know when the dripping eyes or running nose may start.

Grief jumps from us to those around us and before we know it our entire house has caught it.  The gloom, the pain, the lack of energy just hits us all and eventually there isn't any antibiotic that will cure us. 

But truly in the end there is nothing that will cure our grief.  The life of our child is and would be the only cure all and until we get to reunite with them we will always be sick.  Our house, our family will always be susceptible to grief, we are only a thought away from spreading it's virus.

There is one thought though that has just occurred to me--is there an antibiotic that can help take some of the symptoms away? Yes!!  Find something that gives you purpose in your life.  Find something that you can do to honor your child, honor the life they lived.  Find something useful to keep that virus from lingering too long--

I know people who have written books since their child died (myself included).  People have started grieving support groups to give their life purpose.  Parent's have formed entire organizations to make others aware of suicide, diseases, accidents that could have been prevented.  These are all big things to keep the grief away.  There is also the smaller, probably even more important acts that parents have done-they have decided to live more deeply, love more deeply, care for their families more deeply.  This is such an amazing way to honor our children's lives--by living one worthy of their memory. 

Smile and the whole world smiles with you, grieve and your world may grieve with you. Live and love and the world may become lovely again. 

(If anyone is looking for a speaker or for someone to hold a workshop I would love to offer myself to this, that is my antibiotic.  You can contact me at flowersonachildsgrave@gmail.com)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What do you stuff?

People ask us the bereaved how we are doing...we say fine.  Seldom do we truly say what we are feeling--those feelings are too precious to give away to someone that doesn't really care anyway.  Most of us just stuff our thoughts, our grief, our words.

What I am wondering today though is how you are stuffing yours?

Is it with food?  We often stuff our mouths with foods of comfort.  It is easier to put things in our mouth than release the words not too many people want to hear.  Don't get me wrong, we all have the friends and family that will listen with ears and hearts of compassion.  We do have those people in our lives that we can talk to but in the middle of a day when we are alone in our own worlds, in our own grief it is easy to stuff our mouths. 

Is it with drugs or drink?  I have interviewed parents that have gone that route and it is a tough and painful journey back to civilty.  As one father told me "the drugs were a hell of their own." 

Is it with purchases?  Are you stuffing your shopping cart with purchases you don't really need?  Just something, anything to avoid the emptiness of our lives without our children?  It is easier to be at a store, among things that are meaningless than at home surrounded by our children's belongings that mean so much to us. 

Is it with work?  Are you stuffing your emotions away under the cover of work?  If we just keep working we won't have to think about our loss.  If we stay on task, whatever that may be then we won't have to worry about our brain going into the emotional painful world we can get to so quickly. 

Whatever your stuffing may be remember those televison shows with all the hoarders on them.  All those people have stuffed their homes with so many things that their families cannot even enter anymore.  Are you stuffing so much that your family is suffering around you?  Are you causing the loved ones around you to stay away, are you locking them out of your world?  Is your heart so full of STUFF that people are unable to love you, help you, be near you?

The people in those shows are often told to let go of the useless junk, the trash, the 16 volumes of 1960's maps and encyclopedias.  Is your pain useless junk?  Absolutely not. Is some of the pain we're holding onto holding us back from living a life with the living?  Absolutely. 

My challenge to you today is to decide what you are stuffing and if it is causing the people around you pain.  We all have so much pain after we lose a child, none of us truly want to give more, to cause more to those around us.  Be careful not to stuff so much, so far down that you no longer know how to share love with those around you. 

I will be having a book signing on Sat Oct 8 from 1to3pm at The Bookworm Bookstore in Omaha.  You can read about my book Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? at flowersonagrave.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I write

Lately I was beginning to doubt what I have written is of any use.  Flowers on a Child's Grave is a great resource, but what if it never really helps anyone?  What if I am the only one that thinks it is useful or helpful at all.  After you read your own words over and over again they lose some of their impact I think.  Often we need to be reminded of why we do what we do and this last month I was without a doubt.

I had a book signing in February of this year.  There were people at the event I had never met before and one man in particular stood out.  He said he was at the hospital when DJ was admitted, that he knew about us and our family and remembered DJ's accident well.  He bought a book in honor of DJ and went on his way.

Fast forward several months and I came to hear that this very man's son had died unexpectedly.  He was half way through reading my book when he lost his adult son.  When you lose a child it is amazing how other bereaved parents seem to hear about it quickly, we are a small, intimate club.

Fast forward to this month and the same gentleman came into my husband's work to talk to him.  He told my husband that he and his family used the insights in the book as a blue print on how to handle
his son's personal belongings.  That they had used the book as a resource on getting through the terrible loss and it was a huge help to him and his family.

My main prayer has always been that my book would get into the hands that needed it and I would have to say that God did just that with this man.   It breaks my heart that this man unfortunately needed the information in the book yet I am so thankful that he had it and wasn't walking this painful journey alone.  My plan for the book has been that it can be a resource for people who have lost children and also for those who are wanting to help them.  In this instant it hit on both ends.  

The stories of the families in the book have helped this man and many others and for that I am grateful to God.  If you are struggling or want to help a family or friend that is grieving the loss of a child I am going to use this man's words to convey some hope to you all that "the book helped them get through the loss of their son and was a huge help to them."  When DJ passed away I didn't have the resources to help me decide what to do with his clothes, his room, his personal belongings--how the death would affect my remaining children, my marriage, my church life, etc.  If you know me personally you know that I am not a person to toot my own horn but I do want people to know that the words the families shared with me are helpful, useful and I wish I had the book in my hands after DJ passed away.

You can order my book in ebook form or paperback form at flowersoagrave.com  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Movies and Things

I took Jake to see Lion King in 3D yesterday.  While watching the movie it occured to me that the last time I had seen it in the theater it was when Emilee and DJ were little.  DJ was still alive.

I went to a football game this week--young men from age 13 and up were on the team.  While watching the game it occured to me the last time I had gone to a kid's game was when DJ was playing.  DJ was still alive.

Life has a way of recycling itself.  I have been on this painful journey for almost five years now and I thought I had most things figured out.  I think my last blog probably had the same exact sentiment as well--I thought I had this figured out.  After all I've written a book on surviving the loss of a child. I speak to those grieving parents, I hold workshops.  It truly blesses me to know that I am able to help so many bereaved parents through this piece of hell.  Well all of that matters very little when you are the one walking the walk.   The walk is one that you inevitably do by yourself in your own mind.

So I now have finally figured it out---We the bereaved parents will always have triggers, there will always be things that will remind us of our children.  There will truly never be a day that we do not remember our children with joy, with pain, or with sorrow.  Till the day we reunite with our child in heaven the grief will never, ever end.  It will subside, it will be more managable, it will kick our butts occasionally but in the end the grief will always be there with us because our children are not.  It does not take place of our child but they are a package deal--grief and our child.  We cannot have the loss without the grief-it reminds us of our loss, of the love we have for our child.  It is truly a horrible and obvious paradox-one I wish I did not understand.

There is comfort in this truth though, it releases me and all of us from the guilt that "we should be getting better" "we should be over it".  As most of you know from reading my blogs I do not give into guilt, I believe it is from the enemy.  However, knowing that the grief will always be there is a bit of a freedom, it keeps me sane knowing that grief will always follow me. 

I challenge you all to feel less guilt today about your grief, allow yourself the freedom to know it will always be a part of your life but is a remembrance of your wonderful child.  Again, the parody here sucks but is none the less true.  Be good to yourself, be kind to yourself and do not take on that false guilt the world wants to hand you--for by the grace of God they do not truly understand us. 

(I want to thank you all for the wonderful comments and stories you tell me especially about your child!  Please comment to me on facebook if you would like, my blog site does not allow me to respond directly to your comments)

Again-if you are local I will be having a book signing on October 8, 2006 at theBookworm in Omaha at CountrySide Village.  If you can't come you can check out my book at flowersonagrave.com

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are the injuries?

     I have lost my son DJ.  He has been gone for almost 5 years-5 years in October.  I stand up and walk around every day.  I smile, I laugh.  I talk to friends, strangers, the world.  I look normal on the outside (insert humour here).  On the outside my hair is done, my teeth are brushed, I appear to be "put together". 
     But what is on the inside?  That is where the injuries truly are.  The broken heart is on the inside, yes, it pumps everyday but it is broken.  It has spots where it is healed but there are scars in those areas.  There are full sections of my heart that are open and bleeding and I see no repair to those in the new future. 
     My brain isn't truly my own either.   There are days that it goes onto a trail, onto a memory that causes me pain.  It decides what memory it brings forth--sometimes they are painful. Painful memories of the accident, of the doctor telling us DJ was not alert, of that horrible hospital wall that held me up.  Somedays it takes me down the yellow brick road of seeing DJ skateboard and fly through the air.  It is seeing his beautiful green eyes and hugging his skinny body.  My brain is full of memories, good and bad and I have no control over those.
     My body is no longer mine, my energy level has changed.  Grief takes energy away, it robs and steals from me.  So many days the grief stays at bay and I seemingly live a normal life, but others it is gone.  My body has revolted against me more days than I would like to admit but I charge forward anyway-what choice do I have?
     Perhaps this is just the rambles of a tired mother, but what I guess  I am trying to say is that just because we all look normal we are all injured inside.  Whether you have lost a child or not, whether you know this horrible pain or not chances are you are injured on the inside too.
     No one in this life is immune from pain, no one has a free ticket from hardship. 
     My challenge to all of us today is to be aware of other people.  Realize that everyone has pain, everyone has a story of hurts---just because we can't see them on the outside, there are definitely injuries on the inside.  Be kind, be caring.  Take that extra second and smile and acknowledge that person next to you.  Remember that whether you have lost a child or not injuries are everywhere on everyone and we all need to be a bit kinder to one another.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Life is full of triggers

     I called my brother the other day.  There was a car accident on his street that made the television news.  It was a severe accident. I was worried that perhaps his daughter was the woman that made the news and was rushed to the hospital.  As I was talking to him I was truly surprised that I started to tear up on the phone.  I didn't mean to, I didn't think that calling him about a car accident would make me sad, but it did.  The woman in the accident wasn't his daughter and I did find out during our conversation that the woman was okay.  But again, I was surprised that my voice was starting to crack on the phone and I had to change the subject to keep my brother from hearing the sadness in my voice.

     How many of us have had phone calls though that have changed our lives?  Too many, this is a fact I know only too well.  So many of us have had that call "The ambulance is on the way." "There was an accident"  "I'm sorry to tell you this, but (fill in the blank here)."  I know you all could give me a long list of variations.

    Again though, I didn't expect to be saddened five years after DJ's death about a phone call that had nothing to do with me personally.  When does the sneak-up grief end?  Does it truly ever?  I have taught myself to be aware of things, triggers I call them-that may cause me to be sad about DJ.  Triggers like seeing his best friends around town, triggers like seeing skateboarders around town or on television.  Triggers of senior pictures that are coming my way from his class, triggers of his pictures, posters, toys, t- shirts on his brother or sister.  These are things I'm aware of, I can see coming and have taught myself to divert my brain from.  I do a "180" with my thoughts to keep myself from falling into that hole, into that grief.  That phone call was a surprising trigger for me.

     What is your trigger?  Are you far enough in your journey to be able to pull back from that trigger, to divert your thoughts?  Are you far enough though that you wish your pain was still so strong, do you worry you are forgetting your child by not grieving so strongly?  Or are you so close that you cannot say your child's name yet without tears flowing?   Both time lines suck, too close and too far away from our child. 

     I am sorry we all have triggers.  I am sorry that we have to retrain our brains to not have severe grief hit us.  I am sorry we are away from our child and awaiting a reunion that probably won't happen for years and years.  I am sorry we all have broken hearts. 

     I am having a book signing at the Bookworm in Omaha at Country Side Village on October 8, 2011- if any of you are local and can come I would like to meet you and encourage you.  I am sorry we are all in the same boat and only too well understand each other's pain.  It is DJ's 5th anniversary of his death on that date so you can all come and encourage me as well.  Take care dearest friends, Lisa-forever DJ's mom



Sunday, August 28, 2011

I haven't raised a 14 year old boy before

My youngest son Jake will be 14 years old this year.  As I was looking at him I realized that I don't know anything about raising a 14 year old boy.  I know this may sound odd to some of  you but not to my bereaved parent's brain.

DJ was 13 years old when he passed away- from him I felt I had a pretty good handle on the "ins and outs"of a 13 year old boy.  Without even realizing it I didn't worry too much about raising Jake along the way.  But this week I became aware of the fact that I haven't had the experiences of a 14 year old boy, DJ passed away too soon. 

This simple little thought has made my heart ache this week because it silently shouts out to me that I have been robbed of raising DJ past 13 years of age and Jake too has been robbed of having a 14,15,16,17,18 year old brother.  Life has a way of reminding me of the many losses that come with the passing of a child.

I am now in new territory with Jake, I am in an unknown area.  I am sure it will be full of good things, great memories and challenges. It will also be full of missing memories as well--no graduation memory of DJ, no chance for DJ to help Jake learn how to drive.  No prom or homecoming for DJ and no chance for Jake to tease DJ about a girl friend.  The list goes on and on.

Life is full of memories but it is also full of missing memories and of those I have many.  Who knew the passage of age for Jake would take on such meaning to me?  The answer is all of you that have lost a child--so many missing memories, so many ways to further miss our children.  I am sure there will be so many more things coming up in life until the day I reunite with DJ in heaven--we all will have them. 

2 Sidenotes---I do not know how to comment back to all of you that comment on my post. I would love to-so if you leave a comment to me directly on facebook I will be able to respond.

Also, I will be having a book signing at The Bookworm bookstore in Omaha on October 8 -the 5th anniversary of DJ's death. If you can't make it you can order my book Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? at flowersonagrave.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Buying a suit

I had to go shopping for a suit for my 13 year old son last month.  His Grandpa, my father-in-law passed away and Jake was asked to be a paul bearer. 

The last time I bought a suit for Jake was when DJ passed away, almost 5 years ago.  This time I didn't take Jake with me shopping, I made the best guesses I could on his size and went from there.  I didn't want Jake to have that connection with this suit. 

5 years ago while buying the suit for DJ's funeral at the department store Jake broke down. He said all he wanted for his birthday (only 11 days after DJ's funeral) was "DJ to come back".  He didn't want any toys, only his brother.  Needless to say it was a very hard day at the mall.  I didn't want Jake to even think about that day 5 years ago if I could help it. 

It's funny though because as much as you think you are shielding your kids from remembrances, associations, and pain they are already a few steps ahead of you in the thought process---  Jake had already thought about the funeral, but especially the viewing.

I asked Jake if he wanted to go to the viewing, I had already decided that I didn't want him to go since DJ's had been at the same exact funeral home and even the same room but I did want him to have the chance to discuss it.  He immediately said he didn't want to go, his words were "I have had enough sorrys" I asked him if he was talking about sorrys for Grandpa or DJ and he said DJ.  Wow, what an exact statement from a 13 year old, I was impressed.  It was very precise and very true.  I learned a little bit about Jake that day--

He knew about death in a way that most 13 years olds don't (and I wish he didn't)
He knew about all the things people say over and over again.
He knew that he was tired of hearing "I'm sorry"
He knew that he didn't want to hear "I'm sorry" if he could help it.
I learned he is stronger and smarter about grief than most adults.
I learned that he is able to make his own decisions based on experience about death.
He has grown up with grief as a part of his life and has learned how to manage it.
He is going to be an amazing adult-he will be able to relate to people with tragedy and grief-

I wish Jake had been isolated from all of that wisdom and knowledge (so wise for being so young) but he hasn't.  He is a product of a life that was shaken up and tossed about but he will be fine.  He is often stronger than I think and obviously much smarter.  I bought him a suit for a funeral but I think he will be happy to wear it anytime.  He has changed and gotten stronger in five years and I am amazed at who he is and who he is becoming. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The world reminded me of DJ's death today

Today I received a package in the mail for DJ.  He would have been 18 years old this year and oddly enough a package from Procter and Gamble came today for him saying Happy 18th Birthday from Gillette.  It was full of deodorant and razers, etc-a marketing piece that came to a child that is not alive.  Apparently this company did not get the heads up that DJ passed away almost 5 years ago.  I receive college information occasionally for him still--he would be a junior this year and it would have been the time to decide on college.  I get ACT/SAT information for him also.  I know these companies get information when our children are born, or when they start school, but do they not get the death announcement as well?  Apparently not. 

I remember the year DJ passed away and I had to do my taxes.  I looked on the tax return and DJ was not listed as a dependent.  He passed away in October-so in my opinion he would have been a deduction for 10 months of that year.  I even called my accountant and he said "No the government does not allow you to claim a child for the year they died."  The government apparently decided he didn't live at all that year. 

I am very glad the razor package didn't come a few months after DJ passed away because I would not have survived it very well--it would have sent me into a hole--the world thinking he was still alive, a life gone too soon.

What is the outside world doing that is reminding you that your child is gone?  Is it a bill from before they died?  Is it a package that comes in the mail that they ordered and were never able to receive?  Is it a youth group that is doing an outing that your child was supposed to be at?  Is it a promotion that their friend got in their place at work?  The list goes on and on--I am only writing this today to make the bereaved parent beware--that things can come in the mail very unexpectedly-that when you are not looking something will pop up from the world that will remind you a little extra that your child is not alive.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Casey Anthony case-life is unjust

This week I decided to take a small break from blogging.  I have been posting and sharing on lots of grief sites lately and I was beginning to feel the hole calling to me.  I really feel it is part of my honoring DJ that I offer whatever help I can to others that have lost children and one way is going to many facebook sites and answering bereaved parent's questions and offering support.  I was helped along the way after DJ passed away and feel that we the bereaved parents need to pay it forward to others along this horrible path. 

Well, then the Casey Anthony case was everywhere on the news and here comes another blog.  As many of you know I do not watch the news anymore, I have had enough loss and drama in my life that I try very hard not to watch more tragedy on television-this murder case however could not be missed.

Synapsos-the mother was charged with murdering her little girl.  The evidence seemed so obvious to everyone in the word, in the media, and all the commentators that surely she would get a guilty verdict.  Well apparently there were many things that the jury heard and knew that made them give her a not guilty verdict.  This made so many parents across the nation and probably the world terribly angry.  But I think that the bereaved parents are angrier-Why? Well...

We had no choice over the loss of our child.  Our children died accidentally, or because of health reasons.  Some were murdered and taken away from their families, others took their own lives--so many ways to lose a child but the fact is that we the parents did not have the choice in the matter and by all apparent facts this mother did.  She got a non-guilty verdict and maybe some day the truth will come out-whether it was her or not it does not change the fact that a little girl is dead. 

So many people hurt their children, so many abuse their child and neglect them yet do not lose them to death.  So many parents chose to destroy their wonderful gifts from God--what we the bereaved would give to have our child back and these parents chose to destroy their children.  There is no justice in that.  We wanted our children, would want them back and others have done horrible things to their
children and yet they do lose them. 

This mother or someone murdered Casey Anthony, put duct tape over her mouth and dumped her body.  This is pure evil and someday God will certainly take justice for it.  Most of life is unjust, we live in a sinful, tough world and in the end God will take care of that injustice but for now -it is what it is. 

Bottom line---life is full of choices, I chose to love DJ every single day of his life and still do now.  You all have children and people in your lives that you can chose to love or not.  That is where the justice in the world starts, with our own choices of either loving one another honestly and sincerely or not.  If this woman had been loved would her child be alive? If she had known what sincere love was would Casey still be alive?  This is where the world's justice starts--love one another--it is God's commandment to us---why did He state it so strongly? Because life is unjust, life is hard and without love little girls like Casey lose their lives. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

A road is a road to many but a road is an accident scene to many of us. A cross on the highway is a wood structure to some but a marker of someone special to a bereaved parent. Flowers along a street are just plastic to the nonbreaved parent but to many they are a reminder of the life and the death of a loved one. The road, the street, the accident scene is in our head, in our memories and in reality as well. 

DJ's accident was on a road near me.  I am thankful that I do not have to go by the scene ever.  I do not have to drive along that section of street and see DJ laying on the ground in pain, I do not need to go there physically because I can see it everyday in my head without ever traveling there.  There are many parents that do have to travel along the road or close to it and again, I am thankful for myself that I do not have to deal with that. 

I do have to travel daily along the route that I drove to get to DJ's accident scene though.  I wish I did not, but I just drive and try very hard not to think of anything other than the immediate travels.  I do not think about driving way above the speed limit to get to him-(I flew to my boy but it wasn't fast enough)--only to see him holding his head on the ground going in and out of consciousness.

One of the many horrible things about losing a child is that we the bereaved parents do not need to go somewhere like the accident scene, the hospital, the morgue, the funeral home, the grave site, etc to remember the death of our children.  Though I do not travel to the accident scene I can describe it very well to all of you if I wanted to. I can see it in my memory like it was yesterday.  I know what clothes I was wearing, what DJ had on.  Where I parked, where DJ's friends were sitting along the curb. I can still see his bestfriend crying on the curb.  I can feel the blood that was on the street that got stuck on my foot from DJ's head injury.  I can see DJ being worked on by the paramedics from the large red truck.  I can hear them asking me what his name was and having them calling DJ by name to keep him alert.  I remember these things easily and painfully.  I do not need to go to the scene to remember it. 

Often well meaning stupid people tell us to "get over it"- what "they" don't understand is that memories do not go away easily-especially difficult painful ones.  Just because I am not physically standing at DJ's accident scene the memory is no less intense.  We do not get over things like the world wants us to because everything is just a memory away.  How do you "get over" something so quickly that lives with you every day?  The memories are there inside our minds, inside our hearts.

Again--A road is a road to many but a road is an accident scene to many of us.  A cross, flowers, a teddy bear, a pinwheel, a marker--these things are a reminder of our children.  So the next time you see one do not just think of it's physical attributes, think of the child, the husband, the wife, the PERSON that lived once and does no more.  We remember our loved one everyday and we want you to be aware that they lived too!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

God's Word

I have had blogs in the past where people have commented that they do not understand why God would allow their child to die and I can only share that God is who has held me up during these last few years. 

Today I came across something I wrote in my bible 3 months after DJ passed away and I wanted to share it with you all, especially for those of you that are struggling with God right now...

Matthew 7:21-28  "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears the words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.
What I found in my bible were these notes regarding this scripture: DJ's death is the rain and it is pouring over me, over us.  It is almost blinding.  Jesus is my foundation or I would have drowned.

If you are struggling with God, if you are wondering where He is-He is holding you up.  Maybe it doesn't feel like it but that is what faith is --believing in what we cannot see.

Do I wish God had kept DJ here? Absolutely.  Do I wish God would have protected DJ from the accident? Ofcourse.  Do we live in a fallen and broken world where accidents happen and no one is immune to the pain and struggles of them?  Yes.  Do I struggle with my Christian walk? Yes at times.  Do I believe that God has held me up these last 4 1/2 years since DJ passed away?  Without a doubt.  I would have drowned under the pain, I would not have survived the rain, the hail, the struggles.  Christ has held me up and continues to do so daily. 

If you are drowning under the weight of the death of your child look for that anchor, look for Christ to hold you up.  In my life there is nothing else that has held me up like Christ--if you are struggling seek Him and you will find Him. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Power of Music

I heard a song on the radio today and it made me sad.  It had absolutely nothing to do with DJ-no connection to him at all----however, the singer was singing about her boyfriend asking her to marry him and it hit me like a ton of bricks that DJ will never ask a girl to marry him, I will never have grandchildren from DJ.  These are facts I know, these are things I have known now for almost 5 years now but the song triggered that realization extra hard today.

With all this said I wanted to share the song we played at DJ's funeral--I know many of you have probably heard this song from Mercy Me but it is still worth sharing--if you are looking for or needing a good cry today this will do it. 

"I Can Only Imagine"

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine


I can only imagine [x2]

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you

Sidenote--my family will be driving down to Joplin the third week of July and we are currently doing a clothes drive.  If you are local and want to add some clothes to the pile please email me at eppyfam@cox.net and we can make arrangements to get it picked up from you!! Thanks for helping those that have nothing!  Lisa

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is the time of year when people are vacationing, pulling out their maps and deciding which way to go-north, south, east or west.  Familes are packing their bags and leaving their houses for routes and planes and adventures.

What happens to the family that has lost a child?  Do they vacation, do they explore their world or do they stay at home within the safety of their four walls? Yes, yes and yes.

Traveling, venturing the world after a parent loses a child changes and keeps changing.  Right after DJ passed away we didn't go anywhere at all.  We barely went to dinner out with friends let alone a vacation.  Before DJ's death we were like a lot of families, we went on vacation at least once a year and enjoyed having all three kids cramped in a car traveling about.  After DJ's death all the joys changed.  The world was a scary place, an exhausting one as well and to travel about was too much work and had too many memories attached to it.

I have interviewed other parents that couldn't stand to stay at home.  After their child died they traveled all the time, the house was too quiet and the loss was the most obvious when they were home.  They chose to be gone any time they could.  One mother I know has gotten off one plane only to grab a suitcase and get directly on another one. 

On the otherside however I have inteviewed parents that do not leave their house even years later. It is too scary of a world to be out in it. The parents don't want to go and travel without their lost child with them.  There is no joy to be found in the world when their child is gone.  Too many memories, too much pain--it is easier and safer to stay at home within the bounderies of their new normalcy without their child.

Are any of these actions wrong? Are any of them right? No, No and No.  It depends on the family, it depends on the time their child has been gone, it depends on each and every individual and no way is perfect or right or wrong.

A home is four walls.
A home is where the heart is.
A home is a place of refuge.
A home is too big.
A home is full of too many memories.
A home is a place of pain.

So when all of you out there in cyber world are planning on vacations and perhaps are wondering why the bereaved parents you know don't seem to go anywhere anymore don't judge them.  They are working through their life with a new set of rules being rewritten daily.  Everyday something comes up that they have to do without their child and taking a vacation is a big one. 

Our family has taken two vacations in five years and each one of them was tough, we struggled with going or not going. We struggled with locations because it is hard to go places that we have so many memories of DJ--the memories are always tightly packaged in our brains but seeing a location he was at and having a great time brings them to the surface.  Needless to say losing a child is complicated and difficult and their is no perfect road map to get us through it. 

Sidenote--I will be speaking at a conference in Omaha in July and helping an organization with a fundraising event in October--if anyone is in need of a speaker please let me know early on as my schedule is getting fuller. I would love to speak to families or professionals about surviving this different life as my time allows! Also there are a few books left at the Bookworm bookstore in Omaha if anyone needs to order one-I only have two left at my house till my order comes back from the printers.  Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our children are in our future

I did not right this article--but had to share it with you all--what an amazing, amazing way to look at the death of a loved one...


A Powerful Word For Those
Who Have Lost Loved Ones

or what it is worth, I thought that I would pass this incredible testimony onto the rest of you. Awhile back ago on TBN, they had a middle-aged couple on one of their talk shows that were really anointed. They had their own church and ministry – I can’t recall where it was at. But part of their testimony was on the death of their young daughter.
Here they were, serving God full time with their church and ministry, and their daughter ends up dying at a fairly young age. I came in on the story right as they were talking about it. I did not catch the age of the daughter or what the cause of her death was.
The wife had really been wrestling with God. How could You take her away from us so early in her life, how could You allow this to happen, why didn’t You heal her, why didn’t You protect her?
Both the wife and husband were really having a hard time in getting over her early death with the Lord. They could not understand or get a direct answer from God as to why He allowed their daughter to be brought home at such a young age and rob the both of them the joy of seeing their daughter grow up. After all of this wrestling with the Lord for quite sometime, the wife said she then received a direct word from the Holy Spirit that immediately set her free from her mental captivity. And boy did I get a whopper witness off of this Word!
I will give you exactly what the Word was and an additional revelation that God gave the both of them on the death of their young daughter. For those of you who have lost close loved ones in your past – grab a hold of this direct Word from the Lord. This Word from the Lord has been used by this couple to set many other people free from the depression and anger they have slipped into as a result of not being able to deal with the death of a close loved one.
The wife said she was in the kitchen when she heard the Holy Spirit speak directly to her. The words were: “Your daughter is no longer in the past – she is now in the future.”
Think about these words! The wife said as soon as she heard these words – she immediately knew what God was trying to tell her and it immediately set both her and her husband completely free of the mental torment they were still going through with the death of their daughter.
God was telling them that their daughter was no longer in their past. She had died and she was now in heaven with God and Jesus! God was telling them that they now had to move on with their lives, to let the past go, including the death of their daughter, and to continue to press forward into the call that He had placed on both of their lives.
Their daughter is now in their future! When they both die, they will both cross over into heaven and be immediately reunited with their daughter. God was telling them to change the “angle” with which they were looking at their daughter’s death from.
Instead of seeing her as being “dead in the past” – start seeing her as being “fully alive in heaven” – and understand that you will be reunited with her once again in a very short period of time. Our time on this earth is not even a blink of an eye compared to the eternal time frame that is operating in heaven.
1. You have to step back and look at the big picture. We are all going to die and cross over – no exceptions! Some just go sooner than others. When you die is irrelevant. What you do with the time that you have down here is what really matters. It’s quality – not quantity!
When you really grasp the meaning of the words that the Holy Spirit spoke to her – you understand that they should actually be rejoicing. Their daughter is now in the most perfect place imaginable and they are both guaranteed to be reunited with her once they die and cross over. They should be keeping the picture of their daughter in front of them – in their own personal futures – which will also be heaven for the both of them when they die and cross over.
God was also telling them that if they did not quit wallowing in their past, they would eventually die in their past, and they would no longer be able to move forward for Him because they would end up staying stuck in their past.
Too many people are bound up with things that have happened to them in their past. They cannot let go of some of the bad things that may have occurred in their past. As a result, their past slowly starts to eat away at them until they get to a point where they no longer have any joy or zest for living. They then start slipping into depressions and then lose all of their desire to even want to live anymore.
2. Shortly after receiving this direct revelation from the Lord and being set free, they came across a woman who had lost her son. Her son had died about a year ago and the woman had slipped into a severe depression. She had literally boarded up her house, closed all the drapes and curtains, and would no longer even go outside. She had completely shut down due to the pain and heartache she was going through at losing her son at what apparently was also a fairly young age.
This couple had given their testimony on the above revelation to a church this woman had been attending. The testimony was taped and one of the church members then slipped the tape to this woman who had boarded herself up in her house. The woman took the tape into her bedroom. She listened to it over and over again all night along, literally until the sun broke at dawn.
When the sun broke at dawn, she later testified that she knew God was speaking to her through this couple’s testimony on this tape. She said the message and revelation from this couple that was on this tape set her free from the mental captivity that she had placed herself under as a result of not being able to see the truth of her son’s death. The Bible says that the truth will set you free and this is a perfect example of this spiritual principle coming into full operation!
Once she heard the revelation given by the Holy Spirit to this couple – she knew she had been looking at her son’s death from the wrong angle. Her son is now in heaven and she should be looking forward to being reunited with him in heaven once she crosses over – not dwelling on his death, which was now in her past.
Once she fully grasped what God was trying to tell her, and it apparently took all night for this revelation to really sink into her mind, she was finally set free and was able to start fully living again.
This couple said that these specific words spoken to them by the Holy Spirit has helped many other people deal with the death of their close loved ones.

Scripture Verses

1. Here are 3 good verses from Scripture that will back up the words spoken to this couple by the Holy Spirit.
  1. But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
  2. “… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Look at the words in this second verse: “forgetting those things which are behind” and “reaching forward for those things which are ahead.” This verse perfectly lines up with what the Holy Spirit was trying to tell this couple – to let the death of their daughter go, which was now in their past, and to look forward, to press forward for the things which are now ahead of them in their futures.
And one of the things ahead for this couple in their futures will be their own physical deaths and their own crossing over into heaven and being reunited with their daughter, where they will never be separated from her ever again!
2. This next verse talks about plowing forward in hope.
“… he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be a partaker of his hope.” (1 Corinthians 9:10)
This verse is telling us that each one of us should continue to plow for God with whatever time we still have left down here on this earth – with the understanding that we will eventually be reunited with all of our saved loved ones who have gone home before us.
And not only should we continue to plow forward with this hope in mind, but we should also be a partaker of that hope. In other words, really believe that when you die, you will be reunited with all of your saved loved ones, and this time it will be for good – for all of eternity!
Heaven is going to be the final and ultimate reward for all Christians. The Bible tells us that we cannot even begin to imagine all of the good things that God will have in store for all of those who will be entering into His dwelling place. But one thing we do know for sure – we will all be given the two greatest rewards any human can ever hope to receive once we cross over to the other side.
  1. We will forever be united with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and we will be able to have direct contact and fellowship with the both of Them for the rest of all of eternity.
  2. And then to top it all off – we will forever be reunited with all of our saved loved ones who have made it into heaven, and we will once more be able to enjoy the friendships that we had established with each one of them while living down here on this earth.
Now that’s an incredible one-two punch that can’t be beat. And to top it all off, there will be mansions and who knows what else from God the Father.
For all those of you who have lost very close loved ones, you have to step back and see the real big picture – the real ending to the story. So many people have lost the rest of their earthly lives because they could never get over the death of a close loved one. And the reason they could not get over their deaths is due to the fact that they were looking at their deaths from the wrong “angle.”
The Holy Spirit gave this couple what I feel is a very powerful and liberating Word on this subject. He gave them a Word that was pure, solid God-truth. And once you receive a direct truth from God the Father – it will set you free if you are willing to accept it and then work with it.
The other thing that happened with this couple is that before they received this direct Word from the Lord, they found themselves taking their daughter’s pictures and photos out of a lot of their family portraits because it was too painful for them to see her and to be reminded of her death.
After receiving the above Word from the Lord, they were then told to put all of her pictures back in with the rest of the family pictures. He told them that she was not dead – that she was fully alive in heaven – and that they should be rejoicing because their time would come when they would all be reunited with her once again.
They were told not to try and put her out of their memory. They were to keep intact all of her photos and all of their memories of her. They were all to look forward to the future when they would once again be reunited with her in heaven.
When this couple received all of the above from God the Father through the Holy Spirit, they were then all set free from the mental captivity they had placed themselves under, and they were then able to pick themselves back up and get back into fully living in their present again.
The other revelation that the wife received from God the Father was on the question of why – why did God allow her daughter to be taken home so early. God basically told her there will be times when He will not tell you why He allows something specific to happen in your life, like the early death and departure of a close loved one.
Sometimes it may be better that you not know why God brings someone home so early. Maybe that person was going to have something really bad happen to them somewhere down the road and God wanted to spare them the pain of having to go through it – so He arranges to have them brought home early. There could be many different reasons as to why God may have brought this person home early, and maybe with half of those reasons you are better off not knowing.
She finally came to the conclusion that if it was God’s will that she not know why He had brought her daughter home so early – that she would simply have to trust God that He did have a good enough reason to bring her home early and to let it go at that!
The Bible says that we can only “know in part.” We will never get all of the answers to all of life’s problems and dilemmas. God will answer many of our questions if He is properly approached. The Bible says to “ask, and you will receive.” But when God does decide not to answer a specific question you may have, then you have to accept the fact that He has a good enough reason not to give you His answer, trust that He knows what He is doing – that He knows what is best for the situation at hand – and then move on with the rest of your life.
If you don’t, you will run the risk of getting stuck in the misery of your past. And if you do not pull up out of the misery of your past, then you will never fully accomplish whatever God’s perfect plan and destiny would have been for your life.


For those of you who have had a very difficult time in accepting the death of a close loved one, really chew on the above Word given to this couple by the Holy Spirit.
For those of you who may know someone who is really having a hard time handling the death of a close loved one like a child, a spouse, a parent or a best friend, give them a copy of this article and/or sit down with them and give them the above Word from the Spirit of God. Share the above testimony with them on this couple and the other woman who had lost her son.
Pray that God will move in on them with illumination and insight so they can fully grasp and understand that even though the death of a close loved one is a very painful experience, that their loved one’s death is now a new beginning for them.
Their close loved one is now in the most perfect place imaginable and they will be reunited with them once again in just a very short period of time. This life on this earth is just for a very brief moment in the eternal scheme of things – but the life to come, where they are at now, will be forever.
Remember what the Holy Spirit Himself has spoken – your loved one is no longer “dead in your past” – your loved one is now “fully alive in your future” – which is heaven.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Laughter can finally come

I was chatting with someone awhile back who had lost a child.  They said that it took a lot for them to laugh now.  It was hard for them to find anything funny anymore and especially hard for them to actually laugh outloud.

This caused me to remember that about a year ago I began to force myself to laugh.  I would laugh at the most stupid stuff and would laugh extra hard, extra long and extra loud.  I made myself laugh.  It was a very important decision I realize now a year later.  I decided I needed to begin laughing again after DJ passed away and if it wasn't going to come naturally then I had to force it to happen.  I can now laugh easily.  Laughter still happens at the stupid things, I am sure it is still too loud but I am laughing and this is a huge step for a bereaved parent.  I am thankful that I can laugh and find joy enough in things to laugh loud and hard--I even laugh at my own jokes--because if I don't who will? (insert laugh here).

How many times do we as a bereaved parent realize that an old behavior we used to have needs to come back?  I knew laughter was missing in my life and I took a step- be it ever so small to change it.  How often though do we forget about the good things and never repeat them? 

Do you bake your child's favorite cookies anymore? Does the smell of chocolate permeate it's way through your house on their behalf?  Or is your kitchen shut down of their favorite foods, never for the remainder of your family to have.

Do you watch the silly nonsense television shows that you used to enjoy with your child and laugh at them like you did before?  Is that joy gone too with your child or are you brave enough to look for joy again?

Do you smell the flowers they loved?  Do you have a bouquet of them in your kitchen in honor of their life?  Is there a pot of them on your front stoop or did those flowers die with your child?

My challenge offered here is to try to find joy, find something to laugh at.  It may be forced but those cookies won't bake themselves.  You may cry while pulling out that recipe book and smelling those familiar smells but it is so worth it!  Those flowers may bring joy to the rest of your family, may remind you of a much happier time.  That silly show my cause tears of joy, tears of sadness but maybe tears that need to be released.

Everyone has something (boat loads full) of things that remind us of our children that we no longer do, that we have stopped doing altogether. Perhaps, like laughter we have to begin forcing ourselves to do them again.  I have found laughter--what will you find? 

(If you are waiting to order my book Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? I have ordered a second printing from the publishers and will be getting them hopefully before the end of June or first week of July.  If you are local there are a few copies left at The Bookworm bookstore in Omaha)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Father's Day after losing a child

I talked to my husband this week about Father's Day and how a father feels about the holiday and life in general after losing a child.

From my husband's perspective this is the information I got--

The father feels responsible for their child's death regardless if they could have prevented it or not.  As the head of the house, as the man of the house, as the protector of the family they often feel responsible for the loss of the child.  They did not protect their child from harm ( or illness, etc), somehow they should have been able to do so.  The father is the strong one in the family, made to keep his family safe and this can result in a lot of guilt or shame or pain if a death results.

The holiday is not one they really want to celebrate since the family isn't whole.  It is not that they do not love their children that are remaining but during this holiday (and most) it becomes terribly obvious that the child is gone.  It is very apparent to all of us in the family that DJ is not here to celebrate with his Dad.

What does a father want for Father's Day?  He wants to hear about his child.  Phone calls, conversations, notes, cards, memories about their child is the best gift.  To hear something wonderful about their child that is gone is the best gift of all.  Do the father's ever ask for this?  Of course not...do they wish everyone knew about this request? Absolutely!

So what are you going to give a bereaved father this weekend?  A memory, a humorous story, a laugh, a cry?  The mention of a father's child is the best gift of all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gifts at the Gravesite

I know I have spoke about leaving gifts at the gravesite before but it came up at a Compassionate Friends meeting this week and then my husband talked about it at home later as well...so apparently it is on people's minds right now.  It makes sense that people are talking about it--it was just Memorial weekend in the United States, a time to place flowers on gravesites of those that we love.  Generally of course it is supposed to be specifically for remembering the military but as a culture we put flowers on all of those that we have lost.

My husband wanted me to blog that it makes him happy when he sees things left behind on DJ's grave.  It tells him that people have not forgotten DJ.  He doesn't care what it is--we have had half broken skateboards, pinwheels, toy cars, letters, flowers, crosses--all sort of things.  For my husband it is a positive thing.

Now there are many people that have the direct opposite reaction.   I have interviewed people that cannot stand it when memorabilla is left behind.  They feel that the gravesite is their place to remember their child and that outsiders should not be leaving things behind.  They feel that people are trespassing when they leave stuff behind.  Some feel it is just junk.  Others get upset because they wonder why these people visit the gravesite when they did not visit the child while they were living. 

It is easy to say that people have different reactions to the gravesite and the miscellanious things left on it.  I do know one they for certain though, we are all glad when our children are remembered---so today tell a bereaved parent a memory you have of their child or at least mention their name--we all don't need to drive to the cemetary to have memories. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Laughter in Joplin Missouri

My husband, my son and I went to Joplin Missouri last weekend.  For those of you reading this from outside the United States, Joplin had a horrific tornado touch down. It was 13 miles long and so far over 130 people have been confirmed dead.  It is the worst, most deadly tornado the United States has had since the 1950's. 

Irregardless of some one's age, be it 9 months old or 65 years old the people that passed away are some one's children and we thought, we hoped we could be of some help to them. My husband and I both have survived tornadoes and lost a child and again felt we could offer some support there through our own experiences.

We left Omaha with over 130 Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? books in tow along with Captain Tag kid's books to hand out to little people who now have nothing.

We were not prepared for what we saw.  The devastation was unbelievable, anything you see on television doesn't even come close to the destruction.  Miles and miles without homes, only rubble left behind.  Hills were completely void of structures.  Metal was twisted into trees and along the roads.  Trash that was once some one's personal and priceless belongings were spread everywhere.  And all of this is just stuff--the physical loss of life was and is still mounting.

I know I titled this blog Laughter in Joplin and you must be wondering "Why?"----

Well, while we were at a funeral home donating books a father came in who's 49 year old son had died in the tornado.  His son was nicknamed Trip, he had downs syndrome and was 49 years old.  As the employee handed him a book from us he took me by my hand and walked me outside to meet his wife.  His wife began to tell me about Trip's life.  He had been in the Special Olympics and CNN did a story on him after he passed away.  Trip was a very loved member of Joplin.

As I spoke with the mother she began to tell me stories about Trip.  One specific story was of a time when the family was out of town in the middle of a wilderness area.  There weren't supposed to be any people around the area for miles, the family believed they were completely alone.  All of a sudden two young men popped up through some trees and said "Hello Trip!!"  The mom began to laugh as she told me this story, in the midst of all the rubble, in all the sadness and pain she was laughing.  She was enjoying memories of her son, the tornado could not wipe those away and she shared them with me.  I felt honored to hear her words.  Before she and her husband left I assured her that someone from Omaha would remember her son Trip, and now all of you can remember him as well.

We need to laugh, we need to tell our stories, we need to share memories of our child with people. It is important for us to let people know that our child not only died but lived as well!  Trip's mom needed to laugh and it was my pleasure and honor to laugh with her. 

Side note---We donated over 130 of my books to Joplin, to the three mortuaries, to the Red Cross and to the bookstore down there.  The bookstore has already asked for a second group of books to be sent to them-they are already out. I now have only about 10 books left and will be ordering some this week. If you would like to order a book, you can of course order it in e-book form at flowersonagrave.com or may have to wait awhile for the new order to come in.  If you are local you can still get a book at The Bookworm bookstore in Countryside Village in Omaha. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

I went to DJ's gravesite this week

This week was DJ's 18th birthday, his 5th birthday since he passed away in 2006.  I went to his gravesite the day before his birthday, I didn't want to go on the day of his birthday incase I ran into someone I knew.  It is a really difficult place for me to go, I know many parent's that go and find a lot of peace from it but I only find pain-even 5 years later. 

This year was a little odd though.  I went and had two sensations.  At first I felt as if I didn't stay long enough and actually went back to his grave.  After a few minutes of that I felt as if I was an intruder and I didn't belong there.  I have never had that feeling before.

Is it a sign of the grief subsiding? Is it a sign that I am healthier than I was just a few years ago.  I don't know the answer to either of these questions.  I do not know why I felt like an intruder, like I didn't belong there but I did.  If anyone reading my blog has felt this before let me know your insight into it and apparently if you have felt it don't feel guilty about it because I can't be the only one--or am I?  I would appreciate any comments or direction on this one. 

(My book has only one copy left at Parables in Omaha and is still available at the Bookworm locally.  If anyone would like an ebook form or would like to order it directly from me you can go to flowersonagrave.com)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mother's Day-No guilt for the living

Mother's Day came and went.

During the middle of it though I realized that my family seemed to be living without DJ as if he was never here or had never died. I only felt it for a few minutes, but I felt a definite missing, a definite recognition of this fact. It made me angry that we all were living without him, managing without DJ.

I posted about it on facebook later that day and in the end my husband was quite upset about my comment. He told me he never quit thinking of DJ. He told me that he had worked hard over the last 4 1/2 years to make our lives as normal as possible.

So, what did I get from all of this? That our normal life is now living without DJ here on earth. However, he is always in our minds, always in our hearts, and never far away from our thoughts.

I have become accustomed to DJ not being with us anymore and that just stinks. There is never a day or an hour that goes by that I do not think of DJ but I am used to him not being here now and I do not like that.

I do not want the pain of the first two years, I do not want to replay that time of my life ever again. My heart breaks for those bereaved parents that are at the less than two year mark, it is so incredibly hard and painful.

I do not however ever want to have that feeling again of living life without DJ as normal. Have I gotten so used to him being gone, have I lived my life without him for so long that I could possibly forget him? Never, never, never!!

What have I caused myself to have? I have created false guilt, I have allowed the enemy to come in and make me feel guilty over living a life when DJ has not.

My challenge for myself and for any of you reading this is that we should never have guilt over living! We should not feel badly for living our lives even though our children are gone.

I will never forget DJ, my family will never forget him!! Thinking for even a second that we are living as if he was never alive is absolutely absurd. I will never live my life as if DJ never existed but I also will never feel guilt over continuing to live. DJ would want me to live a life that is full of passion and adventure. He would not want me sitting on the couch mourning over him. My life is fuller because DJ lived.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


My youngest son passed up DJ in age. My son Jake is now older than his oldest brother.

I knew this day would happen one day and I was truly dreading it. I was certain that it would cause me a lot of pain, that it would be a terrible mile stone that I would be fully aware of. I just knew that I was going to feel horrible that one exact day. And then something crazy happened....

Jake passed up DJ when I wasn't even looking. I didn't know it happened. I was sitting in the conference at The Compassionate Friends this April thinking about that one, certainly painful day and realized that it had gone and went without my knowledge. The anticipated pain of the day was over before it even began. I have to admit that I was actually relieved. I was dreading the day and I ended up not having to succumb to the pain at all.

This is a prime example of how the anticipation of an event is far worse than the actual day. DJ's birthday is just around the corner and I am dreading it as well, however after almost 5 years I know that the time up to his birthday can be more painful than the actual day. I have experienced mile stones pertaining to DJ's death where the day after it was as if a physical weight was taken off my shoulders almost immediately after the event. The pain, the stress, the worry, the anxiety of the event lifted right after it. I can feel it, I can sense the release. For me there is a sense of relief after the day. The worry before, what I think will be the horrible pain coming usually doesn't come on that exact date, it is the time up to it that is usually the hardest.

I think almost all people can easily think of the worst thing that will happen to them, it is always easier to think of the most negative than any positive. I feel this is why the anticipation is worse than the day...we imagine the worse before it ever happens. Face it, if you are a bereaved parent you have certainly faced the worst life can give you--we know it fully so it is easy to imagine it.

If you are a newly bereaved parent about to come upon a milestone of your child's world be prepared for three things 1. The days up to the event will kick your butt, the grief will hit you days maybe even weeks before the event. 2. The day will probably not be near as painful as you think it will be 3. The day will pass, it is only 24 hours and eventually it will be gone and the intense pain of the day will fade.

Being prepared for the pain to come is important, it will come and it will go. It will come in heavy waves and it can take flight like feathers in the wind.

If you are a loved one, a friend of a bereaved parent realize too that your friend is going to be grieving weeks before the mile stone. Give them grace and understanding--it is by God's grace that you have not lost a child and you must understand that the pain can come sooner than you think it should.

(If you live locally you can buy my book at the Bookworm bookstore in Countryside Village, also I am beginning my work on the bible study companion book for it)