Saturday, February 26, 2011

Don't forget our children

Tonight is my first book signing. It is at a wonderful cupcake bakery in a nearby city (Jones Bros Cupcake at 67th and Center from 7to9pm).

My biggest concern this entire time writing the book is that I may have misquoted or misrepresented a fact or word from the people I interviewed. It gives me a pit in my stomach to even think it. I have apologized ahead of time to the parents just in case something wrong is found.

I remember when DJ passed away and there were things in the media that were said wrong. I hated to read the errors and I had no where to go with them. I could have got in touch with the newspapers, the television spots but what good would it have done? Errors were made, things were incorrect-all this said though-It has been over 4 years and I still remember every wrong comment. I remember them describing the accident details wrong, I remember them showing pictures of the location of the candle light vigil at the wrong place. I remember them stating the accident location wrong. I remember and remember and remember.

No one wants their child's memory or life remembered wrong, but here is the biggest thing we don't want to happen--WE DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO FORGET OUR CHILD--It breaks my heart to think that people will someday no longer remember DJ or any of the family's children I interviewed. Someday all of DJ's belongings will be at a thrift store for someone to rummage through and they will have no idea how loved DJ was. How he had touched those things and ran his hands over them. How he labored over the mini skateboards and the ramps he made with division cards, how he loved the scooby doo pillow-even at age 13. How the Matrix and Lord of Ring guys spent hours jumping in his room by his hands. How his green pillow is still on his bed and someday the material will be in shreds, I have already had to sew it to keep it intact for Jake.

I hope this book and others like it will continue to keep our children's memories alive. Everyday they are alive in our hearts! Everyday they are just a memory away.

If you are able to come tonight and enjoy cupcakes that would be wonderful. If you are able to come tonight and remember the children interviewed in this book and all the others that have left us too early please do. Lisa--forever, to heaven and back-DJ's mom

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meaning of bittersweet

I never understood the meaning of the word bittersweet before. Atleast not until now. I have had two events this week that have made me completely aware of it's definition.

Number 1-We finally sold our home, it took over 18 months on the market, 2 real estate agents and 9 deals to get it sold, but it is finally sold. The house deal was a trifecta--buyers A want to buy buyers B house and B buyers want to buy our house but in order to complete the deal buyer's A want us to rent their house for a year. In this market you have to be creative to get the deals done, that's for sure!! Also the house we are renting is 4 blocks away-on the same street as the house we lived before this one--that was when my family was whole and complete. To drive to the house I have to drive on the same route that I drove to get to DJ's accident, it happened just a few blocks off this main road. Also on this same route we used to live in another house where again, my family was young and fresh and happy. (We only move a few miles away at a time).

Number 2-My book is finally done. After a year and a half of interviewing, writing, rewriting, editting, reeditting and waiting and waiting it is finally in my hands. I am meeting with the families I interviewed tonight for a private book event and then this weekend I'm having my first book signing at Jones Bros Cupcakes in Omaha 7 to 9 pm(You may have seen them on the Food network on Cupcake Wars--they are wonderful!!).

So here are the bittersweet parts--

Bitter--I sold my house. I have to move away, I have to pack, I have to move away from the memories of DJ and my family being intact. I have to live in a house for a year that is along the same route as DJ's accident. I never wanted to live back by this road--didn't even look at houses along this route when we were looking to actually buy. I have to travel by two houses that I have wonderful memories of that are no longer a reality--and yes I know the memories are in my head but the constant reminder doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

Bitter--my book is done and people are asking me what it is about. I then am reexplaining DJ's accident, his death. I am telling them the reason that I chose to write it. I am bringing back all those memories as well, retelling, reliving, re, re, re.

Sweet---I SOLD MY HOUSE--finally, finally, finally. We got the deal we wanted except the rental part-but yes it is finally sold!!

Sweet--my book is done. I am so hoping this will be helpful to families that lose children. I needed a resource that I didn't need to read 100's of pages to get one piece of useful information. Every page you open up in my book has helpful information on it--every page is a recourse! It's sweet because loving members of the family can hopefully help those that lose children--and maybe, just maybe they won't compare the loss of their child to that of their dog--ugh. People will see our struggles, our little piece of hell and maybe understand us a little better. It's sweet because the 14 families interviewed will have their children's stories told.

Why is God putting me in this house? This is a big city--what in the world are the odds of this? Apparently pretty good when God is involved. I was expressing this in my bible study this week and someone said maybe so you can "heal". No, I am healed enough thankyou!! But I am thinking perhaps this is God's way of saying, you can move on now--it is time to move forward in your life--it is time. I don't know really, I do know the older I get the more I realize I don't know so this may all just be ramblings of a bittersweet brain.

Life is full of bittersweet moments---I love my boy DJ--so sweet, I miss my boy with an unbearable grief--so bitter. The list could go on and on. Here is my hoping that you all have sweet memories of your loved ones today and that you keep the bitter ones away!! God Bless all of us-truly, Lisa

Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? Available in ebook at will be available on my site in paperback very quickly--having internet cart issues. You can call me though and I will mail you one at 402-616-1256

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grief trumps joy

Today I should be happy. Today I arranged a time at a local cupcake bakery to have the families I interviewed for my book come and get their copies--I'm calling everyone tomorrow so if you are one of those wonderful families reading this--I haven't forgotten to call you yet. Today I scheduled a time to do my first official book signing at the same cupcake place-I even notified a friend of mine in the media to get the ball rolling. Today I went and bought a few new shirts just to look fresh for the events--to represent DJ well. All of this should bring me joy? Doesn't it make sense to you? It makes logical sense to me but my heart is sooooooooooooooooooooooooo NOT FEELING THE JOY.

I am falling into a hole when I should be joyful. Along the way to a store today I saw a NO SKATEBOARDING sign, oh how I wish my boy was able to break that rule--we always broke those rules-if you know me at all you know my family isn't too much into rule following. Give us a rule and we will just break it because-a little rebellious I guess.

I am sad, I am not happy--I know my book will help people who are grieving, I know that it will help those that want to help others that have lost a child. But everytime I speak about DJ, everytime I sign a book I am going to have to guard myself because it is my heart that is on these pages, it is my tears and that of the families interviewed that have written it. It is pain that has brought the pages to life.

I am exhausted and I haven't done anything exerting today---my grief is taking it all my energy away----

Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? for ebook--hard back available on site next week.

I am exhausted, I am sick, I am angry grief keeps robbing me, I am tired. Lisa

Monday, February 14, 2011

Self help me

I was at my local copy store the other day and was looking at the display with all the self-help books. Examples:

How to get what you want in life, all the time
How to sell anything to anyone
How to organize your house and your life
How to get the job you want
How to mingle with anyone
How to carry on a conversation

I look at these kind of books and cd's differently than I did before DJ passed away. I look at them now as a way to reinvent myself. I have picked up some of these cd's along the way in the last 4 years. I have had to figure out how to talk to people again, how to engage in conversations, how to appear that I am involved in the group.

After you lose a child you lose who you are. I was a mother of three, who am I now--a mother of two? I had a teenage boy that loved to skateboard--where does that passion I shared with him go? I had an older brother for my youngest son, who is that person now? Do I become that older help? I had a boy that had amazing friends, who do I have in my house now? My house is quieter and I don't have all those mouths (that I loved) to feed-I have lost that opportunity to give. I was outgoing and full of personality--it shows up every now and then but the freedom of that personality is gone. I believed in a future for my children, what do I believe in now? --I have given up that I know anything anymore about much--God is in control and I am not.

I was an outgoing person and I could talk to anyone before DJ passed away--I am better now four years later but at first I had nothing to say, I couldn't remember people's names, their jobs, their conversations. I had to learn how to care about what they were saying and I had to learn to reinvent myself into someone different. I had to buy those cds, I had to listen to them to learn how to listen to others. I had to work on my memory skills, they were completely shot especially when it came to names and faces. I have listened to a woman's voice give hints on carrying on conversations and learning to recall their names--the author was good, I learned a few things, but again, my memory isn't the same as it used to be so it was hard to recall too many facts. It has taken along time to regain that memory. It has taken me a long time to even desire knowing or investing into someone new.

It may sound corny, it may sound so 80ish when everyone was reading self help books, but I have become a believer in them because I now need all the self-help I can get. I don't want to lose who I was completely with the loss of DJ--I was a pretty cool person if I say so myself, and I have to try to re-find that part of me again. He wouldn't have ever wanted me to become less of who I am, DJ lived life to his fullest..."You can do it" was always falling off his lips so I need to do it!! If figuring out who I am takes me along the self help books then so be it, there are worse things to try and worse things to attempt than an Anthony Robbins book.

Friday, February 11, 2011

We are an imbalanced teeter totter

There are days, weeks that just seem to float right along the path of life. All things seem pretty good, plans are being made, relationships are intact, dinners are cooked, bills are paid, life is going along at a pretty good clip. And then BAMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What causes the BAM? It must be huge, it must be something so big that I could see it ahead of time. Right? It must be heading toward me like an iceberg to the Titanic.

NOPE. It is small, it is barely visible, it is like a germ, a vapor of air, a breath....

It is simple, like a cold. How can a cold make grief hit me like a sledgehammer? It makes my body tired, it makes my mind weak and it can cause me to not be able to manage my grief like I usually do.

What many people don't understand is that the smallest cold, the smallest down time, the smallest event can weaken our spirits, our minds and cause us to spiral fast and hard. I ofcourse never got this before losing DJ. How can a cold make you sad? Sounds stupid, moronic doesn't it. But it can, the slightest tweek in our world, the smallest inbalance can throw us completely out of whack. After losing a child the mind, the body, the soul is on a fairly unstable teeter totter. One thing, the smallest butterfly landing on one side can throw us off balance. Everything is connected even when it doesn't seem it should be.

So here is my challenge to us all--watch out for those small things--when the lack of sleep comes, when the cold triggers, when the butterfly lands realize it. It is probably causing the downward spiral of grief you are on. It may not just solely be the loss of your child, it may be a very little thing turning your life upside down. For those of you around us please don't think the cold is an excuse to mourn, that the lack of sleep we may be dealing with is just a reason to stay in bed extra long. The little things in the world effect us differently now and they can cause a chain reaction of grief for us.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I am so disappointed today. There was a posting on Compassionate Friends USA today. ( I love compassionate friends, they have been a great resource for so many and this isn't a reflection of them). A woman asked bereaved parent's opinion on what she should say to a family that just lost their 4 year old. This woman had a young nephew that passed away earlier and felt that maybe she has some insight because of her own loss. She wanted to know if she should say she had dealt with similar loss to this family...

Here is where my disappointment lies---so many parent's bashed on this woman for comparing the loss of their child to that of her nephew. Some of them were furious with her for thinking she knew what they were dealing with and were angry that she thought she had some idea of the pain we bereaved parents deal with. I know it is not the same, I know the level isn't even comparable but this woman didn't need to be bashed and hurt to get the point across.

We as parents get sick of being judged for how we react to certain situations, how we don't react, how we respond, how we don't respond. We get tired of hearing get over it, we get tired and angry when we don't get any compassion from the world. But these parents were showing no compassion to this woman and certainly were judging her to high heaven. I don't know this woman, I only know that she was asking what to do. Isn't that better to do than to say something stupid like I know how you feel, I lost a pet, I lost a nephew, I lost my grandparent?

I'm so saddened by the judgement that these people put on her when she was only asking for help. I get it, I am a member of this club--I deal with my grief everyday but I do not bash on people for asking for help. I even understand if someone is having a bad day and lash out, but so many people hurt this woman with their words, it was not just a few, it was many.

This bashing comes from pride--pride that "you don't know how I feel, You haven't lost a child." Be angry at me it you want, go ahead and bash me and tell me to get off my high horse but if you search your soul you will see it. I have dealt with it, I have felt that indignation when someone who has no idea what I am dealing with thinks they do--it is pride and it needs to be stopped. I am judging you all because I am in your foot steps, I wear your moccasins and right now I want to take them off because I am ashamed of the way the compassionate parents treated this woman. We don't want to be judged but we sure do a good job of doing it!!

Look for the joy, it is still out there!

Last night my youngest son, Jake and I went to a concert. This was his first one ever and it was his very favorite artist! He was so excited to go, he could barely contain himself. Just looking at him you could see that he was bouncing inside with excitement!! I was excited too because it was a positive event that we could share together-mother and son- and I was hoping it was one he would never forget.

I am positive he will never forget it...

We ran into some friends while waiting for the concert to start. The woman is a journalist for a Christian periodical and had back stage passes to meet the artists. Unfortunately her son was not able to attend the concert so she had one extra pass--hmmmmmm, who may you ask got the opportunity of a lifetime on his very first concert? You guessed it!!

Jake got to go back and meet the artist, he had his picture taken with him. Jake was so stunned by the whole thing that he couldn't even talk to the gentlemen. He was so excited he could barely say a word. When he got back to our seats he was showing me the pictures and he was crying. I asked him why and he said it was because he was so happy. (When you are a 13 year old boy tears can come out at odd times). I was so glad for him, I didn't expect him to get that excited, he is kind of a reserved kid and doesn't show his emotions on his sleeve too often.

After the amazing concert we went out for a late dinner--gotta have lots of food when you are a 13 year old boy. Anyway as we were discussing the concert and Jake said "That's the most fun I've had since DJ died."

Okay folks, it has been over 4 years and I thought that Jake had many chances for cool things to come his way over this time. My husband and I have tried to make as many opportunities for him and his sister to find joy and fun since DJ passed away.

What surprised me the most about his words was that he is telling time by DJ's death and that he hasn't seemed to find much joy along the last four years. I know it is so hard to see any joy at all but I was hoping Jake had seen more than I had. I was so thankful for the chance he had but at the same time it made me sad to think he has been so broken too. DJ's death will forever shadow our lives. We will be telling time by his death--before DJ passed away, after DJ passed away. We will have experiences that DJ should have been a part of and will always feel that void. We will never be the same. For all the joy Jake had last night, for all the excitement and fun he was still shadowed by his brother's death. It's like a cloak our entire family wears, some days it is heavy and other days it is light but it never, ever comes off.

My challenge to you all today is to look for the opportunities to find joy and fun again. For some of you it has been only weeks, months since your child passed away and you don't think you will ever find joy again--it will come and it will seep in slowly. For others of us it has been years and just when we think the cloak is a little lighter and joy is showing itself something comes along the way and makes things heavier. LOOK FOR THE JOY, it is still out there! For that matter don't just look for it hunt it down and capture it. Joy doesn't come easily to any of us anymore so it is something we must make a genuine effort to grab onto and hold tight-even if it is for just a few fleeting moments. Hold onto it like a little kids holds on to a candy bar--tightly, let it melt all over your body and soul and feel the joy in your heart. Jake got to hold onto joy last night and my guess is that it will still me melting all over him when he gets up today. For this I am thankful.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I don't always tell people I have a child in heaven

Once you lose a child you get membership into a new, exciting, full of adventure, completely sucky, horrible, awful, crappy club. You don't realize it right away. Slowly though it dawns on you that there are so many people out there that have lost children. You don't see it or sense it when you have all your children intact--when life is going along as you plan it. However; you become aware that this is a huge club pretty quickly after you lose a child.

A huge club that no one wants to belong to.
A club that has high dues/costs to get into to.
A club that does not reimburse you of that huge cost.
A club that is almost secret until you get into it.
A club that no parent wants to ever acknowledge exists.

We don't want to be in this club. We really don't ever want to know about it until we are in it. And we certainly wish we never, ever had to realize that the cost of this club was our child.

You may think that you do not know anyone that has lost a child (except maybe me if you are reading this and fortunate enough to have all of your family with you). I have to say you are probably terribly wrong. We are out there you just don't know about it all the time.

I don't always offer up the fact that I have a child in heaven. I don't always tell people who are just on the outskirts of my life. It is not because I devalue DJ but this is intimate, this is personal and this is mine to tell if I chose. Sometimes it is just not any one's business at that moment. Perhaps I just don't trust the people around me with this privileged information. Maybe I am having a terrible time at just that moment and saying DJ's name aloud would break me apart, even now 4 years later my voice can crack when I say his name. My heart is still broken and it shows itself fully in my broken words.

You may be having a conversation with the teller at the bank or the lady at the clothing store not realizing that they too have a child in heaven. Not knowing that they belong to this club and they don't wish to share it with you. Bereaved parents are all around you, everywhere. We don't wear a scarlet letter but we do have broken hearts that you just can't see.

On the other side of this though, those of us that belong in the club are intimate with each other about our pain. It is not because we don't believe the rest of you won't get it but because we know without a shadow of a doubt that a bereaved parent gets it. There is no need to explain tears flowing many years later and the deep sorrow that can come like a tidal wave over us for what seems like no reason what so ever. We have an instant connection and understanding once we are in this club. We hate that we get it, we wish we didn't get it but we do.

Recently I have been following Compassionate Friends on face book. There are hundreds of people that comment daily on their site, hundreds of bereaved parents. I don't think even I realized that there were so many of us out there. It sucks, pray for these families, pray for these parents---this club is one of the largest in the world and it is full of pain, wisdom, grief and struggle. This club is one I hope none of you ever have to belong to!!

(My book is just weeks away from coming back from printers--till then you can still get it on e-books if you are that technically savvy at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Years and years ago I remember hearing the story of Job. He lost his children, his livestock, his health, etc but continued to have faith in God. I never could understand that his wife would curse God after it and wanted Job to do it too. I always judged her, thinking that she was unequally yolked with Job. That she certainly must not have the same faith in God that he did. I was so very unfair to this poor woman. You see, in biblical times cursing God was like asking to die. People thought if they cursed Him he would kill them on the spot. I so understand why she did it now that I have lost DJ but before I judged her terribly. I figure someday in heaven I will get to apologize to this woman and ask for forgiveness because I was stupid and judgemental. What people don't realize though is how easily stupid we all are and how overly judgemental everyone is. Until you have walked a mile in my moccasins or anyone else's how can we possible know anything? Until you have lost a child or for that matter until you have (fill in the blank here) then you, I, have no right to judge anyone; but we all do.

Here are some examples of judging that perhaps you haven't even realized you are doing...

I can't believe---

they never leave their house
they never stay home anymore
they are going to a party
they aren't the same people they used to be
they won't come to family functions anymore
they want all the family functions at their house now
they are drinking too much
they won't come out with us and drink and have a good time anymore
they sleep all the time
they have insomnia so bad
they seldom go to church anymore
they have become so "religious"
they cleaned out their child's room so fast
they haven't touched their child's room in over (X) years
they just can't pretend to be happy
they are sad all the time
they can't just get on with their lives
they don't just have more children
they allow their children to (fill in blank)
they are so overprotective with their remaining children
they are selling their house and the memories of their child with it
they aren't selling their house and the memories in it
they are so angry all the time
they are actually laughing
they keep wanting to talk about their child all the time
they don't want to go to work anymore
they don't want to do anything anymore
they seem to have forgotten their other children are living
they ignore their spouse
they have let themselves go
they have lost or gained so much weight
they are spending so much money are their child's headstone
they haven't put up a headstone yet

they have done this or not done that

For every judgment or passing thought there is an opposite one as well. That is why we should all (including myself) keep judgements to ourselves.

This list could go on and on and I am writing it to let you all know that judgement comes easy. We don't realize we are doing it but it happens quickly and can often do horrible irreversible damage. Be there for your friends and family members. Be there to listen to them, to walk with them but don't judge them. There but by the grace of God go you and trust me this is not a walk you want.