Monday, April 25, 2011


I was watching a morning show awhile back. The host was interviewing a family that had lost a child and the couple had gotten divorced. What struck me was the comment made by the woman (I'm paraphrasing here) "The death of our child was too hard on our marriage and of course we divorced."

The woman had no doubt that her marriage could not withstand the loss of her child. It made me sad to hear her words and to think that she absolutely saw no way that her marriage could stay intact.

I have interviewed families that were not able to withstand the loss BUT I have also interviewed some that have become stronger after the loss of their child.

My husband Donnie was amazing after DJ passed away. Within the first week he said "We will not let this destroy our marriage." This of course has not always been easy. Marriage is tough enough in today's world let alone having a child pass away.

If you are reading this and thinking divorce is your only option let me tell you somethings that have helped Donnie and I and also many of the people I have interviewed-

  • Men and women grieve differently. Husbands and wives grieve differently. Many men do not want to speak about the death too much. Some want to talk about their child all the time. Some women cannot stop crying and some men only cry by themselves late at night. None of this is wrong it is just different for each person. No one person's way to grieve is right or wrong. Do not judge your spouse harshly if they are not grieving the way you do, it does not mean they love your child any more or less than you do.

  • I completely believe that God knows the exact day and time that our lives will end. It would have done me or Donnie no good to blame each other for DJ's death. Neither one of us could have stopped it from happening. God took DJ on October 8, 2006. Nothing either of us could have done would have stopped it. Do not blame each other. As so many people say "it is what it is". It sucks, it isn't right, I wish God hadn't taken DJ when he was 13 years old but He did and blaming Donnie or myself would do no good.

  • Medication is okay. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor or someone to help you get through the really hard times. It is not a weakness to get help medically. Be supportive of one another if they need to take something to take the intensity of the pain away. Medication is better than alchohol or drugs--keep that in mind.

  • I have often thought since DJ's death that no one else in the world could walk through this tragedy with me. No one else would understand why I would be sad when I saw skateboarders. No other person would understand that ducks remind me of DJ in a funny way. No one else (like another spouse) would get the pain or understand it as fully as Donnie would--so why would I ever want to divorce Donnie and try to explain it all to someone else that had never met DJ or loved him?

  • Intimacy becomes different after you lose a child and this doesn't mean you love your spouse less. For women it is emotional and can bring intense emotional pain after and for men it is a stress reliever. This makes the connection difficult at times, with one spouse running away from intimacy and the other needing it. Give each other time and have patience with one another.

  • You and your spouse will never be the same people you were before you lost your child so quit trying to make them be. There is a challenge in this though-you may become a better person--more caring, more compassionate, more loving. Look for the good things in your spouse that have perhaps changed, become better together.

  • For me and so many that I have interviewed the one truth in staying together is that Jesus has been the key to our relationships. Without God to hold onto and to take the weight of our pain I know without a shadow of a doubt that neither Donnie or I or the people I interviewed would be standing today together. Find strength in God, He is big enough to carry your pain when you cannot hold up under it any longer!!

I want to thank all of you that have recommended my book to families and friends. It has been an honor to touch so many people's lives that have lost children and offer support to them.

(If you are a first time reader you can check out all my blogs at and also order my book on this site as well.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How are you today?

A question commonly asked in Western culture...How are you? And the expected answer is always FINE. How are you today? Fine How are you feeling? Fine How are things going? Fine Do you know what FINE means? Feelings Inside Not Expressed Do most people really want to know how we feel? No, not really. Everyone just wants the normal answer of Fine. Somedays we are fine, others we are obviously not. How are you today? Heartbroken How are you feeling? Like crap How are things going? Like a train wreck and the hole looks promising Today and next week I challenge you to see how many people just say "FINE" when you ask them how they are doing. I challenge you to see how many times y0u respond with the same verbage. We are not fine, not of us are fine--bereaved parent or not. Are you strong enough to hear the real answer of how we as all people are doing? Do you truly care how we are all doing? Do any of us care about the people around us enough to pause two seconds and truly find out how we are doing? How am I doing today? I am doing good enough, movers are coming tonight and we move into a different home tomorrow (only two miles away) I am too tired to be sad, I am too exhausted to find that hole. It is far away today. I have had glimpses of sadness this week, I have seen DJ's GI Joe house and that made me sad. Jake and I took down some of DJ's pictures off the bedroom door and that made both of us a little sad. There are hills and valleys of grief but no mountains right now. Next week may be different---just ask and I might tell you FINE and I might not.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What color are your child's eyes?

I had the honor of holding a workshop at The Compassionate Friends Regional meeting in Omaha this weekend and truly what an honor it was!! I had the privilege of helping a newly bereaved mother hook up with someone in her town to walk along side her and that made all the work of the event worth it!! This woman knew no one in her small town to walk along side her in her new pain and now she does and that was an amazing connection to see happen!! One of the speakers changed the way I held my workshop this weekend. She challenged all the attendents to tell our child's life story instead of our child's death story when asked about our child. This is such a change in prospective for so many including myself. People ask me about DJ and I always start with telling them about the skateboarding accident and his death. I cannot think of anytime that has not happened. Well from this day forward I am going to try to start with his life first--he lived first and died second anyway so why not? It only makes sense if you think about it!! My son lived and he lived fully for those 13 years and people should know that, he was an amazing child and people should know that. The presenter also told us to tell people the color of our child's eyes. DJ's eyes were a beautiful green color and funny enough when I spoke with other people know one else's children's eyes were green, there were many blue eyed children but surprisingly enough there weren't any green except DJ's. My challenge for you all today and this week is to tell someone your child's life story instead of their death story first. Tell them your child's eye colors. Honor your child's life this week instead of mourning their death! (Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? was the number one book sold at the Regional Conference this weekend in Omaha--I hope DJ is proud of his Mommy because I was proud of him every day!)