Never Say These 2 Things to a Grieving Mom


A few months after my son Bobby died, I had lunch with a few friends. I still wasn’t up to socializing, but I agreed to go anyway. One of the women said something that made me want to jump across the table and grab her by the throat. I know she meant her words as comfort, but at that time it was like rubbing salt in an already gaping wound. It’s now been five years and I can remember my visceral reaction that day.

Here are two things NEVER to say to a grieving mother:

He/she is in a better place. No he’s not! He should be here with his family. With me. How could any place be better?

If you just do X, you’ll find closure. Really? What does closure mean, exactly? Do you think one simple act will help relieve the unrelenting aching of my empty arms?

As any mom will tell you, after 5 years, 10 years, or even longer, there is no such thing as closure. Writing my book, BECAUSE OF GRACE, didn’t bring closure. Putting a brass plaque with Bobby’s name on the Children’s Memorial Tree in South Lake Tahoe didn’t bring me closure. Closure is like trying to grab smoke.

Has anyone ever said anything to you like this? How did you respond?


Because of Grace available on Amazon:


Does Disney Love Death?

Have you noticed that in many children’s movies, someone invariably dies? In the list of Disney’s top grossing animated films, here are ones which include death: Frozen, Bambi, The Lion King, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Sleeping Beauty. These movies touch our hearts, make us cry, and carry us into a deeply satisfying ending. In spite of the death scenes, our children ask to see these movies over and over.

But I’m confused. Why do we let our kids watch Mogli die, yet shield them and ourselves from the reality of death? When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, we say things like, “You’ll be fine. You can fight this. It’s not the end.” Yet it often is the end.

I’m convinced children accept death better than adults. Shortly after my son passed, I was talking with my then five-year-old granddaughter. She pointed to a photo of Bobby and said, “That’s Uncle Bobby. You know, he died.” I know children are notoriously narcissistic, but maybe I can take a lesson from my granddaughter. Maybe we can teach each other about life, death, and eternity.

How grief affects relationships – part 2

When someone is dying, the atmosphere is rife for raw emotions to bubble up and splash onto others. I’ve become tense watching my mother struggle with the will to live. My tension radiates to Mike, and he radiates it back to me. We come at each other like two Edward Scissorhands, thrusting and parrying. We’re both exhausted. Emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Grief is much the same. It grabs us by the throat and won’t let go until we weep and moan. I rely on Mike to make decisions. He shrugs off my neediness. He wants to be taken care of. So do I. What do we do?
We talk. Not in the heat of the moment, but when we’re both relaxed and can let down. Sometimes over morning coffee, sometimes over a glass of wine at night. Talk, talk and more talk. It’s how we roll.

How grief affects marriages

The anger phase of grief can be deadly for relationships. I’m grateful for God’s grace that kept Mike and me in synch while we both grieved for our son. An acquaintance shared with me that she and her husband divorced as a result of their child’s death. Her husband couldn’t express his grief, and refused to acknowledge his pain. She wanted to talk about their child and remember her antics, but he wouldn’t let himself go there. Communication ground to a halt, which eventually destroyed their marriage.

By contrast, a woman and her husband whose daughter died suddenly, have a thriving worship ministry. They grieve together and support each other when the pain ebbs and flows.

My entry into the secret club of mothers of children who’ve died has brought me into fellowship with some amazing women of faith. I expected to see women who’ve been broken by the worst possible circumstance. Instead, I find women who are compassionate, caring, and doing things they would have never done had they not lost a child. They are women who trust God so completely that they can’t be moved. They’ve faced the monster of death, and have survived.

I Pressed Send

I sat at my computer, fingers hovered over the keys, trembling with trepidation. I’d been asked by an editor at a major publishing house to send a proposal for my book, FROM GRIEF TO GRACE. The book isn’t finished, just the outline and a few chapters. My mind spun with several possible scenarios.

One, they’d love the concept and give me the green light to go ahead.

Two, they’d reject it immediately.

Three, they’d want me to write it differently. Anything could happen once I hit SEND. My life could change forever….or not.

I think back on the times when I’ve made a decision that had life-altering consequences. If I’d only known in advance what was to happen, would I have made a different choice? In some instances, the answer would be a resounding YES!

My husband and I decided we wanted children right away after getting married. Heather was born ten months after our wedding. Bobby, on the other hand, was a surprise. We’d planned to wait until Mike graduated from Bible school before having a second child. But, there he was, all 9 1/2 pounds of him, 20 months after Heather.

If I’d known he would die 30 years later, would I have treated him and Heather any differently? Probably. Isn’t it great that we don’t have a glimpse into the future?

But I digress. If this book proposal is accepted, some things in my life will change. I’ll have a deadline for completion. I’ll have to follow through with marketing, speaking, networking to sell books. I’d have to relive the grieving experience again and again. All this went through my head before I pressed Send. But guess what? I did it anyway. May God bless the outcome.


Addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Have you ever said, “I’m addicted to coffee.” or “I’m addicted to Starbucks.” I’ve used the word lightly, even in humor, to describe something I think I can’t live without. Lately, though, I’ve seen first-hand the devastating effect of what a real addiction looks like. It’s not pretty. Addiction makes a person do things, say things, in order to perpetuate their addiction.

I’m writing this because someone I love has an addiction to alcohol he can’t control. It’s painful to watch. I hurt because I can’t do anything for him. I’d love to hear your stories of how you’ve dealt with a friend or family member who has a drug or alcohol problem.


I was asked recently to write another article for our church publication. Woo hoo – they liked my previous two articles and wanted more! The editor asked me to talk about how I persevered through the process of writing a full-length novel. Was I tempted to quit? How did I conquer my fear? What obstacles stood in my way?

I sat down to write, and BAM. Writer’s block. I couldn’t get the article written. How ironic. Frustration mounted as the deadline for submission came and went. I asked for mercy from the editor, and received grace – another week to get it done.

My fear of disappointing everyone drove me to sit down last Saturday, and start writing whatever came into my mind. I poured out my angst. Finally, the article started to gel. The finished product was not what I considered my best work. I closed my eyes, held my breath, and hit SEND.

I had persevered through writing an article on perseverance. Is there something you’re putting off doing because it seems too hard? Is there a sheer rock wall facing you? Persevere, fellow climber. You will reach the top.