Tag Archive | dying

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:



Grace Defined

The dictionary defines grace as ‘favor or good will.’ A ‘manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.’ When I think about the death of my son, and how it changed my entire world, I wonder at God’s grace. As His child, I have His favor and good will, as described by dictionary.com.

In Jerry Sittser’s best-selling book, he talks about how God’s grace is often disguised in tragedy.

Loss may call the existence of God into question. Pain seems to conceal Him from us, making it hard for us to believe there could be a God in the midst of our suffering. 1

How can Bobby’s death be God’s grace? My comfort is there is a greater plan at work than I can see or imagine. I know that through the excruciating pain following Bobby’s passing, God was there, keeping me from falling into the abyss.

My prayer for those women who have lost a son or daughter, is they’ll find the strength to go on. To get up every day, get dressed, and move through the pain. Grief will either destroy you or make you stronger.

I choose strength.


  1. A Grace Disguised. Sittser, Zondervan 1995, 2004

When I am Old

More than a few years ago, there was a poem titled “When I Am Old, I Shall Wear Purple.” As someone who is no longer young, and not yet old, I’m thinking about the person I want to be when my mind fades and my body breaks down. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

When I’m old, I won’t be cranky.

I’ll keep smiling in spite of my circumstances.

I won’t complain about my health or aches and pains.

I’ll respect the feelings of those around me.

I’ll be friendly to strangers and try to make new friends as my old friends pass away.

I’ll suffer the indignity of loss of independence with grace.

I won’t worry about, nor try to control my future.

I will keep my sense of humor.

I will be the old woman everyone wants to be around.

What about you? Would you add anything to the list, or take anything away?

I’m convinced that cheerfulness, not happiness, not joy, is a decision.

It’s Time.

Why do we have a hard time talking about death? It’s inevitable for every human being. The end of this journey is physical death. Yet we think it’s macabre to talk about it, to plan for it, and to watch expectantly for it.

My mother is eighty-nine years old. She is ready to die. Yet all around her, people say things like, “Oh, you’re not going to die. You’ll get better. We just need to fatten you up a little.” She doesn’t want to be fattened up. She wants to go to sleep and not wake up. Isn’t that the way we all want to go? Not struggling for every pain-filled breath.

I told my mom tonight that I was okay with her dying. I told her I’d miss her like crazy, but I hated seeing her in pain all the time. I said, “If you want to quit eating, quit eating.” We talked about her being ready to go. She’d be greeted in Heaven by Dad, Bobby, and her mom and dad. Her lifelong friend died nine years ago this month, and she’d be waiting there too.

She was worried about the inconvenience of her passing. I assured her that yes, death is inconvenient. But so is life. And she has the hope of waking up into Eternity with her Savior.

Mom, it’s time to go.

My baby is cuter than yours

Nothing prepares a mother for her child’s passing. A mother carries the baby inside her for nine months. He’s part of her. He shares her food, her air. He feels his mother’s emotions, hears her voice. They’re connected by something greater than the slim tether of umbilical cord.

Love at first sight becomes more than a romantic ideal. From the moment her baby is born, he’s the sole object of her adoration. He’s perfect, beautiful. He’ll be the smartest, cutest, best baby ever born.

We reflect God in that we have created a person solely dependent upon us for everything. We get a glimpse of God’s great love. We better understand God’s sacrificial love for us as we sacrifice for our child. We have a firmer grasp of God’s providential care as we provide for our children’s needs.

As our baby grows, a mother is his world. When he cries, he wants his mother. When she’s hungry, she needs her mother. How many times have you seen a child fall and scrape his knee? The first thing he says is “I want my mommy!”

We foresee a bright, shiny future for our children. We want for them everything that’s been denied to us. The opportunities we’ve let slip by, we grasp onto for our child.

Everything changes when he is snatched away.                                                                    

Like a head-on collision, the world stops in an instant. We’re initiated into a club whose membership we never asked for. There’s a hole in us that can’t be filled. “You have other children,” we’re told. As if he can be replaced. That’s like telling an amputee, “You have another leg. What’s the problem?”

We start the process of grief and we either work through it, or it works on us. Trying to hold it at bay is like trying to stand firm on a beach during a tsunami. When the tsunami warning sounds, we must seek the highest ground, climb to the top of a mountain. Working through the process of grief is like that climb from the valley floor to the high point of hope through Christ. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Death is only a shadow to the believer, and our life a vapor. Believer, take courage that you will see your beloved child again. God gave His Son so that you could be with your son or daughter for all eternity.

Throwing Boulders

Sometimes things are set in motion and seem to move beyond our control. I’d like to say STOP! or Slow Down! so I can be sure the direction is right. But God is up above with the 30,000 foot view and He sees the momentum and is okay with it. We don’t see our the small decisions are like a little pebble trown into a pond. The ripples are barely noticeable by the time they reach the shore.
Other, big decisions – who to marry, which job to take, etc. – are like heaving a boulder into the pond. First there’s a huge splash, throwing showers of water into the air. Then rings of motion, slamming against the shore over and over again. Big decisions — big consequences.
Here’s the comfort: that eventually the waves turn into ripples and the ripples into barely discernable undulations, until, finally, the pond is smooth as glass again.