CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

You might want to scroll to the bottom of this page and pause the music before playing this video.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Promise Kept

"I have told you these things,
so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

My daughter, Jamee, has this verse hanging on the bulletin board in her room.  It is written on a note card and is among several other verses that are meaningful to her.  Though I cannot say for sure, I believe that this verse was hung there shortly after Laynee's accident.  It warms my heart to see all of these verses. They hang there among the pictures and mementos of people and events that are dear to her.  Many of the pictures hanging there are of her sweet baby sister who brought so much joy with her presence and so much pain in her abscence.   As I was doing some cleaning this week, I went into Jamee's room and I stood there for awhile looking at the pictures and verses above her bed.  As my eyes came to rest on this particular verse, I was a reminded of a conversation that I had with someone a couple of weeks ago about this verse. 

  Though there are likely many who could not give the exact scripture reference for this verse, it is one that is familiar to most christians.  They are beautiful words"...that in me you may have peace"   in which we can find comfort and rest.   These words "But take heart, I have overcome the world"  are powerful words that bring hope and confidence in spite of living in a broken and mixed up world.  This week, thanks to the counsel of a man whom I have come to greatly respect,  I stared at the words of John 16:33 as if seeing it for the very first time.    The same verse that brings peace and hope and "warm, fuzzy feelings" has a promise written smack in the middle of it.  We tend to overlook the promise because it does not bring the same sense of warmth to our hearts as does the rest of the verse. 

"In this world you will have trouble."  Notice that these words are not preceded by "perhaps" or "it may be."  They are not a possibility or even a probability: they are a promise.  As surely as our Lord promises "never will I forsake you" and "I am with you always," he promises that we will have trouble. Just ahead of this verse, in verse 20 our Lord, himself says "I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve...."  Mourning and grief is a guarantee, not even but especially, for those of us who serve him.  Why then does it take us so unprepared when troubles come to us and shake our seemingly perfect world?

Last night I had a bit of spare, quiet time before bed and I used this time to research this verse.  I looked up "God's Promises" and the computer instantly brought before me page after page of websites with lists of promises made by our Lord.  I began to look through the websites, searching for these verses which promise trouble and grief and mourning.   I scoured countless websites until finally I found one site which  listed John 16:33 as a promise from our Lord to us. It is somewhat alarming that only one site among hundreds claimed this verse as a promise to us.  Without question, all of the verses on these sites were God's promises.  They were good, warm, lovely verses.  They were verses pointed out to bring comfort and hope to all who know Him.   The lists are accurate ..............yet not all-inclusive. 

In our society, a country of abundance and prosperity, where medical intervention is at our fingertips, we tend to think of tragedy as something that happens to someone else.  When suddenly devastation strikes and we face job loss, medical crisis, or we have to bury our precious children, we find ourselves wondering why.  Why us? Why not someone else's child? What did I do to deserve this? What did I do wrong?  Why would God allow this?  I cannot deny that I have asked these questions more times than I can count.

 "In this world you will have troubles."  These words from the scriptures are God breathed and infallible.  God does not make mistakes nor does he change his mind.  In our humanness it is natural to want answers and to ask why.  Christ himself asked "Why" as he hung on the cross.  As we ask our questions, as we try to comprehend the reasons for troubles that come into our lives,  I wonder, is it possible for us to accept the clear, simple answer that was given to us long ago?  Can we find rest in the assurance that God made a promise and he always keeps his word? 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Not So Happy Halloween

Tonight Jade and I drove into town.  The streets were filled with gleeful, costumed children running door to door.  We saw Spiderman, Cowboys, Princesses, Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Lady Bugs and Butterflies. We looked at them with longing, aching, wishing.   There is something intrinsically wrong about seeing this when you are driving to the cemetary with a pumpkin engraved with the letters L. A. Y. N. E. E, to place upon your little girl's grave. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010


My thoughts and emotions have been jumbled and chaotic for the past several days.  My heart has much to say but it's not all neat and tidy, in fact, it's completely contradictory to the life we try so hard to live.   On Sunday the faith of each member of our family was tried.  The motto that we have held fast to since the accident was tested.   The words that I have written numerous times on this blog suddenly seemed empty and flat and we questioned whether such words are true for us. 

The topic for Sunday's church service was "God is good............all the time."  It began with a beautiful report of praise as one sister in faith, a two time cancer survivor, was given a positive, cancer free report after a scare last week.  I knew of this situation, had prayed earnestly for this woman, a friend whom I respect and love dearly.  My heart rejoiced with her, her husband and 4 beautiful children, as well as other family members.  The service continued with one of our ministers, who happens to be this woman's brother, delivering the message. At one point he proclaimed that God is good and even if the results had been different,  God would still be good.  And so it was that with these words "God is good," the enemy of souls launched a vicious attack on our family, right there, in that holy place, surrounded by fellow believers.

 The point is not about who happened to be speaking that day, or who's prayers were answered in the affirmative that week.  This post is not in any way directed personally at anyone in particular.  It is about the enemy and how he can take the absolute truth and mix it with lies to leave us doubting and questioning the faith that we rely so heavily upon.  The truth, "God is good" was spoken over and over during that service and each time it had the effects of a knife through our hearts.  At the words "even if the results had been different, God would still be good,"  I fought the urge to stand up and say "maybe so but it would be a lot harder to see it."

The service continued with reading from Mark 7:31-39, about the deaf and mute man who was made to hear and speak.  Jesus told him not to tell of his miracle but, of course, he did because he was so amazed.  Just before this passage is told the story of a woman who asked that a demon be cast out of her daughter and Jesus granted her request.  This deaf man and this mother-- they couldn't NOT tell what Christ had done, they were amazed.  The adversary said, "of course they were amazed, they were part of a supernatural intervention,  but what if the woman's child had been struck dead instead?   "Would God still be amazing?"  The truth is that if God had granted us a miracle and breathed life back into Laynee, you better believe we would be shouting it from the house tops.  But he didn't, and it is really hard to continue to say and believe that God is good all the time.   If there is ever a time when the words "God is good" seem out of place it is in the shadow of a suddden and untimely death of one loved so dearly. 

At the end of the service the minister asked for a show of hands from those who, in the last week had experienced, firsthand, how amazing God is.  Several hands went up and then a few shared the good and amazing things that God had worked in their life that week.  This "God is good, God is amazing" began to feel like overkill. I felt left out and I was tired of hearing it.  All the great things, all of the answered prayers were beginning to grate on my nerves as I pondered the tattered pieces of my family's wounded hearts.   All of these things were a testimony to the power of prayer and yet, it was this same church family, these same prayer warriors, who prayed when Laynee was pulled from our pool.  The adversary dangled this before me and fed me the lie that our prayers were somehow less powerful.   In a sanctuary filled with people praising God and proclaiming his goodness, our family came to understand the meaning of lonely.

I was blindsided by this attack.  That morning I awoke feeling somewhat refreshed and ready to face the day.  This experience left me struggling to regain my footing and get back on course.   Since the day of the accident I have said the words "God is good" out loud, in writing, and in my mind.  I admit that the last few days have left me struggling to grasp these words as absolute truth.  I am grateful that my head knows it, even on the days that my heart does not.  As I have wrestled with the emotion of the past few days, as the weariness seems to drag me even deeper into griefs darkness, I have come to understand a very important fact about our adversary.  I have known this all along, but never have I had to live it in the same capacity that I am living it now.  He is without heart.  He is no respector of persons neither is he a respector of places.  There is no level too low for him to stoop.  No one is exempt from his attacks. He plays dirty, driving his fiercest blows when we are at our weakest point.   He so cruelly entered into the one place that we should be able to find comfort, the pews within the santuary of our church.  He used the praise reports of those who had been touched by God's mercy, those whom we love and care about,  in an attempt to drive bitterness into our hearts.  He used the words "God is good all the time,"  the very words that have sustained us throughout this agonizing journey, to cast doubt in our hearts.  He is ruthless and heartless and will stop at nothing to see us fall.   

Throughout the week I have struggled with tunnel vision.  This grief serves as a dark screen over the window of our life.  We have been blessed in so many beautiful ways.  God has shown his absolute goodness in every aspect of our life.  But the grief tends to cast a shadow over all of the beauty of our life and at times, it is difficult to lift the screen to allow the light and His goodness to shine through.

I am grateful for that our God is so patient.  He patiently waited while I entertained myself with self pity but He did not let go of me.  God IS good, all the time.  Sometimes it's hard to see it and even harder to say it but that does not make it any less so. 

God was good when he created the earth
God was good when Eve ate from the tree
God was good when Joseph was sold into slavery
God was good when David sent Uriah out to die
God was good when he sent his son to earth
God was good when he allowed his son to hang on the cross
God was good when he gave me each of my 6 children
God was good when Ann had cancer twice
God was good when Ann's test came back "cancer free"
God was good when he gathered Laynee into his arms, leaving us with broken hearts
God is good...........all the time.

 Be sober, be vigilant;
 because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketh about,
 seeking whom he may devour:
I Peter 5:8

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Less? Says Who?

October is Down Syndrome awareness month.  There have been many, many blogs circulating throughout the blog world, particularly among the Down Syndrome community.  Having been graced by the presence of Down Syndrome in our home, it is a subject of great passion for me.  Many people are aware of Down Syndrome only by the physical characteristics of those who are born with it.  People often look at one with DS and think that something is missing.  They may be called "slow" or just "not quite right."

The reality is that those born wih DS are not missing anything, in fact they are born with something extra.  They are not a "mistake", their extra "something," and the inner beauty that they possess can come only from the God who creates all things perfect.  The scientific term for Down Sydrome is "Trisomy 21."   Normally, at the time of conception a baby inherits genetic information from its parents in the form of 46 chromosomes: 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. Those with Down Syndrome get an extra chromosome 21 — for a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46.  That, my friends is not a mistake....it is a masterpiece.  It is this extra chromosome that creates the physical characteristics that many know as Down Syndrome.  Here are some of the characteristics commonly seen in one who has Down Syndrome.  They present themselves in varying degrees and can be much more apparent in some than in others. 

Flattened back of head.

Attractive Almond-shaped eyes
Slightly flattened bridge across nose.
Smallish ears, positioned slightly lower on the head, with a small fold at the top of the ear.
Smallish mouth.
Slightly protruding tongue.
Horizontal crease in palm of hand .
Slightly shortened fingers.
The little finger curves inward .
Slightly enlarged gap between the big and second toes.
Slightly shortened toes.
Finally, as congenital heart defects are commone among babies with Down Syndrome, a chest scar is also commonly seen.

As I type these characteristics I am struck by the awesome awareness that my sweet Jalayne possessed every single one of these characteristics.  It was these things that helped to make her so incredibly perfect in our eyes but, more importantly, it was the joy and peace that exuded from her that made her so special.  There are characteristics in personality and developement that are commonly associated with Down Syndrome.  However, I refuse to stereotype them by creating a list of these traits.  People with Down Syndrome are unique and individual.  They have strengths and weaknesses just like any other human being. Jalayne was born with Down Syndrome, it's true!! But first and foremost she was born a child with great potential, a child with immense capacity to learn. She was created to be taught as well as to teach.  Her spirit  was one of an uncommon ability to love unconditionally.  I think of Jalayne as being part of  a "Limited Edition."  She came fully loaded with love, joy, laughter, peace and happiness.  She did not have less, she had more, much more!!!!!!!

I am drawn to many blogs of those who are blessed to have Down Syndrome in their homes.   I see pictures of these children and my heart constricts with longing for what we once had.  Many bloggers post videos and I am in awe of how very much these children have in common,.  The similarities are present in their voices, their eyes, their smiles, the way they walk, the way they sit, they way they sleep.  One blooger recently posted a video in which the child pointed to something.  Even the unique way that she pointed was so painfully like my sweet little Laynee.  These likenesses are not happenstance, they are a part of a God given beauty. 

I do not intend to paint a picture of a care free life with Down Syndrome.  This extra chromosome comes with many extra challenges.  These challenges come often in the form of heart conditions, feeding issues,  fine and gross motor delays,  speech, vision and hearing issues.  Children with Down Syndrome often come with thyroid and/or kidney disorders.  A silent beast called Leukemia complicates the lives of many of these beautiful children.  A life with Down Sydrome is not a walk in the park, in fact at times it is just plain hard. Yet as parents and family members, we meet these challenges as they come at us.  We grow, we learn, we stretch, we cry, we laugh......and ultimately---we become bigger and better than we ever could have without having a child with a little something extra, a child with Down Syndrome. 

It is estimated that in the United States, fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted at a rate upwards of 90%.   This number is staggering.  In Jalayne's case, her birth mother was unaware that she was pregnant until she went into labor.  I do not know what her choice would have been if she had known she carried a child with Down Syndrome.  However, my knees grow weak to think of all that we would have missed out on if Jalayne had been in that large percentage.  People have said many times that she was fortunate to have a family willing to adopt her.  That is wrong.  It is we who were blessed beyond measure.  There are those who refuse to believe that a mature woman could carry a child to term without knowing of her pregnancy.  To say such a thing is to doubt the divine, sovereign power of our creator.  He created Jalayne and he chose to pluck her from the 90 percent of those aborted.  He had a work for her to do on this earth.  Is it so impossible to believe that our mighty, powerful God could have kept the signs of pregnancy from a woman so that abortion could not become an option?  Jalayne was created perfect, she was born with a purpose.  God knew that I and my family and many others needed this little girl with an extra chromosome.  I am brought to my knees in complete humility when I think of the great lengths He went to in order that I might be her mommy, that Jim might be her daddy and that Jamee, Grant, Jade, Brock and Moise might be her sisters and brothers.  We were not given less, we were given so much more.  

I miss Jalayne with every beat of my heart and each breath I take is filled with the void she has left.  Every member in our houshold misses Down Syndrome with a nearly palpable ache.  Jalayne touched us and taught us not in spite of, but because of her extra 21st chromosome.  She was so radiantly beautiful in the purest, most simplistic form known to all man.  She was something extra special.  She was and always will be our extra special, forever love.

My face may be different
But my feelings the same
I laugh and I cry
And I take pride in my gains
I was sent here among you
To teach you to love
As God in the heavens
Looks down from above
To Him I'm no different
His love knows no bounds
It's those here among you
In cities and towns
That judge me by standards
That man has imparted
But this family I've chosen
Will help me get started
For I'm one of the children
So special and few
That came here to learn
The same lessons as you
That love is acceptance
It must come from the heart
We all have the same purpose
Though not the same start
The Lord gave me life
To live and embrace
And I'll do it as you do
But at my own pace

In October 2009, with aching heart
we walked in the Down Syndrome buddy walk
without our precious Jalayne Grace.

You've never seen so many guys in pink.
A mission that only Miss Jalayne
could accomplish

Missy, one of Laynee's buddies with something extra

111 friends and family members walked in Jalayne's memory
All were touched in some way by her "extra"

Down Syndrome
One of the single most beautiful
pieces of our life.

The Beatitudes of theExceptional Child
 by Andre Masse C.S. Masse
Blessed are you who take time to listen to
difficult speech for you help us to know that
 if we persevere we can be understood.
Blessed are you who walk with us in public places

 and ignore the stares of strangers for in your companionship
we find havens of relaxation.

Blessed are you who never bid us to "hurry up" and more blessed you
who do not snatch our tasks from our hands to do them for us,
for often we need time more than help.

Blessed are you who stand beside us as we enter new
and untried ventures for our failures will be outweighed
by the times when we surpise ourselves and you.

Blessed are you who ask for our help
for our greatest need is to be needed.

Blessed are you who help us with the graciousness of Christ
Who did not bruise the reed and quench the flax
for often we need help we cannot ask for.

Blessed are you when by all these things you assure us
that the thing that make us individuals is not in our peculiar muscles,
not in our wounded nervous system, not in our difficulties in learning
 but in the God-given self which no infirmity can confine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Found it

On Saturday we went to Ewing Park in Bloomington to watch Brock run in his sectional cross country meet.  He did fabulous and next week will advance to the coveted state meet, also held in Bloomington. 

Saturday was only the second time, in all of my 8 years of having runners on the cc team, that we had a meet at this particular place.  As I was walking through the parking lot, to where the race would be,  truth came like a kick in the stomach.  The only other time we had been here was with Laynee.  Two years ago Jade ran on this same course and both Moise and Jalayne were there with us.  The weather this year was almost exactly as it was that day, unseasonably warm.  I cearly recall that it was very warm as I remember peeling off layers of Laynee's clothes and leaving her in nothing but a pink and white striped onesie, socks, and her sweet tennies.  I could almost smell the sweetness of her sweaty body as I thought back. 

I remembered that I had at least one picture and I came home, determined to find the photo.  I looked through the many files, coming across many shots that I'd forgotten about.  Finally, I found it. 

The memories.........they are so sweet.   They are so painful. 

In the picture below, Laynee proudly displays one of Jade's many medals.  The scar down the center of her chest reminds me of all that we went through.  The hours of worry and fear, the countless prayers on her behalf.  She was a fighter.  I can't help looking at the scar, knowing that she was one to defy the odds stacked against her, and say "WHY?"  I just don't get it.  "WHY!!!!!!!!"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Deafening Silence

It seems that daily I become increasingly aware of just how loud silence can be.  I have determined that silence, in a place and time where noise should be, is nearly defeaning.  Silence, when out of place, amplifies the sounds of the mundane. 

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day working in my yard.  We have a lot of landscaping, which is quite labor intensive in the spring and fall.   Black Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Daisies, and Lillies which have reached the end of their blooming season and were looking dead, dry and lifeless.  The time to begin cutting back has come.  As I trimmed, clipped and dug, Laynee's abscence practically screamed at me.  I couldn't shake the feeling of incompleteness.  Laynee should have been there asking a million questions about why I am cutting all of the flowers.  I likely would be constantly saying "come back here, Laynee, stay by mommy." She probably would have offered to help in ways that weren't really needed, but I would have accepted her help anyway.  Instead, there was silence.......loud, deafening silence.  The only sounds were my soft footsteps in the grass and the sound of the clippers.  The very fact that I was even consciously aware of these sounds was proof of the silence.  Occasionally I would hear the "singing" of the donkey next door, a sharp stab to the soul as I could so clearly picture her delight upon hearing Donkeyotey.  The silence somehow manages to rob me of the joy and pleasure that I would normally have found in the task at hand.

I thought back to a year ago, when sorrow was so new and fresh.  I know that certainly I must have performed this job, for despite the fact that our world was spinning on a different axis, the seasons continued on as if nothing had happened.  Perhaps someone else performed this task for me. I do not know how it was completed and it really does not matter.  However, my lack of memory serves as a reminder to the devastation that came last fall and struck us unprepared, plunging us into a deep, inpenetrable fog. 

I suppose that under normal circumstances, this quietness would seem peaceful.  If I knew that ALL my children would be coming home from school later in the day, I could probably appreciate the silence.  As things are now, the silence seems incredibly wrong, leaving me with the awkward sense of something left undone.  There is no peace in this quiteness,  only deep, painful sadness. 

I hear it when I go out.  I read it in the blogs of others.  It is there often on facebook.  The words of those who revel in silence are heard often, especially at the start of the school year.  People often make comments such as "Ahhh....... Total, complete, blissful silence"  or "I have the house to myself today, woo hoo."  I take no offense, in fact, I fully understand such a comment.  In the chaos of everyday life, mothers often long for some alone time.  Yet now,  as I hear these words, I am struck by how life is taken for granted.  These are words of those who are much like I was before the fall of 2009.  Having been given no reason to think otherwise,  they are confident that their children will walk through the door at day's end.  These are words of those who do not know that the noise of a busy household  is much quieter and far more peaceful than the silence of a voice you will not hear again, this side of heaven. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It Hurts

Tonight the pain of missing Jalayne is so very intense.   It is the .....pain in every fiber of my being, taught muscles, I feel nauseated, can't sleep, can't read, can't even pray........ kind of missing her that has become so familiar.  This night finds me, once again, trying to wrap my brain around the enormity of not seeing her again this side of heaven.  I look at her pictures and desperation claws at me from the depths of my soul.  The need to hold her, touch her, kiss her is beyond description. 

 I find myself wondering again, as I have too many times to count,  if I am going to go out of my mind.  I'm not sure that I believe, at this moment,  in the saying "God will not give you more than you can handle."  I have no confidence that I can "handle" this.  I'm not at all convinced that I am going to make it.  Even this frustrates me as I have no idea what it looks like to not "make it." 

I struggle at times with feeling disconnected.  There is a surreal sense that this is not really happening to us.  I am on the outside, looking in, through a foggy window, at these people who are living a nightmare that will not end.  When I look at her pictures I have to tell myself that yes, she was really here.  Those 2.5 beatiful years were not just a figment of my imagination.  She was here and she was mine and now she is gone and I am left with pictures, memories and unspeakable pain. 

I suspect that this is a result of our evening activities.  We attended the Harvest Service for our church, an afternoon/evening of outreach involving hay rack rides, pulled pork and other food, and worship.  It seemed that there were small children everywhere.  There were little girls with pigtails atop their heads, bundled warm against the cold, and faces stained with chocolate.  A voice inside my head screamed at me all evening that "I should have Laynee here with me," while another voice screamed "Laynee's dead, she's not coming back." I sat tonight as a silent spectator as several different parents lost sight of their small children and were searching for them and was reminded that for us, this was a fatal mistake.   My arms felt like lead, heavy and aching from the need to snuggle her on my lap to keep her warm.  In my mind I tried desperately to conjure up an image of what she might have looked like as a 3.5 year old.  I was alone, surrounded by hundreds of people, yet alone in my own private torture.  The only thing I wanted was to get away, go home to where safety is.  This reminded me of why I stay far away from things like this.  I don't care if we are not as involved as we maybe should be.  I don't care!!!!!!

It is in moments such as this that God seems so far away.  I need answers.  I need to know why this happened.  Where was he then?  Where is he now?  I know there are answers, they are even written here in this blog, by my own hand.  My head knows the answers.....  "God's ways are far above mine.  He knows the beginning from the end.  God is good, all the time".....but sometimes, like tonight those words seem empty and useless.  According to my heart, those answers just aren't good enough. 

To Do Or Not To Do

I've had this post in the corners of my mind for quite some time, not entirely certain that I should write it, much less make it public.  My hesitation is due, in part, to the fact that I fear my intentions will be misinterpreted.  I do not wish for anyone who reads to take offense or think that I may be speaking specifically to them.  Undoubtedly some will read this and feel a pang of uneasiness, thinking "that's me, I've done that."  Perhaps you have said and done these things to someone else or specifically to me.  As you read, keep this in mind:  you are not alone, I am not referencing the words of any one individual, nor have I taken offense at the words of others.  I recognize that people often say things out of discomfort or lack of understanding. 

There are those who have very directly asked me, "what is the right thing to say to someone who has experienced the death of a child?"  I try to answer that in the best way that I can but the truth is; if my best friend was faced with this devestation in the near future, I would be at a complete loss for words.  However, this Friday someone approached me with such an obvious desire to help her friend whose baby died a couple of weeks ago that I felt compelled to share my experience on this topic.  This young woman very humbly came to me and asked "are there any words or actions that might bring comfort to my friend whose baby died?"  My answer was a very simple but adamant "' 'NO' but there are things that you probably should NOT say and there are some things that will let her know you care."

All of that said, I will do my best to share my own experience.  Keep in mind that each person and situation is unique and individual, what is helpful to me may  not help another, and vice versa.

To Do 

Do take into consideration that the person may be experiencing shock, especially in the case of a traumatic death.  They may not remember that you were there, much less any words that you said.

Do recognize that there is not a need for words.  Words are empty and inadequate and can even serve as an irritation to a heart, soul and mind that is flooded with such intense emotion. 

Do speak of the beautiful memories that you have of the one who is gone.  Our children deserve to be remembered with fondness.  Sometimes the memories bring a smile or even laughter, which is a welcome reprieve from the endless tears. 

Do allow them to speak of their loved one, DO NOT change the subject.  We NEED to talk about them.

Although this may be extremely uncomfortable, in the case of traumatic death, DO allow the survivor to talk about and tell of the accident.  It is absolutely critical for the mind to be able to process the traumatic events to avoid long term issues.  Take into consideration that the survivor may not have all the details of the accident exactly right.  In the face of trauma the mind can often distort images and events.  They are not lying, exaggerating, or downplaying; they are seeing the events through the lens of trauma . 

Do send cards, letters, emails, texts---they let the person know that they have not been forgotten.  A text  says that someone who cares is thinking of and praying for you right now.  Flowery words are not necessary.  A simple "thinking of you right now" or a scripture verse is more than enough. 

Do realize that grief is a very long, perhaps even a life long process.  There is no such thing as "getting over" the death of someone you loved so desperately. 

Do encourage exercise, it helps to ward off severe depression.  The best way to encourage exercise is to join me.  I have one dear friend who called me daily for months offering to take a walk with me, if I was not getting a walk in with someone else, she would be here to walk with me.  This friend has nine children whom she homeschools and could, I am sure, have come up with many reasons that she was too busy.  Yet she always found the time to call and check up on me, and if needed, make time to walk with me.  Now that is a true example of a "friend who loveth at all times."

Do be patient.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve and there most definitely is no timetable for grief. 

Do speak truth.  My suggestion for what to say to someone who has recently lost a loved one is to simply state  "I have no words"  This is truth.  This suggests that you recognize the sheer magnitude of what has taken place. 

Do add the word "today" to the question "how are you."  "How are you TODAY" proves that you understand that there are some days that are better than others along the grief process.  Also, do be prepared for an honest answer. 

Do offer appropriate physical touch. A hand on the shoulder, a touch of the hand, a rub on the back, a soft hug speaks volumes when words fail.


Do not constantly remind the family that their child is in heaven.  We know that and are not likely to forget it any time soon.   Reality is that we don't want them to be in heaven, we want them here with us.

Do not say "she's in a better place."  She had a really good life here, she was fine here and I want her  here still

 Do not say things like "pull yourself together"or "get control of yourself".  This is basically telling us to not allow our emotions to be, which could be catastrophic in days to come.

In the event of a tragic death or accident, DO NOT say "you can't blame yourself for this."   The person is going to blame themselves and  these words only serve as a reminder to that fact.

Do not use the adage "time heals all wounds" this is not a wound, it is a soul searing loss. 

Do not say "at least she wasn't your only child,"  or "it's a good thing you had several children."
This minimizes the painful abscence of this one unique and individual child. 

Do not repeatedly tell someone to be strong.  My child just died, the mere fact that I get out of bed makes me strong.

Do not express disapproval of anger.  Anger is a normal and important aspect of grief.  Even if  I am angry with God, rest assured that God understands and can handle my anger. 

Do not ever compare the situation to that of another.  Words such as "just imagine so and so, they lost 2 children"  only serve to undermine my grief.  And quite frankly, I don't care about "so and so"  I want MY child back.

Do not use words such as "I don't know how you do it, I could never do it."  They suggest that somehow I had a choice in the matter. 

Do not say "I know how you feel" because you had a friend, cousin, uncle, grandmother who died.  

Do not constantly remind me to "remember that I have other children."   I KNOW that, I haven't forgotten them. Such words are percieved as criticism of how we are navigating through our grief.  I have no idea how to do this, much less how to help my kids do it,  but I'm doing the best I can.

Do not say "call me if there's anything I can do."  That is not ever going to happen.  It also wreaks of insincerity.  I have no idea what I need others to do for me.    The only thing that I think I need, is for someone to bring my child back to me.  If there is something you would like to do, just do it.  It will be appreciated. 

Do not accuse me of isolating myself because I am not involved in the things that you think I should be involved in. 

Do not take offense and chastise  for mistakes made out of absentmindedness or for things that may be forgotten.  The grieving mind is completely overloaded and has a hard time focusing and remembering.

Do not be put off by a great deal of talk about heaven.  It is natural to have a longing to be in heaven with those who are gone. 

In the case of adoption DO NOT say "imagine if she was your own."  She WAS my own, born, not of my womb, but of my heart.  Created to be my child. 

On this last one I am going to be very specific.  Do not say things like "At least she no longer has Down Syndrome"    This is a very offensive remark.  Statements such as this devalue her life here on earth.  They point out the things that you saw as imperfection. They leave us feeling appalled and speechless at such callousness.   When we see our little Laynee, we want her to be exactly as she was.    To say that she no longer has Down Syndrome is to say that her heavenly transformation was greater than that of the average person.  She was no more transformed, indeed, perhaps even less than the normal person will be.   Stop to consider the love, innocence and purity that she exuded.  Is not this how we are all called to be.  As Jim says, maybe in heaven we will all have Down Syndrome.

But Jesus called them and said,
Suffer the little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not:
for of such is the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:16