When There’s So Much Loss

The grandsons carrying Dorothy.


So much loss.

After we received the call about the death of my mother-in-law, Dorothy, I curled up in bed, crying.

I thought, “How will we move forward? How do we keep going? It’s too hard. Life’s too painful.”

As my thought was concluding I got an immediate impression.

“You’re not alone. You’ve done this. You weren’t alone then and I won’t leave you now.”

These last two years have felt heavy, hard, and impossible.

But as a family we’ve done the impossible with help from family, friends, and Him.

Faith. That’s been the key for me.

We’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other because we believe we’re going to see these loved ones again.

I’ll take a deep breath and hugs my boys through their sorrow because I believe we’re building a family that’ll last into forever.

I’ll cling to my husband as we weather yet another storm because I love him and I have faith that there’s something more for us than this life.

Faith isn’t easy. In fact it can be downright hard.

But we’ve experienced loss before so we know the work it’s going to require.

And we know we’re not alone.

So we’ll keep trusting. Keep believing.

We’ll keep hoping.

What Can I Do?

There are a couple of questions that I get asked quite a bit. One being:

What can I do for people who are grieving?

It’s a great question without an easy answer. Every grieving person is different. In fact, every grieving family member mourns differently.

But I think it boils down to two main things: show up with love and be patient.

Show up

Showing up will look different depending on the person grieving and the relationship you have with them.

Are you a Facebook friend or a best friend? Show up according to your familiarity with that person.

Show up with a dinner. That’s wonderful because food is the last thing a grieving person wants to think about.

Show up and sit on their couch with them. Listen. Express love. Let them tell stories of the deceased. Tell them stories of the deceased.

Show up with cards.

Show up with emails.

Show up at the funeral.

Show up with flowers.

Show up with treats.

Show up with hugs.

Show up well after the death. Your life moved on. Theirs didn’t. Show them their loved one isn’t forgotten.

When you show up, show up with patience and understanding.

Those of us grieving are messed up.

Our emotions are at the surface. There’s a really great chance we’re going to cry. If you can ride out that emotion with us, we’re grateful we had an opportunity to talk about our loved one. To connect with another in our mourning.

Be patient with planning. Each day brings difficulties with it. Be understanding if your grieving friend is late or has to cancel. If your grieving friend has a spouse or kids, he/she is trying to juggle other people’s grief and needs as well.

Be patient with responses. Especially right after the death, my phone exploded with messages and notes of love. I read each one, they were beautiful and I was grateful. But I didn’t have the energy to respond. Be understanding of their emotional and physical limitations.

My best advice:

Show up with zero expectations, bringing in all the love.

Final Resting Place

One of the decisions that needed to be made, and rather quickly, was the final resting place. Again, not something we’d ever thought about for one of our kids. Heck, even ourselves!

Lance and I are from Arizona. We lived about ten years in Maryland. We moved to Utah to live closer to family while our kids were growing up.

Our house had just sold, we were about to move an hour from where we were living.

Nothing felt right.

After laying in bed half the night thinking, I told Lance, “I think we should cremate her.”

Without hesitation, he agreed.

The above are very physical reason. There was a big emotional one:

We couldn’t bear to be parted from her yet.

This is all that remains of the body of our beautiful, spirited daughter that was constantly making us laugh.

We were not ready to let go.

So, we picked a vibrant urn, that reminded us of her. Her resting place is with us. In our family room.

It’s not the right choice for everyone but it was for us.

The Rory corner of our family room.

My Goodbye

The beautiful program Ann Gardner created.

The morning of Rory’s service I kept getting this feeling, “You need to say something.”

I kept trying to push it aside. I’ll never be able to keep it together. How am I supposed to speak?

I pulled out a notebook and just wrote. It wasn’t much, but it’s what I needed to say.

My dad was the last speaker from our family, so I asked him to look down at me. If I give you the go ahead announce that I’m going to speak.

At the end, I nodded my head and walked to the stand.

This is what I said:

I want to thank everyone for their love and support. We feel like we’re drowning right now. 10 feet under. But as I look up I see hundreds of life preservers there waiting for us to grasp. Each one of them is thrown by one of you. We might be down here for a while. A long while. But we know and we feel each of your support.

We’ve had wonderful memories shared by my parents and Xander. I would like to share a few of my own.

Rory has always been my sweet baby girl. That’s what I call her. As she grew up I told her, so that there wouldn’t be any confusion, she would always be my sweet baby girl.

Rory asked me frequently when she could start wearing make up. I thought it was so funny because 5 out of 7 days I don’t wear any make up myself. But she’d look through my meager amount of make up and put a little on. I was always so jealous of her eye lashes. They’re so long and perfectly curled. Sometimes I would allow her to put mascara on just to see those beauties more closely.

Rory was silly and funny. The last few years she invented a fake laugh. She couldn’t just laugh with her mouth. She’d fall back and pound the couch and let out the fakest laugh there is. It was so fake.

Rory’s imagination never ceased to amaze me. Last week she carried around a fondant cutter and imagined it to be a million different things. At night she would sit up and read her books and play with her toys. When she’d sit next to me as church she was always moving her arms, imagining she was doing something. Well, when she was leading the music from our row.

I’m going to miss her running into my arms after school. Her kisses on my lips. Because she always wanted them in the lips. Her sweet smile. Her spunky attitude. Man, she got away with everything. Her kind spirit. Her everything.

Look at those lashes!