Endearingly Remembering Shawn, My Grief Challenges, Songs I Like

Shawn’s 33rd B.day January 3, 2017


I attended a Compassionate Friends Candle lighting, this past December 11th.  A song was played at the beginning of our meeting: Alan Pederson: “Tonight I Hold This Candle”. https://youtu.be/xPlBrxzBO9s

I have been trying to work on a post for Shawn’s 33rd b.day.   I am just super stuck. How do I honor Shawn, when I ache so…???

Apparently, I am experiencing a bit of a set back. I have been assured it is expected for this time of year,  Shawn’s b.day being so close to the Christmas celebrations and the new year beginnings.  My emotions and guilt are immense and intense.  So much so that I do not want to talk to anyone.  

Before Christmas break, I was getting ready to putting together Christmas gifts, for my bus passengers. My drunk squirrel ringtone sounded. Would I be able to talk to the person calling ???  It was Melissa. I was afraid to speak not sure I could squash my emotions. We talked about many things and for quite some time. My emotions were brewing, earnestly. I didn’t think I could contain the tears any longer. Both of us kept mentioning Shawn things.  As time was winding down I mustered the courage to ask Melissa  a question that had been plaguing me. Mind you, I know I have spoken to Melissa about this topic before.

I feel bad for Melissa, because she has parents who are tortured by their actions regarding Shawn’s end. Did we kept Shawn’ alive too long ???                         I needed to know if Melissa was upset with me~did I give Shawn enough time ??? My guilt was building~as it does frequently, the nagging thought~did I, selfishly, make the hospital staff care for a body that wasn’t going to survive ??? How will ALL the staff-those who cleaned Shawn’s room, those in the cafeteria, those who tended to Shawn’s various needs~~~so many more~~~ at Harborview, ever know how much I appreciate ALL the care they showed our family ??? How do I thank all the rescuers ???

  Was it wrong of me to want to give Shawn more time, in case his body decided to start healing ? 

Melissa gave a profound response~~~I believe it was providential !!!    She was talking about all the issues that were happening, all the folks involved in the decision, and then, in the middle of her response,  she simply said:  “It is not that we kept Shawn alive, torturously, too long.  Its not that we didn’t give Shawn’s body time to heal it was just his time to go…”

A long open, here is my tribute to Shawn:


My favorite number is 33. Today is Shawn’s 33rd b.day. It is a simple tribute. For some reason I could not muster more.  At first, I felt awful for not having a wonderful, jubilant and captivating design, and I only made one.  BUT, as reality sets in, and the ache of Shawn’s goneness has increased, how could I do otherwise ???  

 Shawn, I hope the lights for your b.day decoration will shine bright and show my love for you !!!   20170102_172101.jpg






My Grief Challenges

3 Years Gone May 3, 2016

Hello folks,

More than likely, I will not be making this post, audio. Maybe at a later date. I do not think I have it in me to do a reread, maybe another time, I will fix the wrongs, in this post.  I have dreaded the approach of this day. There are, still, so many issues that jolt my emotions. There are, still, so many happenings that bring on reality slams. I look forward to the day when there are more smiles than tears. I long for the day I no longer grit my teeth, while trying to restrain my aches.

I look forward to days filled with acceptance rather than guilt. A friend told me about a movie she had watched.  It sounds like a movie I would like to see. Plus, it was fun hearing someone else talk about a phrase that was so meaningful.  The movie was:”Bridge of Spies”. Tom Hanks stars in it.  In a conversation, Tom’s character was being asked:  “Aren’t you worried ?  Aren’t you afraid ?” His response was:”Would it help ?” 3 very powerful words. I know my guilt will not add to my life. I am pretty sure, in time, I will reject my self condemnation, regarding Shawn’s end.

!!! Warning !!!


Well, looky here. An envelop with the words “Mom”.  I wonder who this is for ??? I think I will go to my room and check it out.  


   20160501_160306.jpgDear Mom,

I know you have been dreading this day. 3 years since I have been gone.


  Mom, I hope as you read this note, you will hear my voice. Mom, I have noticed that your guilt is not as intense. For that I am glad. I am proud of you for giving up your comfort drink~~~well, I think you having some at the beach, is alright. Do not be upset with yourself. I know when you gt back home, you will get back on track.   Mom, I know you miss me, a lot. In time, you will see how God can use you because of your pain. 

Mom, please, I need you to stop worrying that you made wrong choices regarding my end.  Please do not be upset with yourself, regarding my left arm. How interesting the photo you chose for the mouse pads you sent to my family. Did you see my left arm ? Mom, I am whole, now.  Mom, I have no more pain. Mom, that Wednesday~when you had to tell me what to expect for my last days, I know we were both crying. I understood why you had to leave my room, for a few. Mom, any parent who has had to explain to their child what to expect as the different machines were being shut down, is going to doubt their actions. I need you to know that I was not angry with you. I was in a lot of pain. I was so tired. My abdomen was swelling for unknown reasons. It was so uncomfortable. 

Mom, recently, you watched one of my videos~the one when I was trying to stand, with help, of course. I know it hurts you to see my body  from those last days, but when you told someone how proud you were at my efforts~~~Mom, I loved that.You know what else ? When the physical therapy nurse taught you how to rub my  feet. Don’t you fret one more moment that you were causing me pain. When you were touching my swollen, blackened feet~I felt your love and prayers. Your touch was gentle. Thanks Mom, for rubbing my feet !!!

Mom, I want you to know, I no longer have a burnt body. No one has to spend hours cleaning my wounds. I do not miss laying flat on my back, having needles and tubing placed in my neck. Some of those procedures were, so awful. I no longer have to face those procedures.                          I know you feel so bad that the doctor would not allow my eyelids to be unstitched. I know you wanted me to see you guys, one last time. Mom, my eyes are no longer stitched closed. 

Mom, do you remember when my hair started  growing, after some grafts  were taken, from my scalp ? You were so tickled to find my 8 gray hairs. The ones you found when you were giving me a dutch boy hair cut, when I was about 3 years old. Mom, those hairs were less than 1/2 an inch long, yet you found them~I loved it. I am thankful you were not afraid to hold my little left arm. You knew how to hold it and it didn’t hurt. Most of all, Mom, when I would rest my cheek on your hand, that was pure comfort. I know your arm was very tired, but I loved the calm and peace of those moments.   

Mom, it is my prayer for you to have peace. Mom, I so want you to be happy, again. Mom, I want you to see how God can use you. I know Mother’s Day is approaching, in a few days. I want you to know how glad I am that God let me be your son. Mom, you have had a very strange life. BUT you know what ? I love how you keep moving forward, in-spite of some extremely tough situations. In the hospital, when I was trying to stand, it was your example that gave me the desire to keep trying. Thanks, Mom. I was truly blessed to be your son. I am sorry I didn’t really understand until my end happened.

Mom, I felt so bad for the many awful things you had to deal with regarding my situation. Mom, you say you are God’s biggest wimp. I hope someday you will see you have faced some of the hardest things a parent has to deal with. I am talking about things that go way back before my situation. How glad I am that you gave Melissa and I a chance to restart our relationships. Please do not think you didn’t try hard enough. I pray God fix ALL your aches.                                     

 Mom, do not regret the times we missed each others calls. Do not feel bad that I had to work-during your visits and we didn’t have much time together.

Mom, don’t forget my funny face, my last Thursday morning, as Melissa was describing the kidney function and my lack of. One more thing, Mom. I will always love how you were able to get me to breathe calmly, when I was frustrated. “Shawn, breathe calm”. You did great !!!

So Mom, you are at Rockaway beach, again.  I am so glad you have a place that is so special to you. Thanks for all the ways you are trying to keep my memory alive. It is fun watching you create different settings for me, at this time of year and for my b.days, as well  

Mom, I wish I could ride with you in your new car. It is so  you. The events that led up to your buying it,  are cool. I noticed that you bought it on the 29th of December.    Mom I really love the name of your new car: My Focus Changer.  I love that it is a Soul. Did you notice that your tail~lights look like parenthesis ? I know you claim they are a symbol of God’s arms hugging you. Only you would see that. Mom, you may not see it, but you are doing a good job on your journey through life.  

Mom, I know how hard you have worked on the 2016 ornament. I know the design hasn’t been working. I think it is one you need to continue to pursue. You have and are going through a lot of difficulties. BUT, I know you, you do not give up !!! You held out hope to my last breathe. Between you and me, I love the time you say was my last: 5.3.13 at 3:33. I wonder if you could have found one more 3~you’re so silly !!!  

Crocs On The Rocks, For Shawn !!!


Oh Mom !!!  Crocs, on the rocks,  for me !!!  I noticed you had 29 bundles of roses. Too bad you didn’t have 29 Crocs, but you tried. I see your favorite Crocs, muddy though they be. You must have worn them when planting my trees. I know you have saved some that need to go~not much sole/Soul left. Hey, was the 29 for my last living age ? Your mind keeps me busy. 

I do not want to end our time, but for now it must be so. Here is one last thing, I wish I could give you one more hug.

Love ya Mom, your Shawner !!!


My Grief Challenges

Shawn’s Trees Planted May 1, 2016

20160430_125142.jpg 20160430_125153.jpg  20160430_125217.jpg       You may be wondering what I am talking about; Shawn’s trees planted ? I will try to explain.  You see, the days of Shawn’s situation, I did not do a lot of yard work. After Shawn died and I went home to readjust, I swear I heard Shawn telling me  to work in the yard. I believe I did the pond area first. I videod my progress. I then went to work in the front of the house. Hoping I wouldn’t cry the whole time and be embarrassed in front of the neighbors.  I was going to start with a small area; between the road and sidewalk~a stretch of growing area. It has a maple that the developer put in. Most neighbors have grass in that area. Not me. Go figure I would not follow along.   

 I could not see plants through the weeds. It was so awful !!! I began the daunting task of pulling weeds~hopefully. As I came close to our driveway, I was quite tickled for me efforts. I was resting my knees on the curb, hoping drivers would see me and stay clear. I was yanking out a stray blackberry. As I pulled I noticed this tiny pine tree. It may have been about an inch tall. At first, I thought it was a strange weed. I was pressed to leave it. All the years we had lived there, I had never seen a stray pine tree.  I left it to grow.  It is picture #1. I dug it up May 2014~near Shawn’s gone day.  A few days later, in the same spot, another stray pine tree.  I dug it up May 2015, the same time. Picture #2 (although hard to see). Within a few days, another stray tree, in the same spot as the others. A few weeks ago when I was planning my days for Shawn, I had asked a friend what I could do ? She said I could plant Shawn’s trees on their property. Karen & I planted all 3 trees, yesterday. I plan on photoing their growth. Oh, and no new tree has come along.   

When Shawn died, I was going to give myself 3 years to adjust, to his goneness. My counselor gives me 5.  Considering me, I have done better than I thought. Don’t get me wrong, I hate this part of my journey. AND those reality slams are gut getters !!! I do not like realizing all the events that led to Shawn’s death. I, especially, do not like my self imposed guilt, it may be a tiny bit less, but it still smarts in a very bad way.    I am sure I failed Shawn. Thing is, nothing can undo his death, no matter how bad I failed.    Fact is I will never think I did enough

I have been very honest about why I feel guilty about Shawn’s death. I think it is way easier for you folks on the outside, to look in and tell me how irrational I am. It hurts me when you say things like: Kathy, Shawn had 73% deep tissue burns~had he recovered, what kind of life would he have to live ? Were you ready to face that issue ?  What kind of life would Shawn have had ?  How would anyone have been able to care for him ? Would he have wanted to be kept alive ? What about the awful pain he would have to endure ? It would have been selfish of you to have wanted him kept alive.    I guess it is hard to know what to say. Thing is, nothing is going to ease the pain and guilt, until God moves me forward, slow though it seems. I have tried, but snap out of it, doesn’t work.God Hold Me

I have had folks say: Shawn died a hero. Why take that from him ?      It is not that I am taking that away from him. The hole in my heart, hurts~very bad. Just let me get used to his goneness.  We, individually, handle situations differently. We, individually, have different character qualities that make us act the way we do. Be very careful not to second guess another’s emotion.  Situations may seem similar, but each of us is so different because we all are different. 

It is my hope and prayer that somehow, God can use me. For now, I will be content in finding creative ways to honor the life of my precious Shawner, until my days are fulfilled.




My Grief Challenges

Deliberately Trust God February 6, 2016


Since Shawn died, I have been given several books to read. As I was completing the 2014-15 ornaments, my eyes kept landing on this book. I have no idea where it came from, when I received it or from whom. Unusually, I can picture events surrounding a situation, and remember.  Hope Again, by Charles R.  Swindoll.  I find it kind of interesting, as I was sending out the last of the ornaments, that  “Hope” seemed to be a common theme, popping into my days.  

Here is a quote from page 17 : “Two words will help when you run low on hope: accept and trust.  Accept the mystery of hardship, suffering, misfortune or mistreatment. Don’t try to understand or explain it. Accept it. Then deliberately trust God to protect you by His power from this moment to the dawning of eternity”                                                    Peter was mentioned, referring to the guilt he must have had. I am very thankful for this apostle. I do not understand how he moved beyond his guilt, after denying Christ. Thank God, he did. He, also, had many other difficulties. He had a way of moving forward that gives me hope.   His perseverance gives me something to strive for.

This scene is my favorite scene from the Bible. I see faith that breaks, and Christ lifting us up even though we fail.:

I seem to have many moments when I am starting to walk on the water, only to find myself getting sucked down into the depths of my guilt and despair. Peter received the hand of love from Jesus, surely it is there for me, as well. On page 76-77, there is a prayer; “A Prayer for Hope Beyond Guilt”. The last paragraph: “Then, with those joyful thoughts to spur us on, slay the dragon of guilt within us so we might enjoy, as never before, Your ultimate embrace. Through Christ I pray. Amen”

My head knows things my heart cannot come to grips with, yet.  Back in November, I was visiting a dear couple who wanted me to understand that giving the doctors the choice to shut the machines off or the flip side: was I selfishly keeping Shawn alive-God ultimately was in charge. He could have healed Shawn’s many issues, but He chose not to. It was God who took Shawn’s spirit. The outcome is in God’s hands. I do not think they were chastising me, they were just trying to help. It didn’t hurt when they said this. Nope, I did not get mad. Nope, I did not become defensive. Strange, there was some sort of calm, in my heart.  Would this feeling (?) last ?                      The couple also wanted me to think on what it is like for Shawn, now. Happy, whole and at peace.    This is an area I have not let myself think much about. I do not understand the heaven side. I am afraid I will cling too tightly to my imaginings and be wrong.                I did ask them if they thought Shawn was upset with me -whether I made the choice-per doctors request. They wanted me to realize; God makes the ultimate decisions. It is not my place to take that from Him.  The sting of death is removed, Shawn would not hate me. When I see him on the other side he will welcome me with open arms and want to share with me all the wonders to behold     The other thing I learned: God will work what He needs done. I am not His fixer. There are several situations I need to let go. I need to just be myself and God will use me how and when He needs.

When I first heard the song, “Trust In You”, by Lauren Daigle, it was like an elephant stepped on my chest. I keep replaying this song, in hopes my head and heart will,  finally, come together in acceptance of God’s working in my life.

There are many times in a given day when that true knowing, of Shawn’s goneness, starts creeping in.   Oh, ~~~let me explain it this way: my brother was helping me with a picture project. As I was following his instructions, I saw several of Shawn’s photos. The wind was knocked out of my lungs. I started to know that photos or videos or  voice recordings, would not bring Shawn back. Yes, my head knows this~~~my heart is not there yet. I do know that I do not use as much tissue, as I did when Shawn first died. I have had some joy~filled moments. I have managed to keep working. I am just one of God’s slow accepters.

Snoopy school bus driver: I have a cute little tell that makes me chuckle.

I am not sure how many of you out there are school bus drivers, but I am pretty sure most of us school bus drivers get very tired of hearing our passengers use the “f” word. Many times a day I am clearing my throat and making clear on the PA system that there are better word choices.  This past Friday, I had 2 more stops before picking up my last passengers. My 3rd grade passenger told me that another passenger “farted”~~~another “f” word I do not like. I told my passenger, as she plugged her nose, “Please do not use the “f” word.  She stuttered that she never uses the “f”. Then we heard a sound and the kindy let us know she “farted”, again. I asked all of them to stop using the “f” word. They were so puzzled. So, I reminded them that the word “fluff” would be a better word choice. They started laughing with me. They were making fun of my word choices. They decided fluff seemed, not right. After a few moments of word searching, my passengers came up with a new word.   Another noise came from the kindy~~~this one filled the air, as I opened my window, the 3rd grader said, “Mrs. K, J…… gassed, again !!!” We were laughing so hard. The phrase was repeated several times. They decided they liked it better than the “f” word. They could not wait to get to their stops and tell their parents. Again, the kindy made a noise. She proudly exclaimed, “Mrs. K, I gassed again !!!” 

Regarding exercise:

I earned another badge !!! Thanks FitBit !!!New Zealand Badge“You have walked 990 lifetime miles~the entire length of New Zealand. And while that country’s native bird the Kiwi might be flightless, you, my friend, are really taking off.”                How cool is that ? I heard a report that folks were not doing well with their fitness trackers. Let me tell you what~~~I love my FitBit Zip !!!  It has been a wonderful way of helping me accomplish a goal. I find myself checking, often, in a day, to see how close I am to my 10,000 step goal. It is a blast !!!

Please help






My Grief Challenges

“!!! MRS. K. WE’RE LOST !!!” February 21, 2015

                                                                                             2011 IC CE Series School Bus In The Morning Fog, With Strobe Light Dancing In The Rear.

This tell happened on one of those dark, foggy mornings. The fog was so thick in places that it was hard to find landmarks to know where to turn. Before the last 2 stops, we have about a 2 mile stretch of straight road to drive, with signaled stops.                               All of a sudden, one of my kindys yelled these words: “!!! Mrs K. we’re lost !!! We’re going the wrong way. We are  going to crash. We are not going to  make it to school on time.  We need to call our parents and the school, can I use your phone ?”   I was  quite puzzled by such frantic words.      I calmly commented, “No need to worry, this is the way we always go, no need to call anyone-Mrs K is spot on time, I know exactly where I am, I promise-everything is alright, I will get you to school safely and on time, unless we have to wait for a train.”  Other passengers were becoming concerned.         None of them knew where we were, and they were sure  Mrs. K was on the wrong road.                                          It finally dawned on me, for several months, now, it has been very dark on our way to school.   So, I had my passengers look out of their windows, to see that it was,  daylight.  Their reactions were so cute.  I  started commenting on familiar landmarks. Many thanks came my way as the youngsters realized  I knew where I was going, and that all was fine.  The atmosphere settled down and the usual chit chat  began again.                              There must be something for me to learn in this little tell.     I guess right now, I must be in the dark.  The landscape I traverse seems so unfamiliar, I’m unsure, how can God make good come from Shawn’s death, and why did it have to happen ?                     In my early teens I memorized Isaiah 64:8. For some reason, back then, it hit me hard.    The reason I chose this photo was because it represents me , so well.       Potter & Clay   Though the  grief ache remains harsh,  5c90ea67a591ad9ce4b52affdb2ceb1f .                                            At the beginning of this past week, a friend reminded me of this scripture.  6700096a13aa9ccbcefd06b6da02cf5d   The next poster is  sooo me:      Lord, I bring  On the radio, I kept hearing this song by Kari Jobe: “I Am Not Alone”.      Is my grief too thick to see God’s messages ???  4.0.-Dark-blue-rose  I have been quite open about my guilt trips .    Guilt:  Good vs Bad by Suzanne Grosser

Guilt can be a good thing. It will tell you when you screw up and how to fix it. But PTSD often turns this healthy emotion against us. So how do you cultivate the good form and eliminate the bad? First, you have to know which is which.

Bad Guilt (BG) plays the same tape over and over, for years and years, if you let it. Nothing ever changes. You will forever be condemned for every little thing you have ever done wrong. BG never goes away. It just plays your sins and shortcomings over and over.

Good Guilt (GG) doesn’t wait 20 years to tell you that you did something wrong. The good kind of guilt shows up immediately, as soon as you realize you were wrong about something. Even better, it goes away when you listen to it.     4.0.-Dark-blue-rose        I tend to apologize, sincerely, A LOT !!!   I am sure my crying, on the day I was born, was my way of apologizing for every cotton picken’  thing that didn’t go smoothly, that day.  I don’t want to hurt or offend others, I don’t want to add to their load, I don’t want to be misunderstood, but it happens, frequently.     That being said, I hope folks realize that  none of my posts are written to gain sympathy or to make others look bad. If this has happened, please forgive me.   It is my hope that in sharing  my grief and health battles maybe someone would be encouraged by something I have learned. I hope others would have courage to share what they have learned, in hopes of helping someone else.  I would appreciate folks being patient with me, as I am  learning to live and deal with the trials of grief, how to respond or not, learning about computer stuff for blogging-it has been very difficult and very time consuming, for me.   For the life of me, I cannot figure why someone thought this would be good, for me,  to do. I will keep trying-maybe God has given them insight.  So, I put MMF (Moving Mercifully Forward) in God’s hands, after all He is the Potter.                                                                                                                        

4.0.-Dark-blue-rose Regarding exercise:  I  always start the first loop praying The Lords Prayer ( before I pray for various needs of friends and relatives). I try to think what each phrase is saying. This week, ” deliver us from evil”,  hit me so hard as I cried for the  many Christians who are being persecuted by those who don’t believe  in Jesus for salvation.   Then, my friend joined me, for a few loops, as she left, I had seen a dark figure approach the top section of the bleachers. The fog was getting heavy and I could not see what it was doing, except, just standing there.   I have a bleacher friend, Jeremiah, he does pull-ups, sit-ups and runs up and down the bleacher steps. He would have told me who he was and asked how things were going. This figure just stood there. I was asking God to deliver me from evil, or that I wouldn’t be afraid.    I had 2 more laps to complete !!!  As I neared the buildings for us bus drivers and staff, I realized that there was a long straight strip of track, opposite the stranger. I hadn’t paid much attention to it, before. As I looked at it, and visualized bending the ends, towards the track, it looked like it would be the length of half the track. While the dark figure remained standing, I decided to make the straight way work. I was able to see the dark figure, from across the field, and had a quick escape if I needed one. I did get my six loops completed, just not the usual way. Nothing happened, but my nerves were a bit on edge. Out of all these weeks loopin’ and suddenly a dark figure ? You may not understand, the great relief I had on that straightway, yes, a simple silly prayer, answered.  This is not intended to lessen the true harsh evils others are facing.

My Grief Challenges

Restless Emotions: Non-stop June 14, 2014

Lately, the emptiness from Shawn’s goneness has been very overwhelming.  The guilt continues. Restless emotions-non-stop. This is a very hard journey.
While wrestling with the idea of stopping my grief journey writes, I found myself on a “Dogpile” search for ???-I truly don’t remember, except that my  emotions were going bonkers. God had me stumble upon the following article.
Confessions of a Grieving Pastor
Sunday, January 23, 2011
by Dennis L. Apple
I wish somehow I could go back across the years and take back the insensitive things I said to grieving members of the congregations I pastored. It took the death of our son, Denny, and my subsequent descent into the pit of despair to even begin to understand the many ways grief can affect a person. If I had known, before Denny’s death, what I know now, I would have been much more effective in helping grieving people deal with the horrible pain they experience after the death of a loved one.Here are some of the things I wish I had known:Grief takes much longer to process than anyone can imagine. When preparing to write Life After the Death of My Son: What I’m Learning, I quickly determined this would be the subject of the first chapter. I had no idea the length of time it takes a person to reconcile to the loss. There are no clear-cut steps or phases that grievers go through. The length of time will be determined by a number of factors: the relationship to that person or their family, the age of the person who died, and how they died.Men and women tend to mourn differently. When our son Denny died suddenly from mononucleosis, Buelah and I were shocked, traumatized, and barely able to function. In the early days, we both cried until there seemed to be no more tears. Then, after a few weeks, I decided to return to my work while my wife stayed at home and mourned our son’s death. I have come to see this difference between men and women can be characterized by the statement, “Women mourn while men replace.”A quick review of the Resurrection story reveals that it was the women who showed up at the tomb where Jesus had been laid, while the disciples were off someplace else. Men are taught from their earliest days, “Big boys don’t cry!” So, as men, we believe tears are a sign of weakness, and we find it hard to give ourselves permission to grieve. These days, I am lot more comfortable with my tears, as well as the tears of others. I am glad we have the example of Jesus when He stood at the grave of His friend, Lazarus. Two words, “Jesus wept,” carry more healing than most of us realize (John 11:35).Grievers may feel they are losing their minds. It is common for grieving people to be so preoccupied with their loss that they forget names, miss appointments, forget to turn at a certain intersection, and much more! I had no idea this condition can continue for months and even years!It is normal to feel anger toward God, the physicians, or the person we feel is responsible for the death. When a loved one dies, we often look for someone or something to blame. This is especially true in the sudden death of a young child. Grievers often voice the same words that Jesus spoke in His final agonizing moments on the cross, “My God, my God, why?” (Matthew 27:46)Certain dates on the calendar can be painful reminders of our loss. Looking at the empty chair can be extremely painful when families meet together during the holidays. However, birth , death, and wedding anniversary dates can also be extremely painful. In our family, the death date of our son intensifies my pain while Denny’s birthday ignites a fresh wave of grief for my wife. Along with these dates is what I call the “dread of the date.” Grievers can see the “dreaded” dates looming on the horizon, and feel their grief intensify as each day carries them closer to the day it happened. If I had it to do over, I would circle dates on next year’s calendar to remind me of these dates for others. The circled date would prompt me to write a note or make a call so that we could talk about their loved one.When grief is fresh, the less said, the better. As a young pastor, I thought it was my duty to share a Bible verse about heaven, or give an explanation or possible reason for the death. In those days, I used Romans 8:28 as I tried to help grievers make sense of their loss. These days I follow the advice of one who encourages us to remember the three “H”s-hang around, hug the griever, and then hush up.The church can be a place of great pain for those who grieve. Quite often grievers find it difficult, and even fearful, to re-enter the place of worship after the death of a loved one. Grievers often feel abandoned by God when they hear stories or sermons of miraculous answers to prayers, and how someone else’s life was spared. They are left wondering why God answered the prayers of others, but not theirs. Quite often, grievers feel abandoned by their churches.On the other hand, the church can provide wonderful opportunities for healing. In addition to the support offered at the visitation and funeral, the church can provide healing rituals for grievers as they mourn their loss. Pulpit flowers, Easter lilies, Christmas poinsettias, candles, and memorial web sites can be used to help remember the ones we have loved and lost. The key is to find some way to acknowledge the loss.

If I were starting ministry over again, I would spend less time telling grievers how they should feel. Instead, I would try to step into their stories and ask them to teach me about their own grief journeys. I would listen closely, and let the grieved set the pace of their journeys. And, I would remember to pray for them long after the flowers are gone and grief sets in.

Dennis L. Apple is an associate pastor at College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas. He is the author of Life After the Death of My Son: What I’m Learning, available at www.nph.com.

Holiness Today, November/December 2010

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My Grief Challenges

A Dot / Crosser February 22, 2014

You may be wondering, what in the world is a dot / crosser ?

Most folks say, “Make sure you dot all your i (s), and cross all your t (s).  For many, many years, I have called it being a dot / crosser. It suits me better.  For most tasks, if I am given a list of To Dos, that is what I do. I also, check and recheck and check again, making sure I did all I was suppose to do. No, I will never be perfect, but I don’t want anyone to think I did not give my best.                                                                                                                                       Sleep has not been restful, as I have many night mares. The days are, also, exhausting, as day mares, knock me down, every few moments. These are brought on by the would haves, could haves and should haves, that I may have failed to do, during Shawn’s last months, alive. My reason for  bringing up being a dot / crosser;  as I was thinking over the past week, about what I was going to share, guilt was the dominant issue. For me, the two go together.

A few examples:

*The summer of 2012, Shawn’s work schedule made it difficult for visiting. Recently, I was jolted awake, from a dream, in which, I thought I heard Shawn, audibly say, “Mom, I am feeling left out, can’t I visit with you, alone ? ”   As it happened, we had had an almost 2 hour laundry room talk. Really ? Were there other times that could have been made available ?

*Many of my photos and videos, from the summer of 2012, didn’t have Shawn in them. How did I not notice ? Also, why had he, purposely avoided the camera ? On one occasion, he had told me he didn’t like his photo taken-but that wasn’t the Shawn I knew.

*I wrote a post, “Not Enough Faith ???”. That thought doesn’t leave my head, was my lack of faith, the reason Shawn wasn’t healed ?

*Was I a bother to the hospital staff because I needed to spend as much time as possible, with Shawn? I was just wanting to be with my son. I did not want him lonely—he was one of those folks that did not like being alone.                                                                                   One day a nurse came into Shawn’s room, unexpectedly. Shawn was in the cardio- chair.  I was, busily, cleaning the blood off the vinyl  mattress cover. The nurse smiled and said that it, finally, made sense why we were using so many cloths.                                                    Near Shawn’s end, he had many times where he would bleed, a lot, during turnings, or pokes, or dressing changes. How many times had I cleaned the bed frame, under the bed wheels, various equipment that had gotten splattered on.  I didn’t say anything, or rag on the hospital people for not getting things more cleaned up, after an issue. I was very capable to take care of it on my own !   The other night, I woke up, worried, that all my cleaning times, in Shawn’s room, should have been spent holding his hand.

*I had been given many talks about letting Shawn go-by staff , whom I did not see on a regular basis-maybe that was their job ? Did my stubbornness irkitate Shawn ?  Was I so oblivious?

*Was I not positive enough ? Could I have encouraged Shawn, more or better ?

Yes, folks have already told me that there is nothing I can do about it now, accept and move on. AND,  “Quit beating yourself up.” BUT, I am a dot / crosser !!! Did I really do all I could have ?

* I have sought forgiveness-why am I not trusting God to work out His sovereign plan ? Why all this angst ?

All that to say, the down side of being a dot / crosser. One tends to ponder,  ALL that may have been left undone, or overlooked or not done good enough ? 

I have found some items to share.

My lungs have always been frustrating. When Shawn was having breathing problems, I felt like I had learned some things that could be helpful for him. A togetherness time. I have a friend with lung cancer. There is a specialness in our relationship because of our lung issues, different but the same.  Anyway,  I have 3 products that have been helpful for my lung issues.

1. Lung & Throat Herbal Drops-lozenges. I have other cough drops I use, but these feel refreshing to my lungs and my tongue doesn’t get the raw feeling. Wonderful.


2. Wish Garden, Deep Lung. These drops are so handy, and helpful, and safe. When I am driving elementary passengers-who need to be spoken to, A LOT, this liquid is effective for my lungs and not a possible choking hazard. Also, at night, instead of using my inhaler to stop coughing, this product has been the answer.


3. My Tweeter Inversion Table. My doctor told me that using my Teeter Inversion Table, is the best way for folks with asthma to get the bad air at the lower part of the lungs, out.


Hope these can be helpful for others.

I sure would not mind if folks want to share their ideas, helps through this grief , or just how I could be more encouraging. I realize my writing is real and raw and maybe too much for folks to handle. Please feel free to comment.