Tuesday, August 6, 2019


I'm really surprised at how differently I view now, the tragic death of my husband, toddler son and baby daughter. It's been over 30 years that I've dealt  with the tragedy and I'm frequently surprised at how much has changed, regarding how I "see" the whole shebang of my tragic loss. Overall, the biggest change is that heartbroken loss has morphed into the realization that they're only one heartbeat away from me and quite close to me. In a way, it's like they've come back to me again, now. 

I realized that my developing way of viewing the tragedy, was akin to how newborn infants learn to see. According to online references, just like the grief-stricken, each newborn develops their sight ability uniquely to them, although there are definitely general milestones to be reached. 

At first, newborns can only see black and white and shades of gray. Sounds like me after early loss. All I knew was my family was Dead and I was Alive. Black and white. Like the news headlines about my accident. Like their death certificates. I've had a gradual evolution over the years of really knowing and feeling that my family is very much still alive, only physically dead. What's most important to stay alive . . . is still alive! The soul can never die:
Matthew 10:28a  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (BibleGateway.com). 

Newborns are very myopic; they see about 20/400 at first. Like a newborn's eyes, my vision was non-focused and all I could see was what was right in front of me. I saw my loved ones everywhere in every blond young man, little toddler boy or baby girl. In anguish, I couldn't make sense of what I saw, just like a newborn's confusion. It takes them awhile to see details. "God is in the details," is one of my favorite sayings regarding His many blessings. I was initially either blind to, or unaware of important details of grace that came my way after my loss. Only later was I able to connect the dots.

Initially, only bright colors--like red--get the newborn's attention. Later on, more subtle colors can be seen. I was numb to subdued colors. Life took on a beige tint. It took me a long while after the accident before I could distinguish and acknowledge the beauty of rainbows--something my toddler Michael used to point to when the light reflected off our home aquarium, causing "Bow!!!" to appear, much to his utter delight.

Eventually, with developing vision, the baby is able to reach for things. After some grief resolution took place, and I could "see" things more clearly, I started to reach more aggressively for my Savior's hand to pull me through the many dark and cloudy days. He alone can guide us best because He alone sees perfectly. God has no blind spots. Without Jesus helping my "development," I would have been completely blind to God's many blessings revolving before, during and after the physical deaths of my family. The most important blessing to me, is the recognition and concrete assurance He gives me--us--of eternal life and reunion with our loved ones . . . those who now have suburb, stellar vision.  

Thursday, February 28, 2019


The crocheted frame my Mom made that I treasure. She suffered a massive stroke not long after. 

Tomorrow, March 1st, my baby Lisa would have turned 35 years old. Incredible to me. The years march on and on (onward from 1984), and I cannot envision Lisa any age other than last I saw her . . . just 9 and 1/2 months young.

I got tired of wondering what she'd have been like had she physically lived past 1984. In the end, it just doesn't really matter. The possibilities are endless and I've long tired of trying to figure out which choice she would have made: her appearance; her likes; her dislikes, etc. The only thing that matters now to me, is that we are in a loving relationship and God assures me we'll be reunited in Paradise.

I've read something recently that talked about those soon to cross over, how they have dreams unlike any other as far as "realness." All report seeing their deceased relatives and/or friends. Deceased pets were seen by those who were very young. These dreams brought great reassurance to those that were dying. I think that's why my own father had a vision of seeing my Lisa at the end of his bed, just sitting there, all young lady-like and gorgeous. The tell-tale sign was her hair behind one ear like it was in a photo my Dad had of Lisa. He'd felt just awful he'd never even had a chance to hold her before she went to Jesus. The vision was a way of helping to ease that pain before he crossed over, a short while later.

Isn't that just like God? To give us comfort, in order to prepare us, before we physically die. (Usually a scary prospect to the majority of us.) I realize now, that God is all about comforting us. That's what a parent does if they love their child. They try to soften an upcoming stressful situation as much as possible. A parent may allow something painful to occur, but the parent still loves the child. God is love. Short and sweet. Just like my adorable Lisa.

I love you always and will see you soon, my little angel-child.

Sunday, January 20, 2019


A neighbor brought my attention to an article about a widow and her arduous path back to recovery from that loss. The widow wrote a self-help book, the title of which, as a bereaved mother, completely turned me off: "A to Z Healing Toolbox," by Susan Hannifin-MacNab. Part of the article described the book's content and what really got me was, "Have a plan. A, B, C, . . . " Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this book that's won awards is great for suffering widows. But my neighbor thinking we have so much in common, threw me for a loop. 

My neighbor has admittedly never suffered bereavement of husband or child. She thought I might be supportive of the author and offer encouragement to her. She meant well, and I'm very fond of this neighbor. My way of thinking is, if she's recovered enough to write a self-help book, she wouldn't find it particularly timely "help." But there's a bigger reason I was turned off by my neighbor's suggestion. That is because I am prejudiced. After experiencing the loss of both (my beloved husband and children), at the same time, I passionately feel that losing my children was far, far more difficult to recover from. To me it's like comparing apples and, not oranges, but broccoli; the difference between widowhood and child bereavement being that vast a contrasting experience for me. 

Child bereavement to me, was like being flattened completely out by a steamroller running over me. l felt as though I'd lost my very life. There was no more "me" anymore. My identity so wrapped up in being young Michael and Lisa's mother; when they died, it was as if I'd died, too. Down, down down, buried far below in the ground. How do I get up? Which way even, is up? Do I even want to get up? Why should I get up when my children are no longer here? What's the use? What's the point? They don't need me anymore! Or do they. . . are they crying for me and wondering, "Where's Mommy???"

Far from needing a toolbox of handy "A to Z" helpful suggestions, back then I just needed to get the desire to even breathe again. That took a long time. God provided helpful people that gently, ever so gently and kindly, encouraged me, prodded me to get up again and want to continue breathing. With help, I got out of the protective cocoon I'd been in, unable to take another memory-trigger slamming me back down. By allowing God's assurances that my children were happy and that I'd see them again sink in, feebly holding onto that wavering faith, I was able to withstand the years of being in a slugfest of daily pain that advanced and retreated depending on my strength to withstand the punches that came from out of nowhere. I didn't know back then, how to prepare for what I didn't know was going to happen to me!

Widowhood was tough, too, to be sure. But the main difference for me I think, is that I didn't feel as though I'd lost my very life when my husband died. Sadness and pain were there, triggers were there but the intensity of the loss was as different as night and day. I didn't have the horror of anguish, feeling as though I'd failed as a mother because I couldn't save Michael and Lisa from dying. There wasn't the inner turmoil and despondency that my children's lives were grossly, unjustly, unfairly shortened. All the consequent woulda, coulda shoulda's were infinitely more numerous and torment-laden in regard to being child bereaved compared to widowhood. There just is really no comparison, even though I deeply loved my college-sweetheart husband.

Appropriately, today's church sermon was about Jesus turning water into wine.  The upside of severe suffering is that we have the potential after recovery, to become more sensitive to the slightest nuance of joyfulness. After undergoing child bereavement, we bereaved mothers can joyously look forward to Reunion, and restoration of our children; our very lives. Something as inconceivable in the beginning of our grief, as Someone turning water into wine. Soldier on!   Donna 

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