Tag Archive: grief


Sometimes well-meaning people do bad things. Let’s work together to not be one of those…

i have two good friends who have recently faced different kinds of grief – one is desperately sick at the moment and the other lost his mom a couple of weeks back. They are surrounded by a lot of well-meaning people. Which sounds like a good thing. But sometimes it’s not. Here are a few things i’ve learnt/observed: Continue reading

their pain

no words

just empty-feeling



after the service

has ended

and possibly

a small plate

of scones.

[for more Micropoems, click here]

My First Motherless Mother’s Day Being a Mother


I want to be angry.

I usually reserve this day [Mother’s Day] as my right to be secretly bitter and jealous. You all go on and on about how great your mother is all day long while historically I would hide in my room with the covers over my head, counting down the hours until it was safe to emerge. I am allowed to do this once a year, having lost my mother to cancer when I was just 14. This last year though, everything has changed.

In August, I became a foster parent to a dear child, on the cusp of becoming a teenager. I met her 7 years ago when we were neighbors and quickly became friends. I was between jobs and took advantage of my free time by investing in my community, something my mother taught me was invaluable. I set out to give the kids on my block a good summer, never imagining 7 years later I would be adopting one of them. I remember her approaching me with great curiosity and quiet strength, “are you the one handing out popsicles?”

I started mentoring this adorable, bright kid and quickly transitioned from Miss Cambria, to Aunt Cam, as my term of of endearment. Over the years, we stayed in touch even when we were no longer neighbors. I took a job as an adoption social worker in 2010 (that I am still at today) and found myself questioning what it was to be a mother, as I was surrounded by Philadelphia children, who were wards of the state, also without mothers. After my mother had died, I swore off ever having children, or even a family–the potential for pain and loss seemed just too great; however, as I have gotten older, the desire to mother those who are without mothers began to grow in me.

Late in 2012, this precious child, almost 12 years old, found herself in foster care and with no one to take her in. When this sweet girl that I had come to love found herself without a mother who could care for her and asked if she could move in with me, I immediately said yes and knew somehow all along we were destined to be family.

The legacy of my mother: warmth, generosity, compassion, has shaped and guided every step I’ve made in life. There’s always been a fear in my capacity to mother, being motherless myself, that I cannot explain–what if I’m not good at it…who do I call? Except for the fact that I haven’t always been motherless. I was fortunate enough to have a mother who loved me deeply and fiercely for 14 years. I am deeply saddened knowing I can never share my own journey of motherhood with her; but, she is always with me. Every single day. The way I teach my daughter about the world, make her lunch, and even our bedtime routine all have the presence and influence of my mother. Through becoming a mother, I have found a way to restore her legacy and have felt closer to her now more than I have in the last 15 years of being alone.

This is my first Mother’s Day being a mother and this is my daughter’s first Mother’s Day knowing she is unconditionally loved. We both used to dread this day and now we are on a healing and restorative journey together becoming a family, her adoption should be finalized next year, and every day learning together what it is to mother and be mothered. Becoming a mother to another kind of motherless daughter has been one of the most beautiful and humbling experiences of my life. This Mother’s Day we don’t have to hide under the covers because we have each other and we will choose to celebrate all there is to be grateful for in life.

cambriadaughter[For some other Taboo Topics that we rarely discuss, but that impact us deeply, click here]


DAY 35

John 11.35 is often quoted as the shortest verse in the Bible – ‘Jesus wept’ – but in actual fact that honour should really go to Job 3.2 which simply states, ‘He said’ [less strokes on a keyboard!] However, ‘He said’ is a lot less interesting.

Task: Take some time to consider this story where Jesus is moved to tears. Take some time today to express some grief for something. It might be a family you know who has recently experienced loss or a friend who is going through a really rough time. It might be the hectic piece of news you heard last night [the missing plane or yet another violent school encounter] or even a larger issue such as government corruption, human-trafficking, extreme poverty or war.


30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Take some time to really grieve. To lift that thing or person or people to God and just invite the tears and just spend some time mourning for a good while.

Then remember that Jesus has that stuff. All of it. That is why He came. That is why He died. Take a moment to celebrate on that.


[For this weekend’s Lent Observance posts, click here]



Nothing can prepare you for that moment when your perfect world is shattered into 1000’s of little pieces. When you receive that phone call to say that a part of your heart ‘”didn’t make it”… My sister, first team swimmer had drowned in a freak accident, walking around our pool, having a seizure, falling in and waking up in the arms of Jesus.

Lauren and I were more than just sisters, we were the best of friends! We shared a room from when she was 6 weeks old and I was just over 2. Our lives were one huge adventure of dress-ups, countless concerts and hours of giggling. As we grew older so we grew even closer. I went off to boarding school and missed her so much that I usually always returned with at least 1 item of her favourite clothing. She lived her short 18 years to the fullest, nothing was a half-hearted emotion with her. We were so excited that for the first time in over 7 years we were going to be in the same town…but all that changed the morning of the 22nd of October 2005, my life would never be the same again.

I remember being really angry at people one day, saying the thing that I still hate to hear to this day, but that were meant with the best of intentions, “time will heal”. Time will never heal it, however, it will teach you how to live with a heart that will now always have, in my case, a ‘Lauren shaped’ hole in it.

I went through all the emotions, I constantly waited for her to walk into our bedroom and jump on her bed so we could sit and chat like we always used to. Then I was really angry, why would God take my best friend from me, she was in the prime of her life, a week from starting her final exams. However as time went on, I began to see how God had been preparing us for this. Lauren had just had her final chapel service where she gave my mum and dad a letter thanking them for all they had done in her life and teaching her about the love of Jesus, she had said goodbye to my brother who was going away for the weekend with a friend and said how much she loved him, she messaged me the night before to tell me that she loved me and would phone the next day. Her and mum had watched The Passion of Christ the night before and spoken what an incredible thing Jesus had done for us by dying so we can live.

This journey is not an easy one, and one that I would never wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy. But through it all, I can honestly say the only thing that got me through was Jesus and the ‘peace that passes ALL understanding’. I remember thinking that the ‘joy of the Lord will be my strength’ (Nem 8:10), up until then I never fully understood what they meant, but through this all, they joy that I was secure in my salvation, and that in the end we would be together praising Jesus strengthened me.

Although I wish Lauren was still alive today, I don’t regret the experience that I have had. I have understood the word grief in its rawest form. I can honestly sit and cry with someone, not because I know their personal pain, but I can relate to it.

For those of your reading this who haven’t been through a loss of someone close to you here are a few practical things to help your friend in the same position:


1) As much as you mean well, telling someone that time heals is definitely a painful thing for them to hear – rather sit and just cry with them.

2) Give them a journal – read on to see why

3) In this raw grief we forget about our basic necessities, buying groceries, toilet paper and making meals is a very practical way to demonstrate your love.

4) Don’t forget about us, this first month is hard, but I promise you, the 3rd, 4th, 5th month are even harder, when the reality hits, this is not a holiday, this is now a reality – reach out, be a shoulder. Those ‘firsts’ are tough ones to get through.

And for those of you who are fresh to this pain:


1) One of the best things I was given was a journal – in this journal I wrote all the memories that flooded into my mind, because as much as we never want to forget our loved one, over time those memories do fade. I wrote everything from Lauren’s favourite song, perfume to annoying joke in that book, and one day when my children want to know what their amazing aunty Lauren was like, I will give them this journal to read. I still read it now, and love how it triggers something else in my mind.


2) Don’t ever feel like it is silly to cry, 8 ½  years on and I still sob every October, even as I write this I have had to take a break because these emotions are still so real.


3) Never stop talking about them! Yes it hurt so much in the beginning, and you will cry at what seems like the worst of times, but they are part of you. As long as I am alive, Lauren is alive in the memories that I have of her.


4) And no, that day you realise that you didn’t think about them at all, DOES NOT make you any less of a brother/sister/friend… like I said earlier we do slowly learn to live with our incomplete hearts beating in a new rhythm.


My prayer is that any of you who read have been encouraged in some way. Life will continue, and we need to choose how we will live. I chose to put my trust in Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, my constant companion, counsellor and friend. I had to choose to put one small foot in front of the other until I knew that I could run the race marked for me, and not grow tired or weary as I do it with the strength and joy of Jesus..


[To return to the start of this series on dealing with the grief of losing someone you love, click here]


Grief is such a huge and too often taboo topic, possibly because different people grieve in different ways and so it is often hard to know what to say or do when someone has lost someone they love.

We have already looked at some powerful stories from people who have lost a baby and those who have lost a child, but what about someone who has lost a person who has been in their life for even longer?

My friend, Catherine Rogers, asked me some questions on this recently:

I remember the first funeral I ever attended. A close friend’s father had committed suicide and a sadder occasion I have never experienced since. It was then that I first began to wonder: how does a person cope with such a loss. It’s devastating, it’s life altering and it’s absolutely incomprehensible to me. You see, I haven’t yet lost anyone close to me but I have watched as the people around me have, and every time I wonder, how do you do it? How on earth do you move on? I myself am not afraid to die and I accept that death is a part of life and everyone must face it in the end. But something which scares me deeply and rests heavily on my heart, is losing someone: being left behind. 

What happens when you lose someone who is such an integral part of your own existence? How do you deal with such an event? I feel this, for me at least, fits into your taboo topics easily. Do you ever find that you’re too afraid to mention aloud or even think about the death of someone you love just in case it might actually happen? I do because while I understand the undeniable eventuality of death, I do not understand what happens after: the coping, the acceptance, the moving on. Are these things really possible when an important part of your life is gone forever? 

So this is an invitation to those of you who might have lost a family member or a friend, someone who was close to you, to share your story with us and to maybe touch on some of these questions. How have you been able to cope and move on and continue with ‘normal life’ and is life ever ‘normal’ again?

I am hoping that for a lot of people, simple being able to put their story into words here might help to be some small part of the healing.

Meet Tarryn Patel – who lost her sister, Lauren Kirkwood

Meet Cambria Hooven – who lost her mom Judie

Meet Kim Overbeck – who lost the love of her life, Tegan

When Sickness or Tragedy strikes – in the wake of my best mate Rob’s death a few of us came up with some ways to help those facing the tragedy which might be helpful for you to post for others to read.



Woke up to some really bad news this morning. A close friend had suffered one of the hugest losses imaginable.

Task: Weep with someone who is weeping. 

If you don’t know someone personally that is weeping, then pick up a newspaper or go and visit a website, because there is enough corporate weeping going on that you can join – the families and friends of the missing airplanes, the people in the various countries that are involved in war right now [many with themselves], the rate of crime or rape or violence in your city [and if your city is doing fine, then you’re welcome to borrow mine]

If it is someone you know personally then with every piece of strength you can muster, i beg of you, DO NOT WHIP OUT A TRITE SAYING THAT IS GOING TO DO MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD. Chances are your words are useless right now [even that bible verse you are itching to send]. So start by putting your arm around their shoulder and being someone they can mourn with or on. If you have to use words then simply stick with, ‘I’m here’ or ‘I care’ or ‘I love you’ or ‘Please tell me if there is anything i can do.’

And then do the thing you can do. Offer to make a meal. Look after the children.  Clean their house. Give them a gift voucher for a meal out. Whatever they feel is a helpful way to get involved, let them direct you to that thing. Send flowers.

This is a time to be. And to weep with the person who is weeping. It is not a time to fix or talk or give reasons or make apologies even.

Just love well.


 [To head to Day 9 and a prayer of humility, click here]

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