A Valentine Letter for YOU

A Valentine letter for YOU.

Your love for your partner who has moved into the next realm is everlasting, eternal.

What you shared in your time together remains and exists now in a new form.

We hear the expression, moving on - it would turn my stomach when I heard that.

You have to get on with your life I was told. That never inspired me, in fact it made me angry.

That’s like saying when a favorite movie or book ends, we just forget about it and find a new one. No, we revisit it, learning from it, finding comfort and joy in it. We talk about it, share the story and how it makes us feel. It continues to inspire us, to bring a smile. Love needs to be appreciated for all its intricate threads.

There is no getting over, or moving on from the privilege and expression of love. 

There is however, a change within loss. A slow move into a knowing. It is the knowing that there is far more to this world than our skin and bones. That our souls continue to connect, even when the physical has altered.

The longing for the heart of your loved one will lead you into a connection that will support and guide you. I cannot explain it, I just feel it.

It is how I was able to continue when I had very little interest and energy in trying to live my life. I was 46 when my dearest David died, he was 57. I was exhausted, empty and alone.

The more I faced the lack of David, the further I felt from him and from myself.

The more I tried to avoid thinking about him, the more I thought about the difficulty of him dying.

So I changed it. What if I thought about what we had created together?

I focused on what I had leant from our love. What I learnt from saying goodbye to his physical being and hello to his soul.

I allowed myself to experience the sadness, the anger and the sheer confusion that grief brought into my heart. I accepted it and then I allowed the love.

I welcomed in the energy of his love, mine and ours together. I asked for his help, for guidance.

You do the same. Those that have departed know far more than we do now, so let’s communicate and use that wisdom. Ask for guidance while keeping yourself open to truly listen and watch for that strength. Listen for answers. Pay attention, because I promise you, it will happen.

Slowly I began to open, to look upward and out instead of down. I followed guidance from Second Firsts. Connected to others who are on the same path.

I found bravery and courage, and then I found hope.

The extraordinary thing happened next for me, I discovered the desire of wanting to share my heart and have now fallen in love. I fell in love with myself for the first time ever in my life, which in itself feels like a miracle. Then completely by amazement, fell in love with another open and searching heart who was also ready to be bold, brave and happy.

The only way I could have begun to create a joyous life and to have the privilege of falling in love with Gary is through the love I experience with David.

Only a person who has not lost would think – that’s good you found a replacement.

Only a person who has lost would understand that you never replace, you love in addition to and because of. There is a huge, wondrous difference and through truly understanding this, I have been able to experience the power and to receive more and more in my life.

Life and death has no ending, it is a continual flow. You are too full of love not to continue to shine and be a light for others.

For everyone who is feeling the loss on Valentine’s Day – I send you love and the hope that you are able to look up and ask for love. It is surrounding you and longing for you to say

I love you too.



© Jayne Hannah 2019

Jayne Hannah 



In 2012 my husband died at the age of 57 of early on set Alzheimer’s, after an 8 year illness which began with cancer.

The loss of the love was profound and I have reached a stage now as a professional facilitator and writer where my corporate work is spilling into what I want to be my mission. To support, guide, inspire, perhaps, most importantly, to share and support others throughout their journey.

I was lost, severely at times, and Christina’s work was invaluable. I want the loss of my David to equal something to be proud of and that his soul can help others, as he indeed helps me, every day.

Jayne is currently co-authoring a book with writer Linda Pestana, as they lead the way in health advocacy for care partners and patients with life altering illnesses. “Life is a privilege and each day an opportunity to explore how we may do more.”

A Bolt from the Blue: Give Yourself Permission

Today was one of those chilly overcast January days with audible rain outside. I had initially planned to spend this day indoors, tackling paperwork.

But after a very cold, wet walk with my dog, it seemed like a much better idea to warm up with a hot drink inside a steamy, convivial coffee shop. My soul just wanted to be among people, even if they were all strangers.

I decided to bring a book along as a companion.

After a short, satisfying break and back home, I procrastinated by curling up on the couch. My dog laid her head in my lap. Soon I was hearing her contented little snores. "I'll just read a few more pages." Okay, one more chapter. Then, I gave myself permission to read for one more hour.

This is not my normal practice. I’ve only recently learned to soften and bend into my quiet needs.

Asking permission from others began for me as early social conditioning. As children, we were not allowed to eat anything in the kitchen without first asking permission. I remember the day my friend Wanda boldly opened up the fridge, took out two apples, and handed me one. My eyes grew as big as saucers, alarmed. We did not have permission.

The years that followed were shaped by the firm habit of respectfully seeking permission, to gain approval for my ideas and desires. I sought this from my parents, teachers, supervisors, friends, and neighbors. Most of all with my husband, as our lives were so intimately intertwined.

During his illness, my husband understandably fell behind in his professional obligations. And after he died, as the executor of his estate I had to meet all those unfinished duties -- in addition to the demands of my own full-time job. I had a house and yard to now maintain on my own. There were so many expenses and responsibilities. I worried for my future. I felt alone without family nearby.

It was a heavy burden, at a time when I was overcome with the emotional pain of grieving. My body went into fight-or-flight mode. I started to lose a lot of weight and sleep. I was exhausted.

One day I tearfully confessed to my grief counselor: "I feel so much pressure to meet all these filing deadlines. My anxiety is high, and I'm awake all night with insomnia. I feel overwhelmed by an avalanche of responsibilities."

She smiled calmly, then said: "What if you were just late? Applied for an extension? What is the worst that could happen? Give yourself permission."

It was like a bolt out of the blue. A thought that had never occurred to me before. Permission to be late? Unheard of!

But I did take some extra time to file the paperwork. And the sky did not fall.

During the first year after loss, those of us left behind must continually give ourselves the kindest permission, to adjust and choose the way we move forward.

Permission to laugh again, to feel happiness and joy and not feel guilty. Permission to dream again, to look forward to the future with new goals and aspirations. Permission to love again, to let others into our heart.

And the hardest one of all. Permission to fully live again.

During my first year as a widow, I struggled to create a new life for myself, while working long hours and over capacity, managing the complicated existing one.

One day I woke up and realized, my rainy day is here.

After the deepest soul-searching, I finally gave myself permission to pursue a long held, unspoken dream. I left my job and embarked on my own version of life sabbatical … to rest, reflect, learn, experience and grow. To take care of myself, for a little while. To get to know myself. And to write.

It’s hard to form a new vision for life, when you’re still focused on the one you’ve lost. It takes time to discover who you are, what you want, and what you are capable of. And it isn’t just a matter of time passing, but what you choose to do with it. What actions you take, what changes you permit, what bending you allow.

On this rainy January day, I found my thoughts returning to a much-loved quote by John Burroughs:

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.

I have always been a hard worker. It is part of my nature, my orientation to life.

But each day is short and precious.

Today, I give myself permission to read a book.

Karin Hedetniemi is an emerging writer, who lives in Victoria, BC. Her husband passed away in 2016 from pancreatic cancer. She recently lost her youngest son to a drug overdose in November 2018. These losses have shaped her perspective and expanded her heart. In her former life, Karin helped lead an environmental education charity. She now writes about nature, inspiration and being human. Her first short fiction story was shortlisted by the Federation of BC Writers. She is also a Life Reentry graduate and previous guest contributor to Second Firsts. You can follow Karin on her Wordpress blog, AGoldenHour.com, on Instagram @karinhedet and on Twitter @karinhedet.

My Ring

Five months after my husband died, I accepted a consulting position and needed to get documents out of my safe. Staring at me from the top of the pile was my ring case. I hesitated, but finally pulled it out and opened it. My heart thumped loudly as I stared at my ring. Such a graceful thing he picked for me.

Sparkling diamonds set in warm yellow gold. Marquis cut jewels - one large diamond nestled between two smaller ones. They represented our past, present, and future.

With shaking hands, I couldn’t resist putting it back on just one more time. Over the past fifteen years, it had taken the shape of my finger perfectly. The bone still had an indent where it used to rest. It felt so right to see it there, sparkling on my hand again.

For a moment, time slipped away and I was his wife, not this ghost roaming the rooms of our lost life. I couldn't help but expect him to come around the corner to check on me and ask if the kids should get ready for bed.

Then I remembered something silly. A few months before Gage died, I lost one of the smaller marques. It came loose from its setting before I realized it and the diamond was gone forever. I panicked but Gage, ever the practical guy, reminded me why he chose the jeweler he did. They fixed it with no problems.

I was stuck in the meaning of this diamond as I sat on the floor by the safe, staring at my ring. Did I lose our future? Such a superstitious thought.

Now years after his passing, I still feel a tug at my heart when I notice other people’s wedding rings. The ache of my loss rises again to remind me that my husband is gone while their loved one is still here with them.

I’ve gained a new insight on marriage based on how mine ended. It can be so unique and precious, yet also very tenuous. And when I see the married person in front of me, I understand that I’m on the outside looking in now. A widow.

I take a moment to recognize what that little ring represents. Connection and love. Struggles and losses. Commitment and hope.

This person has a potential future with their loved one, to do with what they please. Make it better, do nothing, or end it - the choice they make doesn’t really matter. It’s the sweet luxury of choice alone that matters. They are likely unaware of the privilege.

I was the same way before our story ended. It was a wonderful and amazing story, but I can see the whole of it now that it’s done. As I watch married people go about their lives despite possibly not knowing about this fine balance in place, I hope they have time ahead with their loved one.

Yet I’ve learned that love doesn’t care about timelines, short or long in this world. It really is beyond time. I still love Gage as much as I did when he was alive. It will be that way all of my life, no matter what happens or who comes in it.

And love doesn’t care if you have a ring or not. It doesn’t care who you love. It doesn’t even care if someone loves you back. Love is just there, always and in many forms. I count myself lucky that I found it with Gage, even if I will carry the pain and as well as the love from now on.

Julie Underdahl became a widow and solo parent suddenly in 2014. She is constantly learning about how to live well with loss while teaching that same lesson to her son and daughter. Being active in the outdoors is the best medicine she’s found. She also finds healing in her children, family, and friends as well as in mindfulness, music, and writing.


As temperatures drop, fierce winds strip limbs bare revealing vulnerability, dimension and honesty.

Geese overhead parade the sky with their horn section playing that familiar tune of change. Their echoes - soon distant - resonate melancholy across the barren sky.

This passing gets me.

Please stay longer. I can’t be the only one haunted by loss?

Leaning into the echo, I adjust the lens of my present to see what remains after five years without you.

How did so many memories vanish?

I remember the year-one mark. The bittersweet absence of you was so tangible - my chest heaved in pain and was only comforted as I buried myself in the heaping pile of our memories together. Memories so vivid - gripping me through daily sensory reminders - summoned by subtle changes reflected in the weather, the rituals of autumn and the coming of Christmas.

Now it is different.

Now I chase these leaves. Looking for traces of our time together.
I want to nestle in them and find you there. I find only handfuls lined with your signature, along with a few precious and delicate ones I have pressed into the book that sits at my bedside.

I take pause now because I miss you.

I tell myself: Things change. We’re good.

Better than we were right after you died. Better than we were at the one-year mark; the two, the three, and the four.

But… is this moving on?
Do we ever have a choice?

Why does moving on feel like leaving you? I would never leave you. Heart of my heart, you are in my flock.

Five years ago we shared this death season. You were dying, while I was dissolving.

Now I’m here. At times - feeling transparent - nearly invisible - questioning my existence and observing that the past keeps leaving and that the only real refuge is found taking rest in the swaying hammock of the ever-changing present.

Where have you been?
I suspect somewhere holy in the expanse of space, stillness and peace because whenever I find myself there, I stop looking.

Perhaps the only offering worthy of your love now (the devotion that I promised you) is in my capacity to remain here, nearly translucent, in this moment - open, receptive and alert.

Can I fully entrust the enormous love I house for you to this precarious now-scape?

Will I find you here?
Will I be able to see the hue of your colour bleed through the painting of my experience?

I’m still dissolving.

But unlike five years ago, I find myself trusting more.

I’m sitting now with a memory of you in your final days–
As you laboured to breathe, your long stare, your full eyelashes occasionally nodding with infinite trust - reassuring me of something - something I am just beginning to understand…
- stay here.

Emily Jelliffe is a mother & writer who loves freedom, connection, dancing & nature. Emily's son Seymour, died in 2013. She writes about loss, presence and living mindfully with a vulnerable open heart. You can follow her blog at giveonepause.com

The Return of Some Things Lost

Before I knew they were called hidden losses, I made my own list.

I had carried my late husband's office whiteboard upstairs, and wrote down some of the many things that vanished the day he died. I called it "things we did together."

  • Pup walks on the beach
  • Loving phone calls and text messages
  • Taking care of the yard
  • Making travel memories

I would stare at the list – much, much longer than this one -- and mourn all the ways his absence reached and erased all the other joyful areas of our life.

His death took everything that made up a life I cherished.

Because what I really meant was:

  • Pup walks on the beach...with him.
  • Loving phone calls and text messages....with him.
  • Taking care of the yard....with him.
  • Making travel memories....with him.

The magnitude of losses seemed too big to comprehend.

I still had to wake up each day inside the nothingness left behind in their wake.

Somehow I kept breathing, and somehow still rising.

One night I got brave and learned to sleep with the light off.

One day I got bold, and reclaimed the kitchen, which had always been my husband's domain. I couldn't recreate anything he ever cooked for me, and it was hard to cook for one, but I attempted a few new recipes. Lemon gelato. Clam chowder. Cornmeal blueberry pancakes.

I discovered I could freeze the pancakes, and just pop one in the toaster whenever I was hungry. Especially at three o'clock in the morning, when I would wake up in the silent void, missing him.

I tried to fill the vast empty space with other small new experiences. Swing dancing lessons. A travel writing class. Volunteering with youth.

I kept walking our pup on the same beach, and met two other solo humans with their dogs. We all started having coffee together. And helping each other out with dog-sitting. In time, we became a regular possé.

The walks no longer seemed lost anymore.

And then, in the slow reinvention of myself, some lost things actually returned from even farther away: my childhood. Singing. Riding a bicycle again. Laughing hard from my belly.

I'd forgotten those things had been missing. And it felt so good to have them back.

Some months later, maybe after a year or more, I decided it was time to erase the whiteboard and donate my all husband's office contents to charity.

I stared at my original list of things we did together, and a smile came over my face.

Some lost things had returned, but in an altered, different, partial but still beautiful way.

  • Pup walks on the beach...now with two new friends.
  • Loving phone calls and text messages...now with my son.
  • Making travel memories...on my first brave solo trip.

Some lost things never returned. They vanished into the void. But their absence helped made space for something new.

I no longer have a house, yard or garden to manage. But I do have a light-filled apartment with a sunny deck, and just a few container plants. This means I have a more time for beach walks, and connecting with family, and travelling.

In fact, I am writing these words sitting on an airplane, about to see and experience another part of the world for the first time.

It wasn't that long ago, I experienced the pain of grief for the first time.

My husband’s death was shocking and heartbreaking and unimaginably hard. It was the sudden irrevocable end of two lives.

His life on earth, plus the one I shared with him.

But I am still here. Alive.

Very much alive, and breathing, and living forward, because of all these lost, and partially returned, and completely brand new things.

Some I chose for myself, and some that life chose for me.

All of these things, always changing, in my whole life still becoming.

Karin Hedetniemi was born an introvert, sensitive soul, dreamer, and idealist. She lived one life before as a mother, charity business director, and wife. Her husband Jim passed away in July 2016 from pancreatic cancer. In her second life, after loss, Karin is reinventing herself as an inspiring writer, traveler, observer, and admirer of the human spirit. Her first short fiction story was recently shortlisted by Federation of BC Writers. Karin lives in Victoria, Canada near the sea, which has been here long before she was ever born, and will remain here long after she is gone. You can follow Karin on her WordPress blog A Golden Hour, on Instagram @karinhedet, and on Twitter @karinhedet.

Living Again

There are certain words you hear or read that describe extreme emotions - things best represented on the movie screen, in novels or in some other grandiose interpretations of life, intentionally exaggerated for entertainment value or to coax a response from those in the audience.  These are words like despair, agony and hopelessness.  I was lucky for much of my life.  These were just words.  Words on a page, confined to the boundaries of ink on paper.

And then he died.

The pain came, unrelenting and unforgiving.  These words, these emotions that were once ideas, overtook my entire being, the weight of them quite literally dropping me to my knees. I remember being on the shower floor, unable to get up. I was screaming and crying, somehow trying to release all of this from my body.  I was in there until the hot water ran out and then just stayed there, bent over with my face in my hands, shivering under the assault of cold water and wishing it would wash it all away.

Everything felt heavier.  Outside, the branches on the trees hung lower, the flowers did not stand as tall as they used to, and the birds were not flying as high.  My whole world was in mourning and felt the crushing weight of my loss. It was devastating.  It was suffocating.  It was surreal.  It was all-consuming.  It made me doubt myself, it made me angry, and it destroyed me from the inside out.   Death set me on a path to challenge everything I thought I understood about life.

I had so many questions, and I demanded answers from the universe.  How could this happen? Why him? Why not me?  Why couldn't I save him? Why is this so unfair?  This was not how things were supposed to happen. Why? Why? Why?

The universe answered me with deafening silence.

I share this with you because I want you to know that I understand. I understand the depth of your pain, your suffering, your anger, your guilt.  I lived there once.  I go back and visit sometimes, but I no longer stay there.  It is a conscious choice and a choice I had to realize I had.

Life is a dance of duality - happiness and sadness, light and dark - neither existing without the other.  They are opposing and conflicting but engaged in steps so intricate and graceful that the movements captivate us fully. We cannot run from them. We can only appreciate their necessity and beauty and allow ourselves to be swept away in the movement, regardless of which side is leading.  Give in and let go. Give in to your sadness, give in to your joy, let go of expectations and live in the moment.

He died 1,179 days ago. The old me died that day too.  My life fractured and broke into so many pieces that it was impossible to put it back together.  But I no longer feel broken. I no longer need my old life back or the old "me" back.  I have learned that you can emerge from the darkness if you choose. You can thrive where you are. A friend of mine lost his son several years ago. We have had many conversations about grief and loss. He said to me once, "Grief never really goes away.  You just find a place to put it so you can live again."  And you can live again.

When I look in my backyard now, some days the tree branches still hang lower.  But, the trees are still standing. Some days the flowers bloom brighter and fuller than the day before.  Sometimes the birds fly low, and sometimes they soar. But, they are all still there.  And so are you.  Walk your path, take deep breaths, cry out your sadness and let yourself laugh until it hurts. Take a step, even if it's a small one. Remember a happy moment and find something to look forward to tomorrow. If you can find gratitude in your past and find the even the smallest bit of hope for the future, joy and happiness will meet you where you are.


Anna-Lynn is a proud mother, a student of life, and lover of music and art who lost her husband to cancer in 2015.

Losing The Yes But

This is a difficult post to write because it's a tender one. And a happy one.

Anyone who has suffered a significant loss, will understand the complication of saying you are happy.

I have had six birthdays now as a widow. All of them were made special by dearest friends. Extremely special. Plans that were simple or extravagant, always very personal, all involving cake and all arranged with love.

This year was a first. A very, big, slightly overwhelming, tender, fragile, amazing first for me.

This year was the first year that I could say, I felt happy without there being a part inside of me that screamed Yes But.............

Because as someone who has lost someone close, you appreciate everything so much more and find yourself saying that you are happy, while there is part of you yearning and holding such a deep rooted sadness. I had accepted that part of me would always be sad. I never expected it to go.

I would read messages saying "Have an Amazing day" and think yes, but truthfully, there is only one thing now that would amaze me and that's David coming back.

I was wrong.

This was my amazing day - that this year, I did not have the "Yes, but ............."

And I was shocked. Slightly nervous.

In fact I waited for something to happen to shake me into a realization.

Then the guilt arrived and the questions of did this mean I was forgetting? How could I ever forget such an incredible part of my life, of my heart?

It hit me - no - it isn't forgetting. It doesn't require guilt. Quite the opposite.

It is a powerful turning point in my life, where I can say I loved tremendously and life happened to change the physicality of what I had and now life has also presented me with the choice to live fully, with all the knowledge and experience I have and even more.

It is a step allowing myself the gift of laughter, of joy and love, yes love again in my life. To trust again.

The gift where I have said to myself that I love and respect myself and I'm ready to share that part of me with the world. Because of everything I have been through, absolutely everything, I deserve to be genuinely happy.

This may seem like a simple step for anyone who has not lost a partner.

For me though, it felt like stepping off a cliff with a bungee rope tied to my thumb, no, a bungee rope held with my little finger.

To admit to everyone and mostly myself that I am a loving woman living right now who is excited to be alive. To be busy. To have a voice. To share my words. To be growing and to be finding new opportunities.

To have found another hand to take and turn to and make plans with.

To say I love you and to welcome it in return.

I never thought this moment would arrive and here it is. I'm in it, fully present and fully functioning.

Nobody is judging me or punishing me for being happy, far from it and, most importantly, I haven't lost anything, I have gained even more.

I always said there is no getting over or moving on - and I'm right.

It's bigger than that, it's a deeper acceptance that occurs. A stronger bond and connection that is so powerful that it embraces everything you desire, want and need.

So please, please, with all my heart - those dear tender people out there who are feeling their loss and the pain, keep turning that love back to you and keep the energy flowing, for it does grow into something else that you cannot understand or imagine yet. That you dare not believe yet.

I promise the "yes but,......." can blossom into a YES THANK YOU.



Associate Director of Training

Lead Facilitator for TeamBonding & Quixote Consulting


Jayne Hannah has received training in the emotional intelligence and 5 Dysfunctions model, with a passion for effective communication and is certified to administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Jayne emigrated 16 years ago to the U.S. from London, England. She has been facilitating corporate programs for over 20 years and always leads with her heart.  She is a passionate writer for the stage with productions being produced across New England and a founding member of the popular Blue Cow Group in Providence, Rhode Island. Her full length stage play “Stalking” enjoyed a preview this Summer by Counter Productions. She is currently co-authoring a book with writer Linda Pestana, as they lead the way in health advocacy for care partners and patients with life altering illnesses. “Life is a privilege and each day an opportunity to explore how we may do more.” In 2012 my husband died at the age of 57 of early on set Alzheimer’s, after an 8 year illness which began with cancer. The loss of the love of my life was profound and I have reached a stage where my corporate work is now spilling into what I want to be my mission. To support, guide, inspire, perhaps, most importantly, to share and support others throughout their journey. I was lost so severely at times, and Christina’s work was invaluable. I want the loss of my David to equal something to be proud of and that his soul can help others, as he indeed helps me, every day.

Loss While Pregnant

This is not a topic that most people want to read about or talk about.  However, something that is so important to address. While not a club that anyone wants an invitation to, it is truly of utmost importance to have people surrounding you in your worst possible time. Let me start at the beginning.

When my husband and I got married, we wanted to wait a few years to have children. When we finally started trying, it took us longer than we thought it would. Then one day, the stick turned colors, and well, you know the rest. We were extremely excited to tell my parents & close family, while wanting to wait to tell the rest of the world until that dreaded “12-week mark.” I wanted a girl, and my football loving, meat & potatoes guy wanted a boy. We decided in the end to wait to find out the sex of the baby until we met him/her in the hospital. Our family was beyond excited to welcome the first grandchild (no matter what the sex) into the world. Baby LaFore was due 2/2010.

When I was 3.5 months pregnant, things started to go downhill for my family. My brother was having issues with my parents, and his mental health symptoms were increasing. One night, I got a call from my parent’s neighbor and received the worst news I have ever had in my life. My brother had been shot. We were needed immediately to come to the scene. I was in a daze on the way over, and the entire night seemed to occur in a dream-like sequence. I remember my husband asking the police if I could have a chair as I was pregnant, instead of sitting in the road on the cement. I was asked questions, I do not remember answering. I numbly sat on the ground wishing I was anywhere else in the world, than where I was. I do remember the words “your brother died from suicide.”

The remaining months of my pregnancy passed in a blur. I was given more baby showers than I could count (mainly due to being the pregnant while whose brother died from suicide). People either stood by us, or, avoided us like the plague. Suicide is not contagious, but, it does have a stigma attached to it. I sat at my desk at work for 4-5 days staring at my computer, not even bothering to turn it on. One day a colleague came over and told me to get a doctor’s note in order to work from home. I had another colleague working from home, and she would check in on me constantly throughout the day. I was losing weight from not being able to eat or sleep, and, was closely monitored by the OB. My church, family, and husband were very supportive, but, again, I honestly remember little for the next couple of months. I was referred to talk to someone who specialized in grief & loss- which filled my time. Suicide survivor groups were attended.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I seemed to “wake up.” I knew I wanted this baby to be healthy, and that I would do anything to achieve that. I actively started participating in therapy, as well as the survivor groups. I asked for help. I practiced self-care. I ate, attempted to sleep, and exercised. And, oh how I prayed. If nothing else, my words were “Lord give me strength.” On 2/1/2010, we welcomed a much-needed ball of fury into our world. Isabella Kathleen came into this world like a fireball and has not stopped going since. I wept while I held her for the first time- curing God and thanking God at the same time. While the cycle of life was not something I asked for while being pregnant, I was presented with it anyway. A traumatic loss is hard enough, but, unbearably difficult when charged with caring for another life inside of you. While isolating at the time, I have met so many people along my grief/loss journey that have endured either a pregnancy loss itself, or a loss while pregnant. Please ask for help. Practice self-care. Let others hold you up, while you are unable to lift your head. I got you. You are not alone.

Carly Lafore is a licensed therapist, wife, mom of two, comfort zone camp volunteer, Christ follower, daughter, and a sister to a brother in heaven. She is a self described suicide thriver. #askmehisname

Don't Forget Our Children

Don’t forget our children.

As the days pass by.

Don’t forget our children.

Those that had a daddy, or a mommy, die.

Don’t forget our children.

As you go on with your day to day routine.

Don’t forget our children.

Truly profound loss, they have seen.

Don’t forget our children.

They deserve better than to wonder where everyone went.

Don’t forget our children.

Love and support for them is so critical, when received, it sometimes feels Heaven sent.

Don’t forget our children.

Just because they wear a smile.

Don’t forget our children.

If you think they are ‘Just fine’, you may be the one who is in denial.

Don’t forget our children.

The pain is forever there.

Don’t forget our children.

The little girl who quietly wishes her mommy could help her with her hair.

Don’t forget our children.

The small boy who wishes his dad was around to help him with his favorite sport.

Don’t forget our children.

They don’t deserve to feel intense pain, of this sort.

Don’t forget our children.

Just because you don’t see the tears.

Don’t forget our children.

You can’t imagine our profoundly deep, inner fears.

Don’t forget our children.

The ones who cry out at night.

Don’t forget our children.

“I miss my mom.”

Such a cruel and heartbreaking sight.

Don’t forget our children.

“Why did daddy have to die?”

Try explaining to a young child, why they had to say goodbye.

Don’t forget our children.

It hurts them, and thus it hurts us too.

Don’t forget our children.

They need us, but they could really benefit from you.

Don’t forget our children.

Moments and days in which they feel that haunting pain.

Don’t forget our children.

With your love and presence, they could truly gain.

Don’t forget our children.

Muffins with Mom and Donuts with Dad.

Don’t forget our children.

Each new occasion brings with it a special type of sad.

Don’t forget our children.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day too.

Don’t forget our children.

The absence of those we lost, if you only knew.

Don’t forget our children.

At a young age, they had a parent die.

Don’t forget our children.

Their souls cry.

Don’t forget our children.

The reality is though, that even if you do, it will be ok.

We’ll put on our capes.

And be their lone heroes.

Again today.

John Polo is a widower, stepdad, hope & empowerment coach, author and speaker. John is the author of the best-selling book "Widowed. Rants, Raves and Randoms" and can be followed on his website, www.betternotbitterwidower.com, and on social media by searching Better Not Bitter Widower.

Isn't Life Grand

It was probably in the second month when we were in my clunky, blue car. I can’t remember where we were headed, but I was driving. Dylan was in the passenger seat and Mom sat in the back, folding her hunched shoulders over her knees. Her black raincoat covered her shrinking body and each time she sighed, the Gore-Tex material would crinkle along with her.

Waiting at the stop light at the intersection I glanced over my shoulder to look at her.

No tears in this moment, at least not yet.

“Claudia called today,” she mumbled.

“Oh yeah?” I responded, “What did she say?”

“Nothing much. There’s nothing to talk about with people. They keep asking me how it’s going and I just want to scream, ‘life sucks’. Nothing to talk about. Nothing to see.”

Her words were quick and full of bitterness. My muscles clenched.

“I get that,” I murmured.

The light turned green and we kept on going. Driving ourselves further into the muck of grief.

It gets worse before it gets better. And in our case, it got much, much worse.

Another three months later and she had a breakdown. In the king-sized bed with the plaid-checked comforter, where he used to lay next to her on vacation. Her tears would not stop. We brought in aunts and uncles and caring cousins and tried, half-heartedly to create a care plan.

Holistic practitioners scrawled solutions on pads of paper. Remedies of rest, tinctures and hemp oils to soothe a grieving heart. Nothing seemed to be working.

Brought in more medication. The western doctor said it best when he asked, “What helps the most?” and her answer, “red wine” got not a rebuff, but permission.

“Then drink a bit more of it” he said, “Right when you wake up.”

We hired a care-taker and continued to drive her around, always in the back seat, always in the rain coat. We’d stroke her hands and play soothing songs, tensing our aching hearts toward her when the songs prompted more tears, not less.

Sat in the dark. For months.

Watched the tears roll over and over down her cheeks. The drips of emotion puddling in worn jeans and wrinkles on her hands all the way down to her painted toes.

She knew she had to start moving those appendages. They were getting stiff.

Baby steps.

Two and a half years passed.

Some involving actual babies – a job at a daycare, a trip to Italy. Lots of therapy with a sound therapist.

Her black raincoat hangs in the closet now, above his hiking boots. It’s ready for the next storm, but no longer needed as a daily accessory.

She’s cooking again – real meals that taste good. Not just spaghetti with mush of tomatoes or toast with butter.  This time there’s lobster tails, and pasta with cream, and crunchy salads full of life.

Last night, we sat on the deck after dinner, and she relaxed back in her chair. Bending her torso back over the supportive seat, she ran her newly graying hair through her hands. She took a deep inhale – this one full of joy.

“Isn’t life grand?” she murmured.

The sauvignon blanc in her glass goblet glittered in the light, matching the twinkle in her eye. The one that returned.

I wasn’t sure she would say such things again.

That life is grand.

Even without you.

That we are making it, and she is smiling, and we are no longer driving her around as she sits, waiting for something or someone, to move her out of the backseat.

Katie Huey believes in the power of story and the beauty found in sharing personal experience. Her freelance writing has appeared in Invoke Magazine, Conscious Company Magazine, and Hello Humans. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado and lives in Colorado with her husband Dylan and rambunctious puppy Olive. You can check out her blog at 52beautifulthings.com