I am a fellow traveler in life – walking my path one step at a time. I struggled to get up and walk through the valley of grief after our six-year-old Ellie died in January 2012.
It is my pleasure to share these thoughts, scriptures, and quotes that have helped me during the most difficult time of my life.
Feel free to share this with anyone who might benefit.
With sympathy and love,
The Gift of Life
Life is a gift from God. Our children, family, friends, neighbors, and strangers are all gifts to be savored. Although some days may be full of hardship and sadness, each breath, heartbeat, and thought illustrates the beautiful gift of life. Keep the positive memories alive and thank God for the blessings in your past, present, and future.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
- – 2 Corinthians 9:15
“Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
- – Revelation 22:17
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- – Romans 6:23
“There’s promise and beauty in so many things if we are open to it. Even through the darkest moments, if we try and see the light, there is promise in this as well.”
- – Natalie Bacho
“The cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain.”
- – Pope Benedict XVI
You will experience many feelings in new ways. Sadness, guilt, despair, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, longing, anger, and frustration will likely run through your mind. Your feelings need to be expressed, but always remember that they are “at this moment.” This gives you hope and permission to have different feelings at a later time. Write a letter to your loved one or keep a journal of your feelings. The “why” and “what-if” questions will be asked over and over in your mind. At some point, you realize that you cannot understand the divine nature of birth or death. Embrace living without an answer by trusting and embracing the mysteries of God.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.”
- – 2 Corinthians 5:7
“…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
- – Matthew 6:10
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
- – Helen Keller
“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.”
- – Pat Conroy, My Reading Life
“The best way out is always through.”
- – Robert Frost
“One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.”
- – Gustave Flaubert
Let the Tears Flow
What is it about tears we are afraid of? It is human to cry. Crying helps you to heal. Cry with friends, family, and alone. Don’t be surprised when the grief “freight train” runs over you. Just be in the moment, and it will pass. Struggle through your emotions and you will find relief as your reward.
“…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
- – Psalm 30:5
“…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
- – Ecclesiastes 3:4
“Drinking from the waters of sorrow sustains a different kind of life. This river is hidden from the rest of the world. Tears drip off my chin into an endless flow of liquid love that sparkles with beauty.”
- – Todd Nigro
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears. For tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
- – Victor Frankl
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
- – Washington Irving
“Listen to God with a broken heart. He is not only the doctor who mends it, but also the father who wipes away the tears.”
- – Criss Jami
Talk to people about your loss and pain. Don’t hide or deny your feelings. Let people know that you need them and ask for help. Consider writing a letter to family and friends outlining your needs. Be patient with those that don’t know what to say. Talk about your loved one, and share your precious memories. Be grateful for those with the courage to hear your pain and stay with you on this journey. Always remember that you can always talk to God through prayer.
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
- – Matthew 12:34
“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.”
- – 1 Timothy 5:5
“For prayer is hope put to the test.
And hope is faith in what is best.
Faith is power to do great things.
Thus, prayer is faith’s enabling wings.”
- – Richelle E. Goodrich
“Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.”
- – Ric Ocasek
“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.”
- – Vera Nazarian
Grow Through Your Experience
It is not in people’s nature to change. Although loss is not comfortable, it can provide an amazing marker in life for incredible transformation. Look for the lessons to be learned in your situation about yourself and in life. What can you do to overcome and survive? Vow to use your loss situation to generate the energy to become more. You can be defined by your past, or refined by your past. Seek to serve others and value the gift of life in a way that you never knew before.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
- – John 16:33
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- – Jeremiah 29:11
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”
- – Anonymous
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
- – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
- – Charles Dickens
Grieve Your Way
You have been fundamentally changed by your loss. Others have too. It takes time to discover who you’ve become. Realize that each person is different and will grieve in ways you may not understand. During your time of sorrow, bring your family together. Be patient and find ways to support each other. Guilt and anger need to be expressed and released. Sadness and sorrow can be so heavy and paralyzing. You might struggle with this thought, but grief, guilt, and anguish can be a blessing.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
- – Matthew 5:4
“…my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.”
- – Psalm 88:9
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
- – Anne Lamott
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
- – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Follow the example of Jesus Christ. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love people unconditionally. Forgive. See beauty everywhere and give thanks for all the blessings in your life. Become the person that God wants you to be.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
- – 2 Corinthians 5:17
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
- – Luke 10:27
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- – Philippians 4:7
“It is our hope that it is that no matter what the circumstances, grieving parents can get through the storms of grief and come out on the other side, stronger, more compassionate, and more appreciative of what we all have right now.”
- – Mark and Linda Triplett
“We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.”
- – LeeAnn Taylor
“You cannot change your destination overnight. You can change your direction.”
- – Jim Rohn
Your Unique Path
God has planned a path for you. You will travel the path on your own, with God to help if you choose. Don’t compare your path with someone else. Other people’s paths may cross or run nearby, but only you can take steps on your path. Only you can choose to see the beauty around your current location and enjoy your journey. There may be amazing drops to deep valleys, but keep looking forward and take it one step at a time.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
- – Psalm 23:4
“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.”
- – Psalm 119:35
“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take.”
- – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.”
- – Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana
“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
- – Frank A. Clark
“Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.”
- – Theodore Roethke
Accept God’s Grace
Accept that your loss will offer you a new understanding. Trust God with all of your thoughts and feelings, even the negative ones. If you are struggling in your faith, cry out to Him. God is big enough to handle your lament. Accept God’s leadership and live in the palm of His hand. Accept His peace and comfort and be an instrument of His will.
“…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
- – Isaiah 61:3
“Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
- – 2 Timothy 2:21
“Nothing but this moment is guaranteed and I pray that this is a lesson that each person can learn before it has to be discovered.”
- – Keri Cannella-Moye
“Without a heart transformed by the grace of Christ, we just continue to manage external and internal darkness.”
- – Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel
“I am nothing but a ripped fabric stitched together by God’s grace.”
- – J.A. ANUM
Forgive, Apologize, and Let Go
God forgives you and loves you. There are two kinds of guilt — false and real. If you have done wrong, repent and ask God to forgive you. Be wary of false guilt. We live with imperfect information and try to make good decisions. Sometimes things don’t work out. Let the anger go as it only destroys you and serves no purpose. No relationship is perfect. You have made mistakes. There are things you wanted to do with your loved one, or things you wish you didn’t say. Thinking about all the things that could have been different can overwhelm you. Accept God’s forgiveness, forgive others, and free yourself from guilt. Apologize from your heart in prayer and let all negative thoughts go.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
- – Acts 3:19
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
- – Luke 6:37
“It’s okay to smile through your grief. As time passes, it’s okay to laugh and enjoy yourself. Don’t let the devil of guilt consume you. We are still here for a reason. It’s time to live life with purpose and passion.”
- – Daphne Greer
“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”
- – Bernard Meltzer
Seek meaning and a positive outcome for your loss. Your loss will open your eyes to those experiencing loss, giving you the unique ability to provide support and compassion to others. Serve other people. Open your eyes to other’s needs and provide comfort. Loving other people will take your mind from your pain and heals your grieving soul more than you realize. Be the rescuer, not the victim.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
- – 1 Peter 4:10
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
- – Romans 8:28
“When we volunteer to help those in need, we are building rewards in heaven that will last for eternity.”
- – Lourie Formby
“for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”
- – Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
- – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Never Lose Hope
Have hope for a brighter day. As painful as it seems, you can survive and thrive. There might be days when you feel that you are barely surviving. This is normal. Try to believe that the rest of your life can be the best of your life. And, our greatest hope is that of an eternal heaven with our Lord Jesus Christ.
“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
- – Isaiah 40:31
“…the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel.”
- – Colossians 1:5
“God never promised an easy life. He said that we will have suffering and heartaches, but He also promised that He will be with us, to comfort us and reunite us on the other side.”
- – Jim Sitton
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
- – Emily Dickinson
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
- – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Seek Help and Connect
Grieving is a normal process, but is also unique to each individual. Seek help if you feel stuck. Locate a support group if you need to discuss and vent your feelings to people who understand in a non-judgmental environment. Reach out to your church community and compassionate people. Consider GriefShare, Stephen Ministry, individual counseling, online grief groups, or other support programs. Connect with family members and close friends. Don’t go through grief alone. Seek help from the Lord.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
- – Proverbs 15:22
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
- – Romans 12:15
“Be gentle with yourself. This is a long and hard journey. Reach out for help if you need to and know that you are not alone.”
- – TB
“Never let your ego get in the way of asking for help when in desperate need. We have all been helped at a point in our lives.”
- – Edmond Mbiaka
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
- – Henri J.M. Nouwen
You Are What You Think!
Your thoughts determine who you are. Each one of us wrestles with our thoughts, and only God can really “understand” you and see into your mind. Choose your thoughts, actions, and reactions wisely. Take responsibility for your “current” reaction to whatever may have happened to you. Choose positive memories over regret, love over sorrow, forgiveness over anger, and peace over anxiety.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
- – Philippians 3:13-14
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
- – Philippians 4:8
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
- – Marcus Aurelius
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
- – Robert Frost
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
- – Roy T. Bennett
Suffering is Normal
Realize that suffering is a part of life. Learn to suffer well. You and your loved ones will experience trials many times and in many ways. People are watching you, especially as you suffer — show them how to do it with integrity, honor, love, and grace. Ask “God, what am I to learn through this?” Find moments of beauty and joy in the depths of your anguish. Seek God and open your heart to His love and peace.
“When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
- – Job 23:10
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
- – James 1:2-3
“Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey. And solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again.”
- – Helen Steiner Rice
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
- – Viktor E. Frankl
“But pain’s like water. It finds a way to push through any seal. There’s no way to stop it. Sometimes you have to let yourself sink inside of it before you can learn how to swim to the surface.”
- – Katie Kacvinsky
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
- – Oprah Winfrey
This Might Take Awhile — Be Patient!
Don’t put unrealistic demands upon yourself. Let yourself heal according to your own time frame. Each path is unique and will have many ups and downs. Be patient with other grievers and with friends, family, and strangers that do not understand. Keep an eternal perspective.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
- – James 1:4
“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
- – Colossians 1:11
“Grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction, that must be taken. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied.”
- – Molly Fumia
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
- – C. S. Lewis
“The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.”
- – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”
- – Molière
Find something to be passionate about. Challenge yourself and take action. Channel your energy and anxiety into a new hobby, sport, or learning something new. Exercise and eat healthy. Staying busy can be an effective way to move forward during stressful periods. Although keeping busy can be helpful, this does not heal a wounded heart. Take time to remember and to grieve as well.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
- – Acts 20:35
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
- – Proverbs 14:23
“I figured I better start living because God obviously didn’t want me dead yet! That’s the real lesson with any loss. You are still alive, so live. Don’t just exist. Don’t just breathe in and out. Don’t just go through the motions. LIVE!”
- – Leslie Wachter McDonald
“Trust that an ending is followed by a beginning.”
- – Anonymous
“When you are not sure what to do, take action. You will quickly find out.”
- – Jeffrey Fry
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made,
What’s a sundial in the shade?”
- – Benjamin Franklin
You’ve Made it Through This, Be Fearless!
Do not be afraid. Your loving and forgiving Father is available to you. Trust in Him and His wisdom. You can find the strength to survive and thrive through any situation.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
- – Joshua 1:9
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
- – John 14:27
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- – Isaiah 41:10
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
- – Winston S. Churchill
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
- – Maya Angelou
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”
- – August Wilson
Love Outshines the Darkness
Remember the love that you shared. Don’t forget the family and friends that are still part of your life. Stay sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. Spend quality time with those that you love and enrich their lives. God loves you unconditionally. Love all people with no expectations. Seek those that need both your love and God’s love. Love involves action. What we do says more about what we believe, than anything we might say.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
- – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
- – 1 Corinthians 13:13
“NEVER give up! It is not over until GOD says it is over! Fight the good fight and keep the faith. LOVE like you never have and LOVE each other no matter what has happened in the past. LOVE outshines the darkness!”
- – Dean Synan
“Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
- – Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”
- – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
A Prayer for the Grieving
“Father, thank you for the beautiful gift of life. I dedicate my life to You . Thank you for forgiving me and saving me through Your Son, Jesus Christ. I’m sorry for the sins I have committed, help me to turn away from them, and be the person You want me to be. I trust that the path created for me is perfectly designed by You. Father, as I struggle through this valley, thank you for the blessings in my life. As I cry in despair, please draw near and soothe my heart. Guide me to be patient and kind, and to reach out to those that love me. Open my eyes to see the eternal souls all around me who are in need. Help me to grow and be transformed through this situation into a more compassionate and loving being. Thank you for the encouragement and support of my family, friends, and church. Father, sustain me to seek You in each moment and to choose my thoughts wisely. Help me to find the strength to do your work. Thank you for helping me to be unafraid. There is great hope in the promise of an eternal heaven with You. Please shine your beautiful light through me, despite my suffering. Your amazing unconditional love is beyond my comprehension. Father, I pray that love, compassion, acceptance, and peace will blossom in me as your presence lights my soul. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.”
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
- – 1 John 5:14
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
- – Abraham Lincoln
It is my hope that this page has been encouraging to you on your journey.
If you would like to learn more about my family and the impact Ellie has made in my life, click to read my story, Living Ellie’s Way.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on grief (Leave a Comment below). Also, feel free to share with anyone that might benefit.