Over the years I've pondered the meaning of trials and sorrow that my loved ones or I have endured. Some believe there are lessons to learn from hardship. I agree. In many instances we learn compassion, empathy, faith, trust, and humility. Our own choices will often lead to natural consequences that require repentance and remorse. However, there are some heartbreaking challenges that we may not understand during this lifetime.

There have been a number of young parents I know and love, taken from this life through sudden unexpected death. There is no lesson learned by a grieving husband and his children when the heart of their home no longer tucks little ones into bed, or kisses her husband and gives him a safe place to unload the burdens of his day. And what of the fathers, taken in their prime. Their families learn grief, fear, and insecurity at the loss of their protector. But I don't see a silver lining. Yes all these faithful families I know have an unshakable faith in God. They received strength through a Savior who has felt their sorrow and understands the bitterness of their grief. But will they know why this sacrifice was a necessary part of their personal plan on this earth.

There is purpose in suffering. And I have an abiding faith in a loving Heavenly Father that He has a plan for me and my life. These trials are part of that plan. What I'm trying to say is that our trials aren't always for this earthly existence alone. We are eternal beings and ...


I first learned about the Stress Index in my undergraduate studies. The Holmes Rahe Stress Scale gives a numeric value to many key life stressors, positive or negative. The study was conducted to determine whether the individual was at risk for developing illness based on their level of stress. In general a score above 300 indicates a high level of stress and may require intervention to avoid serious illness. The individual can then determine if some of their stressors can be eliminated?

We have a family friend who recently lost her husband after a long battle with cancer. She had other Life Events that added to her stress risk: A son leaving for college, Christmas the week after the funeral, a new home because of her reduced income. She also went back to college to improve her employment prospects, she began working part time, and she had insomnia (most likely a result of her grief). Her score on the scale is 329. She needed some support to help her maintain her health.

We just included the scale as an informative section for those who are grieving. If you can avoid adding additional stresses while mourning a loved one, you protect your health, which might help you cope better with your loss.

Stress index – Holmes and Rahe stress scale

Life Event (Life Change Units)

  • Death of a spouse (100)
  • Divorce (73)
  • Marital Separation (65)
  • Imprisonment (63)
  • Death of close family member (63)
  • ...


I've had a couple of close friends that have lost their mothers in the past few years. We've had many long talks about the loss they feel. What will I do without my cheerleader? Who do I talk to when I struggle with my rebellious child? How can I bring a new child into this world without my mom to share the joy? Will I be able to feel happy as we celebrate holidays and other important family events without my mom?

There isn't a magic formula for healing. My friends lost their moms at a considerably young age. They feel the loss so tragically because they still need a mothers reassurance with all the milestone events still ahead. One friend expressed it so poetically in her blog.

Life after mom...

I thought of not having you and a stone would grow in my heart, weighing me down, filling me with dread and apprehension. You have always been like a lighthouse that I could depend upon to steer me through rough seas.

You have been that reassuring light that meant: "You are safe, you are steady, I am here." Kvech Mom (Jennifer Liberts Weinberg)


I read another blog post that might be helpful. Here are the words of Talena Lydia and her list of 11 things to do when a parent dies.

  1. Write down everything you remember about the person. - Everything. Things that seem ...


"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. From an Irish headstone" ? Richard Puz, The Carolinian

Grief is a deeply personal experience that cannot be conscribed by any other person. Each person experiences the heartache of losing a loved one differently and so many factors add the variability of our journey through grief.

My sorrow for the loss of a friend to ovarian cancer had more to do with the things this young friend had yet to experience; marriage & children were the primary regrets. As her friends, we miss her caring concern for our families, her loyalty, her kindness, her compassion. For her mother, this was her only child and the pain of separation created an incredible lonely void.

If you are grieving the death of a loved one, don't let other people and their experiences determine how you grieve. Realize that you have the right to feel the loss and cherish your memories in a way that brings you the greatest sense of relief. I found a few myths about grief which I feel are beneficial.

MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.

Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.

MYTH: It's important to be "be strong" in the face of loss.

Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction...


The stages of grief are well known.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

It's helpful to know the stages if you've lost a loved one through death. Understanding the stages assists in healing and is beneficial in understanding that the feelings you may be experiencing are normal. Some people may not go through all the stages or they may get fixated in one area and need help moving through to a place of acceptance and normalcy. Each stage can take an undetermined amount of time to go through. The grieving process is as individual and unique as the people who experience it. But the outline can help to give you a framework for your grief.

For more information visit Grief.com at the-five-stages-of-grief

When we lost our baby, I was given a book called Gone Too Soon by Sherri Wittwer and the stages of grief were from SHARE, "When a Baby Dies" (pamphlet)

The stages were different.

  1. Shock and Numbness - Shock may be similar to the stage of Denial, but for me it was truly a time period where I just wanted to sit in the quiet of my home and stare at the walls. I didn't want distractions or feel like doing anything.
  2. Searching and Yearning - For me, this was an actual physical feeling. My arms needed to be full of a baby and he wasn't there. I felt the weight of that emptiness in a very physical way.
  3. Disor...


"Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles."
- Confucius, The Analects

When someone you love loses a loved one, your first instinct is to comfort. Follow that instinct. If you are sincere, your heartfelt words and expressions of love are always welcome. There are a few suggestions I would add. Here are my top 6.

  1. Refrain from comparing tragedies. Even if you have experienced a similar loss in your life, no one really understands the loss of each unique relationship we hold dear. It's always better to listen. Let those who are grieving tell you how they are feeling. You never want to minimize or assume you know what the person is experiencing. It certainly helps to have a network of people who have experienced loss and empathize. Just don't expect every person to experience death in the same way.
  2. Avoid philosophizing and religious platitudes. Of course some people have a faith that adds sustaining power in times of trial and heartache. I am one of those people. The stillbirth of our first son brought me closer to God than any other experience I had thus far. But let the grief stricken come to terms with their faith privately. Regardless of their religious belief or life philosophy, death's separation will still be painful. Faith does not take away suffering and may even cause additional pain when friends suggest that the deceased is in a better place. Remember again the opening thought. Sincerity is the key. Pay a...


"For many people, their obituary may be just about the only thing that is ever written about them in their whole life and death. The obituary can be the defining statement about that person for the family, friends, and community. An obituary can be read now, and saved for generations. All the more reason to make it lively and significant."

  1. Make sure it's accurate. A death is an emotional time and it is often left to a grieving loved one to write this tribute; the obituary. However, because the details are so important to those who mourn, it is crucial that the obituary is an accurate depiction of the deceased and those they leave behind. Write it and then proofread. Set it aside and proofread again. Have a friend or family member double check. Make sure names and dates are spelled correctly, accurate, and complete.
  2. Include all the vital information. Make sure to include birth and death date. Other important facts like marriage, children, employment, community service, etc. should also be included.
  3. Avoid identity theft. This is a concern for many people when a loved one dies; that their information and identity is kept safe. Do not give out addresses and phone numbers. If you are concerned, a shorter obituary can be published in the paper. Family members can keep a longer version for their family records.
  4. Talk about a life well lived; what the deceased should be remembered for. Telling a life story is a great responsibility. Ke...


"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. From an Irish headstone"
- Richard Puz, The Carolinian

You've been asked to deliver the Eulogy at your loved ones funeral. Where do you begin? Start with the purpose and definition of a eulogy.

A eulogy is a short speech of praise usually delivered at the beginning of a funeral proceeding. When considering the length of the speech, remember that this is your final moment to commemorate an important person in your life. While most are about 5 minutes in length, if you feel the need to lengthen the eulogy, use your best judgment.

The organization or structure can also be your choice. Many people tell a life story chronologically. You may also pick out defining characteristics of the deceased and organize your remarks in more of a bullet point fashion.

Write out your message, just in case you need to have someone else read your remarks. Sometimes the day of the funeral is overwhelming and emotional. It's best to be prepared with a back-up plan and let your alternate read through the eulogy a few times before.

Practice the eulogy enough to deliver it without reading it verbatim. You will want to work off notes instead of reading the eulogy. Write your remarks as you would speak and speak slowly.


What is considered proper to wear to a funeral or memorial service differs according to local customs and geographic region. But a few general guidelines can help steer you.

Mercifully, the old dreary dictate about wearing only black no longer applies - although, when in doubt, it's still generally a safe bet to choose either black or more muted colors, such as earth tones. Be guided by the general rule that you're attending the service to honor the person who died and to support close survivors, not to attract attention to yourself.

If you'll be attending a funeral rather than a memorial service, or you're related to the deceased or you have a role in the service, such as being a pallbearer or reciting a reading or prayer, choose somewhat conservative clothing.

You're generally safe to dress less formally when attending a memorial service; just make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, and presentable.

If the service is being held close to where you live, you probably already have a good idea of what would be considered acceptable - or you're acquainted with someone in the know whom you can ask for advice: the funeral director handling the arrangements, the religious leader who will be officiating, a relative or close friend of the deceased.

But if the service is being held out of town, you may need to be a bit more attuned to local customs, or do a bit of sleuthing to find them out. To locate people who can fill you in on local clothin...