May 17, 2016

Writing through the loss of my oldest son has been healing for me. Words have just flowed, along with the tears.

In the thousands of posts the past eight years, I’ve never had writer’s block, never struggled to put my thoughts to the page. But talking about the loss out loud has been quite the opposite. Most of the time, I either clam up or tears stream so steadily it prohibits me expressing what I want to say.

And that angers me.

I want to share Austin’s story with others. From the outpouring of support I’ve received from sharing our story on my personal blog and here at Still Standing, I know our journey has helped others. What hurts is that I can’t have and share that same connection in person.

When Austin first passed, we tried attending a support group a few times but found it too difficult. My husband was too lost in his grief to share. I couldn’t get out the words without crumbling into a sobbing mess. It also bothered us to see bereaved parents there who lost their children decades ago. To us, it was a horrible truth that this pain never ends and that was just too painful to face.

In the beginning, I ignored the steady stream of phone calls. Although I longed to talk with others who walked this path, I just couldn’t. It didn’t seem helpful to sit on a phone and cry the entire time. So I didn’t answer them. I reached out electronically — social media and the connections I’ve made through my blog helped to save me. It allowed me to express what I couldn’t in person. And that was ok…for a while.

Living in a small town, I don’t often have to share our loss because most people just know. Or at least they did. As time has passed, we find ourselves in new sets of circles who aren’t aware. It’s still so very hard for me to answer the question, “Do you have kids?” without tearing up. And that’s awkward, especially when meeting someone for the first time.

A few years back, as we became new members of our church, we gained new friendships and faces. One week in our small group we were asked to share what brought us there. I bit my lip, preparing myself as the circle drew closer to us. I prayed for peace, hoping to find the words once it came our turn. But everything I wanted to say came out in pieces, between the tears. I left the class frustrated, wishing I could hit the backspace and rewrite the last fifteen minutes.

Last spring, I was asked to give my testimony to a group of women.  It was the first time I’d publicly spoken of losing Austin.  Even though I tiptoed around it as much as possible, my story’s foundation centers around him.  Yet every time I began speaking of my son, my voice began to shake.

Lately, I can feel God nudging me to do and say more, to tell others in person what He’s done for us since our loss.  While I want to share, I still struggle knowing emotions may take over.

I’ve always expressed myself best in written form. In writing, I’ve never been scared to speak or at a loss of what to say, but alone at my computer, I’ve never had to deal with emotions getting in the way. At a keyboard, tears can fall as much as they want without disrupting the story.

Why is it so much harder to face this truth out loud?


  • Heather Blair

    In 2008, my world as I knew it changed forever, with the sudden loss of our 14-year-old son, Austin. The journey to my blog (and attitude toward life) was bumpy and tearful, beginning at a memorial blog for my son. I later chose to take another path, challenging myself to find the JOY in every day, despite the sadness I still felt. I love and miss him daily but I'm living my life to honor him - and celebrating every moment it brings. My find and share the joy in every day. You can find me at Joyful Challenge


    • Susan

      May 17, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      I am less than 3 months out from loosing my 34 year old Son, Ryan. I honestly believe that I am still in shock. I spent his last days beside him holding his hand as he vomited blood and took his last breath. These last days are indelibly imprinted in my memory and repeat themselves multiple times a day in my mind. Adding insult to injury, the attending physician was less than direct regarding his condition until it was obviously clear he would not make it. Only then, did the doctor acknowledge that Ryan had a zero percent chance of walking out of the hospital and this, he cowardly told me over the phone. Until that moment we had hoped that his condition would improve. Suddenly, I found myself in the heartbreaking position of asking my Son if he wanted to be cremated or buried.
      When Ryan was 5, I had what I thought would be the hardest conversation of my life when I had to tell him his Father had died unexpectedly. I have to say now, that that conversation paled in comparison. Since his death, I have been in an alternating state of shock and grief. I attend therapy 3x a week. One of these venues is a grief support group for parents. Like you, it disturbs me to see other parents grieving for many, many years. I am considering taking your lead and doing some writing about my Son and my loss. I pray for your peace and comfort in your journey of grief for your dear Son.

      1. Heather Blair

        Heather Blair

        May 17, 2016 at 7:24 pm

        3 months….oh, how I remember those days. Yes, you will be in an unfortunate replay of those horrible last moments. But in time that will fade. I hope you find writing to be healing, as it has been for me. Love and prayers.

    • Jessica

      May 20, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Oh wow Heather I could have written this. I have been able to write my heart out for the last eight years but saying the words out loud is a whole different story. I wonder if this is common with writers, maybe we write because it’s easier than talking.

    • Rinette Mills

      May 28, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you for writing… For your honest appraisal of the grief support for grieving parents … I have felt “odd and awful” each time I am reminded, “you should go to a grief group”… I HATE the idea of seeing other hurting parents … I am at 16 months.. Josh was 35… No-one mentions his name any longer. His young son is still processing… Choosing your title “Still Standingl was a powerful description of life after my only son left this earth. I guess I just wanted you to know that we are out here… Your readers… Gaining support from you! ❤️

    • Debbie Wieck

      Debbie Wieck

      May 27, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Beautiful written x I can relate to this on so many levels. I too have found writing very healing with the grief and loss of losing my 20 year old son Jacob in Oct 2015. I can write it but I struggle saying it out loud. When I’m nervous I tend too talk way too fast. But last night I got the courage to speak in front of a large audience in an auditorium about Jacob – who he was, what his dreams were in life, and how we wrapped in up with love all the rest of his days. The event was National Palliative care week in Australia and our stories were acted out by actors/actresses in play back theatre. I was proud to share with them Jacob’s story and they too wanted to hear more about him. He was here, his name should be mentioned and his life celebrated. Thanks

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