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Cheat Sheet on Stages of Grief

Pacific Ocean

Every time that I am hit with the overwhelming power of grief, I forget that there are stages. The gives all of us the power to give ourselves permission to grief and not hold it in. This is also good for those who want to help their loved one who is in pain.

Here are the crib notes:

  1. Denial and Isolation. This stage makes us shut the outside world. It is hard to do simple things like go to the grocery store in fear of running into someone and have to talk.
  2. Anger. When denial fades away our defense mechanism takes over. Anger is a magnification of our own pain that can be aimed at those who still have their loved ones, strangers and other loved ones. Give the one in pain time and don’t fight back in anger.
  3. Bargaining. This is the ‘what if’ part that can be the hardest to get out of. ‘What if’ is normal. The best thing to do is write out your questions and observations to talk to a grief counselor.
  4. Depression. This is the slow uphill peak that envelopes you in sadness and regret. Pay attention to yourself or your surroundings if anyone has thoughts of suicide. Journal your pain. Ask for help.
  5. Acceptance. This is the stage that may never come for some living with grief. The dark and awful truth is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, your loved one is gone. They will be with you in your heart and memoires forever.

As I said, with my many losses, I forget to allow myself to grieve. It also helps if those around you know these stages and can help nurture your feelings.

I wish you the best support. And you can always connect here with me online or many others who have lived through their hard grief.



Moms: 10 Reasons That It’s Okay.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 11.40.59 AMIt’s okay to say hi.

It’s okay to say no.

It’s okay to have cake for breakfast.

It’s okay to have a self-pity party.

It’s okay to scream (into a pillow, in the sky or alone in the car.)

It’s okay to let them watch TV.

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to leave the dishes in the sink and watch Netflix.

It’s okay to think you’re doing it wrong.

It’s okay if you do it right.


It’s not okay to be silent. Your voice matters. Be kind to yourself.

I Didn’t Learn from Mom


Music ClassI grab all the bags from the trunk in efforts to make only one trip. My girls are unbuckled and now waiting for me patiently on the sidewalk. They take each other’s hand to safely cross the street. Their giggles can be heard all through the air.

I follow behind them and up to the stairs. Before we can ring the doorbell, their friends open the door. They all shriek as shoes fly off and jackets are dumped in a pile.

I place the bags down to organize their mess. I shout to my friend, who’s in her kitchen down the hall. With everything neat, I stroll down the hallway to greet her properly and place the food we brought. I smile at the other moms who are about chasing after their toddlers or quietly nursing on the couch.

My feet feel cool on the floor. What a perfect day for a play date. I haven’t had an adult conversation in ages unless you count the cashier when had to stop to buy cookies and the veggie plate for this afternoon. I turn the corner with my arm out for a hug to the hostess and ask her where I can put everything. She is facing the stove stirring a few pots, motioning for me to put the stuff by the counter behind her.

The counter is filled with plates of sandwiches, home-baked goods and a huge fruit plate that clearly didn’t come from a store. My heart sinks heavily with guilt as I take the scissors to slide up open the plastic wrap on the veggie tray and cookies. Most of these moms are cooks and make things from scratch. It isn’t a surprise really. I don’t know why it is getting to me today.

My mom wore out the crockpot and stocked up on Swanson frozen breakfast and dinner trays. We ate out a lot, since home deliveries were not a thing back then. I don’t even recall ever spending time with her in the kitchen, except to eat breakfast or grab a snack to have outside or in front of the television. She didn’t cook.

To this day, I would barely pass as a cook. We don’t have a microwave, yet have discovered a love for our slow cooker. I had very few good friends until I became a mom. Losing my mom before I was a teenager left me without knowing how to make friends, and how to keep them. The only connection was having a strong passion for a similar interest in something like: skating, acting and now, parenting. There was never a blueprint given to me on how to grow and fuel relationships. Maybe that’s why friends drifted away after she died, and my silence grew when the abuse started.

I hear the squeals of the kids from the playroom as I look around me. I never planned to be a mom, and I’m honored to have our village help me along the way.

What I Am Reading Now

A Brilliant Deception

A Brilliant Deception by Kim Foster

As I have written before about the AB&T series, I have loved following Cat Montgomery in her chosen professional career. I have obsessed with the triangle of Cat, Jack and Ethan. Cat has done some pretty dangerous heists and she is ready to say goodbye to that life.

Despite her wanting to leave, she is recruited to retrieve the Lionheart, a legendary medieval ring from the finest gold. It was excavated from the grave of Robin Hood. Cat allows herself to retire with a BOOM.

The pages will melt away as you see what Cat will do for work and love. You might want to check out the first two books for the entire backstory. The trilogy is available at your favorite e-book store.

miss emily_smaller

Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor

Nuala’s American debut novel reinvents the private life of Emily Dickinson, one of America’s endeared poets, in her own distinct voice through the eyes of the Irish maid, Ada Concannon.

Deep in the heart of Amherst, Massachusetts, Ada strikes up a valued friendship with Miss Emily, the gifted, elder spinster daughter living at home. Emily’s passion for words begins to envelop her. She avoids leaving the family home.

When Ada’s safety and reputation are threatened, Miss Emily faces her own demons to help her only friend.

This is a refreshing take on beloved poet Emily Dickinson’s life. Its pages flow with a nostalgic, yet contemporary vibe that will shock you.

Come Away with Me

Come Away With Me by Karma Brown

This tale will inspire you to order out for dinner, make sure the Chardonnay is chilled, and put a DVD on for the kids.

Tegan Lawson has everything: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next moment, a patch of black ice sends them spinning on life they never planned. She is consumed by grief and anger towards Gabe for causing the accident. He then brings out their Jar of Spontaneity in efforts to help them heal and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

Come Away With Me will take you from Thailand to Italy, and even to the surf in Hawaii. Follow along as Tegan and Gabe try to find their way back together and heal from heartbreaking loss.

Will they find love amongst grief?

I highly recommend all three books mentioned for your book club. All books are available for pre-order/order at your favorite bookstore.

Summer Schedules: To Have or Have Not?

#KCT 1Holy crap! It is June. The kids will be out of school shortly. With all the year-end activities at school, time flies by. Shoot! I didn’t book any summer camps! I almost drop my iPad as my fingers fly across the keyboard, Googling local day camps for summer. I find so many are fully booked. ARGH!

My pulse is heightened. Panic sets in. I see the past 10 months of the family calendar full in my eye. Most of the days were filled with all the activities, schedules and appointments. June is still just as full. It is exhausting just reading the days of the month.

I flip to July. Its blank spaces shine like the hot summer sun. Flashes of no alarm clock mornings, random park visits and picnics fill my head. No schedules sounds like a perfect dream, one I want for my girls. I will see how far we can make it without a busy schedule.

Wish us luck!

Have you tried a full break from schedules during a holiday time?


My Top 10 Happy Places

Us2015There is no question that 2015 has been a rough year for me. When the word ‘mindful’ came up with my health adviser, I knew that I needed to reframe my thoughts and be present. So, I made a list of my top 10 happy places to reference when I need to lean on them.

They are:

  1. My husband’s hugs. Nothing more powerful than to be surrounded with unconditional love.
  2. My writing desk. It was my grandfather’s, and my mom and aunts did their homework on it.
  3. I love swinging with my girls. You always need a reminder that your feet can touch the sky.
  4. A Netflix date with my hubby: couch, popcorn, good wine, and a fireplace is medicine for my soul.
  5. My feet up wrapped under a blanket, and a good book while listening to the rain. Reading is my perfect prescription for relaxation.
  6. I love eating alone in a pub with my journal and a current book. I can be by my own best date.
  7. I adore the sounds of my girls playing and enjoying each other’s company, especially without me.
  8. I love staying still in the sun. Closing my eyes, I can imagine I am anywhere.
  9. Solace to my soul is the melodic sound of my older daughter reading to her younger sister.
  10. I crave to learn about the craft of writing. I used to fidget in class in boredom. Put me in a class of a creative writing, and hours melt away.

 What are your happy places?


5 More Minutes, Please. #YMCCommunity

Pacific Ocean When it’s time for Mother’s Day, all the old wounds and the grief come crashing down on my heart and soul. I know it’s not fair for my girls for me, mommy, to be sad. Every year it gets a little easier, and yet a little harder. I give myself permission to let all the emotions come in.

So many loved ones have gone too fast. Never does a day go by that I regret things I didn’t say to those gone too soon.

Let It Go

If a loved one passes too soon, it is hard to let go of regrets on what wasn’t said between you. Even if it was an argument, anger is a result of hurt. You need to not only forgive the dearly departed, but forgive yourself. Once you do that you can let it go and move forward. You can do it.

Talk About Them

There always seems to be a pink elephant in the room when a loved one passes. Their name is never spoken. It is OKAY to speak their name, perhaps share a memory or an anecdote. Look at photo albums and remember the good times. This is how the loved one is kept alive in your heart.

Grieve. Grieve. Grieve.

It may have been over 30 years since my mom died, but I still think of her. I want 5 more minutes with her. I long for 5 more minutes with my Grandmas and my foster mom too.

If I had 5 more minutes them, I would say:

I love you for always.

I’m sorry I never appreciated you enough when you were here.

I can’t wait to see you again.

 Who do you wish you could spend 5 more minutes with? What would you say to them?






Saying Goodbye Sucks: A Poem

One minute you’re here

We laughed, we cheered

I turn for a second,

when I come back

you were gone.

I crane my neck searching for you,

not a trace of you to be found.

My heart stalls it’s rhythm

and rips out it’s old wounds.

I ache at future without you in it

I forget how to move my feet,

frozen in time.

My heart begins again.

My breathing returns..

My feet move forward.

Saying goodbye sucks.

Mother Holding Child's Hand