Confessions Of A Grieving Mom And Tips For Surviving


Confessions Of A Grieving Mom And Tips For Surviving

“Chas, mom’s been in an accident,” my sister said in a panic.

It was a Monday morning in April, the sun was shining, birds were chirping. I immediately stood up, seemingly to attempt to understand the severity of the situation. Surely my little sister was being dramatic, perhaps? She continued, “I think they are going to fly her out.” My eyes began darting back and forth as I started to pace in the kitchen. I did not know what to do next. I had just gotten off the phone with Mom about 45 minutes before, circumstances that morning allowed us to FaceTime for about an hour.

I made a call to a friend from church to request prayer, grabbed a couple of things and jumped in my van to make the 3.5 hour drive to my hometown during which time my sisters would call frequently with updates. One moment mom would be stable enough to fly out, the next she would not be.

I pulled over and waited for a friend to drive me, while I determined where we should go. Our options were either a larger hospital in a bigger city (if they were able to stabilize her and fly her out) or our hometown hospital, which would mean that she would not make it. In the Hixson Target parking lot, I prayed, paced around the van and was even able to talk to my mom as the paramedics performed CPR. They put the phone to her ear as I expressed my love for her and told her I was on my way. My sisters called me again, this time they said mom had a pulse and they were preparing to fly her out. I immediately jumped on Facebook and requested prayers for my precious mom.

Not even ten minutes later, my sister phoned: “She didn’t make it.”

I don’t remember much after that. I sometimes try to jog my memory by talking with my gracious friend who offered to drive me, but it is mostly a blur. There was a lot of denial.

Once we made it to my hometown, I walked into the hospital room to see my mom lying on a metal table. That’s my mom, I thought. I studied her arms and hands, and tried to comprehend what had happened. Then it hit me: it was not just my mom that we lost. We had lost an amazing Nana. How in the world would I tell my nine-, eight-, three- and two-year-olds that they had lost one of their best friends? Their worlds were about to be turned upside down. Despite the distance, she was a hands-on Nana, the best Nana. She was supposed to spend the following weekend with us, the kids were so excited about her upcoming trip. Instead, we spent that Friday at her funeral. How in the world would I tell them?

I have experienced significant loss like when I lost my dad, but that was before kids. Acknowledging this loss and navigating this grief was going to be a much different journey than before.

Tip #1: Just Tell Them

There’s no wrong or right way to share terrible news. You can rehearse what you’re going to say, play it out in your head repeatedly, but when the time comes, it may not look anything like you rehearsed. It would be best just to (age-appropriately) share the news and be honest. Be ready for silence. Be ready for questions. It was already strange to my kids that I was out of town and not home after school, so they already had a lot of questions that I wasn’t ready to answer.

We did not share the news the day of my mom’s death. Though the kids spent the rest of the day at school, they did not go back the rest of the week. Their dad made a good point saying they could possibly hear about the incident from someone else, so they stayed home with him. We discussed how we would tell them and when we would tell them. A couple of days later, the time came for us to share news. We were on a video call and I could not find the words… My kids were confused as to why I was in Kentucky and they did not get to come. I think knowing how their world would change made my anxiety of telling them worse than actually telling them. I tried, but the words would not come out. One of my sons picked up on what was happening and said, “Nana is dead, isn’t she?” I have no idea how he knew, but he knew. He may not have understood, but he knew.

Tip #2: Accept Help

We traveled home that weekend and the kids returned to school that Monday. I will forever be grateful to those who showered us with love. Sometimes it is easy to feel like an inconvenience, but make sure to dismiss those thoughts and recognize that you cannot do this alone — accept the help. Our friends brought meals for weeks following my mom’s death. The first meal we received was the day we got home. A good friend cooked a chicken casserole without knowing that my mom used to make the same dish when she would visit. The meal instantly reminded me of my mom and it was comforting. Friends helped by watching the kids, stopping by the house so I wouldn’t be alone until their dad got home from work. Our church family showed up like we have never experienced before by recognizing the need and meeting it. It was remarkable to see the outpouring of love from our village. During the first few weeks, I may not have been the most mentally present mom, but I know my children were surrounded by and supported by those who love and care for them which allowed me to survive those first few weeks.

Tip #3: Be Transparent

Losing my mom was hard and I was not going to pretend it wasn’t. We were mourning. I attempted to be transparent with my emotions. The heartbreak was real. Grief is a normal part of life when you suffer a loss. I would (and still do) check in with the children about how they are feeling. One of them is pretty silent about his emotions, but you can see the hurt in his tear-filled eyes though he isn’t ready to talk about the pain. Occasionally, he will share a memory of his Nana or something will remind him of her and he will smile as he talks about her. This warms my heart. Another child talks about Nana more; he is more open about his emotions. My third child, who is four, talks about Nana a lot at bedtime, saying she misses Nana and wants to see her again.

Tip #4: Face It

Wake up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. Even on days when you feel numb, when you’re not sure how you’ll be able get the children dressed, when you’re not sure how you’re going to get them loaded in the car or even dropped off school…just do it. On most days, you might just be going through the motions, but that is okay, just keep going. You don’t have to wear a smile, you don’t have to pretend you’re not grieving. We are being transparent, remember? You do not fake it until you make it, you face it until you make it.

Recently, a friend experienced a significant loss. She was shocked and grief-stricken and wasn’t sure how to tell her children. I offered my advice but thought it may be beneficial to hear from a child’s viewpoint. I asked my older boys if they would share their thoughts. They suggested she tell her children by just “spitting out the beans.” They said the children will have a lot of questions and will be sad, but that talking about it and having play dates with friends helps. They prayed for their friends that night. A few days later, they asked if she had told her children and how they took it. I think it was good for my kids to share their tips. I would highly recommend allowing your children to share their perspective of the experience to help others. It was a wholesome moment.

April 25 is a whole year without our Nana. We have survived this past year by telling the kids and being honest about what happened, accepting help from others, being transparent with our emotions and facing the day. Being a mom in mourning isn’t fun. Grief has no time frame. I have learned to show myself grace and allow myself to feel the hurt.

Losing someone you love is hard, but time has a way of promoting healing and there is great comfort in sharing experiences.


  1. I think of you often sweet lady. You’re such a good mommy! Your kiddos are so blessed to have you! And I know you feel blessed to get to be their mommy❤️ Lots of love, hugs and prayers for you and your beautiful family 🤗

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