CLICK HERE for Donna's Introduction to Wisps of Hope
Imagine me, a blogger. I’m over 60 now, and I confess that I still sometimes call an email a text message … I have to remind myself that you “tweet” not “twitter” … and I only “do” facebook so that I can watch my friends’ grandchildren grow up …
But I’m also an extrovert, getting energy from interactions with others and feeling a strong sense of accomplishment when those interactions enrich others’ lives as they do my own. The rapid evolution of social media has provided new channels for such exchanges and, for me, it is the death of my youngest daughter, Emma, in July 2011, that provides the motivation.
I’ve called this new blog Wisps of Hope … In it I’ll share things I’ve experienced and felt since that dark day over three years ago when Emma died – both the challenges, which are frequent, and the wisps of joy and hope, which do begin to weave back in … I want to share books and movies and articles and quotes and organizations that have mattered to me and to my network of friends and family …
And I hope to hear from you … I have enjoyed writing a few articles, speaking to a number of audiences, and even writing a book. It has put me in touch with many people who all have difficult challenges of their own. But it would be a source of strength if we could stay more connected, and hopefully this site will help make that happen. As a website, we are just spreading our wings in terms of creating connections. For now, I encourage you to: 1) sign up for new “Wisps” in the registration section elsewhere on this page and 2) send me a note introducing yourself via the contact form on the About Us page.
Whether you have lost a child, a sibling or parent, a good friend, a beloved pet, or even if you just want to be there for someone who has, I welcome you to Wisps of Hope and pray that you find some comfort and hope in these pages, if only for a moment. With that, let the wisps begin …
- Grief is something you learn to carry … especially through the holidays December 17, 2015
When I am asked how the grief caused by losing someone you love changes over time, I suggest that unfortunately the grief journey is not linear and there are no reliable mileposts to help guide you along the way. Grief is not something you get over or even through, as I’ve heard people say. In my experience, grief is something you learn to carry. It will always be with you in some form, and you will never be the same as you were before. However, there are times when grief may be a little softer than other times and, at some point, you are likely to experience joy again, though you might not recognize it at first.
The holidays can be the worst times. That pretty much goes without saying but, importantly, they are also the times when happiness may be lurking just around the corner. Any happiness will most likely be fleeting and less all-encompassing than it used to be, but I do believe that it’s there and that opportunities to let in the warmth of the holiday spirit will increase over time. Continue reading →
- Hope … on the Way to Faith? July 20, 2015
I’m often asked if I believe in the afterlife. Perhaps because I’ve lost a child, which many believe is the worst possible thing that can happen to a person, my opinion on the subject carries a little extra weight. Or perhaps the asker is simply seeking a pebble of “proof” to add to their own ponderings on what happens after death. Or maybe it’s just plain curiosity.
I usually say that I hope there is an afterlife and, from what I can tell, my response seems to be a bit disappointing. But there is significant meaning in that answer because, for me, hope is everything. And it’s taken me a long time to get from the depths of despair caused by losing Emma to a place where I can hope again.
Hope has reignited my spiritual journey. For many years, I equated spirituality with religion. And, as a busy wife, mother, and corporate professional, nurturing that spirituality became a distant memory. Sure I attended Sunday School, was confirmed, got married in a church, baptized my children, and then took them to Sunday School for awhile. Then life took over. I was busy, busy, busy, and I hadn’t the time to think about whether God was present in my life or what happened to you when you died.
Then Emma died. Continue reading →
- The Tides of Summer, Emma & Me July 7, 2015
Summer has been my least favorite season ever since I graduated from college. Growing up, of course, it was magical – my grandparents had a summer house at Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island along the Jersey Shore, and I spent many a lazy summer day searching for whatever treasures the tides had left on the beach and experiencing that pleasurable mix of fear and exhilaration while body surfing at high tide. Nanna had her rules: don’t go to the beach until your chores are done, don’t go for more than two hours, don’t go when there’s a west wind because of flies, etc. But all things considered, it was a little like what I imagined heaven to be.
Fast-forward to graduating from college and taking on my first real job. What a shock it was to go from having all summer to kick around doing close to nothing, to having just two weeks of vacation for cramming everything I wanted to enjoy into much too short a time. When that first June came along, my desire to “go down the shore” was so strong that I almost quit my job! Continue reading →
- There’s more than one way to solve a jigsaw puzzle … July 3, 2015
An Emma Story … One of my favorite memories of Emma is from when she was a little girl. She had gotten a puzzle – a child’s puzzle with 8-10 wooden pieces – it was a farm scene I think. She had all of the pieces, and the idea, of course, was to put it all back together. But Emma was really struggling with that part. So, what she ended up doing was … She was sitting on the kitchen floor. She took all the pots and pans out. She got all the dish towels out. And then she made a little family of these puzzle pieces. She had them hugging each other. They’d go to bed in a pot. She’d cover them up with dish towel and all of that. That’s probably the simplest story I can tell that is so typical of Emma.
This Emma Story is an excerpt from Donna’s recent interview on Vincent Edward’s radio webcast show, What Matters Most to You.
Listen to the entire interview – CLICK HERE.
- The Looming ‘Empty Nest’ – Someday They’ll Be Gone July 1, 2015
My oldest daughter, Sarah, is in Japan this summer embarking on an adventure with her boyfriend, which could become a forever thing. She moved back “home” when Emma died, slipping into the basement apartment just as my youngest son, Ben, was moving out to live with his then girlfriend, now wife, Alex. In a very real way, we have never been “empty-nesters” until now. Although this may be temporary, it has caused me to reflect on the differences between losing a child to death and losing a child to life.
I lost a part of Emma to death, but so too have I lost a piece of each of my children to life. It is the way of the world. It’s painful in some ways, but in most ways it’s as it should be, and that makes it right. I will never think that Emma’s death was good – my husband still firmly believes that God made a BIG mistake. No healthy, happy, vivacious 19-year-old simply dies in her sleep. But I’ve come to accept that it was the unique way she left the nest. I’ve come to believe she lives on, taking our teachings and guidance and making them her own, on her own. Continue reading →