I shared my bed with a dog last night…her name is Juniper…

There is a very logical reason I shared my bed with her.


Juniper is our youngest son Ryan and his fiancé’s dog…a source of their pride and joy…who can chase a ball for hours…who still plays with doggie toys.


Who even though she’s a full grown dog still has a lot of puppy in her.

Who in the morning loves to eat her breakfast…and lets you know when it’s time for dinner


When Amy’s 96 year old grandmother passed away after a long and wonderful life…which to the family was still too brief…we asked Amy if there was anything we could do to help to assuage her grief.


Of course love and support are all we can offer…each person deals with grief in their own way…but she asked if we’d watch Juniper while she and Ryan were away.


We said of course…we’d be happy for Juniper to come for an overnight stay

So the next morning they dropped her off…thanked us and then went on their way


When they left we we made sure not to make a ruckus, not to cause a commotion or too much of a fuss…Realizing although we both knew who Juni was…she really didn’t know us.


She must have been wondering…the two people she loves…where in the world did they go….and why did they leave me in this strange house with two people I don’t know.


She kept looking at the door…every time it opened a crack…

Hoping, I imagine, for Ryan and Amy to come back.


So to help her cope with the situation….to accept her confusing paradigm….

we let her snack a little more than normal…and threw her ball a thousand times.


We did the best we could to let her know everything would be all right…

One of us stayed home at all times…so she could keep us in her sight.


We gave her love, we exercised her, we kept her safe and warm and fed…

but she was still a little nervous when it came time for to bed.


So after a small discussion Deborah and I agreed

That I’d sleep in the spare bedroom and take Juniper with me.


I think Juni understood…as she matched me stride for stride…

and before I even invited her up…she was sleeping by my side.


I think sometimes we forget how our pets can be affected by a family tragedy…

Which is why I shared my bed with Juniper last night…

and why we both slept so peacefully

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When we experience grief…which we all will…someday

when we think about our loss…when we stop to pray


may however we choose to pray…whatever words…whatever prayer

be carried upon the wings of eagles high into the air…


may they soar into the clouds…high beyond the sky so blue

and fall softly on whatever great spirit you happen to be praying to.


May we be blessed to embrace this Native Americans belief

of how there will always be another side of grief.


the side where our love never softens

where our tears of sadness still flow…just not as often…


where…when we visit our memories…after a while

they still bring a bit of sadness but also a few more smiles.


The side where we once again look forward to tomorrow….

where joy and peace are present…with just a hint of sorrow.

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I know I have to live, the old man said, having just lost his entire family to war…

But how do I go one living when I have nothing to live for?


How will I face the loneliness each evening…the heartbreak of each dawn?

How will I go on…when all I have…is gone?


Where will I put my grief every time hear their names…

knowing my broken heart will never beat the same?


How will I separate my sorrow while protecting their memories each day?

How do I keep those memories from ever fading away?


How will I find happiness again and not buckle under the strain?

How do I ensure your hate will not start running through my veins?


How do I keep your hate from winning when I’m so angry…when all I want to do is cry?

I’m not sure how I’ll do all this…but…for their sake…I know I have to try.


I will try with all my heart not to let you have my hate…and all it’s accompanying sins…

Because I know first-hand how much there is to lose…

the moment hate begins.




His love was ever present but quiet…still in it they found relief…so it only stands to reason he’d be quiet in his grief.


There are no rules for dealing with death…which is why, after his wife died,…despite his heart being broken…despite his sorrow…despite all this…he never cried.


His children and friends would visit…wanting to help…and in so many ways they tried…but in spite of their friendship and love…in spite of the sorrow hiding in his heart…in spite of all this…he never cried.


In his mind it was quite simple…there was one hope he kept leaning on…for in spite of what he knew to be true…he could’t accept that she was gone.


After 40 years together he kept hoping…dreaming she would walk through their front door…and greet him with a smile as she’d done a million times before.


Hoping what had happened couldn’t possibly be true…that it must be a mistake…a big misunderstanding…a dream from which he will awake.


In his own time he did come to realize his life would never return to the same track…that his wife is gone forever…that she’ll never be coming back.


On that day…

the day he understood she would no longer be there to hold his hand…

to whisper in his ear…

to look at him wide-eyed…

that is the day he grabbed his heart…

fell to his knees…

that is the day…

he cried.

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They say that Time is magical…that she makes everything brand new

They say that Time can heal all wounds…but…I don’t believe that’s true.


I believe there are some wounds so deep…so sorrowful

that the best Time can do…is help conceal them…

for she knows no matter how hard she tries

she’ll never be able to heal them.


And though she is saddened when those wounds reappear

for she understands those moments will be rough…

she takes solace knowing all the other times

concealing them’s enough.

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The young son came to his father…not long after his Grandpa had died…with tears still lingering in his eyes…eyes that were open wide.


“I know that Grandpa’s gone,” he said, “and at the funeral we said goodbye…but is there anyway to visit him in heaven…or do I have to wait until I die?”


“There are always visiting hours in heaven.” Dad said. “But to heaven you don’t have to climb…because heaven has made it easy to visit Grandpa…any place…at any time.”


“If you close your eyes and think about Grandpa…quickly you will see…you can visit him anytime you want…where he lives…in your memory.”


“And if you ever have a question for him…here’s what you need to do…ask your question…close your eyes…listen…Grandpa will answer you.”


“You see, heaven is not just the place people go when from this world they depart…I believe each of us has a little piece of heaven…right here…inside our heart.”


“It’s the way we were created…the way we were designed…it’s where those we love, before they go, leave a piece of themselves behind.”


“And when we want to visit them…this moment…or long after they have died…we only need to close our eyes…think about them…and take a look inside…”


“Look inside your heart…right now…that’s what I’m going to do…that’s where you’ll find your Grandpa…waiting patiently for you.”


Dad held his son’s hand in his…said, “lose your eyes”…and with their fingers interlaced…

“Hi Dad!”

“Hi Grandpa!”

You could hear them whisper…

as a smile lit up each face.

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Today…a little good news…news that, hopefully, makes you glad…

even though this good news…originated from the bad.

This story begins five years ago…it takes its initial breath inside a women’s sadness…grieving her son’s death.


Move ahead five years…her son’s birthday is today…

and her grief resurfaces as it always does…for it will never go away.


She wanted a way to deal with her grief…in the best way that she could…

Hoping from her sadness…she could create something good.


She thought and thought searching for an idea…and when her thinking was done…

She decided to find a way to give…to another mother and her son.


Move now to a mother picking up her son’s birthday cake…tears of joy and sorrow she cried when she opened up the cake box and read the note inside.


It was from the mother of the son who died…Tyler was his name…written to the mother of the son who lives…whose birthdays are the same.


She paid for the cake in honor of her son…to keep his memory bright…

The note said…enjoy the day…make special memories and hug your children and loved ones tight.


She chose this way to commemorate her son..to help keep his memory awake…

Because as a mother she loved birthdays…while her son loved birthday cakes.


The words were written lovingly…they were compassionate and kind…

Love, Toni, Tylers mom…is how the note was signed


I like to think it was the best birthday…and best birthday cake…that family ever had

As one woman found a way for something good…

to come out of something bad.



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He wasn’t a regular customer…at least I hadn’t seen him here before.

The store was empty, save for me, when he walked in through the door.


He purchased a couple books but instead of taking them and walking…he looked me in the eyes…and then he started talking.


It was a free association of his thoughts…from one subject to another he would hop…and there was a time, I’m sorry to admit, when I wished for him to stop.


But I felt bad for thinking that…so I whisked that thought away…and I began to actively listen…to what he had to say.


Once that initial negative feeling I was able to reverse…I learned a lot about this young man in the hour we conversed.


I learned how old he was…about his family…and the reason he purchased his two books…It’s because he’s living on his own now and he wants to teach himself to cook.


I learned about the food he likes…how he’s really into spices…And now that he’s buying his own food…how he’s amazed at the high prices.


I learned about his job…where he goes to work each day…and amidst this plethora of information he was sharing…I learned his father had recently passed away.


It was here, for me, the pieces fell into place…all the clues were there….all the reasons…he was so willing, with me, to share.


All the stories of his family…of his mom (also passed) and his dad… 

He was a just little lonely…and he was just a little sad.


And in our moment of time together…in this uninhabited space

I found myself not only listening to his words but watching the expressions on his face…


And realizing, once again…not knowing what’s around the bend tomorrow….there is no substitute for joy in life…and there is no cure for sorrow.


And I was glad I chose to listen…glad he walked in through my door…

And glad that when he left…we were not strangers anymore.



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Today…some thoughts on grief because I am of the belief

just as life can give us joy…we can’t escape its grief.


When we lose someone we love…life will never be the same it was before.   

It’s as if, in that one moment, our world is not in balance anymore.


Grief can come out of nowhere…at first it makes us seethe..

It causes endless tears…it makes it hard to breathe.


When we’re overcome with grief…it can bring us to our knees as we feel the weight of scars…scars that no-one else can see.


It’s as if a window to our hearts has broken allowing in the arctic, frigid air and the person we want most to talk to…is no longer standing there.


Grief can come in waves…it matters not if we’re a mother, father, son or daughter…and sometimes the best that we can do is keep our heads above the water.


Then one day in the midst of our sadness we begin perceiving how the world around us does not stop…just because it’s us who’s grieving.


And we begin to think during those moment when we’re feeling blue…about the person whom we’re missing and what they’d want us to do.


And it’s our thoughts of them that help relieve our sorrow and our doubt and from the forest we are lost in…help to guide us out.


It's their voices that tell us grief is not a sign of weakness as each day another path we cross…It is the price we pay for loving…it is the price we pay for loss.


It’s their voices that remind us if it is balance we’re trying to achieve… then the only way to deal with our grief…is to allow ourselves to grieve…


It is their voices that are telling us…reminding us with ever breath

to live in the sunshine they created…not the shadow of their death.



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