Our children are connected to us in a way that defies human understanding.  We give them life and they are a part of our very being. We care for their physical needs and nurture their minds, hearts and souls.  Watch them grow.  Relish in who they are becoming.  Love them fiercely with a sacrificial love that knows no limits.  We have hopes and dreams for their futures.  They are the fruit of our marriage sacrament.  With the birth of each child the family culture changes and grows and each child’s unique temperament and gifts add to the beautiful balance of family life.  By welcoming them into the world we embrace the mystery of familial union.  A mystery that reflects the greatest mystery of all:  The Most Holy Trinity.

It’s incomprehensible that you can take your children to do something fun on a Saturday and within a matter of one hour life as you knew it comes to an abrupt end.  All of the nurturing, hopes, and dreams you had for your child and your family as a whole unit…gone.  A peace of our hearts was severed from us and left the earth forever.

That’s not something you ever “get over”.

And now we live suspended between Heaven and Earth not fully present in either realm.

I have become accustomed to the sorrow and longing for what once was.  To say that I miss my little girl is a gross understatement.  There really aren’t adequate words in the human vocabulary to express the pain of losing Evie and the astounding hole that her absence created in our family.  We face it every day, in every moment.  There’s no escape.

As I lay in bed one night, crying myself to sleep again, the following passage from Scripture came to mind:

“And a man named Jairus, an official of the synagogue, came forward. He fell at the feet of Jesus and begged him to come to his house, because he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. As he went, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who [had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and] was unable to be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus then asked, “Who touched me?” While all were denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you.” But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.” When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately. he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 9:41-48

That woman is me…bleeding on the inside. Weary. Exhausted by grief.

My pain is so deep that I often feel alone in the crowd.  I find it difficult to engage in the trivialities of life and my patience for small talk has reached an all-time low.  The things that people seem to worry about and that I myself once fretted over seem unimportant.   I see people around me “pushing and pressing in” like the crowd in the Gospel trying to get where they are going and check things off their list.  They are busy with their lives and their families. They greet me with a smile and a, “how are you?” but I’m not sure how to answer that question nor do I think everyone really wants to hear an honest response.

Facing such profound pain, it’s easy to retreat into oneself and hold the world at arm’s length.  Even for an extrovert.  Because losing a child propels you into another dimension.

And like the woman in the story, it brings me to my knees in search of the One who can heal my broken heart.  I’m willing to crawl on my hands and knees through the pain to seek Him, recognizing that the bleeding has no expiration date but that someday it will stop.  If not in this world, then in the next.

But what I find most compelling about the Gospel passage is that Jesus doesn’t allow this bleeding woman to remain anonymous.  Her suffering and eventual healing is not just between the two of them.  It’s meant to be lived out in community.

Because as this broken and lonely soul touches Him, this Teacher and Great Physician stops in His tracks. He asks the most ridiculous question imaginable in a teeming crowd of people…

“Who touched me?”

By acknowledging her, Jesus opens the door for her to share her story and in sharing, her healing is complete and she becomes a witness to the truth.

Losing a child can be a very lonely experience and parents feel even lonelier when their loss is not acknowledged.  Perhaps people don’t know what to say or they are afraid to say the wrong thing so they say nothing at all.  Maybe they have good intentions but the opportunity passed them by.  Fear of upsetting the family could be a factor.  But trust me.  You are not going to remind them of something they’re not already thinking about constantly.  There’s no reason to be afraid of tears or apologize for them.  They are a normal and regular part of grief and a healthy release.

More than anything, a grieving parent wants so badly for someone to acknowledge their pain, to say their child’s name, to remember her, to share their grief with them, to cry.  And when I see Jesus’ reaction to this woman, I know in my heart that the need for acknowledgment is valid.

Remaining silent causes hurt feelings and isolates the parent even more but shared grief is like a lifeline pulling them out of the darkness.

Personally, we treasure the cards we receive that contain a special memory of Evie or a way in which she has impacted someone in her death.  The book of memories that our homeschooling co-op made for us is a precious gift.  My husband savors it bit by bit so that he always has a new discovery waiting for him.  We love it when people share new pictures or videos even if we can’t muster up the strength to view them right away.  We are blessed when people do things to honor her  because she was an amazing little girl and it would be another tragedy for the world to forget her beautiful life.

And we are so thankful for those who continue to reach out to us in our exhaustion with tangible offers to help, for those who let us know they are praying and truly want to know how we are doing.  For those who pray with us and hold us when we cry.  For those who recognize that grief has no timeline.

Because when you acknowledge the suffering of another human being, when you reach out in empathy and compassion, when you become vulnerable and selflessly give of yourself to help a hurting soul,  you reveal Jesus to the world.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

St. Teresa of Avila










17 thoughts on “Acknowledgment

  1. I can’t even imagine your sorrow. You have surely lived every parent’s greatest fear. Your words are powerful and they touch my soul deeply. I must thank you for your courage as your witness helps me to more fully embrace my vocation as a mother. I’ll keep your family in my daily prayers.


  2. Oh Jen…my heart is hugging you right now. Your writings are both beautiful and heartbreaking. I weep every time I read them…your loss is unimaginable, yet your heart finds solace in the words and actions of our Lord.
    I don’t see you, but I pray for you…sometimes many times a day, when you’re heavy on my heart. I ask Evie for her prayers for your consolation. I know that she wants that for you.
    I know so many people who continue to pray for you and your family…I hope you feel our prayers.
    With love in Christ,


  3. I absolutely understand where you are coming from. I felt so much the same way. I would get angry when people would complain about “small” things or focus on the unimportant, while I was grieving this absolutely huge loss. The grief would just come in unexpected waves, sometimes taking me down at the knees. I felt like I would never know true happiness again. I do want you to know that it does get better. It takes time, and a softening of the grief and loss. Nothing can make it happen faster, and I think it is important to go through all the stages of grieving. Lydia’s birthday is July 3 and I am coming up on what I call my grey days….when I just don’t want to do anything, and I feel that wave of grief. She would be 13 and was 5 when she died. Eight years have passed, and life has gone on, and it is so hard to realize I will always have these milestones to deal with. But, I don’t feel the loss as much as I used to, and I do feel happiness, joy and laughter again. If you ever want to talk again, please let me know. It would probably be good for us both. Much love to you.


    • Dear Monica,
      I think of you often and am just so sorry that any of us have to lose our precious children. I will be praying for you especially as the days leading up to Lydia’s birthday approach. My brother died in a car accident 19 years ago on June 6th and my mom and I have always experienced those “grey days” that you mentioned as spring turns to summer. I haven’t had those anniversaries or birthdays yet with Evie but I am dreading them already. I would love to get together for coffee!


  4. I was thinking of you and your family when father Brain spoke of family and loss a few weeks ago. It is so hard to know what to say, because nothing I say could help your pain. I am not good with words, and I cherish the way you and your husband have taken words and helped others in their faith. Instead of us helping you, you are helping us. I hope that is healing for your family. I can see from your writings it could easily consume you, and no one would blame any of you for that. I pray that our Lord will not let it consume you, and he continue to use your family as disciples, and ease your pain.


    • Yes, writing here has been extremely helpful and I do hope that it helps someone else. It’s funny that you mentioned being consumed. After my brother died, one of my favorite verses became Lamentations 2:22-23 and I memorized it. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” I always write it in sympathy cards and it continues to console me each day. It is a reminder to take one day at a time and know that He gives us the grace and compassion we need for that day.


  5. Jenn,
    This is such a beautiful reflection on what you are feeling. Thank you for being brave enough to share it with so many. The feelings you feel, are so much so what I have felt and what I at time continue to feel. How blessed we are to have had such beautiful children to guide us closer to our Lord and Lady. Even though I would have much rather it been me. You are a strong and faithful women and your expression of your journey continues to touch my heart and soul. I continue to kepp you and your family in my prayers. If you ever want to talk please know I am just a phone call or Voxer away. My continued prayers for you and your beautiful family. Much Love and Many Blessings!


  6. Jenn,
    This is such a beautiful reflection on what you are feeling. Thank you for being brave enough to share it with so many. The feelings you feel, are so much so what I have felt and what I at times continue to feel. How blessed we are to have such beautiful children to guide us closer to our Lord and Lady. Even though I would have much rather it been me. You are a strong and faithful women and your expression of your journey continues to touch my heart and soul. I continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. If you ever want to talk please know I am just a phone call or Voxer away. My continued prayers for you and your beautiful family. Much Love and Many Blessings!


  7. So beautifully written. Reminds me of stained glass. A masterpiece that is made up of broken pieces and it is just a beautiful sight to behild. In your brokenness you still allow us a glimpse into your soul, your family, your life. It’s a gift to us and one I’m so thankful for. You are beautiful. My friend had a blog called “blessed and broken” ..:and aren’t we all…on different levels. All asked to carry crosses that seem so overwhelming and unbearable and yet somehow we have just the exact amount of strength to carry it- and when we can’t, there are Simons there to help us. We carry your family in our prayers. Just last week at rosary we lifted you up after you had been especially on my heart. God uses you to bless me so often and I don’t even know you. Thank you for your fiat and for blessing us in the carrying of your cross. Prayers always!


  8. Dear, dear Jen. How can I confess to you that your writings are the counseling we never received when my sister, Christine, died at age nine. It was 1960, and people just didn’t talk about tragedies or grief. Valium for aching mothers and frequent family trips to the cemetery was the best anyone could do.
    I remember always looking at a mural in the entrance way of St Joseph’s Church in Canton -Jesus raising the young girl from the grips of death. I wished so hard that we had lived during Jesus’ days on earth. My child’s heart was sure we would have had a different outcome.
    I thank you for your honest, public vulnerability. I pray for you and I pray some more. And, I remember our own confusion and grief. And something deep inside is being validated and healed by your open words. And, I pray this doesn’t hurt you more…


  9. So much of this resonates exactly with me. It is such a lonely journey and I hold tight to those few who have chosen to walk it with me….those who speak God’s truth to me without denying me my pain and anguish.


  10. Unfortunately Jen, I have been the person to you of whom you write. Someone that doesn’t know you well, has encountered you in the midst of this tragedy and been scared to enter into your pain. I’ve attempted small talk and bumbled it, passed with quick pleasantries to avoid awkwardness…making things more awkward, and probably hurt your feelings trying to learn about your past without bringing up painful memories, an impossible task. I’m so sorry. Thank you for being so gracious in the midst of it all. In some small way I’m starting to get it. We miscarried as well once and my heart so wanted that recognition for the life that passed from me. My dad has been really sick and I’ve been in circumstances where people are avoiding bringing it up not to upset me…which upsets me more:) Your suffering is so much more than what I’ve experienced so far, but I hope to be more real to you when we meet again


    • Oh Liz…please don’t beat yourself up about this. I recognize that everyone is well-intentioned and that many just don’t know what to do or say. I sometimes forget what it’s like to be a person who has not dealt with profound grief because I had an early unfortunate lesson in it when I was nineteen and my brother died in a car accident. My prayer is that I can be a light to others through this pain and break through the misunderstanding and awkwardness that often accompanies grief. I am so sorry about your dad. You are in my prayers!


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