Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Sometimes the ludicrousness of the sentence, “My child had cancer and died,” has to bring humor in order for me to not go insane. A few weeks ago I had a day when that happened. I finally had to make myself go buy fake flowers for Sophie’s gravesite. Taking that step was too permanent for awhile. Now don’t get me wrong, I am PAINFULLY aware of how very permanent our situation is but, I guess I just wasn’t ready to do that one thing.

I had my routine of buying 2 fresh bouquets every week when I went to the cemetery on Thursdays and that was fine. I think it stems from being the mom of a sassy little girl. I always had matching clothes on her with a bow or headband. She always had on matching socks and, if she’d let me take her Crocs off, we’d have on matching shoes too. Part of being a mom is making sure your kids have what they need—diapers, wipes, snacks, blankets, toys, diaper bag, car seat, etc. But for me—that’s not my life anymore. I don’t have to worry about any of those extra things so in a way, taking care of the gravesite and taking new fresh flowers every week was me ‘taking care of her’ like picking out clothes and bows.

So going weekly had become my ‘new normal’ and I am currently rolling my eyes because I HATE THAT PHRASE but, at the same time—it’s so true and accurate. It was my new normal until one random rough day. I had gone out there alone and was kind of scared that I couldn’t make myself leave her so, I decided to not go for a few weeks for myself. And the guilt I felt about that is a whole other issue for another day. The point is—I hadn’t been in awhile.

Then Jonathan gets a message from a friend of ours from church that he was at a funeral and the gravesite being dug up was right behind Sophie’s plot. We have intentionally not made her location or headstone public so he was honored to have been able to celebrate the life of someone right next to our girl. He sent a photo of her grave and I swear my heart fell out of my body onto the floor. The flowers I had taken . . . weeks before . . . were dead, brown, and gross. I started sobbing. I had failed to ‘take care of her’. I had failed to keep her spot pretty. I was terrible and horrible and blah blah blah blah blah all that crap the Enemy tells us about ourselves when we are hurting.

The next day, Mother’s Day (because there weren’t enough emotions that day right?!), we went to Michael’s to buy the fake flowers. I found some pretty pink and white bunches and they were okay. I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with them but, I really don’t think anyone is ever “happy” with the flowers they select for their child’s grave. My sweet husband though, he’s so good at finding the silver lining. He says, “Well look the good news is the sun will bleach these out over time so in a month or two you can come look again and take new ones to her.” But that’s not the funny part . . . 

That afternoon my brother was coming to stay with us and he stopped at the cemetery to see her before he came over. I decided it was a good time to take the new flowers. When I got there he had already take out the dead flowers and had brushed off the dirt from the stone. I started taking the tags off and bending the stems to arrange them into the vases. I got the flowers all in the vases like I wanted but there was a problem—there was too much extra room in the vases and the flowers were too loose. I did not want a storm or the wind to blow them away.


I stole dirt from the grave that had been dug up behind Sophie. I know. It’s terrible. But I did it. The grave was less that 24 hours old so there was plenty of dirt still piled high and I just saw no other way to keep my baby’s flowers in one spot. So I stole dirt. My brother said, “ I literally cannot believe you did that,” and we laughed for a good 20 minutes over it. I mean I did apologize to the guy and said it was for my daughter. I even adjusted his flower wreaths so they were more orderly and I saw there was a ribbon on one of them . . . the guy’s grandkids called him PAPPY!!!! Guys, Soph called my dad Pappy. I mean hello—if that’s not a sign that this man would understand my dilemma, I don’t know what is. I’ve honestly thought about taking a bag of dirt up there one day to replace what I took.

I’m a mom to a toddler in heaven.

I can’t do anything for her here so I take care of her grave.

I stole dirt.

It was hilarious.

Originally published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Shelby Skiles

Shelby Skiles is a wife, teacher, and mom to her two-year-old angel, Sophie. Sophie passed away in January 2018 from Lymphoma. Shelby chronicled Sophie’s entire battle through her blog Sophie The Brave and hopes that transparently sharing her journey through, motherhood, cancer, and now grief will inspire others to look passed their circumstances and see that God is bigger than all of it. She’s deeply committed to honoring Sophie’s memory by sharing her story and I spring others to ‘Do More’ and make a difference. 

My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born

In: Child Loss, Grief
My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born www.herviewfromhome.com

My baby was stillborn, but still born. In a cool white hospital room where so many had been born before. My body trembled and shook as his body worked its way out of my womb and into the hands of a doctor. He was void of breath, of sound, of movement, but he was still born. My baby was stillborn, but still lived. In the darkness of my womb. The outline of his body was visible against the darkness of the screen, his presence undeniable. The sound of his heartbeat drowned out the sound of mine as I watched his...

Keep Reading

I Am Not My Child’s Death

In: Cancer, Child Loss, Faith, Grief
I Am Not My Child's Death www.herviewfromhome.com

We are NOT what has happened to us or what this world says we are. That is not what defines us. While we are grieving parents, that is not what our whole story has to be about. Although, at times, we feel that our story is over. We ask, how do we go on and live full lives without our sweet Sophie with us? I’m still not 100 percent sure I know the answer to that. BUT the Lord says I am beloved. I am redeemed and accepted. I am holy and chosen. I am righteous and complete. I am...

Keep Reading

The Hardest Moments After Losing a Child

In: Child Loss, Grief, Motherhood
The Hardest Moments After Losing a Child www.herviewfromhome.com

Within the first three months following the death of my newborn daughter, I participated in one baby shower, attended two first birthday parties, had multiple infants in and around my home, and watched not one, not two, but five of my closest friends take happy, healthy babies home from the hospital. And in the midst of my own life-altering experience, I purchased, wrapped, and mailed a gift to every one of those new babies, because they deserved one. In the days and months after my daughter died, I didn’t run away or hide from babies at all. And this seemed...

Keep Reading

6 Commitments I Made to Myself After Child Loss

In: Child Loss, Grief, Kids, Motherhood
6 Commitments I Made to Myself After Child Loss www.herviewfromhome.com

Following the death of our infant daughter, I found myself facing an opportunity to activate the immense power of personal choice. Time and time again. Hour after hour, day after day. It felt as if every moment that passed provided me with a choice: to let the grief consume me, or not. In the midst of the most emotionally complex experience of my life, my ability to survive felt as simple as that. Will grief consume me, or not? Once I began believing that Olivia had lived out her life’s plan completely—that she had come, she had loved, she had...

Keep Reading

To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone

In: Child Loss, Grief, Infertility, Motherhood
To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone www.herviewfromhome.com

You are walking the hardest path anyone will ever walk—living this life without your children. Your losses have come in many shapes and sizes. You’ve lost tiny heartbeats early in the womb. You’ve screamed and sobbed through labor to deliver a silent but perfect little bundle. You’ve held a fragile infant for hours, days, weeks, or months, only to give him back to Heaven. You’ve watched your little one grow into a curious toddler and then held her a final time as disease or an accident took her away. You’ve lived a full childhood with your baby and even watched...

Keep Reading

A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven

In: Child Loss, Faith, Grief, Miscarriage
A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven www.herviewfromhome.com

Dear Mama, I know you miss me and wish you could watch me grow up. But instead, you sit in that rocking chair, tears streaming down your face, arms wrapped around the blanket that was supposed to be mine. I see you crying, Mama, wishing you could hold me. Wishing you could look into my eyes. Wishing you could hear me cry or call you “Mama”. I want you to know Jesus rocks me to sleep every night and while He does it, He tells me all about you. I know tulips are your favorite flower and that every spring...

Keep Reading

God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle

In: Child Loss, Faith, Grief
God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle www.herviewfromhome.com

I used to be someone who said, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” That was before I had faced any hardships in my life. I didn’t know who God truly is. When people are going through something hard and decide to share it, it makes people uncomfortable. It’s hard to watch others who are hurting, and it’s hard not knowing how to help when it’s someone you love. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” is a very well-meaning encouragement that I know is meant in love. I’ve said it before! But it’s not really...

Keep Reading

Why I Got a Tattoo With My Teenage Daughters

In: Child Loss, Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Why I Got a Tattoo With My Teenage Daughters www.herviewfromhome.com

“We should get a tattoo, Mom.” I laughed. I knew it was just my younger daughter, Sarah’s way of getting herself a tattoo—to go along with her nose ring, and six ear piercings. She didn’t really want me to get one. Did she? “Truth!” My oldest, more conservative daughter, Elle, chimed in. “We should all go.” What? Home from college just five minutes, maybe she was bored. I heard tattoos really hurt and she hates pain, like I do. I glared at my two daughters, now 17 and 19. They can read my mind. I knew it! There was something...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Sure How Long I’ll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal…and That’s OK

In: Cancer, Child Loss, Grief, Mental Health
I'm Not Sure How Long I'll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal...and That's OK www.herviewfromhome.com

I tried to wean off of Zoloft and couldn’t. And that’s OK. I had never really been aware of the world of antidepressants. My life has been relatively uneventful—with the normal ups and downs that most of us go through. I knew people on medication for depression but never understood. How can you be THAT sad that you can’t just be positive and make the best of your circumstances? How can someone be THAT unhappy ALL the time to need medication? I didn’t get it. I felt bad for people going through it. Then my 2-year-old was diagnosed with Stage...

Keep Reading

To the Young Warriors Fighting Cancer, You Are Superheroes

In: Cancer, Child, Child Loss, Health
To the Young Warriors Fighting Cancer, You Are Superheroes www.herviewfromhome.com

Most people never get to meet their heroes. I have, in fact—I have met many heroes. These heroes didn’t set out for greatness; they fell victim to a terrible disease and faced it with courage, might and bravery like I have never seen before. And when we talk about this type of battle, there is no such thing as losing. whether the battle ended in death, life, or debility, each of these heroes defeated. My heroes are the innocent children who battle cancer. I high-fived, hugged, wept over, laughed and played with my heroes for 10 years as a nurse. And you better believe I...

Keep Reading