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My view from home is a windstorm. A dust storm like no other. I got mad at the wind today. Stupid wind, calm down. Actually, in not-so-nice words, I yelled at wind. This was after I almost slammed my hand in the car door. Ugh! Welcome to Nebraska.

Isn’t that the way it is? The storms of life. Life can be so very hard and so very good too. I want to swear at life sometimes too. The last few weeks have been super tough. Our little quiet peaceful town in the middle of the country has lost some amazing people. Dealing with death is painful and my heart breaks for those who lose loved ones.

When a tragic death occurs, we want to try and make sense and reach out to the families. That is hard. A friend called me about going to the home of parents who lost their daughter recently. It was hard to go and sometimes hard to find the words.

I went and found the words, “I am so sorry for your loss, I am here for you.”   That was it, the only thing I said as I walked in the door. I offered a hug and said those words.

I remember going through the loss of my brother. Friends and family that showed up on my doorstep, said those words to me. Comforting and I will never forget it. It meant the world. It was my turn to give back and to comfort someone else in pain.

I personally have been drained over the past few weeks. Too much. I came home and said to my husband, “Too much right now, I need a break.”

Then I think of the families and what they are going through and think, yep, get up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t make the story about you, think of what they need.

It is tough because I have a heart and care deeply for people in pain. We all do. That is why I love this community. The past few weeks I have had several conversations of what we can do to help people in pain, with depression and those who mourn. As human beings with heart and those who care, what are some steps to take?

The first thing I do is pray for them. I really don’t know where I would be without my faith. It has gotten me through very rough times for sure. So, I pray a lot and I have prayed hard this last few weeks.

The second thing is to be present. Be there physically for them. Show up at the house, as horribly hard as it is, it really means a lot. Be there at the prayer service, the funeral. They will notice who is there, who is not.

A phone call. Maybe not right away-but a few weeks after the funeral. After the family is gone the dust has settled a bit. A phone call. Believe me, phone calls are the best. I am not a big talker on the phone, but late night calls of “hey, I am thinking of you,” mean a lot for someone who mourns.

I am not an expert in grief counseling nor do I have all the answers for grieving and mourning, but having been through the pain of losing a loved one, these made sense and I find them best practices for helping out a friend.

I recently read an article about depression. A quote from Stephen Fry stood out to me. Fry is a well-known comedian and actor. He wrote, “If you know someone who’s depressed please resolve to never ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation, depression is, like the weather. Try to understand, hopelessness and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest and best things you will ever do.”

Just like the wind, the storms of life. We must embrace them and deal with them and be present. And pray.

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So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?

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