So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔


The funeral Mass was more difficult emotionally for me than I had anticipated. Not wanting to scare my daughter, I did my best to repress my feelings. I cried, quietly, fighting off the big ugly cry building inside me. Inside I felt cheated, denied the opportunity to grieve. I felt like I had to stay strong for my daughter. I didn’t want to scare her.

My godmother’s death was a shock. She was only 57. It was an aneurysm. She had a headache and sent my uncle alone to the function they had planned to attend. She took a nap and never got out of bed.

Months later in church, my godmother popped into my mind. There was nothing special about the sermon. No specific words triggered my feelings, but all of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe. I had to get out of the building. I quickly lifted my youngest child off my lap, made a quick excuse to my husband and left. I spent the remainder of the Mass sitting on the curb in the parking lot, crying. I managed to pull myself together before other parishioners exited so that I wouldn’t have to answer questions. Of course my husband needed an explanation, so I filled him in.

This made me rethink, for the first time, death and funerals and grief. I had long before shaken my phobia of funerals, thanks to my husband and his views, but at that point in time, I had very little personal experience with grief. I had been to many funerals but only one was someone I had really loved, my grandfather (which was my introduction to funerals and a very difficult experience).

This moment in church taught me to not try to hide from it and to not keep it from my kids. Death is something we can’t (and shouldn’t) avoid. Yes, it is painful. It is difficult to be the one left behind. Finding your way to a new normal seems like an impossible task. But it is something people have been doing for eternity and something that I think we can learn to do better.

I won’t shield my kids from grief. Instead I try to teach them about it and to prepare them for the time I know will someday come that they suffer a loss that will make them feel like their heart has been ripped out and stomped on. Before funerals, I have talked about what they might see and hear, so they have some idea of what to expect. I don’t want them to be shocked and horrified, as I was at my first funeral, that there were people joking and laughing. At the time, this made no sense. SOMEONE WAS DEAD! The family was sad! How could anyone find humor here? I have learned that funerals are not just for being sad, but for celebrating a life and remembering the good times. This is one of the messages I have tried to pass on to my kids.

I explain what they will see. Usually family members are nearby, greeting visitors and accepting condolences. Most visitors go to the casket, to “pay their respects” and perhaps say a prayer. Although some disagree, I do not believe that this is at all necessary and have given my children permission to not approach the casket if they are not comfortable with it. (I have sometimes had to get involved when well-meaning family members have tried to push them to do so). The body in the casket often looks different than the person did in life, and this can be alarming, or even downright frightening. Sometimes one needs time to be in the same room and observe from a distance to get comfortable with this. Physical proximity to the deceased person is not necessary to honor their memory or provide comfort to their loved ones, which is really the purpose of funerals anyway.

Knowing what to expect takes away some of the apprehension. Death rites vary, depending on one’s religion, culture and family wishes. It is helpful to those unfamiliar with the rituals to be told what comes next. The expectations are more complicated, however, when you are “the family.” This brings you front and center. People will seek you out to offer condolences. This can be difficult on children who are working out their own feelings about the situation and may want to just be left alone.

Death is difficult to accept and makes one question life. I came to a realization a couple years ago after a particularly difficult loss: Grief is the price we pay for loving. Without love, we would have nothing to grieve. As difficult as it is, I think that it is worthwhile.


Kimberly Yavorski

Kimberly Yavorski is a freelancer and mom of four who writes frequently on the topics of parenting, education, social issues and the outdoors. She is always searching for things to learn and new places to explore. Links to her writing and blogs can be found at

Not Having My Mom Here Never Stops Hurting

In: Grief
Sad woman

Each phase of life since my mom died has brought different struggles, triumphs, and varieties of emotion. I always knew that grief was lifelong and complicated, however, I definitely underestimated the ways in which it changes as time goes on. I remember the beginning years as survival mode. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through each day until that day had passed and I was on to the next one. It was figuring out who I was and what my life was going to become during this awful new normal. Some days were harder than others and...

Keep Reading

Grief Comes in Waves as Our Mother Nears the End of Her Life

In: Grief, Grown Children
Elderly woman holding young woman's hand

“I think we can all agree that this is not fair.” My sister, Kari, was referring to our elderly mother as she addressed my oldest daughter, Chelsea, and me. Chelsea was holding both of her grandmother’s hands with her own as my mother slept fitfully. My mother was terrified of being alone, and this was pretty much the only way she was able to rest. “There is pain that is physical and pain that is psychic,” she continued, “and one is not worse than the other.” Our mother was in mental pain, and we wanted it to stop. When my...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Who I Was Before My Mom Died

In: Grief
Woman looking out window at home

Life after dealing with death is hard. I’m no longer the person I used to be. I’m motherless. This motherless life is hard. I need time to grieve, but I also need time to find myself again. I need time to mourn the life I’ll never have anymore. I need time to process. I need time to process the fact that my mother is gone. I’ll never have new memories. My kids will never have new memories and people expect us to pick ourselves back up. I can’t pick myself back up quickly after losing my mom. I’m still trying...

Keep Reading

You Are the God of Details, but God These Details Don’t Make Sense

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Window open with shutters

That was not the plan. What just happened in there? We walked out a bit defeated. More than a bit. I felt deflated. Things were supposed to be different by now. This wasn’t what I asked for or expected. This wasn’t even what they told me would happen. We cross the street in silence. Headed to the car and as soon as I shut the car door, I could no longer hold it in. I let the tears flow. All this unknown. I don’t understand. This is life. This is foster care. This is what we chose. That doesn’t make...

Keep Reading

Donating Breastmilk Helped My Heart Heal

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman with packaged breastmilk, color photo

Dear grieving mama, You know when you lose a baby everything changes, but your body moves forward like nothing happened. It carried that tiny baby long enough to trigger a complicated hormonal cocktail that causes your milk to come in so that little life can continue to grow outside you. But your baby is separated from you in a way nature never intended. There will be no baby snuggles. There won’t be a sleepy, smiley, milk-drunk face looking up at you. But your body doesn’t know that, so your breasts swell and keep swelling with milk that has nowhere to...

Keep Reading

I’ll Always Need My Mother but She Left Me Way Too Soon

In: Grief
Family surrounding woman at end of her life

I married my college sweetheart over a decade ago. I want to ask my mom about marriage. I want to ask her about navigating arguments and personality differences. But she left me way too soon. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. My mother had three miscarriages. Her first two were before I was born, and I was her rainbow baby. Her third miscarriage was in the second trimester, after my little brother was born. It devastated her emotionally for several years when I was in elementary school. I want to ask my mom about grief and pregnancy loss. But...

Keep Reading

Have You Sat with the Dying?

In: Grief, Loss
Holding hand at hospital bedside

Have you sat with the dying? Have you seen the loved ones who sit at their bedside night after night, holding their hand? They hold on, afraid to let go, knowing the end is near but so not ready for the last word, the last touch, the last breath of life.  They sit, exhausted beyond exhausted. They know it’s time to let go, but they also wonder how life goes on without them. There was life before them, and there will be life after them, but life after now will never be the same without them.  Have you sat with...

Keep Reading

What Would it Feel Like To Hold Him Today?

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Black and white photo of parents holding toddler

 My breath catches. My heart races. I remember. I remember when they were five and six. When they ran around with my son. I remember now how many years have passed, how long it’s been. I’m watching. Sitting on the outside, peering in. Wondering. Wishing. Tenderly remembering, trying to breathe. One breath. One moment. One day, one minute at a time. The world still spins and time moves on. My other children have grown. But in 10-year-grief, the world stands a bit still. Remembering him. The 5-year-old, toothless smile. Shy hellos to his friends. Missing him. Missing them. Missing that....

Keep Reading

The Mother without a Mother

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman with kite on beach

“How is your mom?” My mother looked at me, waiting for my response. Born in a small town in the middle of Kansas, she genuinely wanted to know the answers to the questions she asked, and more importantly, she listened. I stared back—voiceless. I was holding my infant daughter in my arms, bouncing her up and down in that rhythmic, automatic movement that defines the early years of motherhood. Up. Down. Up. Down. I sped up, frantic almost. “She’s good,” I said. The words came out more as an exhale. I cleared my throat. “My mom is good,” I confirmed....

Keep Reading

What They Don’t Tell You about Child Loss

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Couple on dock by lake

What they don’t tell you about child loss . . .  They don’t tell you that you’ll never be the same—not that you won’t ever feel joy or love the life you have—but that it changes you. They don’t tell you about the countless sleepless nights and the not knowing why, holding your thoughts captive and the guilt that threatens to creep in.  They don’t tell you about the hole that can never be filled or replaced mostly because you never ever want it to. You don’t want it to because you hold space for your child, and you don’t...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.