10 Things That I Have Learned – 1 Month Later

1. As my friend Heather says, this is a sadness like no other. Having never been through a loss anywhere near this magnitude, I had no idea how deep and painful sadness can really be.

2. I have been pretty regularly blown away by the kindness and generosity of others. People are extraordinarily giving of their time, help, money and food. Some people have gone so above and beyond that I will use them as inspiration in the future when I have a friend in need.  The most moving and hopeful card I received was from someone I have never met – the mother of a neighborhood friend.  She shared her experiences and reassured me that my kids would be okay.  After all, hers have turned out to be wonderful people.  I was grateful for her words and that she took the time to reach out to me.

3. On the other hand, there are people you expect to be there who can’t be. They don’t know what to do or have their own baggage with which to contend. I try to remember that everyone is doing the best that they can.

4. This time of loss gives you clarity that you probably didn’t already have. I am able to really see what is important, who is important, and what I can let go of and not spend my time and energy on.

5. I don’t feel a need to make excuses for my actions. I am doing the best that I can at this moment in time. People are supportive.

6. It is important to give of yourself to help others. If I know something about someone else that Dave shared with me, I have tried to let that person know. This has been the case with colleagues, friends and family, and I believe that it has helped with my healing as well as theirs.

7. It is better to say something than nothing at all. I hate to admit it, but I am aware of the silences. Even if I don’t respond, I have read or heard every message sent our way. It is almost impossible to say the wrong thing. If in doubt, I appreciate hearing that you are sorry and are thinking of us. I still appreciate hearing from people as the days turn into weeks and now the weeks turn into months.

8. It is important to say yes. My pride often makes me want to politely decline offers of help, but I always appreciate the help when I do say yes. I think it is hard to do, but it is important. I have learned that people want to help as part of their process too.

9. Sometimes it is just better to do. I have given numerous examples of Lexy’s incredible thoughtfulness. Another example is from my friend, Lori. I told her how absolutely amazing the staff was at Reston Hospital – how loving, gentle and respectful they were in caring for Dave. Lori delivered a thank you basket of goodies to the hospital from us.

10. Be grateful for the little things – that prime parking spot, an especially beautiful day, a funny story shared. Find happiness in these things. Some days you might miss an opportunity for joy if you are not keeping your eyes open.




19 thoughts on “10 Things That I Have Learned – 1 Month Later

  1. I must respectfully disagree with #7. But first, please know you and your family have been in my prayers for several months since I first learned of you from the Hollywood Housewife, and you will continue to be in my prayers for much time to come! 3 1/2 years ago, my daughter lost her only son, our only grandchild, to SIDS at 7 months of age. We learned then that “one day at a time” was not relevant; more accurately, we struggled to take “one breath at a time”! We both felt the weight upon our chest and struggled to put one foot in front of the other. As much unbearable pain as I felt, I knew hers must be so much more intense and there was nothing I could do to make any of it better. HOWEVER, in response to your #7, my daughter, her husband, and I and my husband (her daddy:) agree that some people should have just shown up and offered a hug instead of speaking. One lady claimed to know exactly how we felt because she had just lost her cat. Hey, I’m a huge dog lover, all types and sizes, and we have 2 of our own and 6 grand-dogs. We have lost several through the years and we wept for them and missed them horribly, but I can assure you, IT IS NOT THE SAME!!! Now this might step on some toes, but several said “God needed a young angel in His garden” or something like that. I am a Bible-believing Christian and I walk closely with my Lord every day. I cannot explain all of His ways or why some bad people live long and some good people die young or why an innocent baby in a loving family dies, but I do know that God is NOT a selfish monarch sitting on a throne tossing out fates willy-nilly to humor himself! God loves every human being who has ever lived with a perfect love! So He did not reach down and snatch up Tyler and destroy our hearts because His garden was full of old wrinkled people! There were a handful of others and Kim and I have since pondered writing a book on what not to say. As we were going through those first few really raw days, I constantly reminded myself and my daughter that people loved us and were hurting for us and wanted to desperately make it better and just didn’t know what to say. As I’m sure you can agree ~ nothing can be said to ease the pain. I’m thinking visitation and funerals and memorials, etc. should become “talk-free zones” ~ just come and hug and move on!

    • janet,

      although i have rarely (maybe never) responded to any comments since dave died, i felt a need to come in and respond to yours. first of all, i am so sorry for your loss. i cannot begin to imagine that kind of loss. my heart aches for all of you. the “one day at a time” mantra was one that my husband said directly to all of us but used as his parting words to our son. so while i agree that sometimes it is far less than one day at a time, i find comfort in those words.

      next, i would like to respectfully say that you are free to disagree with anything that i have written. you see, these are 10 things that I have learned. these are 10 things that are true for me. i would not presume that my truths are anyone else’s. though we all suffered the loss of the same incredible man, my children, dave’s parents, brother, and sister are not walking the same path or sharing the same grief. it is unique to each person. i imagine there are some common themes that resonate with people but i certainly wouldn’t think for a minute that these things are true for anyone else but me.

      yes, there have been people who have been misguided or clumsy with their comments. but, for me, that is still better than silence. there have been one or two people who have crossed an imaginary line of thoughtlessness and i find that i don’t really have the energy or interest in investing any more time into those relationships. but for the most part, a well-intentioned comment that is ill phrased at least means they are trying to show they care. luckily these are the minority. thus the it is “almost” impossible to say the wrong thing. but again, this is my truth. i can completely understand why it is not so for you.

      i am sending you a big hug!


      ps thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts. i appreciated hearing your point of view.

  2. Maybe the best thing to say is “I am so sorry for your loss. He was an amazing person and the world will miss his presence.” Or something like that. I have learned the worst thing is to ignore the loss and at least ackknowledge
    the sorrow your friends are going through. Once again, I so much appreciate the words, actions, and kind attentions of our friends and familly. We are blessed and thank you. Ann

  3. Robyn — I read everyone of your posts and admire you for continuing your writings. I honestly don’t know if I could have done this when my daughter passed away. This particular post brought back so many memories because I can relate to them (and I am sure others in similar situations agree). Whether we understand it or not, all of this is normal when going through a death — hard to grasp. I think the hardest thing to understand is the people who seem to ignore you because they don’t know what to say. You get such a outpouring of love and support that the silence of some people is difficult to understand. I went through this with someone who I had a great deal of respect for, but this person completely ignored me for about six months. She finally said she didn’t know what to say — I understand that, but that person could have at least given me a hug and told me she didn’t know what to say — I would have definitely gotten that. I’ve learned we simply treasure the people who provide all the love and support for us and pay it forward when necessary.. You are indeed an inspiration!! With continued thoughts and prayers for you, your children and Dave’s family, Lora

    • lora,

      first of all, have i said lately how much dave admired you? he thought you were an incredible person, and he was amazed at your strength as you dealt with your daughter’s death and the aftermath of losing her.

      i agree with your sentiment that it is better to say “i don’t know what to say” than nothing at all. for me, that would be more welcome than silence. i also agree that we do more fully treasure the people who are there for us.

      i appreciate your support throughout dave’s illness and after his death. he was lucky to know you and i am grateful for you.


  4. Robyn, I too was brought to your blog by Laura. I just want to say I cannot even fathom the heartbreak and sadness that you are enduring each and every moment of each day ….Even though we don’t know each other, you are in my thoughts every single day. You help me to get through my very difficult days and I thank you so much for that……Lisa

  5. Robyn, I enjoy hearing what you have learned through your experiences … I know they are hard truths, but it is so helpful to read TRUTH. Many people still seem to write what sounds good, what might be inspirational or Pinworthy. I am looking for people who are sharing REAL things, REAL feelings, and you are doing that so well. I hate that you’re even in a position to be writing about such a raw, recent loss, but you are doing it with such dignity and respect, and it’s a beautiful thing. Thank you for continuing to share.

  6. Hello lovely lady – just wanted to touch base albeit briefly from across the water! I’ve been moved to tears by your writing over the last few weeks and feel such sorrow for what you have experienced and are now having to go through…from what you have written about Dave in this blog I think he would be tremendously proud of who you are and the impact you have on people. I know this is not why you write but I have honestly found your words and philosophy inspirational and you really do make me redress the sometimes skewed view we get of life when we are in the midst of the daily minutiae of life; so thank you for your words Robyn, they are beautiful and wise and show the strength of character that you have, and reflect the love that you have been, and are surrounded by. A xx

    • oh friend, this is the nicest comment to wake up to this morning. thank you for kind words. dave was a big supporter of most of the things i did and he really wanted me to turn this blog into a book. when you have people who believe in you like that you can do pretty much anything, right?! i appreciate so much your support and your words.

  7. I’ll never forget the day “Mr. T” rocked that amazing Orange and White checked suit on the set of Hawk TV. As I was getting him mic’d up, I remember telling him “you have to be a special man to pull that one off!” Little did I know. Special. Oh, yes, in so many ways.

  8. Hi Robyn. 🙂 I have been reading your blog for awhile, and have been so touched by your words and writing style through this difficult time… I loved this list and think it brave of you to share, and take the time for your own soul to reflect on these things. As time passes, and you re-read these entries someday (and your children too), I hope you are glad you wrote it down. We forget so much too easily, and even though re-reading these things is hard, it is so.good. It’s who you are right now, and your children especially will be thankful for it someday.

    I only know the loss of my mom a couple of years ago (when my second daughter was only a couple of months old), but I wrote and wrote and wrote and those journals are gold to me now. I think they’re gold because she wrote and wrote about her terminal condition (pulmonary hypertension) for me to read, and inspired me to take note, too… if my house was burning down, I would grab my family and these journals! I just wanted to say this to you because writing is hard work, but such good work.

    Thank you for sharing your journey–I can definitely relate in my own ways, and my heart goes out to you in the things I don’t understand as well. I resonated with this list bigtime, though!! #3: So true. I remember breaking down in front of a gal (who is now a good friend, actually) who asked me how I was doing, and I just couldn’t hold it together. She stood there, awkwardly looking at me–no hug, no assurances, nothing. I was so hurt! Who doesn’t immediately grab someone for a hug when they’re in that condition, you know? (Or so I think lol) It wasn’t until months later that I reflected on that and realized everyone is different, and I shouldn’t expect certain reactions. It was okay. The loving ones I did receive blessed me more than those people will EVER know, so I took joy in that. I appreciate hearing you giving others grace, even as you are the one hurting so much. It takes a big person to do that!

    And #9. So true! A seemingly small gesture still resonates in my heart: a dear friend left a loaf of pumpkin bread on my front stoop with a very thoughtful note during the last week of my mom’s life. I still tear up thinking about that for some reason–just knowing others are thinking of you means the world. And I love pumpkin bread.

    This is long, I’m sorry! But hearing your story and your thoughts in the aftermath are encouraging, heartfelt, and it sounds like you are grieving just as you were designed to. There’s no right way to do it, I don’t think; you are who you are, and you feel what you feel when you feel it. I don’t know you, but here’s a big hug!

    • thank you so much for your message. i think that you are right. eventually having this way to go back and see where we were and what we went through will be valuable to all of us. everything becomes so blurred in the chaos of the moment and of course your brain isn’t exactly fully functioning either. : )

      i am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. that must have been very difficult especially having a little one at the time. that is when we lean on our moms more, i think, when we are mothering too. i am glad that she journaled for you and encouraged you to do the same. what a precious gift.

      thank you for your supportive comments. i am grateful to you for sharing your story, thoughts and also for the hug. : )


  9. Pingback: Un-Unique Grief | embracingtherollercoaster

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