On death and dying – a peek into my thoughts since losing my Mom

I haven’t posted in weeks and I’m humbled that so many of you noticed my absence and checked in with me. I’m grateful for your prayers and so many sweet contacts. I’m overwhelmed at your grace and love for us since Mom’s journey began last November. It’s been a month since she passed, and we’re all adjusting to our new normal. The “grief fog” slowly lifts, and for your prayers — THANK YOU.

Losing a parent is hard.

The reality that the person who brought you into this world, who nurtured you, who helped you chart your course through life and who trained you up in the way you should go is GONE.

Christmas 1967ish

Christmas 1967ish

There is so very much to process. The programmer in me can’t help but compare it to the operating system of my iPhone: it’s as if a dozen apps suddenly launched and started running in the background, all of them vying for their time in the foreground.

So many thoughts **pop up

**Help Dad with loose ends. I wonder how he’s doing today, what’s going through HIS mind right now. I wonder if I’m doing enough for him? He’s fiercely independent but enjoys having us around. He’s learning to ask for help. 

**Did we do enough for Mom? Yes, of course we did!  We did everything we could for Mom, but it was hard to explain it to her and we’re not sure she understood.

**Will we go down a similar difficult path with Dad? God only knows.

Drum Major**Mom at her sewing machine. I hear the hum of the motor and see her guiding fabric beneath the needle. Mom was an expert seamstress with an eye for detail. Nothing ever fit me right, so she spent HOURS of taking measurements and cutting fabrics and stitching together clothes and uniforms that fit my scrawny teenaged frame. I know I thanked her then, but I was sassy and selfish and I expected her to do things for me. All teenagers do. Now that I’m a mom, I appreciate it more than I can say.

We talked about that once and we laughed, but I wish I’d told her more often.

**Don’t leave things unsaid. My own sassy kids pop into my mind, and I want them to know so many things. I feel like I talk their ears off sometimes (they agree), but I don’t want to leave things unsaid. I want them to know –

  • I love them and my life is RICH because of them.
  • I’ve tried my best to help them chart good courses for their lives, but it’s ultimately their responsibility.
  • I don’t want them to watch me suffer with health issues, but I can’t control that.
  • I hope they never have to make hard decisions for me, but I trust them to make good ones when the time comes.

Because my time will come. Just as I want to be faithful in life, I want to be faithful in death. I want to be faithful in affliction.

**I want to be faithful in whatever, and I have no idea what kind of whatevers are ahead.

I’m not worried; I’m just wondering. Mental wandering. Grief leads you down lonely paths of your soul, and there is so much to process.

We all know processing multiple apps causes your phone battery to drain, and the same applies to processing multiple emotions: they cause your physical battery to drain. So I continue to lay low, but I can testify to this truth:

ps 46-1

I’d be honored to hear from you here in the comments or in this click-to-tweet:

I want to be faithful in whatever, but only God knows the whatevers that are ahead.

Just so you know, I pray for each of my commenters as I read your remarks. Some of you have even secured a spot in my prayer journal! I’m blessed and grateful for your kind words.


  1. Bev Motley

    Thanks for “powering up” and sharing your thoughts…however random they may feel, they are part of the healing process that God, the One Who Knows, built into us. Rick & I continue to lift y’all up, Sweet Friends. Much love.

    • Thanks so much, Bev. We sure do miss you guys.

  2. TK sharpley

    Continual blessings to you, from one who has also walked this path. It’s a difficult one to explain, but you did it very well! Remember that there is no time limit on processing this journey. Some days you will be on that mountain top, and other days, you will be in that valley. Xoxo

    • You’re right about the ups and downs, TK. I know they’ll continue as long as the memories do, which I hope is a very long time!

  3. Susan, it’s great to see you posting once again! I’ve missed it. I’m continuing to pray as you go down this road of grief. You know I’m here for you at any time. Love you, precious friend!

    • Thanks, Jamie, especially for your prayers. You’re a sweetie.

  4. Suzanne Jamison

    Thanks for sharing. You put into words what so many feel in a time of grief. Having been down this road in the not-too-distant past, I can tell you that it does get a little easier every day, but the hole will always remain. God replaces the “Did I…” pop-ups with fond memories and leads you to a place of healing. Praying for you and your family as you find your new normal!

    • Thanks so much, Suzanne. I’m sorry for your loss, but glad to know you’re adjusting. It’s a continual process.

  5. Rachel

    Good morning susan! We continue to pray for you and the family.

    • We appreciate that more than you know, Rachel. Thank you!

  6. Beautiful thoughts, Susan. We are almost ‘there’ with our parents and are moving them soon to the beginnings of Assisted Living. You and your family are in my prayers and I am so thankful for our friendship……..and selfishly wish we lived closer!!

    • You have no idea how much I need a Sandi-fix! I’ll be praying for you and Cheri as you help your parents. Then we’ll figure out how and where to connect :)

  7. What a lovely post, Susan. Thank you for so eloquently stating your emotions. Prayers to you and your family.

  8. Thank you for sharing these insights…and sharing your heart. Continuing to hold you in my prayers.

  9. It’s a joy to see you writing again. Anita and I are grateful beyond words to be a part of your family if I may be so bold. It’s such a wonderful gift from God, the way He uses our gifts and struggles of life to teach and bless his children. I can’t help but think and pray for your Dad daily. I so loved being around your Mom, the few times I was. My birthday and our cruise together are times I will never forget. We look forward to our time in May. God bless.

    • You and Anita are a special blessing to us, Mark. We’re so grateful Mom and Dad took that cruise with you guys last fall. It was their last trip! And we absolutely DO consider you family, and can’t wait to see you in May! Love and hugs to you both!

  10. Susan, this is such a beautiful testament of faith. Faith hopes all, believes all, and endures all…just like love. Your clinging to faith inspires all who know you. Grieve fully, for joy will return and your faith will resonate as fine gold. I’m holding you close to my heart in prayer.

    • You’re precious, Nan. You reminded me of a saying (Spurgeon? Murray? Luther?) –
      “He who goes gold into the fire will come out none the worse.”
      Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement!

  11. Jackie Green

    Having walked this journey myself with both parents now, I can assure you that He IS the peace that passes all understanding. Taking time for yourself to grieve is wise, praying for you and your family. Look forward to seeing you the end of the month. Blessings!

    • Thank you so much, Jackie. I’m excited about the retreat!

  12. Elizabeth

    Susan, I have a close relationship with my Mom. I have thought so many times how blessed I am with family. As she is 88 now, and struggles with physical issues, she is so mentally sharp. I’ve wondered at times how hard it will be when she is no longer the friend I talk to or the precious woman I try to be there for. But I know that God is blessing me with those memories each day. I’ll pray for you that as you cling to all you have to remember her by that God will grant you such peace in your knowledge that one day you will celebrate again.

    • What a blessing to have had her enjoy good health (and mind!) for so many years, Elizabeth! I know you cherish your time with her. Thank you for your prayers. Yes, we will definitely celebrate one day!

  13. What a soul-stirring post, Susan. Thank you for allowing us to peek inside your thoughts as you continue to process your grief. I’ve yet to lose a parent but your words remind me why making the most of our time together should be a priority, as well as with my own children.

    Because I know I’ll never be able to verbally share everything I desire with my children, grandchildren, and generations to come, I journal.

    It’s a blessing to have you back in the blogosphere sweet friend.

    • Love you, Cathy. Look forward to seeing you soon.

  14. You and your family continue to be in my prayers. Thanks so much for sharing your tender faith. It’s been several years since I lost my Mom and the wondering has been replaced with so many precious memories. I do occasionally have “I wish I could share that with Mom” moments, but I look forward to the new life I’ll have with her and an eternity of sharing!

    • “Precious Memories” is on my playlist, Sherry :) We’re grateful for those and looking forward to an eternity of new ones!

  15. Susan, thank you for this post. My mom is 98 and rapidly declining, and I have already begun grieving her loss. Your post was a great encouragement – thankful to hear the thoughts of someone who has already gone through what I will soon be going through. Thank you for your transparency.

    • Thank you, Crickett. I’m so sorry for the path you’re on with your mom, but glad for so many good years. Praying for you as you press on.

  16. I continue to pray for you and your family. It is so true that your thoughts runs so many tangled paths when grieving a loved one, especially your mom. So hard. Know you are loved, sweet friend!

    • Those thought paths are tangled for SURE, Ginger. So grateful for your prayers.

  17. Rachel Thompson

    Thanks so much for sharing, Susan! I admire your faith and continue to pray for you and your family during this difficult time.

    • Thank you so much, Rachel. I look forward to seeing you soon!

  18. Jeffrey Sweeney

    I hoping the adjustment process is getting a little easier. Yesterday made 3 years since my Dad went to heaven. Not a day goes by that I don’t just think about him and smile. I am thankful that I had him for 49 years. He didn’t really want me in the Law Enforcement business but he was my biggest supporter. He continued to give me advice always saying: Be Careful, I Love You!
    Jeff :)

    • Wow, Jeff — hard to believe it’s been three years. I know you still miss him and hearing him tell you he loves you. I say it to my kids every time we talk.
      Thanks for praying for us!

  19. Dear Susan,
    So happy to read your words even as I am feeling sad for you…sorry I haven’t sent you that email yet…it is hard to put into words…maybe, chat on the phone? Continuing to pray that God sustains and comforts you and your family…((hugs))

    • Sweet Dolly, thank you for praying. And YES, we do need to chat soon! Let’s see what we can do :)

  20. Bruce Brady

    Susan, as you know, I’ve dealt with many of those same issues recently. I’m thankful that God has given you a good perspective, as He did me,to help you deal with her passing. The beauty and joy comes from knowing you will see her again one day.

    May the Lord continue to bless you with comfort and peace.

    In His Love,

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Bruce. Yes, you know the heaviness of grief and I’ll bet you have plenty of “pop ups” of your own. I appreciate your prayers.

  21. So good to hear your sweet thoughts. With you in heart and the hope I too will be faithful in life and in death now that my “turn” seems to be ahead.

    • Thanks, Marcia. I sure hope your “turn” isn’t any time soon!

  22. Rhonda Phillips

    Susan, I want to kiss the boo-boo and make the pain go away! It’s so hard to imagine the pain one bears in losing a mother. I dread that day, but knowing that we have that blessed assurance of seeing our saved loved ones who are now living their ‘real’ life must be the greatest gift that Jesus gave to us, and the greatest gift our Christian loved ones gave us, too. Thank you for sharing your sweet thoughts. Continue processing…God approves. Sending hugs…

    • It was so good to see you at Mom’s visitation, Rhonda. You were always one of her favorite people. Thanks so much for your prayers!

  23. Lu wright

    Wonderful, Susan! I hadn’t seen your blog and plan to come back again and again!

    • Thanks so much, Lu. I’m glad you’re here!

  24. Kristin

    “I’m not worried; I’m just wondering. Mental wandering.” I really like the way you put that. My mom is fighting for her life at the “young” age of 65. Never really thought about being without my best friend until recently. I know that He is in control but I do find myself doing a lot of wandering. Thank you for sharing!

    • Wow, Kristin. 65 is young, but how great to have such a close relationship. Praying for your family as she battles.

  25. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. It is hard to be publically vulnerable, so I appreciate it even more. I am sure you are blessing many with your posts.

    Even though we think we can “multi-task” it has been proven that our brains can only do one thing at a time–even though we think we are performing multiple tasks, we are really just switching back and forth quickly between tasks. Just like my laptop, having many apps running at once really slows us down. It is best to concentrate on one thing at a time. I guess that’s why Ecclesiastes (whose writer I believe did not have a laptop) tells us that life is seasonal. Just live in this season, Susan…it will eventually fade into another. One thing at a time, one day at a time–that’s really God’s way. God bless you and I am standing with you in prayer. Love, Karen

    • Thanks so much for your prayers, Karen. Yes, all those apps running can really slow things down. I complicated that by having foot surgery, so I’m really moving slow!

  26. It’s so good to see you again, Susan. I’m so sorry for you loss. You’ve been on my mind and I had been meaning to check in. You are in my prayers.
    Much love,

  27. Mary Gemmill

    Susan- you know my Mum died a year ago, so I found myself very interested in your processing and found that we have both reached this place:Because my time will come. Just as I want to be faithful in life, I want to be faithful in death. I want to be faithful in affliction.
    **I want to be faithful in whatever, and I have no idea what kind of whatevers are ahead.
    I’m not worried; I’m just wondering. Mental wandering. Grief leads you down lonely paths of your soul, and there is so much to process.

    God bless us both as we continue to process. Thanks so much for sharing- it is good when we can talk about such issues and know we are not alone on this journey called life :)


    • You’re such a sweetie, Mary. There IS a lot to process and it’s so good to talk with people who understand. Thanks for your prayers, and I will continue to pray for you.

  28. Dee Dee Parker

    Susan, I continue to remember you and your family in my prayers. Thank you for sharing during this season of grief. God grant you comfort. love you.

    • Love you too, Dee Dee. Can’t wait to see you :)

  29. Susan, you have written a lovely testimony for your mom. My heart breaks for you and your family, and I will keep you in your prayers.

    • Thanks so much, Kim. We’re so grateful for so many praying friends and family.

  30. Been thinking about you and praying for you. Thank you do much for sharing your heart.

  31. Precious one, always know that you are in my daily prayers. You are a treasure. I love you!

    • The Lord is good to give us to each other, isn’t He? You’re the treasure, Kristi, and I love you!

  32. Susan, I so understand… The Lord took my Mom home 7 years ago. I miss so much about her but she spent 11 years slowly fading away, and was under hospice care for the last 4 years of her life.

    For the past several years I have contemplated about the legacy I am leaving my husband, children, family and friends. Do they truly see Jesus in me? This is so important to me and I talk to them a lot about the mistakes I have made and how Jesus pulled me out of the mire that was my life. Because in the end, that is the most important thing about me and I want them to have that for themselves.

    Never underestimate the power of a praying mother. My son, who was saved at a young age, walked away from the Lord for about 20 years. I spent a lot of time on my knees praying for him and God answered those prayers several years ago. Now he is married to a wonderful Christian woman and the two of them are working in medical missions to Albania. Each time I think about how God has turned his life around, it makes my eyes leak… like right now.

    I continue to pray for you and your family, Susan…

    Love & blessings!

    • You are such a faithful prayer warrior, Anna. You know I’m SO grateful! I remember you writing about your son, Anna. What a great testimony to the Lord AND to a mother’s prayers! And you’re right about wanting to leave a godly legacy. I seriously think I’m going to talk Scott and Sarah’s ears CLEAN OFF.

  33. Kellie Snyder

    We have known each other for many years. Your mom always made me feel welcome me in your home. For that I am grateful.

    Reading the many encouraging words from your friends shows their love for you. I hope the quote I am going to share doesn’t seem careless in any way. I do see you have alluded to it in your blog, although in a very different context. My sincere desire in sharing this quote is that it might, perhaps, in some way help others not make the mistake I did when my dad died quite unexpectedly.

    The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. Harriet Beecher Stowe

    • I completely get that, Kellie. It’s beautiful and it’s true! It’s also one of the reasons I talk my kids ears off :) Thank you so much for taking time to read and leave such a nice comment.

  34. Rebecca Phillips

    Your dear Mother was such a kind person to me via FB…I grew to value her precious input, her diligent Christian encouragement, over the past several years, as a cherished nugget of golden wisdom.. I have spent many hrs. alone with my husbands’ second tour and FB has served as a acceptable venue. Your Mothers special words would touch the very core of each situation and remind me of Gods’ protection and His Love for me. I have been where you are Susan. Losing my Mother was one of the most difficult passages I have gone through. One does not understand until they have experienced this loss. I just want you to know about THANKFUL I AM to have know your Mother, The Samaritan. whom held me up with her thoughtful words and encouragement. P.S. I don’t know they we have officially met before..I am married to Bryces’ youngest son, Randy…I am a sister-in-law to Milburn. :) Blessings. Numbers 6:24-26

    • How nice of you to take time to read and comment, Rebecca! I don’t believe we ever met, but I remember Randy from years ago. Since you’ve also lost your mother, I know you can empathize with the grief.

      Thank you so much for letting me know how much Mom meant to you. She loved Facebook and got so much encouragement her friends there, so I’m glad she passed that encouragement along to you! She knew many verses and loved sharing them. It would make her smile to know how much you appreciated her. Thank you!

  35. I have been praying for you Susan. I took care of my mom & my mother-in-law both before they died,in 1998 & 1996 respectively.
    I especially pray for those moments…months and years later, that will occur, seemingly out of the blue, when you miss your mom so acutely it almost takes your breath away.
    Those are the times I have found Jesus to be especially close to me, with a scripture, a card from a friend, or even a passer-by’s off hand comment.
    Know you are being lifted to His Throne.

    • Thank you so much, Cyn. Wow, two moms. That’s a heavy load. I have a whole new respect for caregivers.

  36. Susan, I know amd understand the kaleidascope of emotions you are going through now. I hope sharing your feelings with us helped a little. It is so good to hear from you and to have a window into your thoughts. Now I know better how to pray for you. Hang in there and keep your eyes focused on God. He will be there,; He will help. Sending hugs.

    • You DO understand, Julia. Your road was a lot rougher than mine, but you’re right about the Source of our strength. He is GOOD

  37. My dear friend Susan, it doesn’t seem like a month since your mom past away. I am praying for you, your Dad and the rest of your family. I talked with two of your aunts at the funeral home…..I believe they were your Dads sisters. They both were very delightful!

    I started using my FitRX last week at the RAC…..it is 60 day membership for $60.00 and I will work with a trainer about once a week. Last week I only made it one time to the RAC …..I used the warm pool to do walking and exercises. This week I have been to RAC once a day. I am very focused making use of this opportunity. I hope when I finish, we can get together. My thorn in the flesh is giving me a hard time right now….I was so hopeful that God had taken it away. I once again ask for your prayers! Your friend, Judy

    • It was good to see you at Mom’s visitation, Judy. I’m glad you got to meet two of Dad’s sisters. They’re the best!

      I will keep you in my prayers as you settle into your fitness routine.

  38. Susan, I am lifting you up in prayer. Praying you are feeling God’s ever present nearness.

    • I most definitely do, Barbie. And I know it’s because of the prayers of so many praying friends. Thank you!

  39. What a precious post, Susan. I remember many of the same questions when my daddy died. And I still wonder: Am I doing enough for my own mom? Daddy died almost 20 years ago and I am my mother’s significant other, and I don’t want to let her down.

    Thank you for the reminder not to leave things unsaid. That’s one thing I am sure of when it comes to my dad: Things were NOT left unsaid. But I want to be sure I can say that about every important person in my life. May they never question whether they are deeply loved!

    Praying for you as you continue your grief journey. May you feel the arms of Jesus’ embrace.

    • Thank you so much, Vonda. We certainly do feel His embrace and we’re grateful for so many prayers!

  40. Tender words, Susan, that capture the heart of a daughter who loves her mother. Thanks for sharing candidly with us. My father died when I was nine, and while I don’t live anxiously worrying when my mother will die, it does occur to me that when she does, I’ll be “untethered” to my family or origin completely. She is the last of any blood relatives in a direct line. It makes me so mindful to, as you pointed out, not leave things unsaid — to the generation that raised us and to the one we are raising. Press on!

    • “Untethered” is the exact word, Kristen. I think a legacy of faith is something that tethers generations!

  41. Susan,

    Keep writing even if it’s not posted on your blog. Let your questions, memories, pain and personal reflections heal your soul. Jesus wants us to bring everything to Him.

    God will touch the work of your hands and give you increase regardless the quantity. (I’m having a hard time getting back on schedule, too.) Rest knowing that He will do His part.

    (P.S. As far as the Viagra,you will someday look back and laugh. It’ll make a good story, so redeem it for His glory.) Blessing my friend. Marisa

    • Thank you so much, Marisa. You’re such a great encourager. I’m praying for you as you walk this new path with your dad. I’m glad to see you’re both adjusting.

  42. Marcie Causey

    Susan, thanks for sharing your heartfelt thoughts and deep love for your Mom. Losing a parent is so hard!!! You do adjust to a new normal with God’s help but you are forever changed. Continued prayers for and your family. Only through His grace, Marcie Causey

    • Thanks so much, Marcie. We want the change to reflect HIM.

  43. Susan,
    Oh I have been there with both my parents. My Dad, three years later my brother, two years later my mother. All significant losses, and like you I can testify to the fact that God is faithful and rich in His presence and comfort. So grateful tears “help drain the pain”, as one minister said at my mother’s homecoming.
    Praying God will continue to help you work through the slow process of grief and that you will continue to receive many words of comfort and hugs from friends both near and far.

    • “Drain the pain” — I love that, Glenda! And we are definitely getting comfort from friends near and far. One thing I’ve been so impressed with is how many Gideon Bibles have been donated in Mom’s memory. When I get back to blogging, I’ll be sure to post about that.

  44. Oh Susan, I get it. I was there when my mom died in 2005. Give yourself time and be patient with yourself. I am so sorry for your loss. But God is so faithful. Treasure the moments with your family.

    Blessings, love and hugs to you,

  45. Debbie, Isn’t it the most wonderful blessing to cheer them across life’s finish line? It’s sad, to be sure, but it’s an amazing blessing to being with them when they take their last breath here and their first breath there. Thank you so much for the empathetic prayers :)

  46. Kay Bird

    Thinking of you! Keeping you close to my heart and in prayer for a blessed Mother’s day. It’s great you all have the graduation this weekend! Love you, Suz! k


  1. Back in the (blog) saddle and a book giveaway! | Susan Stilwell - […] of you know that my Mom passed away in January. I posted some ramblings on death and dying  back in …