Category: Feelings

Poetry from 2016

David Arnold

This is what I woke to spinning in my head this morning. It is about a group of mothers that have 1 thing in common the loss and bereavement of a child.

Yes there really is a group here in the surrounding area where these moms meet to help one another find a new path without their child in their life…..

The Listening Hearts

When a woman gives birth to a child her heart grows bigger in every way. As her children grows she prays everyday to keep them from harm in hopes that they will grow strong.

Then one day there comes a knock on the door, it’s the worst nightmare a mother can hear as she falls to the floor, she was given news that the child she did bore was found living no more.

Her heart gave out as she started to shout, what will I do, I can’t live without you?

As the days grew longer the nightmares got stronger and she found herself not wanting to live any longer.

Then along came a friend that said, “let me lend you a hand, I want you to meet other mothers like you that do not know what to do.”

These mothers they meet to find answers they seek, instead of the hand they find a new friend whose heart is broken just like them.

They listen with understanding and compassion to every word you are passing for they too, are hurting like you and are needing a new heart and asking, where do I start?

Listen, do you hear that beat?

It’s other mothers that are here now standing at your feet, and they greet you with kisses on the cheek. It is these other mothers who have lost their child’s hearts too and they now welcome you.

There is a bond that no one other than a mother of the Listening Hearts can hear as they tell you that you my dear are always welcomed here!

Listening Hearts where moms find others in a similar struggle, a bereaved heart that is missing a beat from losing a child.

Letting Go of Expectations

debra reagan

Debra Reagan

What does this classic sliding tile puzzle have to do with grief?

Reagan-letting go

I remember as a child trying to work the classic sliding tile puzzle. I could get ever so close to a completed puzzle, but could never get it completed without first letting go of my expectations of the process. I was reluctant to accept the fact that one had to be willing to “mess” up all the tiles before they could be put back in order.

I have found that grieving the loss of my child to be somewhat like that. No matter how I wanted to handle the grief with logic and order, I had to let go, not of my child or the love, but of the expectations of this journey. I had to learn to live in the moment at hand.

Don’t use your energy with the would have, should have or could have. And don’t waste your precious energy with expectations of others’ reactions and behaviors.

Grief is a wild and crazy roller coaster ride that requires energy. More energy than one can ever realize. I hope you travel your journey one step at a time and use this limited energy wisely.

Why Am I Still Here?

Tracy Bradshaw, Sawyer’s Mom

As a single mom, taking care of Sawyer was my purpose. Everything he needed emotionally, physically, and psychologically was up to me to provide. Getting him to practices, games, birthday parties, school, etc. was up to me. Making sure that he had a positive sense of himself, his lunch money, project materials, homework, signed permission slips and report cards, clothes, etc. was my lot in life. I loved him before I really knew him, so I was happy with this responsibility. It would have been my choice had I had one. The fact that he was a loving and touchy-feely person was an added bonus.

When his life was taken at nineteen years old, I was completely lost. Why am I still here? What will I do with my life? Where will I turn? When will I feel normal again? Who will I depend on to help me find my way?

I don’t remember when my first visit with Listening Hearts was, but I remember feeling like I had been with a group of moms who loved and lost. That was me, same as me, happy and sad. Their joys and pains were very much like my own. After several visits with this support group, one of the co-founders, Debra Reagan, offered to make me a bear out of two of Sawyer’s t-shirts. While I thought that was a very kind gesture, it took me months (maybe a year) to be able to turn over two shirts, as the material things were all that I had – I thought.

When she gave me my bear, and each scrap of material that wasn’t used from the shirts, the warmth in her eyes caressed my aching heart. She connected with this bear, and it was with tenderness and love that she presented him to me. He was delightful, yet he opened floodgates to my tears. The carefully chosen shirts represented Sawyer’s life as one was from his early years and the other from his later teens.

Bradshaw-Why Here2

As time passed I wasn’t sure how I “should” be with Sawbear or if I “should” even call him that. I worried what people would think if I slept with him or held him too much. I hesitated to take him on family get-togethers or vacations. My face reddened, when I saw strangers looking as I took pictures of Sawbear. I went on a beach trip with my sister-in-law, and her love of Sawbear was instant like my own. She asked if she could sleep with him. She cuddled him, and her eyes lit up when I spoke of taking pictures of him. She didn’t care what anyone thought, and we set out to create a scrapbook of “Sawbear’s Vacation.” As I propped him against sand castles, pool floats, and chair backs, ideas would pop in her head to have him in the shade with sunglasses, in a kayak, and more.

Bradshaw-Why Here8


Scrapbooks turned into self-made children’s books, and ideas for helping children became endless as I watched so many love and hug Sawbear. Like Sawyer, he is easy to love. To readers, he is accepting and understanding, helpful, and encouraging.


In answering my earlier questions, “What do I do with my life?” I reach out to help others going through trauma, entertain with a fun-loving character, and stay connected to a spirit I love. “Where do I turn?” I turn inward to memories and love and outward to anyone who listens or reads. “Why am I still here?” I am here because I have learned from a loving spirit, and I have the courage to share. “When will I feel normal again?” I will never be able to feel the normalcy that I once felt, so I will quit grasping for that. I will seek a new normal that includes Sawyer in every step and in every book. “Who will I depend on to help me find my way?” I will pray for guidance in my search to find a publisher, organizations, and children with a need for Sawbear. I will depend on Listening Hearts’ Moms, my friends, my family, my Church, and my community for support.

The material things are not all that I have. I have an ability to touch lives, an abundance of priceless memories, and a bonded love that knows no end.

Bradshaw-Why Here7

Snow Angel

Lee Ann Christ

Christ-Snow Angel1It was in February, two months after Brian died. I was alone and decided to head out on a Saturday afternoon down Route 7W, and attempt to work my way through the outlets out that way. A diversion on a cold and dreary day in what could sometimes feel like a cold and dreary life, I had found out in the worst way. I got a half mile or so past Tysons Corner and spied a big snowy field where my daughter had played soccer in the fall. Without hesitation or thought, I turned right, down the road to the field that was adjacent to a school, gladly abandoning the outlet idea.

The Ache of Absence

Rhonda Cooper

Ms. Cooper is a guest blogger. She is Chaplain for Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and sister to bereaved mom, Reneau Howard, Carson’s mom.


In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone….

(Christina Rossetti)


A Mother’s Victim Impact Statement

Amparo Atencio

Today was the last time I plan to set foot in the Anderson County Courthouse, in Clinton, Tennessee. It was the culmination of the criminal justice phase for the murder of my son, Tony James Phillips, forever 22. This is the impact statement I delivered to a crowded courtroom, full of defendants, the accused, the suspected, the admitted guilty, in addition to family members, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the judge.




Amparo Atencio

I think I’m ready. I love my friends. I want to spend time with them. And so I accept the invitation for Christmas dinner with my dear friend and her family. Dinner will be served at 3:00, so I arrive at 2:30.

Oops, I didn’t get the update that dinner is now scheduled for 5:00, but that’s ok. I’m welcomed with open arms.


The Fourth Anniversary

Tracy Bradshaw

Yesterday was emotional to say the least. A friend had bypass surgery Parkwest Hospital, and Alan and I went after he got off work. I didn’t want to go, but considering the seriousness of the procedure I made myself.

We were driving to UT hospital about the same time, four years ago after receiving a call that Sawyer had been taken there – memories filled my head.

Getting out of the car – memories filled my head.

Walking in, I saw the Emergency area – memories filled my head.

Inside, we didn’t know where to go – memories filled my head.

Talking with a receptionist – memories filled my head.

Waiting and wondering – memories filled my head.

A nurse came out with a report. I hung on every word – memories filled my head.

Memories filled my head…

We learned that it would be approximately an hour and a half, so Alan and I left to grab a bite to eat. Upon leaving the hospital behind us – memories filled my head.

Nervously entering the hospital again – memories filled my head.

Making our way to the elevator, holding Alan’s hand – memories filled my head.

A man exiting the elevator, walking toward us and pointing at me said, with a pause between each word, “Sawyer — Webb’s — Mother.” Oh, how it warmed my heart to hear those words again. I hugged him. He was Sawyer’s boss and said that he remembered “this day every year.” He said that he “loved that boy.” We hugged again, and I was somehow better. He did love Sawyer. I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. How calming it was to talk with someone who shared feelings similar to my own.

Sawyer Webb’s Mother, Tracy

Hearing Sawyer’s name, knowing that he was remembered and acknowledged, and being given back my identity felt like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a bitterly cold night. I swallowed my identity back down inside. Yes, I am still and will always be Sawyer Webb’s mother.

I had met Sawyer’s boss twice at the restaurant over four years ago, and I remember him coming to the funeral. How he recognized me and the timing of the encounter, I believe, is no coincidence. Sawyer (maybe God, maybe both) knew I needed those words at that moment, and my mommy heart filled with a familiar appreciation for my loving son, Sawyer.

When the Head and Heart Are at War

debra reagan

Debra Reagan

On August 6, 2005, a civil war was declared. You may not have heard of this war. It isn’t marked on a map or recorded in history books. Nonetheless, this war had a devastating impact on the people involved.

Upon hearing the news, The Heart declared war on The Head. The Heart built a fortress to keep away the pain. But no fortress was strong enough to hold back the anguish. The Heart ached and wailed out during the night, “This cannot be true! This can’t be possible! Just look at all the love and dreams we have for this precious child.”

The Head could only say, “Why did this happen? What did we do wrong?”  The Head was confused and could not rest. It felt the need to be logical and find answers. The war continued.

The ruler of this land, The Soul, had great concern because The Heart was so deeply wounded. The depths of this anguish threatened its every beat. The Soul feared that in an attempt to avoid the pain, The Head would not rest, and that The Heart would cease rather than give up its great love.

Weeks, months, and years passed. The battle raged. There was fear in the land that the battle would not end. Slowly, as both Head and Heart grew to understand each could let go of the pain without abandoning the love, a truce was arranged.

Then a treaty was drafted in which The Head would rest and embrace the mysteries of life. The endless questions and reviews would be released, so they could face forward to a future. The Heart was allowed to keep all the love and to openly display it. The two agreed that The Heart could build a connection between the before and the after. There would be no putting away of this great love, even long after the putting away of all material things. Together they would build a peaceful place for The Heart to hold these honored treasures. In this peaceful place, the door will never be closed and the love will never end.

The Soul honored the fact they had passed through the depths of this great pain and challenged them to continue to live in peace and to learn new ways to approach the depth of this loss. Despite the battle scars and a full expectation of future skirmishes, The Heart and The Head have decided not just to survive, but to thrive with a deeper and broader understanding of Faith, Hope and a Forever Love.

Reagan-When the Head and Heart


Written in memory of our son, Clint Tyler Reagan.

This article was originally published on, a website whose mission is to help those who have suffered a loss to cope with their pain and invest in the future.