Category: Nature

Serendipity and Nature

I went to the parole hearing of one of my son’s murderers, accompanied by my strong supporters: Michelle (the love of Tony’s life, who traveled all the way from New York to be with me), Debra, and Tracy (my Listening Hearts bereaved moms).


An Open Letter to Loretta Lynn

tracy bradshaw

Dear Loretta Lynn,

I hope my letter makes it to your hands, as I think you will want to know about our connection. I belong to a group, for bereaved moms, called Listening Hearts. It is not a group with which I ever imagined being associated. As I have traveled this grief journey for the last five years, my spirituality has emerged with an awareness that was once secretly questioned. There have been numerous signs along this path that show my son’s spirit is alive and with me, so I don’t question the spirit anymore. It is real, and it is constant. I am writing to you concerning such spiritual signs.


Nature Helps Calm Mother Who Misses Son

debra reagan

Debra Reagan

It  was the 4th anniversary of our son’s death, and I was having a difficult time.  My husband was working out of town, and this meant for the first time we would be apart on this date.

I turned to the woods, a place I find myself often when I seek peace.  As I started the trail, I noticed a tree that was bent and twisted.  Despite the fact that the base of the trunk was nothing but a shell,  the tree continued to live and  strive to reach the sun.

The bent and twisted tree
A shell of a tree

I felt a kinship with that tree.  At times, I felt like a shell of my old self, yet a part of my soul was wanting to find my sunshine again.

Isn’t it wonderful that the universe remains constant? Even if our world feels like it has collapsed, the universe remains the same. In my early grief, I was angry that the rest of the world continued after Clint’s death.  Now I find comfort in that consistency.  The sun is in its place even if I don’t see it.

The world continues
The universe remains constant

Further along on the trek, my eyes embraced nature at work around me, and my heart began to understand that I could learn things from this adventure. Take the river, for example. I saw sections of raging currents of turbulent water followed soon by calm peaceful pools.  Some parts of the same river appeared impossible to cross, yet just around the bend of the trail, I found large boulders that created easy crossings.  My grief journey is like the river; at times, it is calm and other times, it is raging.

The River
The River

When I feel that my grief is impossible to cross, I need only to be patient and take it one step at a time.

Reagan-Nature Helps Calm Mother Who Misses Son3

This article was originally published in April 2010 on, a website whose mission is to help those who have suffered a loss to cope with their pain and invest in the future.

The Bridge


Amparo Atencio

I learned of a special spot at Frozen Head State Park when one of Tony’s friends shared a memory with me. She said they had frequently hiked there with friends, and one day Tony carved his nickname into the handrail of a bridge on a trail.


I became obsessed with finding that bridge and seeing the carving with my own eyes. And finally, after numerous hikes, I spotted yet another bridge. I hurried to this one, inspecting the handrails, as I always did, scanning it for the T-Dawg carving, This time, I found the very bridge that Tony had stood on with his friends. I ran my fingers over the slightly faded carving, feeling my spiritual connection to him.


How fitting that his mark was on a bridge.  A Dictionary of Symbols indicates, “The bridge symbolizes the link between what can be perceived and what is beyond perception. Even when it lacks this mystic sense, the bridge is always symbolic of a transition from one state to another–of change, or the desire for change.

A dear friend said of this definition, “Somehow, this describes your new relationship to Tony, who for you now exists in nature, which you can perceive through your senses, even though you cannot actually perceive Tony as he once was.” He went on to say, “It symbolizes both Tony’s transition to another state and your own transition as you come to terms with his new mode of being.

I added my own carved inscription to Tony’s, adding my mark to connect us always, “MAMA.”


And so I name this Frozen Head State Park bridge, Tony’s Bridge, always to be my transitional link between what was and what is now.



Baby, Can You See Me?

mom and son in front of mountains

Amparo Atencio

This article was originally published in “We Need Not Walk Alone,” the national magazine of The Compassionate Friends.

The culmination of all the training runs…the throng of like-minded people…the crack of the starting pistol…ah, race day jitters! Nothing could motivate me more than the start of a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or triathlon back in the day. That was then. Back then, I never looked up. I never noticed the blueness of the sky. I never noticed the vastness of the stars. I never paid attention to the sun rise. I never saw the craters of the moon. That was then. (more…)