These experiences of grace were shared by people grieving the loss
of a loved one. We thank them for their generosity and inspiration.
To submit a story of your own, please scroll down to "Share your story" below.
the gift of faith
Angel from Buffalo, NY, shares that she was sitting in the car in a drive-thru window line, not long after her mother had died. She noticed an abundance of clouds in the sky and the sun shining through the center of them. In that moment, she had a vision of her mom's face with a big smile.
"It was awesome and amazing," Angel writes. "I cried happy tears for this vision. I know she is at peace in heaven with God and the angels."
the gift of memories
Kim from PA shares that her "mom was very special. She was so kind and beautiful. We were inseparable. I stopped at her home every night on my way home from work. There were many times after she passed that I found myself sitting in her driveway until I 'remembered' that she was gone."
As Kim was sorting through the many greeting cards that her late mother had bought, organized into categories and stored away, she came upon one pile with an index card labeled "miss you" in her mother's handwriting. A moment of grace that Kim held onto forever by framing the label with her mother's handwritten note - "miss you" - and hanging it on the refrigerator, a constant reminder of her loving mom.
the gift of strength
Lia from Connecticut, shares that her grandmother and namesake committed suicide shortly after Lia's tenth birthday. For a few years, the young girl, devastated, refused to leave her parents' house on the anniversary of her grandmother's death. She struggled with the oft-held belief that those who commit suicide are condemned to hell. Finally, on one anniversary of the death, her mother insisted that Lia accompany her and her sister on a shopping trip. On that rainy day, when they arrived at the mall, Lia decided to stay in the car while her mother and sister shopped. As she sat in the backseat pondering her grandmother's death, a huge rainbow formed, followed by a smaller rainbow beneath. Lia had never seen anything like this before and has never seen anything like it since. "I am convinced that those rainbows were for me to know that she was home," she writes. "For a ten-year-old, there's nothing like a beautiful rainbow."
Now a hospice bereavement counselor, Lia adds, "I am so encouraged to see that someone has finally published a book about the beauty that is so often present in times of deep loss and great mourning. I see it everyday in my job and feel that my grandmother's death in many ways determined who I am today. Although I am still saddened that she suffered so greatly, I find satisfaction and wholeness in the purpose that her death has given rise to within me."
the gift of memories
Jennifer from San Diego writes: "At Mom's memorial service, a circle of dozens of people stood at a point overlooking the Pacific. Mom loved the ocean. There was music - Mom loved music - and many remembrances. The sunny day was so her. Mom was named Susan after the Black-Eyed Susan, a sunny yellow flower with a dark center. 'What else could we name her, with those big brown eyes?' my grandmother said."
the gift of art
Linda from Pittsburgh shares the experience of driving her father four-and-a-half hours through the rain to visit his dying sister in a nursing home, then leaving for the four-and-a-half-hour ride back.
"When we left, we both knew it was a final goodbye and my heart just broke for my Dad. The rain was much heavier when we left. I felt that it was a mourning period and the rain seemed appropriate."
Partway through the drive home, Linda turned on a Noel Henry CD in her car's player.
"As it got dark, I knew Dad's apprehension was going to rise (darkness, rain, fog and his daughter driving). The album is very calming. The music started... 'My life goes on in endless song...' and gradually, almost whispering, I could hear my Dad singing. Halfway through the songs, he was singing aloud. He knows every word to every hymn and he is a great tenor. There were times that the water was ponded so deep on the road that you could hear it cutting up under the car and I would slide a bit. When trucks passed, I think he was actually singing a little bit louder."
After dropping her Dad off at his home, Linda said that she "genuinely sighed and thanked God for the blessing of the day."
the gift of memories
KR from Pittsburgh shares that she celebrated Mother's Day at a golf club
dinner with her parents and her husband, who had lost his mother earlier in
the year. "I was wearing his mother's vintage baby blue knit suit," she writes,
"and in a small way, it did give my husband comfort to see me in his
the gift of community
J. from Pennsylvania whose 39-year-old daughter died from anorexia asks, "Is grief harder to bear if I feel I didn't do enough to help my loved one, even though I knew she was slowly killing herself?" She continues, "After a year of counseling and reading many books about the death of a child, I realized I was not to blame." She also finds healing possible "particularly if one doesn't blame God for the tragedy of a loved one's death. Giving up one's guilt and realizing what part he/she actually played in the death will go far to relieve the sadness. I shared my feelings with good friends who had suffered similar loss. Nothing helps as much as those conversations!"
the gift of faith
Kathleen from New York, once a passenger in a tragic car accident involving four teenagers traveling together, recalls the head injury, paralysis and memory loss sustained by her cherished friend Chris who, following a nine-month coma, lived for sixteen years without being able to walk or talk. A devastating change in a guy who used to wiggle his ears and make his friends laugh. When Chris died, Kathleen was eight months pregnant with her second child, Courtney.
"Through my grieving process, I prayed that God would give me a sign of some sort that Chris was with Him and was okay."
Seven years later, on a trip to the Adirondacks, young Courtney approached Kathleen on the porch where she sat gazing at the lake.
" 'Look, Mom,' Courtney said. 'Look how I can wiggle my ears.'
"She wiggled them exactly like Chris used to," Kathleen recalls. "My eyes just flooded with tears and everyone wondered what happened. I received a message from Heaven. A very, very cool day!"
the gift of faith
Sandy from Pennsylvania recalls praying that God would let her know when Dad was home with Him. After her father died, two of her family's ministers arrived at the hospital. The family met with them in a side room to address the necessary tasks at hand. Afterwards, the small group stood and held hands, as one of the ministers prayed.
"As I closed my eyes in prayer, I saw my dad," Sandy recalls. "I SAW him! He was smiling! It was a quick, brief moment, but it was Dad! He looked much younger and there was a beam of light behind him. It was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. I knew God answered my prayer. Dad was Home."
One person's discovery of hope in grief often inspires others to recall theirs. Whether we have accompanied someone through terminal illness or dementia, or lost them suddenly to death, there are endless ways we might be lifted from our deepest sorrow ~ even for a moment ~ to feel the warmth and power of love. If you would like to add your voice to the many others, feel free to do so in the space below. Depending on the volume of response and with your permission, we would love to excerpt part of your story to share with others.
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