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Grief Has Gripped Me Today: A Note to My Family

Here, a journal entry written on the 20th anniversary of my beautiful son's death, as grief gripped and squeezed my heart. This is what a Mommy's grief journey is like.

It has been 20 years since my little Tommy died, but today would have been his 30th birthday.

A milestone. It seems it is the milestone days that still hold me in their grip. The anniversary of the accident; his birthdays; his special days. My special days.

I think about him on these days and wonder, “What would Tommy think about this?” Or like today, I wonder what kind of cake and decorations would he have wanted for his big 30th birthday? Would turning 30 have bothered him? Would he have a wife I could secretly plan with? I can’t help thinking these things.

I remember my daughter’s 30th birthday two years ago and how much I enjoyed plotting with her BFF. How much I enjoyed sharing the milestone and excitement with her, by phone, texts, and pictures. How much fun it was!!

Memories I will cherish forever. But today, I don’t get to do that with my son.

This is what hurts; not getting to share these special days with my beautiful boy. His Sissy, Tiffany, doesn't get to plot and scheme these special days with her brother. It’s not that I wish he was back here on earth with us; no, I believe - I know - he is in Heaven with his father, his Papa, his Papaw, and his Heavenly Father and living it up, happy and fulfilling his ultimate purpose. I am happy for that! I am thankful I don’t have to worry about him and his well-being anymore.

But I miss him! Oh how I miss him still!

I miss having the opportunity to share these special milestone days with him. I miss getting to make new memories with him.

Like the milestone of his getting a driver’s license, and graduating from high school. Or the fun of meeting his girlfriends and contemplating his getting married. Or his actual wedding! Or holding his new baby for the very first time – Lord, I’ll never have that sweet, precious blessing. All these precious memories I didn’t/won’t get to make and keep with my sweet little boy, Tommy.

He is here! Precious Tommy is here 💙

Who would have been 30 years old today.

That’s what I grieve for – the missed memories.

The promise of each of those sweet, life-giving memories, whispers through your heart the moment you lay your eyes on that tiny, fresh new miracle for the very first time. He takes his first breath outside of your warm protecting womb and your Mommy hopes and dreams take breath and soar! You are that little exquisite miracle’s Mommy!

When you lose that child, you also forever lose a part of yourself. But you’re still left cradling that exquisite little box of memories inside your heart that holds the sweet promise of life giving memories yet to come.

But when the memory making day comes, or the days that should have been memory making days, you can’t seem to comprehend what your heart cannot understand - the reason for that special day is somehow missing. He was here, alive, laughing, vibrant, beautiful – but somehow now he’s gone! There’s no life or breath to give to that memory begging to be made. That memory that you looked so forward to, now will never be. The emptiness of that unfulfilled promise gapes a wide hole in your heart.

That is what a grieving Mommy grieves for. Not to have her beloved child back to suffer on this earth—no! But to have life breathed back into that little box of memories, to live and experience each of those exquisite little promises with that beautiful little miracle that was her child.

Tommy on Hog, with Sissy and Papaw

To keep making and living those life-giving memories secretly and beautifully promised the day he was born.

Yes, this grief has gripped me today.

But I have pulled out my exquisite little box of memories, filled with nine years of life-giving, precious memories made with my beautiful treasured gift from God - Tommy. I take that exquisite little box of memories out and fill up my heart and lungs with the life-breath they are breathing into me. I’m smiling and my heart is glad!

And then I sob.

My heart is overwhelmed and begins to break apart again.

And I sob.

But then I remember – I have these memories. And they can be enough.

I feel relief.

The burden, swollen and heavy, is lightened once again.

And I cry again.

But it’s ok.

Because I know I need to cry – tears to relieve the hurting, to release once again the broken promise of what this day might have been; to help me accept what my little box of memories will now never hold.

So, tears go ahead and fall. Yes, at first you were Deep Pain, but now you are Healing. Each of you land in a broken part of me and when enough of you fall, somehow you‘ll restore that part of me again. And I‘ll live and breathe and smile once more.

Yes, it's true, I am different now; there are indelible scars from my great loss. But with time they'll fade and won’t hurt as much.

So, Family, please let me cry to relieve the hurt. And remember those memory days – they will be the worst. If my child was still here, today would be all about him, so allow me to spend today in memory of him. And please remember that when he died, he didn’t cease being the child I birthed. For in my little exquisite box of memories called Tommy, there are nine full years of promises fulfilled; nine full years of dreams come true; nine full years of the life and love that was Tommy; nine full years of me being that exquisite little boy’s Mommy!

The Sweetest Boy!

Yes, let me grieve a little, or a lot, for a little boy full of love. Let me release those built up tears that will one day heal my wound. Remember, that like a broken bone which time heals, that break still leaves a scar. And on a cold winter’s day, that scar aches. And we must learn to adjust and make allowances for that cold winter day and that cold winter ache.

I, too, have cold winter days and on those days, the scar of my shattered heart will ache. And I’ll pull out my warm little box of memories and breathe them in. My tears will fall, but when my heart warms with the memories, the cold ache will fade. And I’ll smile again—until the next cold winter’s day.

Yes, grief will grip me from time to time, but with your gentle understanding, I’ll once again be fine.

Dear Heavenly Father,

As I thank you for the beautiful gift of my son, Tommy, and the exquisite nine years I had with him, I lift up all the precious Mommies who are grieving the loss of their beautiful child. Also, all your precious Ones who have lost a loved one. I pray you will surround them with your comforting presence and help them find a way to breathe life back into their hearts once more. I pray you will help them trust, even in the midst of their pain, and reach out to you for your strength and courage to live again. Please fill their lives with those who would love, encourage, and help them through their grief.

Lord, we don't know or understand why we have to loose those we love so much. Please help us rest in the knowledge and peace that you do know why, and that you have a perfect plan for each of us.

Thank you for loving us and helping us get through these heartbreaking, impossible days.


A note to precious Reader: please know that you are not alone. Know that there are many others experiencing deep grief and loss and feeling they don't know how they'll get through. I felt that way too, for so long. Please know that even though you may not feel him, God is in fact with you - still. He always has been and always will be. Lift your voice to him, cry out to him. Consider these Scripture Words of his:

You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.

Psalm 56:8

Do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be afraid, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you; I will help you;

I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Weeping may endure for a night,

But joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6

We often don't understand why God allows the things he does, especially when they are senseless and pain drenched. In our own finite thinking, we cannot understand because we cannot see his plan. But we can rest assured that God, in his infinite thinking, sight, and wisdom, does have a plan and it is somehow the very best plan there could be.

Beloved Friend, please rest in this knowledge. He loves you so. He wants you to come to him and let him comfort you. Grieving is a long process, but living a good life once more is not impossible. I am testimony to that. But it took leaning on God and trusting in him to pull me through those drowning days.

I am here if you need someone to talk to who's walked this grief journey. Please send me a message here, or leave a comment below. I will be sure to answer you.

If you are someone who knows someone in deep grief, I pray this post will shed some light into what they are enduring. I pray you will stand in the gap for them, be there for them, encourage them, lift them up. And if you have questions, I'd love to help. Just let me know here, or in comments below.

Thank you for reading!

Love and blessings always,

Mindy 💗

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Dear Mindy, I am so deeply touched reading your heart about the loss of your precious son. I recently loss Mama on Mother's Day at 3 pm ... and I still grieve over the loss of my precious baby sister gone too soon by a hit-and-run driver a month after she had turned two years old. Even though it was 55 years ago, her memories still linger and I just returned from taking my mama's remains to her ... in honor of Mama, but I guess more so for healing for me. Where would we be if it wasn't for the Lord?

Mindy Cantrell
Mindy Cantrell
Aug 23, 2023
Replying to

Dear Mary Ann,

My heart is deeply moved by your love and devotion to your Mama, and your precious baby sister. I'm sorry for your profound losses. Yes, even at 55 years, grieving our loved ones seems to be an ever-present emotion, doesn't it?

I'm glad you had opportunity to take your Mama to your sister, What an emotional (but thoughtful and loving thing to do) journey that must have been. I close my eyes and imagine the sense of relief and healing that went through your heart the moment you put them together.

Mary Ann, thank you for sharing your heart with me. I pray you have now a measure of healing, and your heart can rejoice in the…


Thank you, Mindy. I am so sorry for your grief and praise the Lord with you that he is with Jesus. I have a friend who lost her husband, son, and daughter-in-law all in the same year, but not at the same time. Thank you for helping me more understand this grief. 🙏. ❤️

Mindy Cantrell
Mindy Cantrell
Aug 04, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Michelle 💗

And oh my Goodness, your friend - that’s so very tragic. I can’t even begin to think how she is coping with all that loss. I am praying for her right now. I would say she probably needs much understanding from all those around her. Thank you for being her friend, and thinking of her now. I am praying for you also, for God to fill your heart with the right words of comfort for her.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my beautiful son, and comment. It means so much 💗🙏


My dear sweet sister. My heart hurts for you today. Tommy Joe was a sweet wonderful boy who touched all of our hearts in such big ways. You strength throughout these years and your unwavering faith in God has been such an inspiration to me and so many others. I love you sister! ❤️

Mindy Cantrell
Mindy Cantrell
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Brother - the love and support of my family has meant so much and makes all the difference. I love you 💗🤗

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