Finding the Silver Lining

Some days are just plain sad, leaving us feeling lonely and discouraged. On days like this it may be hard to remember that others understand the heartache we are going through. Although no two lives are the same and our experiences are all different, if we love and live we will feel pain, disappointment, despair, and distress.

This past week I’ve had a few of examples where this became evident to me. One of my special nieces wrote this and she has given me permission to share.

“I doubt there is any greater horror than being woken up in the early hours of the morning by a frantic husband yelling at you to call 911 while holding up a lifeless baby…

Two of the most common things people said to me when my baby doll passed away were, ‘The pain will fade with time’ and ‘The pain will never go away, it will always hurt’. Two very contradicting statements, but both are pretty accurate. I didn’t like either option. I didn’t want the pain to go away, but I didn’t want to feel it either.

The Nell Family

Photo credit, Lisa Nell, 2015

Seventeen years ago today I lived that horror. Seventeen years later the pain is real, and I don’t think it hurts any less than it did that day. Time has healed my emotional wounds. I have had many blessings and many heartaches and I am grateful for all of it. To wish that horror had not happened would be to wish I hadn’t had the chance to have her be a part of my life. I will take the pain if it means I get to experience true joy. This day is always filled with mixed emotions for me. My heart was ripped from my chest, but I was taught a valuable lesson in life, love, and gratitude.”

I have never experienced the death of a child, but I do relate to “The pain will fade with time” and “The pain will never go away, it will always hurt”. I often feel both of those contradicting statements about my own life experience along with, “My heart was ripped from my chest, but I was taught a valuable lesson in life, love and gratitude.” I love you, Lisa, and appreciate you sharing your grief and happiness with us.

I have a cousin who had surgery for a brain aneurysm a few weeks ago. He has been in my thoughts and prayers constantly. His progress has been a way too familiar roller coaster ride. Last Friday, Mark and I went to see him in ICU. I wasn’t even sure they would let us in, but I had to try. I was in hopes to at least see his wife, who greeted us with a big hug.

“I’ve thought about you often since this happened,” she said. “I hate that you had to go through all this at such a young age and with small children.”

With tears in my eyes because I knew somewhat about the pain and anguish she was experiencing and knew she felt some of mine, I said, “And I hate that you have to go through this now. You are continuously in my thoughts and prayers.”

Our hearts were knitted together as our understanding of one another grew to an authentic level. This event made me appreciate how much God, family and friends help us get through the hard knocks in life. The blessing we receive from our grief is the realization that even though the incident which causes the sorrows may be different, the anguish felt is very similar. As we work through it and heal, we can more fully lift and support one another by sharing the load. True empathy not only lightens the pain, it makes those dark days brighter and more meaningful as we genuinely connect with one another.

In your grief and sorrow, what has helped you find the silver lining?

Other Related Posts:

The Miracle of Volunteers, part 1, Sandy, UT

The Miracle of Volunteers, part 2, Draper, UT

No Man Is an Island

Blessings From Grief

Sometimes it’s hard to see the blessings given to us when we are in pain. These three inspiring thoughts reminded me of some I received which helped me move forward through my sorrow.







God Promises









Grief Changes Us







Our experience with grief gives us the ability to truly empathize with another in similar circumstances. What blessings have you received or have been able to give another during sorrowful times?

20 Things to Know About Grief

lifegoesonIn the journey of life I suppose everyone has felt like they’ve come to a screeching halt at some time or another. It’s part of the grieving process. In my article Life Must Go On, I recalled three common, everyday events which after the accident became tough to do. I felt awkward and strange, even around family and friends. Despite my shattered life, I could see that life was going on. It seemed odd that most people were unaware of my grief and pain. I knew I had to move forward regardless of my sorrow and the best reason to do so was for my children.

Can anyone prepare for grief? I don’t know, but I sure wasn’t prepared for it. What I do know is that it will come in all of our lives and sometimes when we least expect it. I found this list of things to know about grief very accurate to what I experienced. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone.

  1. Your grief will take longer than most people think.
  2. Your grief will take more energy than you would have ever imagined.
  3. Your grief will involve many changes.
  4. Your grief will show itself in all parts of your life: physical, social, and emotional.
  5. You will grieve the loss of many things, not just the death or change alone.
  6. You will grieve for what you have lost in the present and for what you have lost for the future.
  7. Your grief will involve mourning not only for the actual person, but also for all the hopes, dreams and unfulfilled expectations you had for/and with that person, along with needs that will go unmet because of the death or change.
  8. Your grief will involve a wide variety and combination of feelings and reactions such as anger, sadness, loneliness, irritability, frustration, annoyance, or intolerance.
  9. Your loss will bring out old issues, feelings and unresolved conflicts from the past.
  10. You will have a sense of loss of identity as the result of this major loss and you will experience reactions and feelings that are new and different for you.
  11. You may feel anger and/or guilt, or some variation of these emotions.
  12. You may have a lack of self-concern or interest in things going on around you.
  13. You may experience a grief burst, a sudden burst of feeling that hits you without warning.
  14. You may have trouble thinking, concentrating, and/or making decisions.
  15. You may feel like you are going crazy.
  16. You may search for meaning for why this happened.
  17. You may question your religion and or definition of life.
  18. You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different from before.
  19. Society will have unrealistic expectations about your grief journey and may respond inappropriately to you.
  20. Certain experiences later in life may temporarily bring back your grief such as certain dates, events, sounds, smells, sights, and/or memories that remind you of your loss.

Life Must Go On

As I came to terms with my own grief, I learned this – life must and will go on, with or without you. Choose to be apart of it. Each day is precious and relationships need to be treasured. If you’re grieving, keep moving forward one step at a time. You can and will move out of the dark and will see a colorful life again.

Please share your tips on grieving or what kept you going during your time of grief.

Life Must Go On

With the tragedy of the car accident and Mark in a coma my life felt like it had stopped. One night Dad drove me to the grocery store to pick up some essential items. It was awkward to be amongst happy and carefree people who were walking up and down the aisles, chatting with another about what they needed to make delicious meals, or what they wanted as a treat. This common environment now seemed outlandish. Weren’t these people aware of the pain and trauma that was so prevalent at the hospital just a block away? I had become used to seeing individuals filled with worry and heartache; it seemed odd to be around healthy and happy people. I felt out of place.

I was grateful our children had school, homework, friends, and activities which kept them busy, yet it was difficult to support all their endeavors. Thankfully, I had family who helped. Near the last day of school there was a party for the children and parents which included dancing. I’ve always loved to dance, but now it took all the strength I could gather and to put a smile on my face a do a line dance with my child.

I bounced back and forth between a world full of tragedy, pain, illness and sorrow at the hospital to another full of pleasure, comfort, good health and happiness at home. I appreciated the reprieve from the hospital, yet it made me uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel right to be away from Mark.

My thirty-second birthday was six weeks after the accident. I wasn’t in the mood for celebrating, but it was a big day despite my feelings. At the hospital, Mark was lifted out of the floatation bed he was in due to a large blood clot in his right leg and strapped into a big white reclining wheelchair for the first time. His eyes were wide open with a terrified looked as they moved him from the bed. I thought he must be frightened by not having control over his body while being moved. He was upright for one hour three separate times that day, which felt like a giant step in the right direction. I even saw him move his fingers while he was sitting up, which brightened my day.

I came home to a kitchen decorated with balloons, cake and happy birthday signs made by the kids. After dinner and cake we were off to Christopher’s first Pinewood Derby Race. My dad had spent hours helping him make his car. I was grateful for the time he took to support and help make this race possible for Christopher. Two days before the accident Mark and I went to the Cub Scout meeting with Christopher where they passed out the pinewood box kit and talked about the race. Mark and Christopher were excited to work on the car together. While driving to Ogden that stormy tragic day, Mark told me all about the cars he’d made as a kid and how he looked forward to helping Christopher with his car. There was no doubt in my mind that Mark was as excited about this Pinewood Derby Race as our son was and the memory of our conversation hung over me like a dark cloud. I knew that if Mark was awake he’d be terribly disappointed he was missing out.

June 1991, Christopher & IExcitement filled the building as parents and children gathered for the big race. Despite the fact I was amongst family and friends, I felt as uncomfortable at the Pinewood Derby Race as I did at the grocery store or the school dance, but I knew life must go on and I didn’t want to deprive our kids of any happiness. I smiled and cheered for Christopher’s car as it zoomed down the track and beat every other car and finally took first place. I was thrilled for him, yet heart-broken for Mark. I watched Christopher get his trophy and we took smiling pictures, yet inside I was crying and I couldn’t help but wonder if Christopher was too. I was delighted that he won, yet grieving for his missing Dad. I felt torn between two different worlds causing opposites in emotions. It was a bitter sweet birthday with milestones happening in both the worlds I was living in. It was also the day I realized that no matter where I was life must go on.

Chris with Grandpa

Chris with Grandpa

Christopher’s winning smile

Christopher recieving 1st place

Receiving 1st place


Once again he wins the race.







All bragging set aside. The red car wins by a landslide.

All bragging set aside. The red car wins by a landslide.












1991 Pinewood Derby  1st place trophy

1991 Pinewood Derby
1st place trophy

My favorite part of the pinewood derby experience is the next time Christopher saw his dad after the race, he took his prize car and trophy to the hospital and gave them to him. The car and trophy stayed on the nightstand next to Mark’s bed during the many months of his next recovery stage at the rehab hospital. When Mark came home from the rehab hospital, I asked Christopher if he wanted to keep the car and trophy in his room now. He said, “No, I gave them to Dad.” To this day, nearly twenty-four years later, the car and trophy are still on the nightstand next to Mark’s bed. This token of love from a remarkable eight-year-old boy is still appreciated and the memory of it will be cherished forever.