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Grace for the Broken Places

It’s a beautiful September day. Yet, my heart is heavy. Understandable, I suppose, since it is September.

I’ve lived almost 25 Septembers beyond my son. And still, today, that long-ago report of his death feels as if it cracked open my heart only yesterday. Grief is such a tricky emotion, and this morning I feel that familiar sense of sinking down into those places where hope is only a word, and sorrow, a living thing.

I want to catch myself on the way down, so reach for this Gwen Flowers’ poem. I keep it close. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s message reminds me that the ever-shifting grief I still endure no longer gets to identify the me I’ve fought to become.


“I had my own notion of grief.

I thought it was the sad time

That followed the death of

Someone you love.

And you had to push through it

To get to the other side.

But I’m learning there is no other side.

There is no pushing through.

But rather,

There is absorption.



And grief is not something you complete,

But rather, you endure.

Grief is not a task to finish

And move on,

But an element of yourself –

An alteration of your being.

A new way of seeing.

A new definition of self.”

This poem always lifts me into a place where grace, its mercy and peace, has a chance to overtake grief. I read over and over its last 14 lines and relive my understanding, my acceptance, that grief and I are forever connected . . . each changing over time, yes, but never fully apart. How I choose to live within that “new definition of self” is ultimately up to me.

My heart will forever bear the wounds of that earlier September morning. But, for now my shoulders soften, my eyes close and my breath deepens. I feel the warmth of light, the solace of grace, begin to seep into those broken places. My free fall slows; I sense Matt’s smile, and I smile back in thanks.

I wish you the light and peace of grace. May they bring understanding, comfort and healing into your broken places.




Sep 20, 2023

Dear Jane,

Thank you for sharing your handsome, gentle looking son Matt with me in this way. I had never seen a photo of him until now. I see his strong resemblance to you, his beautiful mother. And I can only imagine the deep loss and grief you have endured through 25 years.

As mothers, we love our children in ways they will never understand. The gift you have given me is the acute awareness that my children's lives can change and even vanish in a moment. I hold on tight and love them fiercely no matter where they are and how they choose to live. I simply want them to be happy. I am fortunate indeed to have them…


Sep 10, 2023

I have no words that can soften your abiding grief for Matt. I do know that your grief is a testament to your never-ending love for your son. As always I wish you peace.

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