Parents, cars can be replaced but kids can’t—one father’s story about forgiveness.

Grief Diaries

Yesterday, an 18-year old girl, her mother, older sister and brother-in-law came to my office. The girl had just rear-ended another vehicle.

When I asked if everyone was okay, they all politely smiled and said yes. But I sensed otherwise.

As an insurance agent, I spelled out the steps to file a claim, then came back to the girl.

I told her it was okay. Everyone makes mistakes and she needed to learn from it and let it go.

Her eyes welled up, she said, “My mom and dad will NEVER let this go.”

She said never through gritted teeth, and I sensed she’d already been given quite a bit over it.

I said, “I want to tell you a story.” 

“On my 26th wedding anniversary, my son came home from his drive to school almost as soon as he’d left. His face showed anguish like yours does now. Behind him I could see his car hood standing up like a tent, his grill and headlights smashed.

For some reason, I felt calm. And I never feel calm. I told him it was okay, we all make mistakes and I was just glad he wasn’t hurt. It was probably one of a handful of things I did right as a parent in his eyes.

He later thanked me for the way I handled that morning. And 58 days later, he was gone.”

My gaze turned to the mother who, until then, had been silently seething. “We can replace cars and houses and boats and ATVs. But we can’t replace people. How this situation today is handled will always be remembered.”

There wasn’t a dry eye. Even macho brother-in-law was sobbing. Mom and daughter embraced.

When someone asks my advice about getting into my business, I tell them what an older, wiser agent told me—it’s a tough job. But there are payoff days that make it worth the ride. Yesterday was such a day.

And parents, cars can be replaced. Children can’t. Learn from it, forgive, and give thanks they live to make other mistakes.

SCOTT SMITH, Jake’s dad

Grief Diaries

A soldier’s ultimate sacrifice

Grief Diaries

Three months after our daughter died, a local boy was killed in combat when his Stryker on patrol hit a buried explosive. I didn’t know his family, but joined the town to honor his sacrifice. Tears streamed down my face as the hearse carrying his remains drove slowly down Main Street. He was just 22 years old.

I met his mom that day, and she shared that her son’s foot was all they had left. It was all the coffin contained, the only thing left to bury.

We hugged long and hard, our wet faces revealing the private hell of two grieving mothers.

Since then, I’ve thought about her often and wondered what it might feel like to lose a loved one in combat. It’s a special kind of loss. The soldier sacrificed his own life with little pay and living conditions to fight for the freedom of people he’ll never meet.

The family sacrifices a child who followed his or her heart, only to return home in a coffin.

The young man I honored on the curb that day represents to me all the faceless soldiers who return home in a coffin.

To those who went before him, I’m grateful for your sacrifice.

To those who went after him, I’m grateful for your courage.

To the families left behind, your loved one will never be forgotten.

In memory of Aaron Aamot

Lynda Cheldelin Fell XOXO

Grief Diaries

A picture worth a thousand words

Faces of Resilience

They say one picture is worth a thousand words because it captures complex emotions in a single shot.

Our newest book is filled with photos that are priceless.

Faces of Resilience is a stunning gallery of nearly 200 portraits taken by Barbara J HopkinsonPRae M Miliotis, and myself that showcase both the commonality and individuality of a timeless journey experienced by people around the world.

Traveling the country to conferences, annual gatherings and even support groups, each subject was invited to write something meaningful on his or her skin to portray how grief has influenced their emotions while serving as a visual reminder that the power of resilience lies within us all.

Thousands of photos later, the top 200 made it into our first published collection.

Faces of Resilience

It’s our hope that this influential collection tells a story better than written words, and serves as an agent of change by stimulating conversations about a universal experience through love, loss, heartbreak, resilience and—ultimately—hope.

Faces of Resilience

Faces of Resilience

Faces of Resilience

Faces of Resilience

Now available on Amazon.

Faces of Resilience

By Lynda Cheldelin Fell

#FacesofResilience #healing #hope

International Bereaved Mother’s Day

Grief Diaries

Today is International Bereaved Mother’s Day.

It’s not a day we celebrate. Rather, it’s a nod of recognition for fellow sisters of the Wailing Tent.

Recognition of the moment when we became a square peg in a round world, turning us each into an Other.

Recognition for . . .

. . . . our strength to get out of bed each day

. . . . our courage to face the future without our child

. . . . our love for mothers who speak our loss language

. . . . our admiration for those who are stronger than we

. . . . our dedication to helping those behind us

. . . . our determination to find the good in life

International Bereaved Mother’s Day is recognition of an invisible pain we carry for life, and yet we carry on.

Big hugs to my fellow sisters in the Wailing Tent.

Lynda Cheldelin Fell

Grief Diaries