Life after death: a garden path out of loss and trauma

Our lavender crop was booming. Like the growth of the year, much of this lay dormant last year, hardly producing a single bunch. There were blooms, but the harvest was quiet, individual and hung in my closet to be later put on my nightstand.

This year, the kids gathered around as I cut handful upon handful from one bush. They watched as I carried it to the picnic table and after some moments of quiet work, I invited them to join. Together we cleaned the stems and Miriam stripped the buds from the too-short-to-bundle stems for shortbread cookies and lavender lemonade.

Mother and daughter separating lavender buds from stalks

It was fragrant, beautiful and messy.

bunches of lavender on a picnic table

Much like this year.

photo of suburban herb garden
detail of suburban herb garden, lamb's ears and onions
photo of blooming herb garden

Like my garden, I am finding my way.


I joined a launch team to promote a book called Grace Like Scarlett by Adriel Booker.

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I attended and reported on Sienna’s Walk, part of the 1 in 4 Stillborn Still Loved awareness campaign. It was an honor to hear the stories of women there, and a blessing to experience the sense that I am not alone in our experience, that the mess of complicated emotions, joy with sorrow, are felt by others, too.

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I published my first ebook, a book of reflections on the holy rosary for women who grieve. This project remains close to my heart and every time I get a notification that another person has signed up to receive it, I feel a spark of light in my heart. I pray my writing is a gift for you and communicates to you that you are not alone. Whatever life’s trials, there is a way forward.

If you haven’t had a chance to see it, click the link here to have it delivered for free to your inbox.


A piece I wrote was published on Blessed is She, “a community full of women just like you that seek support in their relationship with the Lord and want to connect together with Scripture.” The piece, titled “Believing in Beauty” shares how the contemplation of beauty kept me grounded and maintained my vision throughout the darkest times of grief.


Over the weekend, I led a committee for the Young Ladies Institute (YLI) who hosted a Mother’s Day Tea. The tickets cost $1 to ensure that anyone who wanted to come, could afford it. Members volunteered to create centerpieces for an eclectic and beautifully diverse setting. With the increasing numbers as the day passed, I grabbed the chance to decorate three tables.

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During the afternoon, I gave a short exhortation on the call of motherhood. It was my first time public speaking in years, and the first time I acknowledged for a group of people, “I have four children on earth and three in Heaven.”

It was not meant to draw sighs or sadness, but to let those mothers present know that when I talk about the trials of motherhood, and a mother cries for a moment in her heart at what she has endured, that I see her.

I do not know her, but I see her.

I will not speak about motherhood blindly. All that love comes with the cross.

The shape of this year is more than I could have expected and not at all a standardized answer to the question, “what will life look like?” But like the garden, as I carried Celeste under my heart with her heart beating, her body, growing and alive, I prepared, I cried, I built safety structures around me to bolster my heart when she left.

I leaned into grief.

And with all that planting, when she died and we laid her to rest, after the dormant period,

things began to grow.

Review of Adriel Booker’s Grace Like Scarlett

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.

Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope After Miscarriage and Loss helps women lean into grief

I am ever on the hunt to find new resources to share with you. You have read about the stages of grief and coping skills for anxiety, fear and building blocks for the good life. Today, I share with you a book I encountered that may be useful in your life or in the life of someone you know: Grace Like Scarlett.

Photograph of book cover for Grace Like Scarlett by Adriel Booker

It is about miscarriage.

We do not usually talk openly about miscarriage in society. It seems like a private thing, a woman’s thing, a family issue. That privacy that surrounds this tragedy often exasperates the grief those who have experienced miscarriage feel. They do not know where to turn. They do not know how to mourn.

My miscarriages took place long ago, in a far-a-way life before the present concerns of my world existed.

But I remember miscarriage when was felt all the way to my bones. It opened up a world of fear, what if I cannot have children or carry children? Then my firstborn came and she was perfect. I thought that was the end of miscarriages for me. When it happened again, I felt the wild grief that Adriel writes about.

As part of the launch team, I read Grace Like Scarlett

As I read, I thought of my experiences and the women I have known since then who miscarried, while reading, images of women I knew who bled and suffered flashed through my mind. Women who had no more children following a miscarriage, women who were afraid to name their babies as they ran from their grief, women who lost their faith when they lost their child, women who went on to have other children and, surrounded by that blessedness, dwelled little on the little ones they lost.

This was the first book I have seen that addresses this topic. She does so, unapologetically from a Christian perspective. In times of crisis, one’s values become sustenance. They either strengthen or fall away. Even for those who do not hold a Christian worldview, she offers poignant insights on the nature of grief, shame, comparison and jealousy worthwhile to behold.

We cannot know exactly what someone is experiencing it, which makes it nearly impossible to prescribe what the person should do with her grief. Adriel’s approach is to walk alongside and share about her three miscarriages. She emphasizes how important is not to compare our grief to another person’s grief, either in order to pity ourselves more or minimize our suffering.

Adriel dives in. Her language is direct and gritty in those early chapters. The particulars of trauma stain our memories so deeply that her bluntness resonated with me. It mirrored the way I experienced my experiences, but in ways not generally shared in polite society. Her writing softens after that because it would be far too much intensity for an entire book.

Suffering is normal

but Adriel preaches that at the heart of God is love for us and a desire to help us. She identifies that God works with us to help us, the key word being with. It will not happen magically without us leaning into our grief.

In Chapters 6 and 7, Adriel brings in the testimony of women she interviewed, universalizing the message to fit the many shades of grief.

When discussing shame, she gives voice to the irrational jealousy that accompanies loss. This jealousy gets us nowhere, but it does point us back to ourselves to see which wounds hurt most.

In the end, she writes the path I walked.

These times of crisis are opportunities for grace. An open heart’s capacity is to feel the full range of emotions. That is what it means to be fully alive. To shut off or run from the bad means, eventually, we will no longer be capable of fully experiencing the good. Grief must be leaned into, or as Adriel put it, we must duck-dive, head first, into that wild world of emotions. Only then, can we find healing.

For more thoughts on Grace Like Scarlett, check out my review on the Blessed is She Blog.