Feeling Embarrassingly Honest

I imagine so many people are absolutely done with our grief and that is totally okay, but for us, the grief does not end because our love for Everett does not end.  I sit down to write about life and all I want to do is share about Everett and how much we miss him and how grief sucks…how life is so different…how we’re so different without him.

Last night Hudson text us from Josh’s mom’s phone from church.  He was sad about Everett, he didn’t feel good and he wanted to come home.  Josh drove the 10 minutes down the road and picked him up.  I sat with him on the couch and he cried.  This grief is so different than the grief I have over losing my mom.  I was not ready in any shape, form or fashion for any of this.  I didn’t have one freakin’ clue how grief would deeply intersect and intertwine every one of us and change us so drastically.  How it would come in and make us question everything.  How death not only ended Everett’s life here on Earth, but how it would end so many other things for each of us.  I just didn’t know.

Sadness and depression loom.  Some days I get to the end of a day and think, “I know I did something today, but what in the actual world did I really do?!?!”  It’s like a float through some days.  My best days are when I can see what I actually did.  I think about Everett all the time.  I carry guilt and loss and his spirit like it’s my job…and really it feels like the most honored job around…minus the guilt.  We miss him so much.  Words will never ever do that sentence justice.

We’re at 19 months without Everett and the second year has absolutely blown.  It sucks.  I mean, it actually might be worse than the first year because time is for the birds and insulting as all get out.  Time marches on and could care less about my feelings.  Time is a complete asshole. 🙂  Before I go anywhere with people I’m not familiar with I prepare to answer questions.  No matter the crowd I pep talk myself into either being totally honest on where I am or just faking it until I make it.  And then if no one mentions Everett I feel sad.  I went to a party recently where I basically just hung out with Leo for 2 hours and no one mentioned Everett…no one asked how we were holding up…and here’s the kicker, I don’t even know if anyone knew about Everett dying.  Ha!  I’ve tried my best not to put unfair expectations on strangers and people I do actually know, but sometimes you leave a party and cry in your car.  The end.

My body hates grief.  I have never had health issues and then Everett died.  My body carries grief and feels the impact daily. I’ve been sick and injured more than ever before.  I’ve been in physical therapy and had more doctors appointments than I’d care to admit.  I’m almost certain I have cancer in my back…self diagnosed of course…because when my kid died the idea of death took up residence in my mind.  I think about it everyday.  Am I a hypochondriac??  Hmmmmm, I’d say no.  I’m a realist now.  The realist of realists and I am highly aware that death does not skip over anyone and can come without a moments notice and zero heads up.

I’m becoming more grounded on my feelings about Jesus which is nice.  I love Jesus and don’t like Christians.  Hahahaha.  There you have it.  And that’s not an all inclusive sentence obviously, but I feel like I have a very refined eye for the Christians who are just not my type.  And now I am totally cracking myself up sitting here in this McDonald’s parking lot while Leo is in speech therapy…like I’m on the dating scene…”the Christians who are just not my type.”…still laughing.  Anyways.  If only I had $10 for every God loving person who proclaims there longing to win people over for the Lord who has purposefully dodged us out in public, I would have roughly $280.  I have major hangups with Christian jargon…words we so easily fling at the suffering and broken without thought or hesitation.  I struggle with going into the nations to win souls for Christ, but we’re jerkholes to the people in our community.  I struggle with the distance we keep from certain types of people.  I struggle even more with how we think the suffering & grieving, those in need and those who are questioning their very existence need to be fixed instead of just loved.  Just give me all the issues with our Christian community and call me an asshat.  🙂

I don’t like my bitterness and anger and judgementalness, but I do like my fire to think things through and to understand the importance of being okay with others not being okay.  I do like my fire to change who I am.  I’m not the same person I was 19 months ago and I hope I don’t stay the same person I am now.  I want to learn more and more from my pain and sadness and grief and I want it to change me.  I want it to be one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had.  I like knowing how a simple text message or batch of cookies can flip someone’s day.  I’ve been there far too many times and I deeply want to be to others what they have been to me.

Some of our kids go to church with Josh’s parents on Wednesdays or Sundays.  I can’t remember the last time I have been.  I pray out loud sometimes on our way to school in the morning.  I thank God for whatever the weather is and ask Him to make us kind, loving, generous, compassionate and respectful people.  I ask Him to push us towards love.  I don’t pray much on my own, but I do sometimes hash things out with Him.  Sometimes I try and make deals.  Sometimes I just cry.  I was playing a card game with Solomon the other day and thought, “I wonder if he prays on his own.”  It was the most random question that popped into my head and I chose not to even ask him because it felt so awkward to me.  I think how we might be messing our kids up for life.  How I’m sure my Mom’s sisters and family have me on every prayer list imaginable.  How Josh’s family likely has us on every prayer list imaginable.  Just go ahead and put us on your prayer list as well.  🙂  Sometimes I think about how we don’t do family devotions, we don’t memorize or read scripture together, we don’t sing worship songs together very often and I don’t have the answer to even 1/16 of my kids’ questions about religion and why Everett died.  But we carry on doing the best we can trying to make it through each day and not let guilt eat us alive.  We try to love our best and remember God hasn’t gone anywhere and He loves us just as we are.

My mind goes to those who have chosen to really walk this road with us.  I don’t blame those who have bowed out, I mean, we are no cake walk people.  Obviously.  I really really really hope I will choose to walk those hard roads with others, but maybe I will bow out too.  Maybe I will see them as too hard…too messed up…too much work…too doubtful…and flash my peace sign and hit the road.  I really don’t know, but my heart longs to be in it when things go up in smoke.  I want to be the person cheering others on and telling them how much things suck and how whatever happened isn’t how it was meant to be because in this broken world really crappy things happen and it’s not okay.  I long to be there…I long to show up…with a plate of cookies in hand because I am good at making cookies.

I hate how sometimes I get my feelings and emotions about Jesus and Christians living in this world mixed up.  Jesus is so different than us.  I like Jesus.  I think He had it all right.  Most things the Christian world wages war on are the things Jesus would wrap His arms around.  I hate when I feel hurt by Jesus because of what another Christian said or did to me.  I don’t like having to recognize those blurry lines and straighten them out.  And I definitely don’t like thinking about me doing the same to another person.  Makes my stomach turn, but goodness knows I can be just as much of a jerk as anyone else.

I cope with my grief and sadness and pain in all my own ways.  I organize and purge the crap out of our house.  Grief makes me feel out of control and I don’t like that at all.  I like to feel in control and the actual aesthetics of our house is something I can control, so I do.  Josh Kelley and the kids are far used to it.  They don’t even put up a fight and go right along with tossing or donating things they don’t need or want.  I also emotionally eat…specifically ALL THE SWEETS…and bite my fingers nails down to the nub out of pure stress…I’ve done this my whole life.  I don’t get it because I know it makes zero sense, but I think ice-cream will make my problems go away and set my mind at ease.  Geeze.  When I think about Leo having surgery my mind goes into crazy overdrive and fear and anxiety set in.  At that point nothing can stand between me and the bag of chocolate chips trying to hide in our freezer.

I really sat here today and was going to tell you all about the photos in this post.  I was going to write about Chinese New Year and Jump Rope For Heart and Valentines and hearing Angie Thomas speak and how Winter got the cutest heart shaped hair braids.  I was going to write about all those things and then it just wasn’t there.  Sometimes I have to lay out the embarrassingly honest truth I am feeling or I might explode.  Please know I don’t share any of this to hear kind or mean words back.  I share because I know surely to God there has to be another person out there in the midst of their hardships thinking they are the only ones doing and feeling all the crazy things.  You definitely are not the only one.  Solidarity friend.  I know you are doing your best.  I also share because I know we can learn from one another…you and me…and sometimes when a family member or friend are smack dab in the middle of a shit storm we have no clue what to do or say to them.  So I just want to encourage you to show up with whatever you do best and hang tight with them.  We will survive the awkward parts of it and really it will mean the world.


  1. You are my most favorite asshat. Love you big.

  2. Reading your post I know All too well how being abandoned by friends when you need them most hurts. I think Sometimes we need to interview friends to find out if they will be there in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want. I pray For you and your family whenever you come across my feed. Grief is a horrible and powerful thing. My only advice, eat the ice cream….sometimes it really does help. I love You sweet Laura.

  3. Thank you… that is how I feel.. yesterday was one year since my son passed away and tomorrow is, should be, would be… his 20th Birthday. The raw emotions you put into words help me realize what I feel is not wrong but is normal and okay. Thank you for sharing you and your family

  4. Cristina Taiuti says:

    Siete fantastici!! ‍♀️

  5. You are definitely not alone in your feelings. I have had similar church things and life things go on as my world has fallen apart around me.

  6. You are definitely not alone in your feelings. I have had similar church things and life things go on as my world has fallen apart around me.

  7. You have absolutely no idea how much your words mean to me today. In so many ways…things I was questioning yesterday, this morning…grief comes in so many forms, from many different sources. Thank you for your honesty…never be embarrassed on how you feel. That’s been a hard lesson for me to learn…I still may be learning it. 😉 I pray for your family often…you’re never far from my thoughts. Hugs for a better tomorrow.

  8. I don’t pretend to know what you are going through. My heart aches for you and I will continue to pray for your comfort and strength.

  9. I have shared your heart on so many levels. Thank you for your brutal honesty. It is refreshing. I am in a pool of tears here. I thought about you this morning, realizing i hadn’t seen a blog from you in awhile and sure enough this pops up on my news feed. Sending a big hug from MD…

  10. When you talk about the guilt that you feel, I want to cry and hug you at the same time. I am so broken over what has happened to your family. No one should have face what you have faced and make the choices that you have had to make. I really feel like you were (and are) in a situation where you made the best choices anyone could have made and you made each choice out of love for Everett. I am not sure changing any decision back then could have changed the outcome of now. But I am so, so sorry that you have to live with the “what ifs”. I have been here in this space since Everett was in the hospital. You don’t even know me in “real life”, but I will continue to sit with you in your grief. And I will forever say that I am so sorry for what you are going through.

    • I’d like to second every single word Heather said…her response echos my thoughts exactly. I’m sorry for Everett’s loss, Laura, and I’m sorry for the guilt your feel. If you’re ever near the south side of Chicago, know that there is a welcoming community of friends here who would shower you with support, and never be afraid to ask questions or reminisce about Everett. Unfortunately, we have learned about this type of support through firsthand experience, and our friends who have endured these losses have echoed your sentiments about remembering the children they have lost exactly as you have. Your beautiful family is in my thoughts.

  11. I love that we have a BIG God. He is big enough to handle us being angry at Him. He’s big enough to stay right there with us while we rage and grieve and grow. He’s not going to turn away from our despair, our homelessness, or our stagnancy, but He WILL love us through it. Until we finally are able to submit to His healing hands and walk in faith and joy once again. Rest. And be blessed.

  12. I wanna be a person who in the midst of whatever, pushes through with love, regardless of when I went to church last. Thank you for your honest words, know that you are not too hard, too much work or too messy. I feel like I need to bake some cookies today to put your words into action.

  13. Thank you for your honesty!!! I’m one of those Christian people who wants to love well, especially during hard times, but clams up, freezes up, freaks out, and overthinks everything…. thinking about and praying for my friend a whooooooole lot but just absolutely freezing up and talking myself out of every tangible thing that I could do to show support & love them well.

    I absolutely despise this about myself, and reading your words is teaching me a ton…. hopefully so that I will know just what to do/ say/ not do/ not say… the next time tragedy strikes someone I know.

    So your writing is absolutely making a difference. And I don’t know you in real life, but I offer my deepest apologies on behalf of all of those who have hurt you by being silent, absent, or stupid during your grief, because I fear that I have done the same. Not because anyone is “too much” but because I have been “not enough.”

  14. Oh, Laura – chiming in here as I do every few years (I ALWAYS read the blog, I just rarely get up the guts to comment)…thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. My son died do ur years ago and I have felt/continue to feel so many things you mention here. You are not alone in this, even though I know too well how very isolating grief can be. Sending so much love.

  15. This was really hard and yet refreshing to read. I will in no way compare my suffering to yours, but I am struggling with medical trauma PTSD and feel like I can hardly bear the days ahead. Every new appointment and phone call I have to make fill me with dread. And yet I see so many women dealing with so much more than me, and it looks like they are just setting big goals and staying positive and pushing through and working full time, and on and on- so beautifully well. So I hate that you are suffering so, and yet some of us are just really called suffer for a time on this earth. Keep living in those holy and hard places. Your suffering is not in vain. It is producing something in the spiritual realm. Keep going.

  16. one hundred thousand percent Y. E. S.

    you wrote my heart.

  17. I learned a long time ago that there are no words you can say to relieve someone’s grief so the best I can do is hug them, love them and feed them. Never ever be embarrassed for your honesty about your grief and all the incredibly hard feelings that go along with that. Being open about that is an inspiration in itself and damn good therapy just to get those feelings out. ❤️

  18. All things worth it take time. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You loved that boy. You all did. With everything in you. He deserves every ounce of grief you have. Jesus can handle all of your feelings & thoughts toward Him & if people can’t, that’s ok. They’re not Jesus. My aunt lost my cousin 15 years ago. She shared today with a large group of women how crazy she felt in her grief, how long it took her to find joy again & how God is the redeemer of time. He uses time to shape us into something far greater than we could ever imagine. I know you’d give your right arm to stay exactly who you were just to keep Everett, so this may not be encouraging. But I felt compelled to share. And. You may not feel like God is in this with you, but from the outside looking in, all you see are His handprints on all of you. You’re not messing up. You’re simply walking forward, one painful step at a time. And showing your kids how to love, even in grief. Sending big hugs your way from a girl who admires your strength, perseverance & big love for those who need it most.

  19. Kelley Sawyer says:

    Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine your road, but your honestly helps give me a glimpse. I hope this isn’t out of line, and if it is, ignore me and forgive me please. Would you ever consider a blog post to teach us what to say? What to do? Help us not be the “Christian dodgers”. What has been helpful? And also, not just for your closest friends, but for church/school acquaintances. Please teach me so I can do well in the future. So far my technique has been- it’s better to say something than nothing. But often all I know to say is “I’m sorry and I’m praying.” That feels so inadequate.

  20. I hate grief – how it lurks in the shadows and corners and pops out with a “gotcha” anytime it wants. But, I love this -so honest and raw and beautiful and wise! I am going to re-read again and again. Thank you for sharing.

  21. There is more Jesus in this post than I’ve seen from Christians in a while and I want to thank you for that!

  22. I can’t imagine your pain and loss!!!!! I miss the pictures of Everett and his sweetness. You will grieve him the rest of your life, always will miss him every second of everyday because you all LOVED him deeply and he is in your heart and mind all the time. You have been shattered to the core and are still in shock. I’m sorry many of us don’t know how to approach hurting families and apologize for your pain, when we fail. You are each in our prayers and hearts. Please keep on with your blog and teaching us, reminding us how to help others. Hugs from WV.

  23. “I love Jesus, and I don’t like most Christians.” Yes. So much… I feel guilty, because we have not had a child die, but we have been through hard things, and sometimes God’s people just suck.
    Our atheist friends have been more supportive and helpful and not judgy…
    we are on all the prayer lists too.
    I think about you and Everett often. I love your honest and true words. Preach on, sister ❤️

  24. Yes.❤️

  25. But, how do you pray to Jesus when he keeps taking all of your precious loves away from you? I mean, I wouldn’t even know what to say, except I’m pissed and I want them back!

  26. Your words are a gift. Your love is a gift. I can almost feel your grief and disappointment. I am so sorry. But I want to ask you so you know one other person heard…. How are you? How is your heart today? Have you seen a rainbow today? Everett is beautiful. Is there anything I can do to honor Everett today? ❤

  27. Debra Cope says:

    I have not lost a child, and can barely contemplate the depth of your grief. But we lost my brother prematurely and all I can say is that 28 years have passed and I still think about him every day and miss him profoundly. I talk to my kids about him — the songs that he always blasted when they came on the radio, the way he revved up his motorcycle in the driveway, the way both of them remind me of him. It doesn’t matter that they never met him. They have a connection to him. I hope that your family will always talk about Everett and tell other people about him.

  28. Lara bollinger says:

    I’ve never lost a child (I don’t have children), but did lose both of my parents and grandparents in pretty quick succession and all but one with very little warning. Everything you have said resonates so much with me. From relearning to love Jesus to the difficulties I’ve faced with those who say they follow Him. From the second year being so much harder to the realization that people forget after a short while and expect you to just go back to normal. What they don’t realize is that there is no normal anymore. Eventually, things settle into some routine, but our hearts don’t heal that quickly.
    Thank you for sharing your grief and showing that we can keep going, even when there is no normal.

  29. Thank you for your honesty, it feels so Jesus-like to me. I am thankful for you sharing with all of us people in internet land. Thanks for ministering to me out of your hurt and grief.

  30. Love this. Thank you for sharing and being honest. ❤️

  31. Becca beal says:

    I love your honesty. Thank you….and I pray for you all when I see rainbows

  32. You are a gift. I’ve been realizing more and more how much we as a culture completely suck at grief. Your honesty and willingness to share is what we all need- whether we are actively dealing with horrific loss or not. You honor Everett so well. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  33. I think I’m in the asshat club too. Thank you for writing this post.

  34. I am so thankful for this. I’ve been following you guys and there is so much beauty In what you post. It’s inspiring to me. I also carry grief. Not from the loss of a child, I know that I can’t imagine that. My grief is for my family. To put it simply we grew our family through adoption and it’s not turned out well. It’s hard. I feel crushed under the weight of it. I’m not fun to be around anymore. I can’t fix it and I can’t get over it. All of my old friends are going on with their lives, growing, maturing, living. And I feel so broken and stuck. Whoa. I didn’t mean to unload all of that. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing.

  35. Big hugs from someone who longs to be like Christ but is so flawed. Thanks for reminding us to love BIG.

    At Vanderbilt recently with my own heart baby. Thoughts of you, Everett, Toby, Leo, Amon, and so many heart fighters. Crying with the doctor after words that sounded like a miracle to upcoming procedures for my daughter while still fearing what lies ahead. Always holding to hope. ❤️

  36. Aw Laura I just love you. I want you to be my neighbour……you could make me cookies everyday and I’ll send you ice cream by the bucketful. xx

  37. I’m glad you shared – I’ve been walking through my own grief for a while now and this rings so real with me. And, if our paths ever cross here in middle Tennessee, I hope to one day get to give you a hug and tell you I remember Everett.

  38. Thank you for being honest and sharing your truth and vulnerability. I too am mad at God and at others who think that grief is a linear thing and it lessens with time. IT DOES NOT. *hugs to you and yours*

  39. I feel terrible for your whole family reading how deep the pain of Everett’s death still is. I think before you started sharing so candidly with us I wouldn’t have understood how long and deep the grief can be for the whole family even the littlest ones that we might erroneously think get to move to happier place more quickly. Hopefully, now I will know how to be a better friend and supporter if someone in my circle experiences the death of a child. People just don’t know if they haven’t been there so your words are helping us understand. Thank you for that.
    I certainly get the idea of not many Christians being your “type”. I feel the same way. One of the “not my type of Christians” are the ones that are always certain things will work out the way they pray for them too. Because of this, I was almost shocked when you wrote that you are now “the realist of realists and I am highly aware that death does not skip over anyone and can come without a moments notice and zero heads up.” I was taken aback because in my head I pictured you being constantly worried about death because your Everett had a heart condition and would need surgeries, constantly living in a state of dread that death was imminent. It makes me wonder if this kind of Christianity is why you weren’t a realist before. I worry every time I hear a family so sure that their child is going to beat the odds because of prayer, faith etc. Every time I cringe and think – that’s not how it works but I hope you don’t have to find that out. I think the culture of “God’s got this. We just need to pray,” is doing us a disservice. We aren’t promised miracles in the age of grace but a lot of Christians think they are guaranteed. I worry about this often but maybe it’s all a moot point, maybe it doesn’t matter because the shock and grief would be exactly the same whether you expected death or were sure your prayers would be answered the way you wanted. I guess I just wonder if it matters … I’d never take someone’s hope away but I do worry when Christians are so sure that the worst won’t happen to them and wonder if there’s something to be done to prepare them for the possibility of the worst. Do we all need to be realists?

  40. I’m so sorry your family is struggling and having a hard time. Grief can be overpowering. You have a precious family and those beautiful children are blessed to have you. At least you are all in it together and can bring comfort and peace to each other….or at least share chocolate chips. I’ll keel praying for your family. You are a blessing to many others traveling the same road of grief. Big hugs.

  41. I’m SO in tune with everything you wrote about your dear Everett. I actually want to hit someone when they say “It’s God’s Plan.” Noooo. This is NOT a good plan. We are now in a Club. It’s a Club NO parent wants to be in – Parents that have Lost a Child or Children.

    I feel like I have the flu most of the time. WE (my husband & I) have NO energy to do anything but cry. I’ve noticed that some of our “supposed” friends act like WE have a contagious disease & they look away. I KNOW they don’t know what to say but we’re NOT contagious!! But yet hugs make me cry… I’m just a MESS.
    Sorry for being such a Downer. It’s been only 2 months (today) since our 38 year old ONLY child died.

  42. Thank you for sharing your your thoughts and feelings about grief. It helps to hear how others deal with this painful reality. I lost my son 22 months ago. He was 18 and the sweetest son you could ask for. I miss him every moment of every day. I don’t pray much, but sometimes the Holy Spirit says things in my mind that shows me that he is praying for me. I eagerly ask for and thank anyone who says they are or will pray for me because right now I am rarely able to do it for myself. I listen to podcasts or audio books to keep my mind busy. I look forward to the day my relationship with God works itself out but right now I just have to trust that He is there and loves me right where I am at.

  43. ESTRADA_H says:

    I love your brain. And your relationship with God. I have the same feelings and fears about my walk with God and how we’re teaching our children.. so it was really great to read that I’m not alone in that. All those people would have me on their prayer lists too.. or maybe not.. people just write off my christianity many days. But, here we are trucking away and hopefully some day I’ll have this fractured faith path put back together enough (in the way it should be) that I can lead my kids down the reassembled path…

  44. Karen Runkle says:

    ❤❤❤ You are brilliant and fabulous. The depth of your heart is lovely and I could only imagine how much deeper the grief will course through the veins of a beautiful family such as yours. A warbling, tear soaked hallelujah, to be sure.
    I wish I could squeeze you all.. wrap you in rainbow colored blankets and serve you the very best gooey sweet goodies that would light up your eyes.
    You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

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