Taking The Reins

I’m not good at relationships right now.  I’m not a good friend, I’m not a good family member, I’m not a good neighbor, I’m not a good business owner.  Right now I’m in full on survival mode which means so many things are falling to the wayside and I have to watch them drop from my hands.  I’m giving everything I have to pull myself out of bed each morning.  I’m giving everything I have to help Josh Kelley keep our family afloat right now.  I’m giving everything I have to help our children process and grieve the death of their little brother.  At the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the day I don’t have the energy or the capability to manage my relationships.

It’s extremely hard and sad to watch your relationships fizzle out in front of you, but we’re pouring our whole selves into grief right now.  I can’t say how hard this is coming from someone who thrives on giving, thoughtful and intentional relationships.  My calendar is marked up with every birthday, anniversary, death anniversary, hard date for a friend because I WANT to remember with them and be the person who stands in that gap.  A goal every single year is to send more mail and I didn’t even send my brother a gift or card on his 40th birthday in October.  This is not me and it’s hard to admit I can’t do it right now.  It’s hard to hand the reins over solely to the other person and know deep down if this relationship is going to survive it’s all on their shoulders.  It’s not even fair to them.  I keep reminding myself when I feel like I suck at everything right now that this is a season currently and dear Jesus, surely one day it will end.

My friendships I have right now are very one sided and I know it.  It’s all on the other person because I am physically, mentally and emotionally maxed out.  I forget things.  I get caught up in grief and don’t call or text.  I don’t reach out because I’m exhausted and it slips my mind.  Sometimes I can’t even hold a simple conversation because I am on the verge of bursting into tears in the middle of the restaurant while discussing pop culture news just because that’s what grief does.  My mind is consumed with grasping the fact that Everett is dead while simultaneously trying to figure out how I can get back to him although I know that’s not even a reality.  It’s an impossible situation and most of my days are filled with telling myself I’m not crazy…I’m just a mother who longs deeply for her boy to be back in her arms.  I’ve spent many a moments crying in a public bathroom stall because I didn’t want to cry in front of the people I was with.  I don’t want to be this pity party, Debbie Downer of a person, but my 3-year-old died a very baffling, heart crushing death and I’m just not okay with it and I don’t know how to be myself right now.

So the friendships I have right now are full of grace.  They know my heart and know I can’t fully be myself right now and tend to our friendship how I normally would.  They love me and are doing all the hard work in our relationship while I flounder around in grief, pain and sadness.  It’s not that I don’t care or value our friendship…I immensely do, but I’m in a season of needing and accepting the help and care to keep our friendship going.

I share these things because I wish I’d known.  I wish I’d had a heads up that I was going to suck at keeping relationships going because I just couldn’t do it.  I wish I had a heads up at how awkward just my presence sometimes makes things for others.  I wish I’d known how terrible a conversationalist I’d become because all I can think about is the fact that Everett is dead.  I wish I’d known I’d literally burst into tears at the most inopportune times.  I wish I’d known just how physically taxing grief could be.  I wish I’d known sooner that it was okay and that there would be those friends who would come up and grab those reins for me, take over and say, “It’s okay Laura.  I’ll do the work right now while you sit in the pain and wait for healing. When you’re ready we’ll share these reins again.  In the mean time, I’m not going anywhere.”

So if you have a person in your life right now who’s suffering or has experienced loss or trauma or hardships and maybe they forgot your birthday or maybe they haven’t been the one to initiate a conversation or phone call lately or maybe they didn’t ask you about that exciting job promotion you got or your vacation you just took or maybe they forgot you had some big, hard things going on in your own life, consider graciously taking the reins in your friendship right now and showing them some big merciful love.  They are struggling, they are in the deep trenches and it’s not how they want things to be, but sometimes people are just doing their damndest to open their eyes each morning and put their feet on the floor. Rally with them and help them rise.  One day roles may be reversed and you are going to need them to step in and take those reins for you and when they do it will simply mean the world to you.


  1. Laura,

    God brings you to mind often to pray intensely for. I have known grief, but not this kind. I can’t imagine. Can’t fathom. I know we’re not in an “inner” circle friendship together by any means, but we are sisters in Christ. You can lay this at our feet and we will take it up for you. Wish I could hug you. None of this is ok and I am angry and sad with you. You don’t have to be “over it” and you don’t have to be your “usual” self. We don’t want you to be or need you to be. We want you to be however you need to be and wail with you over the loss of your sweet Everett and hope with you that somehow God will not only walk through these deep waters with you but that He will carry you. You are loved, not because of what you do for others (even though we know you are one of the most awesome friends) but because of how much worth and value you have as our sister. We are fighting for you beautiful warrior. We love you.

  2. You did an excellent job of describing grief and how it effects your daily interactions. I lost my 18 year old son seven months ago in a motorcycle accident. It has changed all my waking moments. I have been blessed with some friends who have carried me, and surprisingly had former acquaintances become friends because of their willingness to walk along side of me in this strange new life. I have joined some grief support groups and that helps because there is comfort in hearing that you are not alone, just like reading your story and seeing some of my experiences reflected in it helped. I am so sorry for your loss.

  3. Lisa gilliam says:

    I remember my first encounters and keeping up with you. I was amazed at all you did and gave to others It seems like you had this energy that never stopped. It encouraged me but exhausted me at the thought of it. We all have seasons in life that change who we are and how we function. You are right where you need to be for now. It sucks It’s not where you want to stay but it is important If you don’t walk this now it will come and force you. Grief sucks but is necessary. When you are one who is doing for others it is hard to feel okay receiving sometimes but important. I’d much rather be the giver than the receiver any day. Friends that are “forever friends “don’t waiver. Rest in the fact that they are on the sidelines when you are ready. The rest of us here will keep you in our hearts. Honestly my mom passed 11 months ago and I fought the grief and I’m still walking in stuff and frustrated that I am.

  4. Jodi Richardson says:

    Laura you and your family are in my continual thoughts and prayers.
    You have always been the rock in your family and friendships. It is ok to turn that role over to someone else for a period if time. God Bless you!

  5. I love you sweet friend. Love you so, so much.

  6. erica Mierop says:

    I’ve never actually met you but I’ve followed your blog for several years now. I was at Michael’s in Hendersonville yesterday looking at ornaments with my 4 year old son Liam. Then I saw one that was a donkey pinata ornament and burst into tears right there in the store because it made me think of you and Everett and what you must be going through. I can’t even fathom it. Even in your darkness you’re still a light to me – a complete stranger. <3

  7. This hit me in a way I didn’t expect until that last paragraph. Right after my daughter was born, I went through a very difficult season becoming a single mother with an infant. It was a struggle for a while and I was very, very consumed with everything I had going on. It didn’t leave any room to be a friend or to have a conversation that wasn’t focused on all of “my issues” or to do anything actually fun. But the amazing thing was, the friendships and family members who I had deep relationships held on and lifted me up. And even some friends I didn’t expect re-entered my life and lifted me up in amazing ways. It took a while for me to reemerge, and now those relationship are even more precious.

    Laura, I have zero doubt that the loving, giving person you are inside had created so many deep bonds. Sometimes relationships are more one-sided, but please don’t let yourself start to feel bad or guilty about it. Sometimes you’re the baker and sometimes you’re the one who needs the cookies on your doorstep 🙂

  8. You express grief so well, I have been there. That is a gift!

  9. Andrew Marsh says:

    “Sometimes you’re the baker and sometimes you’re the cookies on the doorstep”. That’s such a great expression. Thank you.

  10. Melody Vaudrey says:

    I certainly wish I were as good as you at how you give and love and being a friend! I am sorry for the loss of your precious son, I can’t even imagine losing a child, and you have experienced grief too much too Soon! God is using you Laura to reach others. You are in my prayers, ALL of your family!! We love you!! Melody & Joe

  11. Hannah Andrews says:

    yes. so much truth in all of this. different grief, but yes, the friendships, the feelings. yes. i want to share this with so many people to be like here- here is a glimpse of what it can be like to be drowning alive. this post keeps rolling around in my head, and your family is on my heart so often, lifting you up in prayer, asking Him to just hold you, and help you take one step in front of the other. you can’t be anywhere but here….. which completely sucks! but you are also not asked to be five years down the road, or even a week from now. all you can do is take it day by day and hour by hour second by second. thank you for sharing, and your honesty.

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