Welcome To My New Look

Welcome To My New Look

I don’t really like change, but sometimes change can be a good thing.

When I started this WordPress blog in February 2014, it was because some of you were telling me that you were signing up to Facebook for the sole purpose of gaining access to my writings. I felt embarrassed about this, as I didn’t really want to be recruiting for Facebook.

I had never imagined myself as a blogger, I barely knew what a blog was and I certainly didn’t know how to go about setting up one.

Thankfully with the help of Mr Google and a few YouTube tutorials, I was soon well on my way. It’s been quite a learning curve, but I’ve learned on the job. I am constantly tweaking my old blog posts, as I gradually learn my way around the blogosphere in general, and wordpress in particular and figure out better ways to do things.

Thankfully, almost all of the tools and materials come free – except for my time and inspiration, of course. WordPress has proved an excellent host. The pretty theme that I had been using up until now, was one where much of the customisation was pre-set for me. This arrangement suited me very well when I was starting up, as I would have been totally out of my depth trying to create my own customisation.

However, now that I am gradually regaining the use of my brain, I am keen to personalise this site a little more. I’m enjoying being able to experiment with free tools such as canva and picmonkey, although it is of course quite time consuming trying to teach myself all of these new tricks. I’ve also installed GIMP on my laptop but I haven’t tried it out as yet.

Since I started blogging eighteen months ago, I’ve greatly benefitted from reading a variety of other people’s blogs. I regularly read several blogs, which include My Journey Through Grief Into Grace (kathleenbduncan)Mama’s Haven ~ Grief, Joy, Grace, Mundane FaithfulnessIn One Of The Stars I Shall Be LivingGrief Is A ClicheThe Accidental MissionaryWriting On The Sly and many others. When I’m very busy I fall behind on my blog reading and then I do a mega catch up whenever I get a bit of free time.

As I read other people’s blogs, I’m struck by the diversity of layouts and styles that people use. Obviously some styles are only available to premium (fee paying) users, however I gradually became aware that by changing to a different (but still free) WordPress theme, I would acquire a little bit more versatility and freedom.

The photograph used in the header at the top of this page, is one that I took at the top of our road, with my iPhone 5c. It’s a road that I travelled with Leah on many occasions as we headed to her hospital appointments, so it literally does represent a part of our journey. Now, I often travel that way to work or even to the cemetery and of course to many other places as well.

I’ve learned so much since I started blogging, like this:

One small positive thought blog post in the morning can change your whole day.

Or this by Andrew Sullivan:

Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.

Last, but not least – and with this I will finish – I have only recently discovered an author called Anne Lamott. I am currently reading her book Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life.

Here is an extract (I used Canva to create the image) –

Writing and reading decrease our sense of

The Gaping Hole of Grief

The Gaping Hole of Grief

While we were staying at Daisy Lodge my husband asked me to come for a walk with him in Tollymore Forest Park. He wanted to show me something that he had discovered, which he felt was a metaphor for the effects of grief and loss in the life of a family.


I have written directly on the subject of grief on many occasions. Naturally, the theme of grief and loss runs through most of my blog posts, but some of those blog posts have been written almost exclusively about the effects of grief.

First, I wrote Grief – the Pain that Goes on Hurting, next came The Storm of Grief. After this, there was Grief Has No Rule Book, followed by Grief Has No Shortcuts. More recently I wrote Grief Really Is About The Small Stuff and Grief Creeps Up When You’re Least Expecting It and then Wave After Wave Crashes Over Me.

In my role as a volunteer with Youthlife and also in my paid employment as a Family Support Worker, I’ve learned that so many people are living with the effects of loss.

Abortion, miscarriage, infertility, neonatal death, child loss, sibling loss, loss of a spouse or parent, separation, divorce, repossession, loss of health, employment, a significant relationship or even one’s reputation.

Then there is the parent whose child has a disability, or whose child’s lifestyle is very different to the one that their parents would wish for them. Those parents often grieve deeply for the child that they once thought they had, as they learn to let go of the dreams and the plans that they started off with.

There are so many different types of loss and each one can be excruciatingly painful.

Sometimes people say to me “Oh my loss isn’t as bad as yours.

Personally, I don’t think that comparisons are particularly helpful. When you’re grieving a significant loss and in deep pain, I don’t think that it matters whether your loss is more, or less, than anybody else’s. When you’re going through it, it just feels like the end of the world, or your world anyway.

So what did Horace want to show me in Tollymore Forest?

A large tree that had been uprooted in a storm.


As it fell, it had stripped the surrounding trees of their branches.


All around this tree was devastation and a tangled mess.


It left a gaping hole in the forest bed.


Horace says that this is a metaphor for grief and loss.

The bigger the tree, the greater the impact.

The greater the loss, the greater the devastation.

Some of the smaller trees that were close to the fallen tree are bent under its weight.

However, as we continued to survey the scene, we noticed some other things as well: it was a very dark part of the forest, but where the fallen tree had shaved branches off the other trees, the sunlight was breaking through into the clearing.


Also, as I looked closely at the bent saplings beside the fallen tree, I could see greenery – evidence of new growth. In spite of everything, there was new life here.


It reminded me of a quote by Anne Lamott that I have posted on here previously:

You will lose some one that you can't live without

It also makes me think about a conversation that I had with a woman I met recently, who has experienced huge loss in her life.

In the 1990’s her brother was murdered in the troubles – a case of mistaken identity. Two and a half weeks later their mother died of a broken heart.

The doctor told them that there was nothing medically wrong with their mother’s heart, she had literally died of a broken heart – as a grieving parent I can understand that.

This woman has had five other family bereavements, as well as those of her brother and mother.

She told me that overall, what she has been through has made her stronger. Yes, she said, there have been many times when all she could do was cry her eyes out and when she struggled just to get out of bed. However, through it all, she has learned  “not to sweat the small stuff” and to grasp the opportunities that life presents with both hands. She also told me that in her fifties she changed career completely and retrained to do something that she really enjoys. She now uses these skills, in a voluntary capacity, to be a blessing to others who are in a difficult situation.

This reminds me of the Bible verse in
Isaiah 45:3 (NKJV)

“I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.”

Sometimes the lessons that we learn in the sad and painful times in our lives become the “treasures of darkness“.

We slowly come to realise, that in those dark and painful times, we have acquired a wisdom that we maybe, just maybe, could not have learned in any other way.

Dancing with a limp

Dancing with a limp

I woke this morning to yet another quiet Saturday.

When did our house become so quiet?

It feels unnatural.

I had barely even adjusted to our eldest daughter being away at University when Leah became ill.

It was all go then, we still had a busy, noisy house.

Saturday’s were usually a day that Leah spent with her boyfriend Nic.


I was normally on call as “Mom’s Taxi”.

I remember the first Saturday after Leah was buried, how strange it felt NOT going to Greysteel to collect Nic off the bus, or seeing him at some stage during the day.

Thankfully, we have seen him on lots of other days. He’s the most amazing young man, who supported our daughter all through her illness.

Our family life was busy and noisy, right up to when Leah and I left home for Bristol Children’s Hospital in July 2013.

Then when we came back from Bristol, Leah’s immune system was so weak, that we couldn’t have lots of visitors, so the house was very quiet, although I didn’t mind it so much then.

We were just so relieved to be home again, together as a family.

Barely two months at home, then the wake and the funeral.

Visitors, lots of visitors.

Numbness, busyness, exhaustion.

I’m still trying to process everything that’s happened in the past two years.

It feels like suddenly, our younger children are two years older and more independent.

They spend lots of time in their bedrooms and seem to prefer interacting with electronic gadgets than going for walks with mum or dad.

Family picnics, board games, walks in the woods, it seems that we lost so much more than just our daughter when Leah became ill and died.

image image

Our son is only interested in computers and our youngest daughter doesn’t want to do things on her own with her parents.

I yearn for my daughter but I also yearn for the type of family life we once had.

In the midst of it all though, I continue to believe in a God whose way is perfect.

I often think too about the Old Testament Bible story where Jacob wrestled with the angel:

Genesis 32:24-31 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

“So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until dawn. 25 When the man saw that he could not win against Jacob, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that it was dislocated as they wrestled. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go; it’s almost dawn.”

But Jacob answered, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”

27 So the man asked him, “What’s your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel [He Struggles With God], because you have struggled with God and with men—and you have won.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

The man answered, “Why do you ask for my name?” Then he blessed Jacob there. 30 So Jacob named that place Peniel [Face of God], because he said, “I have seen God face to face, but my life was saved.” 31 The sun rose as he passed Penuel. He was limping because of his hip.”

I feel that many times I wrestle with God – wrestle with Him over what I think is best for my life, over what I think that I need to get by, over how I think things should be.

Psalm 18:30 New King James Version (NKJV)

“As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

I love this quote about grief:



Jacob limped for the rest of his life and I will too – in the emotional sense.

Nevertheless, I need to learn to dance, despite my limp.