When Sadness Hits Hard

My daughter Meghann homeschools and has a business where she provides curricula for homeschool families. Her website is Rooted Childhood and she is well-known in the homeschool world.

So it was with great sadness Meghann announced the death of another amazing homeschooling mom, Emily Mitchell. Em was the mom of 4 beautiful children, the wife of a loving husband and was an extremely loving Christian. She was also pregnant.

According to the GoFundMe page, Em, who had no complications and was a completely healthy woman, was eating her breakfast on December 22 and then collapsed, dying even with the help of everyone and EMS. An autopsy is being done to find the exact cause, but it seems to have been a blood clot that broke loose and zoomed to her heart, killing her instantly. Killing her and her unborn baby.

The homeschool community has been a point of much sadness this week, being reminded of the precariousness of life. COVID-19 has had a similar impact in too many families this year, but this death has hit even me (and many others) very hard.

How could a perfectly healthy mom just die? In front of her children? At Christmas, the most holy day of Em’s family’s year? Meghann thought about all the projects Em was working on for her kids, thinking about the stashes of presents, the Christmas dinner they were looking forward to. And now these kids’ lives are forever changed, Christmas now will be a time of sadness and mourning.

Please hold this family in your hearts and, if you pray, your prayers. Hug your children and your partner hard. Remember how short… how really short… our lives here on earth.

Art by Anne Cote

Anticipatory Grief

I learned a new term today.

Anticipatory Grieving

Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.

That came from Scott Berinato who quotes David Kessler in the Harvard Business Review‘s article, That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.  Kessler is …”the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss.”

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Stages of Grieving

The grieving process we are all familiar with are these 5 stages:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

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The 6th stage, recently added, is:

  • Finding Meaning (I’m just starting this book by the above mentioned David Kessler.)

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No Direct Path Through

While it would be so helpful to be able to mark the stages off as I am in one, seeing progress forward towards acceptance and finding meaning in my life and death, sadly, there is no linear means to the relief of pain.

And what has been helpful for me, too, is to know I can feel more than one “stage” at a time. Who knew I could be in the Anger and Acceptance phase together? It has happened more than once since the Pandemic began.

I like this page on Symptoms of Grieving as an adjunct to the Stages. I relate to many of them.

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Grief the Unspoken by Natalia Maroz

Resigning Myself…

…to going through all the stages, backwards and forwards, up, down and sideways… until the end.

I am sure my writing will reflect a lot of that.

Lest We Forget

My dad bombed Vietnam.

It was decades before I realized that when I said, “My dad works on B-52’s,” that that really meant he flew missions over Vietnam and bombed the country to smithereens. Men, women, children, babies, dogs, goats, high-rise buildings, houses, generations of lives… gone because of my father “working on B-52’s.”


I never talked to him about it. He did not discuss his missions. Instead, he sent us pictures of himself in lush Guam or Okinawa, lovely girls by his side. Or he and his friends with flowers behind their ears, drinking beer as they grilled a pig outside on the sand. He sent souvenirs back from Iceland, the pelt of an Icelandic sheep, the wool many inches long and a very white white.

He died before I could ask his feelings about bombing a country that would be forever scarred because of his actions.

Robert Ankony
Bomb craters 50-years later.

I wonder what he thought as he watched the rain of bombs falling from the enormous plane, seeing them from above, not below where they exploded and killed so, so much life.


I wonder if he ever had any regrets or was The Mission the most important part. Was his need to follow so great he never even had one nightmare about what he was doing?

My dad was 19 when he went into the Air Force. 19 years old. That is such a baby age! At 19, I was still dancing in the disco, had barely had sex for the first time, was still years from marriage and having kids. And there he was, killing whole villages with one sweep of the carpet.


Perhaps my dad never talked about these things because he was better able to compartmentalize pain than I. Maybe it really didn’t bother him at all. Maybe he just didn’t think about it once the mission was over and he was back in the barracks playing poker with his buddies. Maybe they didn’t even talk about what they were doing amongst themselves.


If my dad was still here today, on this Veteran’s Day, I know I would still not bring the topic up. His never speaking of missions gave the clear message that the topic was verboten.

I wonder if I were to bring it up, could I have unleashed a gushing onslaught of hidden pain and anguish? Would I have realized, too late, that this should not be discussed outside of a professional’s therapy room? Might I have alienated my father forever? That I did not and allowed our relationship to stay calm and even is something I am glad about.

And even as I am happy things turned out the way they did with my father, that I never spoke about my growing understanding of the Vietnam War and his role in it, I am comforted only in regards to my dad.

When it comes to the country of Vietnam or the Vietnamese people, I can never erase the shame or hide the sorrow for what my father did to obliterate their lives.

Water-filled craters after a B52 bombing.