When parents experience the devastating loss of a child, we need the nectar of sustaining friendships, inspiration, and reliable information as we enter this life-changing journey.

kristapic1My hope is this blog becomes a community of encouragement for all families who now travel in this unknown territory.  Whether the death is an infant filled with the promise of life, or a 55-year-old beloved son of aging parents, such losses cause profound sorrow.

“To grieve,” means to “bear a heavy burden” and we need others to help carry the load.

So, Pilgrimage through Loss will also offer insight for friends, family, clergy, counselors, and medical staff who walk with us.   Stories from parents will show how your companionship and tangible actions make a significant difference, but also ways unintentional hurt added to their pain.  Your desire to help ease our days proves pivotal as we seek renewed strength, peace, and a vibrant savoring of life again.

I like the term pilgrimage because it implies a long journey.  When Krista, our 25-year-old married daughter was killed in 1998 while volunteering in Bolivia, (see A Terrible Beauty at, I read what I could on parental grief and loss.  I found helpful writing on the early acute months when parents wonder, “Will I always feel this bad?”   …[continue reading...]

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Getting Grief Right: New York Times

Getting Grief Right: New York Times

January 13th, 2015

  Hello again!   An important article in the Sunday New York Times, "Getting Grief Right," addresses how harmful the myth of closure and stages becomes for persons living with profound sorrow and loss.  While listening to parents across the nation, I often hear them describe this problem in our culture, and how these attitudes towards grief often confuse and hurt them.  As families say in Nancy Berns' book Closure: The Rush...[read more]

A Modern Day Christmas Miracle?

A Modern Day Christmas Miracle?

December 26th, 2014

Christmas morning.   It's 5 a.m. and I am awake, not to the sounds of Santa Claus visiting our two 'heart grandchildren,' but to a growing sense that Jim  and I are living within the true Christmas miracle, "Emmanuel," God with us.   We are visiting  at the Seattle home of Aaron Ausland who was married to our 25-year-old daughter Krista before her death while they were volunteering in Bolivia.   Shadowed by profound sorrow during the b...[read more]

"Be Not Afraid": Rituals that Heal

December 9th, 2014

Do you find that family rituals during holidays often increase joy, but also have the power to accentuate sorrow?   One of my favorite family traditions is the lighting of our five-candle Advent wreath on the four Sundays before Christmas.  Advent comes from the word "adventus," meaning 'coming' and the spirit encouraged is 'expectant waiting.' It orients us to prepare for the future with a confidence born of trust.  The lighting of th...[read more]

Simple Pleasures on Thanksgiving

Simple Pleasures on Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2014

        A favorite quote.....   For all that has been, Thanks. For all that will be, Yes!                                                                                                           Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, in Markings...[read more]

Veterans Moral Injury: Another Kind of Grief

Veterans Moral Injury: Another Kind of Grief

November 15th, 2014

  Does serving in war have potential to cause "moral injury" to our soul?  As our nation grapples with the escalating suicides of over 22 military men and women each day, this is a question both troubled veterans and a growing group of PTSD counselors are seeking to understand.  I had never heard of "moral injury" as one of the potential causes of veteran's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder until recently.   Rather than grief over...[read more]

Remembrance and

Remembrance and "Book of Life" Film

October 28th, 2014

    Do you long for "built-in" ways of remembrance for someone you love?   The most common lament I hear from families is frustration over the subtle, and not-so-subtle silencing that emerges after the death of a loved one.  "Don't talk about your sorrow," counseled a widow in a letter to my mom after the death of my father. "People don't want to hear it."  Believing her, she privately grieved the end of a sixty-year marriage....[read more]

Condolence Letters in an Online World

Condolence Letters in an Online World

October 6th, 2014

  A favorite condolence note included only nine words. "Heart shattered lives….by no means escape God's notice."   After our daughter died in Bolivia, Suzette wrote this contemporary translation of Psalm 51 on a simple ecru card with her beautiful personal handwriting and signed it.  For years, I propped this treasured card on my desk, a visual assurance that we don't walk on this pilgrimage alone.  Often such notes from friends help us h...[read more]

Helping Siblings Face Sorrow

Helping Siblings Face Sorrow

September 24th, 2014

  Are there healing ways for all in the family to remember an infant who dies?     This was Ashlee Hammac's question last October when their baby Ryan died just five days after his birth from Hypox-Ischemic Encephopathy.  Though in shock and heartbroken, this mom  also recognized her three-year-old son Tucker's heartbreak at losing his little brother. He had shared months of the family's joyful anticipation during her pregnancy.  He...[read more]



A special thanks to photographer

Mickey Shannon for his beautiful

image of Mt. Rainier National Park,

a special place for our family.

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About Linda
For everyone, life sometimes brings shipwreck moments.

Ours happened when four friends woke us one beautiful May dawn to break the news that our 25-year-old married daughter Krista had died 7000 miles away while volunteering in Bolivia. Our hearts shattered, much like the shards of her bus that plunged over a mountain cliff.
Follow our path…

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Pilgrimage through Loss can be purchased from your favorite independent bookstore OR
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Available now…

Desperate. Determined. Unwaveringly confident. In 1896, a Norwegian immigrant named Helga Estby dares to cross 3500 miles of the American continent to win a $10,000 wager. On Foot. BOLD SPIRIT: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk across Victorian America introduces readers to this fascinating journey of an audacious act of courage and love of a mother trying to save a family farm.

“You absolutely do not want to miss this book!” ~Mitch Finley, Auntie’s Books

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Support for Parents

+ Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors On-line forum and website

+ American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) (Formerly Candlelighters Childhood Cancer)

+ Compassionate Friends

+ First Candle: Support for Stillborn and SIDS deaths

+ Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS)

+ MISS Foundation (also in Spanish) On-line support groups : Infant & toddler death and advocacy

+Parents of Murdered Children

+ TAPS: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: 1-800-959 3277 for survivors of military deaths