“Just as it is impossible to explain childbirth to a woman who has never given birth, it is impossible to explain child loss to a person who has never lost a child.” ― Lynda Cheldelin Fell


I’ve lost my grandparents.  I’ve lost my father.  But nothing could have prepared me for the loss of my youngest son.

Yes, we sometimes read about the loss of a child.  We see posts about the loss of a child on social media. 

We think we understand, but we do not.

New Year’s morning 2019 at 2:16 a.m. a Deputy Sheriff knocked on our back door.  I didn’t know who was there but knew there was no good coming because of the time of night.  The deputy asked if someone was home with me, maybe it would be good to have someone with me. 

So, I got my husband, suffering with early-onset dementia, to come to the door with me. The deputy handed us a card to call the Sheriff in a county in another state, the county in which our son was living.  My heart sank, thinking there had been an accident, our son was in ER/ICU, something like that.

We got on the phone and called this gracious, compassionate deputy sheriff.  When he said, “There’s no easy way to say this…” my heart sank.  A short explanation was given, a couple of logistical things I had to do the next day were written down.  I then had to call our oldest son and daughter.  I called my mom.  I called my mother- and father-in-law.  Then I cried.  This whole series of events seemed surreal.

I relate this to say this:

Grieving with Grace is invaluable regardless of the loss.  Grandparent. Parent.  Child.  Friend. 

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:4

Of all the stones to carry in my heart, the Gratitude stone is both the most important, and the heaviest.

As you read my words, you know that losing a child is beyond our ability as loving parents. We are not supposed to bury our young.

It is not the natural order of things.

Of course, we can never be grateful for our child’s life cut short.

But, we must be grateful for the time we had, the love we shared, and the family we had… and still do.

I am eternally grateful for every precious memory… every precious smile… and all the time I mothered my beautiful son.

Now he is with the Good Lord, and I am here to explain that, in my heart and in my life, Gratitude is far better than living in grief, if for no other reason that it leads us forward to our ultimate promise of Grace.

And still, today, that gives me hope.

God Bless,
Cindy Bratton

GRACE NOTE: I find this simple prayer helps me face death with Grace, “Dear Lord Jesus, please grant me the peace knowing that Aaron has become a good worker in Your service.” Do you believe your child is today in a far better place?


Learn More About Building Your
Bridge of Grace Over Your River of Tears

Written by Cindy Bratton

Most people are never blessed to the degree that I have been. I’m a retired educator and a retired missionary now embarking on my third career: CEF (Chief Encouragement Officer) of the Live With Grace Initiative. You might ask, “A third career?” However, my question is, “How could I not?” Here’s a little of my story: On September 7, 2017, my husband, Dana, was diagnosed with Fronto-Temporal Dementia (think Bruce Willis). By the middle of 2018, I fully realized what this diagnosis meant – all dementia is terminal, and FTD is no exception. The illness can progress at various rates; seven years after diagnosis is the average life expectancy for FTD. I had to learn how to be an excellent caregiver. Over the course of the next 34 months, I would slowly lose my best friend, my lover, my ministry partner, and my “partner in crime.” 16 months after Dana’s diagnosis, I experienced my second significant loss. On December 31, 2018, our youngest son took his own life. This was a total shock to everyone. The grief was almost unbearable. By January 24, 2019, Dana began a series of hospitalizations due to the rapid progress of FTD, largely attributable to his rightful emotional response to our son’s death. In the spring of 2019, I began having several rounds of excruciating pain, which my Primary Care Physician (PCP) brushed off. However, to shut me up, he ordered blood testing which showed my Rheumatoid Factor nearly 34 times what is considered normal. By early December I was diagnosed with moderately severe Rheumatoid Disease (sometimes called Rheumatoid Arthritis). So, yet another loss in my life: this time it was my own health. Three losses in 27 months. By some miracle, my husband was discharged from long-term care on March 9, 2020, just days before everything shut down due to COVID-19. Yes, he was wheelchair-bound and needed 24/7/365 care, but he could make his own transfers from bed to wheelchair, to chair, to shower, and back again. On June 28th of that year, things had opened up a bit and we celebrated our 45th anniversary by renewing our vows at church. On July 9, 2020, Home Health came for their regular visit. Dana’s O2 Sat. was 78%, and it couldn’t be raised with deep breathing. The nurse got us an immediate appointment with his PCP. I was instructed to call the office when we got into the parking lot to confirm the office was empty, just in case Dana had COVID-19. The doctor was unable to get his O2 up with his resources and said he had to go to the Emergency Room. “OK,” I said, “I’ll take him there.” The doctor said he needed to be transported via ambulance, and the ambulance was called. Our hugs and kisses before Dana was loaded into the ambulance gave the EMTs great concern. Little did I know those would be the last hugs and kisses we would ever share. He got to the ER about 11:30 a.m.; at about 1:30 p.m. I got the call confirming the diagnosis of COVID-19. 13 days later his organs would completely shut down, I gave permission for him to have the ventilator removed, and he was gone. This was my fourth major loss within 34 months. In the prologue to the second edition of Grieve With Grace, Pastor Lee Strawhun speaks of grief upon grief, of compound grief. This is exactly what I had experienced in 34 short months: The loss of my husband’s health to FTD; the loss of our son’s life to suicide; the loss of my good health to degenerative Rheumatoid Disease; and the loss of my husband’s life to COVID-19. After my husband passed from FTD, which COVID-19 hastened, I found myself in the position of being able and desiring to facilitate my church’s grief recovery ministry. It was in that grief recovery program that I met Eric. He attended the support group after the death of his beloved Jan, and at one point gave me an early copy of Grieve With Grace long before it went into print. My reaction upon reading it was, “Wow! How did you take the way I processed my grief and so expertly turn it into an acronym?” The acronym of GRACE encompasses Gratitude, Resilience, Authenticity, Creativity, and Empathy. We came to the same conclusions by slightly different paths and using slightly different descriptors, but the conclusions were the same. From that point on, we became collaborators on this project, Grieve with Grace. I immediately decided it could be a seven-week follow-up to our original thirteen-week recovery program which brought participants to a place of accepting their loss. An additional seven weeks so those who are grieving can begin to move forward, pursuing a life of meaning and purpose, thus honoring their loved ones. I envision a future where Grieve With Grace will be used by grief counselors to guide thousands – no, millions – into lives full of meaning and purpose as they step forward with Gratitude, Resilience, Authenticity, Creativity, and Empathy. I am honored to share my thoughts with you all and please remember, I am always just one click away:) Cindy



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