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On Grief

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I’ve joined the ranks of a group that, excuse me for saying so, I would rather not be in.  People Who Have Lost Loved Ones Unexpectedly. The shock and gut-wrenching pain of a loss coming from nowhere is a circle of Hell.

Grief is a strange thing.  Much different than I thought it would be.  For me, I’m mostly a happy person.  But then certain random things will set me off and this hollow sick feeling enters my stomach and tears well up in my eyes.  And depending on the day, I will either feel anger, sadness, denial, or depression.  And sometimes the flood gates open and my heart hurts.  One of the hardest things is just knowing how awful this is for my brother and wishing I could just take the pain away from him.

Just thinking about that week when she was dying in the hospital, receiving texts or phone calls from my brother…

I got an email from my mom on Saturday night saying that Alice was very sick.  I was worried but not horribly worried.  Everything always turns out fine in my family.  But I texted my brother and asked him how she was.  He wrote back that they almost lost her.  When I saw those words my stomach knotted and my heart tried to escape my chest.

This was real.  I started praying.  Fervently.

My family decided to have a family prayer and fast for her the next day.  Church was hard for me to sit through, feeling like crap that there was nothing I could do but pray.  I prayed all day and fasting seemed like nothing.  I was too worried to eat anyway.  Every text I got from Kurt was not good news and I was getting panicky.  That evening we all said a prayer at the same time for a specific thing–that her blood would clot.  It wasn’t clotting and she was hemorrhaging blood like crazy.  And they still didn’t know what it was.

It was KILLING me to not be with my family.  I wanted to drive all night.

Monday morning I woke up after a fitful night to a text saying that she was still alive (HUGE breath of relief) but things were not looking good.  I prayed over and over.  Then he said they figured out it was Group A Strep so they were giving her the right antibiotics.  That afternoon she was improving!  Her heart rate was normalizing, her blood pressure stabilizing.  I let out a cry and said a prayer of thanks out loud.  I felt sure she would get better.  I didn’t even worry the rest of the day.  But that night, my brother texted again that her blood still wasn’t clotting.  And I think it was then that I knew it was all over.

The next morning my sister called me to tell me the bad news that Alice was gone.  I called my brother but he hadn’t given up hope yet, since they hadn’t officially done the scan on her brain to determine activity.  So that whole day was up and down but ultimately I knew she was gone.  I kept busy that day, trying to get everything ready for the drive to Utah the next day.  Keeping busy was good–it kept my mind off the sadness.

It was a relief to be with my family, but painful to see my brother.  I was afraid of his grief, actually.  Afraid that I wouldn’t know what to do or say to him and yet wishing that I could do or say something that would just be amazing and heal his broken heart.  But I just gave him a hug and told him I loved him.  And then I got to work, helping with pictures, flowers, and funeral preparations.   I extracted videos off his computer of Alice.  It was amazing and heartbreaking to watch each one.  She was absolutely in love with her family.  She taught her little 3 year old to do the dishes with her.  They loved to help their mommy.

But it wasn’t until I saw her in the casket that I was really shocked.  Seeing someone’s body after they’ve been dead is a VERY strange experience, every time.  They don’t seem like them.  But there they are–there’s the proof.  But even then it was just weird, weird, weird.  And when I really looked at her I could SWEAR she was breathing.  Like I saw her chest rise and fall.  And my sisters admitted the same thing.  Can you see things if you want them badly enough?

The funeral was amazing but sad.  Solemn.  Dark.  I cried throughout.  But in a way, it was relieving that it was over.  Because now the healing process, as slow as it would be, could really truly begin.  The funeral was closure.  It was our last goodbyes to our precious sister.    And now we are expected to go on as normal.  Which we do.

Most of us, anyway.  My brother’s life is anything but normal.  He’s been thrown into a bucket of freezing cold water of being a full-time single parent, his mission to find ways that his children can remember their remarkable mother.

Do people expect you to mourn for a month and then just get over it?  Because that’s not going to happen.  I think the pain can fade with time, but memories will be triggered as the seasons change and holidays pass and the grief will still be there.  The hole in our hearts will still be there.

Thank goodness for Baby F and her brothers.  They are the little pieces of Alice that she left behind.  A friend of theirs wrote this lovely poem which she is allowing me to share today:

A mother’s womb swells with life,
Sacred hopes and dreams take flight
She wished for you with all her might.
Sweet child you are her joy.

As time draws near her body aches
Sleepless nights she lies awake,
She relishes the moves you make
Sweet child you are her joy.

A blessed hour marks the time,
When mother joins with the Divine.
She bears her babe while her eyes shine
Sweet child you are her joy.

In a moment of tender Grace
God is thanked for your embrace.
She waited so long to touch your face.
Sweet child you are her joy.

God’s great plan, a mystery
Oft times the reasons we cannot see.
Your mother died that you might be.
Sweet child you were her joy.

Someday you’ll be a mother too,
Your heart will feel a depth that’s new.
You’ll realize how much she loves you.
Sweet child you’re still her joy!



  1. This is just a heartbreaking story!! My mother passed away unexpectedly in February and I still go reaching for the phone to tell her something! I am so sorry for your family’s loss!! She left behind beautiful children so her memory will never be forgotten!!

  2. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I cried while I read through these posts about Alice. I can’t imagine having to go through something like this. I’ll pray for your brother and his children. I’m grateful that we know families are forever and someday we’ll be with our loved ones again. That does take away a huge part of the sting of death, but the pain is still there when a family is left without their mother. I just had my first baby last December and I cannot imagine having to leave him, even though this life is just a blip. I think that I would beg God to let me live so I could raise my baby and be with him always! But I am sure that once we get beyond the veil, we have so much greater understanding and we know that everything will be okay. I don’t know her, but I bet that’s how Alice felt about leaving her husband and children for the short while that she has to. I’m sure she misses them but she knows everything will be okay. I hope your brother (and all of your family) will feel comforted during this difficult time.

  3. I remember that one of my first needs in the grieving process when my husband’s father died was having to tell the story of the experience of physically watching someone die. That sort of thing sticks in your head and heart hard, and all you can get is a momentary relief in venting off a piece of the burden you are carrying by telling it to someone, detail by detail. I liken it to how I feel when I have a bad sinus headache– pressing in certain spots around my face feels good for a moment, but when I stop the pain comes back, and trying to erase the pain by pressing and pressing without stopping doesn’t work, either.

    People tend to think of “big grief” like it’s a compartmentalized experience, but it’s like you said– it really does seep into you and change you into a sadder, shorter-tempered, grimmer person, at least for a while. A friend of mine lost her boyfriend of seven years to a motorcycle accident a month before my girls were born, back in October– she comes to visit often from an hour away and most days arrives red-eyed from crying in the car. All of her stories feature him as a major character, all the pictures of herself have him beside her… it’s hard to continue on as if you are the same person when one of the people who makes you who you are vanishes. Nothing is ever the same again. And you will be happy again once you learn how to be happy without that person there, but it can take a long, long time.

    I’m sorry this got so long– this is me reading and typing with one finger during a 5am nursing session! Take care <3

  4. I wish I wasn’t a part of this group either. Five years ago I lost my mom and the pain, sadness and anger are still very real and raw. It never goes away. It can change but it’s always there. I was in such denial that at one point I convinced myself she wasn’t dead but in witness protection. Due to the manner of her death we had a closed casket. I never saw her body. I also lost my childhood best friend when I was 14 but her casket was open and I thought I saw her breathing also. I often think of you and your family and the great loss you have had.

  5. Sweet Heidi, I agree with you – I hate being in this group, however I’m so very grateful you and I can ‘talk’ about our grieving, loved ones, and healing. This is a beautiful post. Thank you. I was nearly ready to quit writing. It just brings it all back to closely when I’m trying to place those emotions into some invisible box. But that’s not going to work, is it? So thank you. I’ll continue writing as my heart directs me, as I hope you do too. ♥♥♥

  6. Thanks for another sweet remembrance of Alice. I love to hear your perspective and you’re becoming more and more eloquent with expressing yourself. I also noticed in her coffin that it appeared her chest was rising and falling a bit, I wonder if it’s a physical phenomenon after someone has passed or what. That poem is beautiful–I read it last night and I cried. I appreciate every single thought, remembrance, work of art, donation, gift and service that has been given to me and my family. I especially appreciate the reaching out that so many have done in their own unique way. I feel a closeness to everyone and am overwhelmed with how much love there is in this beautiful world. I miss Alice tremendously. Watching “The Princess Bride” last night was incredibly difficult, just weeping at the love scenes when I thought the humorous parts would help me be happy. I am really thankful for your tributes to Alice, Heidi. Thank you.

  7. Dearest Heidi,
    All that you feel, all the sorrow, all the pain, all the anger, is normal. It’s stages of grief. I am a therapist by trade though I don’t disclose that often. All that you are experiencing as hard as it may seem is so very very normal. Time will make it easier but it never goes away. I lost my only brother (to speak from my own experience) and I also lost my father. It’s just me and my mother. It doesn’t matter how many years go by or how much we think we put it out of our mind as time passes, feelings come flooding back at the mere tiniest and strangest moments. When a song whose lyrics will say something that reminds you of the person, a holiday, their birthday, Mother’s or Father’s Day, a smell of the food you once shared with them, oh I could go on and on. But those can also turn into bittersweet memories. Your brother will have a very hard time for awhile, I feel for him. It can be a long road. After some time maybe you could make him a memory book. Those things can be precious to the family. Even taking those video clips and making something for the children later on would be a gift that would be immeasurable to them later on. You did all the right things being extremely supportive and loving. That’s all there is to do when there is such loss. I am sorry for your family. I hope they find some comfort during their grieving process. You are welcome to email me if you need.

  8. Oh, I was so glad to see that you and Colleen are writing to you each other. I have been reading both of your stories and praying so hard for all of your families. The only thing that helps take the edge off is time, and unfortunately we don’t control that. You will always miss Alice, and you are right, certain things will trigger those emotions more strongly at certain times, but you will also find some comfort and peace over time and be able to remember the happy times without tears. For now, do what you need to, write, cry, scream, laugh, pray, whatever helps you get through the shock of it all.

    I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer in 2000. My mom lost her mom suddenly, she died of a heart attack in her sleep. We have talked about how it is easier for the person who dies to go suddenly, but very hard on those left behind because they had no warning. I wouldn’t have wished my Dad’s cancer on him of course, but I had some time to prepare for the fact that he wasn’t going to make it, and to say my goodbyes. With your situation no one could have seen this coming and you probably feel robbed of those things. Try to take some comfort in the fact that if Alice couldn’t be saved, she didn’t linger and suffer. I know it doesn’t help you or your brother, but because you obviously loved her so much, be happy for that.

    I will keep praying for you, that you find some comfort and peace, but for now just know how many of us out here care and are praying for you and wishing you all the best.


  9. Oh Heidi, my heart is breaking for you all. I lost my dear cousin when she was only 20, and I had just given birth to my firstborn, and lived 4 hours away. I wanted to be there with the family so bad, but with the baby, didn’t think i could or should go visit. Sandy came down with a fever and then developed seizures and we just didn’t know if it was wise to have the baby around. Sandy was so young, and had never had a serious illness. We thought she would surely recover, especially with all of us praying so much. It turned out to be Lupus, and we never knee she had it. There was no time for treatment of any kind. I know exactly the pain you are going through. I was shocked to hear “we lost her” from my uncle. Its been 19 years and I still cry thinking about her.
    Please know that I will keep you all in my prayers continually.

  10. Shortly after reading Alice’s story, I read a story of a mother with a normal pregnancy until the 20th week. Then, she went into labor, they were unable to stop the labor and her twin boys did not survive. I don’t know how heaven works, but when reading Preston and Julian’s story, all I could think about was Alice. I think that God gave Preston and Julian to Alice in heaven. She cannot be here to mother her children and Preston and Julian cannot be with their loving mother. I can only hope that they are keeping each other happy and comforted in heaven until they are reunited with their families. It only seems right.

    I hope you find some comfort. I am continuing to send healing thoughts your way.

  11. There really are no words that are adequate at a time like this. You and your family will be in my prayers as well as those of many others for a long time. Grief is unique to each person, each situation. Please don’t “expect” anything of yourself, your brother or any family members. I hope that you can remember all the good times and treasure those memories. God’s plan is not ours but He is a God of comfort and strength. Lean on Him ~ and all of us.


  12. I’ve been trying to thing of something to console you and failed. I’m sorry is so miserably inadequate. It’s worse than the 46 year old woman I know from church who suddenly, with no warning, dropped dead about a week ago. Brain aneurysm. But her boys are high school and college age, her husband isn’t left with a newborn and the other very young children. My heart aches with you, ‘
    Love, your sister in Christ,

  13. Shirley Lupton says:

    God bless and you are in our prayers.

  14. I don’t even know you or Alice…only through your blog. Yet I find myself praying for your brother, his children and you every day. My heart breaks for all of you; especially her children. Having 3 girls of my own, the youngest 3 months, I cannot imagine them growing up without a mother. Seems kind of selfish. I pray that God will help your brother and everyone else get through this and be able to live a happy life knowing they had such a wonderful person in their lives, if only for such a short time. I hope someday i have the honor of knowing such a wonderful person like Alice.

  15. Paula Chaffin says:

    I have continued to pray for you and your family. Especially your brother. Your pain is evident in your words. My prayers is that you find some comfort in all of the prayers being lifted up for your entire family.

  16. I so wish there was something that I could write that would help, even if for just a moment, to ease your pain of loss. Just know that our Lord knows exactly how you feel & you can find comfort in his arms. When my Dad passed I spent many hours sitting on the lap of God, crying on His shoulder. Feeling the warmth of His love made me feel safe, comforted. I pray for you & your family, especially for your brother & his sweet little “pieces of Alice”. God Bless you Heidi & know that from across many miles, your readers & fans are holding you in their arms, praying for you & wiping your tears!
    Your Sister in His eyes, Chelle

  17. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss Heidi. I love that you’ve been able to express so beautifully your love and admiration for Alice. She was a wonderful mother and I know through you and other family members her children will realize that and know how much their mother loves them.

  18. I am so sorry for your loss. I am in the “club” unfortunately as well. I lost my dad 9 years ago, a month after my 21st birthday. I read a lot to try and find some type of “closure” not that there is closure. I miss him because I love him, and that is a good thing. I truly love the talk “Tragedy or Destiny” by Spencer W. Kimball. It gave me so much comfort, I have passed it along to anyone I know that is aching over the loss of someone. If you want to pass it along to your brother please do, it has amazing truths in it. My prayers are with your family.

  19. What a beautiful poem. I’m sure it will be cherished by your family always. Praying for all of you.

  20. What a beautiful poem. I know it’s weird when people say they understand how you feel, but that club that you’ve joined the ranks of, that dark and ominous club, has other members sweet friend. And I do know how you feel… Prayers and happy thoughts sent your way today and always. It won’t ever get better, but it will get easier.

  21. Praying for you…. Believe, the Atonement is real. That poem is just beautiful.

  22. oh heidi, I am so sorry for the pain your entire family must be going through. I have been thinking about you every day, and know that you are all in my prayers. this is a beautiful and honest post. much love.

  23. I am so very sorry for your loss. Your family will be in my prayers. Stay strong knowing that you will see Alice again and that she is an eternal member of your beautiful family.

  24. I’m so sorry for your loss. There is nothing in my life that I am more afraid of than losing the ones I love. I can’t imagine what your family is going through. I know it must have been the biggest shock. I will definitely say a prayer for you guys, your brother, and her children.

  25. I guess all of us, sooner or later, must join that “club.” I suppose it was our turn to do so. If a person goes his whole life without joining such a club, either he was very fortunate or really didn’t ever love somebody.

    I cry while reading this post, as well as others, and all the comments. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m sad because of Alice, or so touched by the love that everybody has for their fellow man, or if it’s just the goodness of God in knowing His love and that He is over all. In any case, I am grateful and comforted by the many people who have been grieving for us, even if they don’t know us or Alice. And I’m certainly grateful for God, His love, and His plan.

  26. I can’t even imagine what you are going through. My friend, pastor, lost his wife in her sleep when she was 33 and a mother to three precious children, one whom she was still breastfeeding at night. Nothing came back in the autopsy or toxicology. An unexplained death. She was an amazing friend, mother, sister, wife, etc. They created a Facebook page (In Memory of Evette Allison). Jason has since remarried (it was 4 years ago we lost Evette) and I love how the family goes updates it here and there. If something happens with the kids that reminds them of Evette, they tell her on her page. If they miss her and want to say hi, they tell her. They document their memories and all the people who are members can ride along in their healing, grief, their painful journey. It’s like seeing glimpses of Evette every now and then. If your brother needs someone to talk to I am sure Jason would love to talk to him. If anyone understand what your brother is going through, it’s Jason. And it’s awesome that they are both believers 🙂

  27. It’s interesting to go through this experience–it helps me understand a little bit better what other people have gone through. I feel like I have accepted her death on an intellectual and maybe even spiritual level but it’s the emotional level that takes so much longer to find some kind of equilibrium. The other day I got a phone call and the man asked, “Are you Alice Hansen?” That kind of question takes your breath away. He was calling from the state newborn screening office and needed her birthdate for the form and somehow my phone number was the one they called. After I made it through the phone call it took me a while to recover. But it helps to think about Dad’s talk from the funeral and also think about how we all have to die someday, which means the ones we leave behind will mourn for us.

  28. I have thought of your family and especially your brother and his little ones many times lately. my heart hurts. My dad died over 10 years ago and it stills hurts at times. That poem is SO BEAUTIFUL! Very talented writer!

  29. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope the prayers and support of others has been a comfort to you and your family in this time. May your family be blessed with brighter days ahead, and may you continue to find peace. (Love Bomb team member)

  30. So very heartbreaking. Reading your posts about your sister-in-law brings me back to a fateful day this past December when my dad passed away unexpectedly. The grief is overwhelming and sometimes the sadness is so powerful it’s hard to feel anything but helpless. I’m praying that your brother, you and your family will find peace. Hang in there and know she’s watching over you.

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