How To Vacation After Loss


Take daily walks.
Touch the ocean at least once a day.
Drink water.
Cook meals consisting of only whole foods.
Read more than one book,
but watch TV if you want to.
Go to bed early.
Don’t set an alarm.
Be okay (not bored) with the simplicity of it all.
Enjoy the silence; don’t break it.
Stare at the sky for as long as you’d like.

See her, everywhere.
See her in the beams of sun, the blue sky, in the stars at night. In the birds and the dragonflies. See her in the seashells, and the shapes in the clouds, and the rainstorms. See her, everywhere, and say hi.

Hear her in the whistle of the wind, in the waves as they wash ashore. Hear her as the water rushes out to sea, running over the seashells, sounding like a thousand ringing bells. Hear her giggle and whisper “I love you, too.”

Listen closely. Listen to her tell you stories about heaven. About the friends she’s made, and the people she’s met, and all of the things she can do now. Listen to her tell you how strong she feels now. How free she feels, and how her arms and her legs wiggle with delight as she twirls and spins and dances in circles.

See her, everywhere. Hear her, and listen to her, and hold on to those sights and sounds. Keep them close and don’t let go.

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Leaving Town


Two days after Olivia’s funeral, Luke and I boarded a plane and left town. In the days immediately after Olivia passed away, we Googled locations, scoured sites for accommodations, and discussed why we wanted to leave town. We didn’t know where we were going yet, but we both knew that we wanted to go. Go somewhere, anywhere. Just go. But what did we want this trip to look like? What did we want to get out of it? It was important that we understood one another’s expectations for this trip, before making any final arrangements.

We both wanted to be somewhere quiet. Somewhere somewhat isolated. We wanted to do nothing, or anything… whatever pleased us most at any given moment. I had visions of riding a bike into a small town each morning to get coffee. Luke dreamed up a list of online classes that were of interest to him.

What seemed important to us both was to be away, to be quiet, and to be gentle on ourselves. To not make too many rules, and go easy on expectations. Be flexible. Do what felt right in the moment.

We’ve since made plans to ‘be away’ for two weeks. We’re in Florida, where it’s hotter than hot, but the sun’s been shining, and the storms give us quite the show each afternoon. We can hear the ocean from our bedroom, and take naps when we want to, and there are endless amounts of beautiful, serene things all around us.

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Monday Morning

Yesterday afternoon, Luke and I drove home from the hospital with a trunk full of Olivia’s belongings. We came home and took a nap. We sat on the back deck, and made a toast to Olivia. We picked up the house, cooked dinner, and watched a movie. I can’t say those are the things we thought we would do after losing our daughter, but those are the things we did. We drove with the windows down, wanting to feel the outside air, and appreciate life. We watched two dragonflies buzz around our back deck, reminding us of the line from my favorite Olivia book about ladybugs who didn’t fly away.

We cried some, and talked a lot, as we thought about Olivia. I laughed out loud while we ate dinner, thinking how silly she looked when she smiled. And then I cried, reading sweet comments on yesterday’s post, or pouring in via text and email.

It’s been almost one full day since she passed. Almost.

And the feelings we’ve felt so far are pretty indescribable. The whole situation seems surreal. There is no textbook on how to grieve, no roadmap for loss. And that’s become pretty apparent to us. Before she passed, we spent weeks imagining what we would feel like afterwards. What would life be like without her? What would we be like? Would we ever be okay, or would we be forever bitter? Would we go back to “life before Olivia”, or would we change directions, for good?

Luke and I are okay.

Our grief will last a lifetime, I’m sure, but we’re okay. And we want you – our family, our friends – to know that.

We probably won’t write here for too long, but there are certainly a few more stories we want to share. In the next coming days, or coming weeks, we’ll share more information on Olivia’s condition, what we learned about her this past week. We’ll share pictures from her visits with family, and stories from her favorite nurses, and I have to assume we’ll share our thoughts on grief too.


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