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A Lifer in the Ugly Shoes Club --- Grief Seeking Gratitude

July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month. Until Adam’s drowning admitted me into this

Adam's wood casket that family made. Mourners wrote him messages and drew with crayons

Ugly Shoes Club on January 24, 2016, I didn’t know that such a month even existed. I never asked for or wanted membership. Now, I am a lifer.

This blog on my grieving that has discovered a gratitude too may surprise readers as much as the inspiring love story that I wrote in Soar, Adam, Soar (Dundurn Press, 2019,

The Ugly Shoes Club. 55,000 followers on one Facebook Page group, inspired by this poem.

“I am wearing a pair of shoes.

They are ugly shoes.

Uncomfortable shoes.

I hate my shoes.

Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.

Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.

Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes.

They are looks of sympathy.

I can tell in other's eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.

They never talk about my shoes.

To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.

To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.

But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.

There are many pairs in this world.

Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.

Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don't hurt quite so much.

Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.

No woman deserves to wear these shoes.

Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.

These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.

They have made me who I am.

I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.” Author Unknown

This club admits men too, indeed all parents who grieve their dead daughters and dead sons no matter their age. Forgot what people say, best intentions and all. We won’t get over it. Time does not heal (completely). The grief is permanent, forever, like the love for the lost ones.

As I sit signing my book on my book tour, I swear that there are moments when I am back hearing confessions as a Catholic priest.

“My son died about 20 years ago, your son’s age, after a gunshot wound,” a woman whispered. “He had the most beautiful blue eyes.”

I blinked. I notice those beautiful blue eyes as I also see Adam’s face smiling at me, Batman ball cap on backwards, phone in his hand, tattoos and all.

“My son was stillborn,” another book buyer said, leaning over the signing table. “People don’t understand my sadness.”

There’s the unique, irreplaceable loved one gone. A few in every book reading audience will find me afterwards to say thank you for telling the world that grief is forever.

Did you know that there is not even a word in the English language to define a parent who loses a child? We know whom orphans miss and whom a widow or widower mourns. There are no similar words to identify a parent who mourns a child! So, I wrote 75,000 words.