Skip to content

When We Don’t Feel Safe Anymore

What happens when we don’t feel safe anymore? When uncertainty rules the day? When life is turned upside down?

The pandemic qualifies as a world-changing event in terms of individuals, families and nations, but even a virus cannot hold a candle to my personal world-turned-upside-down event.

Read more

Fatherless Father’s Day: Writing to Heal Grief

Expressing our grief through storytelling deepens our understanding of grief. And that deepens our potential to heal. ToniBioPic4

I’ll be part of a podcast this coming Saturday, the day before Father’s Day, to encourage anyone, experienced writers or beginners, to utilize this important tool within their grief journey.

The authors you’ll hear will be reading their personal stories of loss beginning 7 p.m. CST, June 20th for Fatherless Father’s Day — Writing to Heal Grief.

You can slide over to and register now. The podcast is free but donations to the organizations are encouraged to support their valuable work. (Note: These funds go to the organizations. I receive no money for my participation.) You’ll see the donation option in the link.

Read more

Peace in the Storm

Are you going through a storm? Do you feel battered by the modern world’s equivalent of swirling winds and pounding rain in a sea of uncertainty?

I remember the day my dad died. He was there, and then he was gone, and there was nothing I could do to bring him back. The storm of my life followed.

This Father’s Day will be my 14th without him.

beach dawn daylight horizon

Photo by Tatiana on

Will we survive our storm? We may sense that we will, but we cannot see how nor know when our misery and desperation will end. In the meantime, we white knuckle the experience. But is peace possible in the storm?

I was in a literal storm a few weekends ago, caught out on a Mississippi lake up to a mile from shore. We saw the cloud bank and then heard thunder.

Read more

“When Will I Feel Better?”

The question goes through our minds in a dozen different ways and sounds like this: “When will I feel better?”

We expect to grieve during the funeral and for weeks after the funeral, but then a month passes. Six months. A year. Five years.

We want our living hell of loss to be over. Or at least tolerable. If we knew how long we had until we reached some kind of acceptance, we’d know we could hold out for that day.

woman in gray tank top while sitting on bed

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I asked a version of the question, too, though I was well versed in what to expect with grief. A few years had passed since the deaths of my parents. And yet I’d stumble into a grief trigger and find myself longing for them in the same way I’d done the first year.

I’d get mad at myself. Feel like I was a hopeless case. Or that I was destined to be forever in a grief loop.

So, what is the answer to “When will I feel better?”

Read more

Searching for Safety During COVID-19, Motherless Mother’s Day

By Toni Lepeska

The coronavirus pandemic has elicited a new catch phrase – “stay safe.”

I hear it on the telephone with doctor’s offices and in text messages from friends. It has replaced “take care,” “see you later,” and “be careful.”

How essential is safety? Where can we find it when our world has been turned upside down?

The urge to secure safety was my initial knee-jerk reaction to COVID-19 and stay-at-home measures. I wanted my mother. I wanted to “circle the wagons” with her. But she’s been dead almost 11 years.

young gorgeous woman standing behind iron grate

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Interestingly, I also hunted for safety after my father’s death. My mother, terminally ill, became my responsibility. She could not be the source of safety and comfort that she’d always been. I cried out to God, “Send me a protector!”

We often overlook the essential need as human beings to feel safe until we feel threatened or at risk physically or emotionally. The desire to secure safety is hardwired into us, on par with shelter and food.

Our first source of safety is our parents, especially our mothers.

Read more

Five Strategies to Clear the Way for a Grief Breakthrough

The loss of a loved one is difficult enough but what often follows are impossible questions, bitter anger and self-accusatory thoughts that nag us with what ifs and should-have-dones.

What lifts us out of the quicksand of such a situation and puts us on the path of healing? What puts lingering questions to rest and transforms pit-sinking sorrow into peace?

woman in brown coat and purple scarf holding silver tablet

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I believe the course of our grief changes with breakthroughs, aka epiphanies, or “aha” moments. I adopted the term “revelations” the year after my dad died. Whatever the name, these are sudden, transformative thoughts or realizations that shift our perspective and give us healing.

I experienced a series of breakthroughs that helped me forgive myself as a stressed-out caregiver to Mom. I accepted the inability to be perfectly loving and knowing. I accepted her dire need to control things. Her world was falling apart. She was trying to cope, and I was, too, in our individually different ways.

Read more

Shut In & Sad: 9 Coping Strategies

I thought I needed to get around people. What I needed was to be alone.

I’m a loner of sorts. A homebody. An introvert. I was raised by a woman who left the house only two or three times a year. When the stay-at-home orders came down amid COVID-19 fears, I thought “I’ve got this.” I was right – for about a week.

woman inside the car

Photo by emre keshavarz on

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband, and I love his company. The primary breadwinner, he took over my home office. I willingly gave up my chair, but I itched to go to the coffee shop and hang around perfect strangers. And go for walks. Alone.

And then as the days wore on, I got angry. Not at my hubby. I believed I was angry at being confined. Have you ever been sad-angry? Or angry-sad? I think that was my affliction. I wasn’t afraid. I was angry.

Read more

What Does “God is in Control” Really Mean?

We hear the phrase slip out of the lips of well-meaning friends at funerals – and we hear it now that a pandemic seeds fear and anxiety into our hearts and lives.

But what does “God is in control” really mean?

woman wearing sunhat

Photo by Tuấn Kiệt Jr. on

First, what it does not mean?

It does not mean God sets out to harm us.  He is not pitted against us. He is not a puppet master out to get you, to poke you until you bleed. Nor is He uncaring.

That’s what we hear sometimes, though. A husband, brother or father dies and someone tells us “God is in control” and we think, “God caused this death? God caused him to suffer? God wants me to suffer?”

Read more

Grief & COVID19: Six Ways To Get Comfort When You Cannot Get a Hug

The coronavirus is messing with the ways we grieve and mourn.

All over the news and all over the country, we’re hearing about social distancing – and funeral services aren’t excluded despite their cultural and emotional importance.

woman wearing mask on train

Photo by Anna Shvets on

In America, funeral directors are staggering events like visitations or wakes to minimize the number of people in a building or room. The government recommends no more than 10 people in a group. Most funerals attract far more.

But mourning rituals aren’t all that’s being impacted by efforts to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Along with the rest of the population, mourners are quarantining themselves from people outside their households. At a time the touch and personal warmth of another’s presence can be so essential to the grief process, we cannot look to traditional ways of comfort, like a hug.

I feel you. Though I’m nearly 12 years out on my mother’s death, and I don’t seek out hugs anymore, I find myself longing for her. I want my mommy. I want to share the drama with her.

Read more

Broken Crayons Make Beautiful Pictures

Are you focused on your lack today? Maybe you feel too broken to measure up to standards set by your spouse, your parents, your career or even yourself.

Maybe you look around and everyone is chuckling. You wear a fake smile, but inside you are wilting. Your soul begs for comfort. For understanding.

One word dominated my childhood interaction with peers. Inadequacy. I couldn’t measure up to the giggling girls with the perfect hair and the perfect things to say. I felt lack. I didn’t have their social skills.Crayons

I also didn’t have as many crayons as they did. I think the biggest box I got had 24 colors in a box with two short rows. They had boxes of rows and rows of colors, 64 crayons total. Adult equivalent: A one-bedroom apartment compared to a mini-mansion with a game room and pool.

Read more