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Befriend Me: Where to Go When Your Parents Are Gone

Suzi kept calling me. Kept befriending me. I’d stopped dating her brother, and I’d met her only once. She lived 2,100 miles away in California. Yet she remained my supportive friend.



I thought about this last week because Suzi died. She died on March 22. A few hours after I learned the news, I realized she died 10 years to the day that I met her.

Wow, what does that mean? Probably nothing, but it took me back a decade, to what was happening in my life and to what Suzi then meant to the brokenness I was experiencing.

I thought: Maybe Suzi was one of those people God sends to stand in the gap. These friends bridge the span between our need and our supply. They bridge the gap illness and death creates between us and the parental guidance we need.

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Befriend Me: New Series Reveals Other Relationships Parent Us thru Grief

I want to thank all of my readers today and invite you to follow a series of posts that begin tomorrow, March 28. The posts will reveal how friends and other kin help us navigate our lives as the incredible burden of grief presses on our hearts. They “stand in the gap” left by the deaths of our parents.toni2017-2

In my first post, I’ll write about Suzi. She came into my life amid one of the worst periods of my life. I had lost my dad and was caring for my mother. Suzi had just lost her mother. Yet in her own grief, she met me in mine.

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Photography: When It’s Too Hard to Let Go

I’m blessed with a lot of space, but many others struggle with finding a space for the things they inherit. Useful things aren’t the challenge. Grandmother’s casserole dish? To the kitchen it goes.

But what about the things you aren’t going to use? Things that perhaps aren’t at the top of the sentimental list, but still is wrapped in a memory? Something too big to put into a box?PhotoLawn

I’m not going to be exhaustive right now, but I do want to suggest one solution. Photography.

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Dreams Direct Grieving Daughter To a Place of Refuge

Do you dream about your parents? Do your loved ones seem alive again in your sleep? I love dreaming about my parents, but often dreams are uncomfortably instructive rather than happy.

Such was the case in 2015. That spring, I was focused on devising a way to articulate for my first book what the cleaning out of my parents’ home meant to my grief journey.


An old shed sits at the front of my parents’ pasture.

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Who We Decide We Are Steers Our Lives

I didn’t like my name. School teachers and classmates misspelled and mispronounced it. Others expected me to be a boy, to be Tony. Not Toni. But I’ve long since gotten over that, and even love my name now. I’ve never met nor discovered through Google another Toni Lepeska. It’s unique.

Maybe you’ve struggled with your name. Maybe it means you’ve struggled with your identity. If so, I’m right with you.NameBlog3

Every first full week in March is Celebrate Your Name Week. It offers us an opportunity to reflect on who gave us our names and on the joy with which we entered the world. Maybe we can recapture that joy. Maybe we can celebrate ourselves in the way we were celebrated at birth.

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Inherited Stuff: Three Questions To Help With the Clean Out

I’ve got a special relationship with stuff, but a professional organizer who visited our church this week challenged my attachment, not only to my belongings but to things I inherited from my parents. Kathy Armstrong lets go of things. I latch onto them with unmatched ferocity.

I didn’t recognize the extent of my attachment until after my parents died. I discarded a lot of their things, things that didn’t trigger much of an emotional tug. Everything else, which was a lot of stuff, lived in limbo. I could because the house, 10 minutes away, was paid for.clutterexample-2

Over the years it became apparent to me that I wasn’t that different from my parents. My mother, a child of the Depression Era, kept things because they might be useful someday. Ends of 2 x 4s come to mind. I recently cleaned out the oldest shed on the property. I threw away the wood.

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