Tell Them – Thanks for Pulling Me Through

As many of you know, my brother passed away this past August from a brief battle with cancer. I’ve said a few times on my blog how surprised I was that his passing hit me so hard. What I didn’t tell you is that for a few months, I believe I was quite depressed.

I’ve suffered postpartum depression before, but in the months following my brothers passing I experienced a range of emotions I had never felt so deeply in my life. I was in a fog, crying on a whim, blowing up at situations that normally wouldn’t bother me, isolating people around me, not responding to deadlines, ignoring important emails, letting bills pile up, not answering the phone and pretty much expecting my kids to fend for themselves on mornings before school. At one point I was alone in my car after an extremely tough day and the temptation to just drive and keep driving away from everything hit me so hard, I had to pull over and get a grip.

Outwardly, I tried to put on a happy face… talking myself into believing I was alright, that I could put on a front and people wouldn’t know anything was wrong. I hid behind a facade of contentment… or at least I thought I did.

So many of you sent me cards, emails, tweets, facebook messages, phone calls, etc during that time. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated each and every hand of kindness that was extended to me. There was one card though, sent to me exactly two months after my brother died, that woke me up and essentially pulled me through what was a very dark time in my life.

The card was from a reader named Dana. Among other things, Dana wrote:

“I am writing to you because in many of your recent posts I can hear the pain and grief that you are going through right now. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am praying for you. Your blog really inspired me during a rough patch that I went through and I have always wanted to thank you for that.”

In addition, there was a quote:

Dana’s card, thoughtfully sent to me with words that truly hit home, is one of the things that helped me get through a dark time in my life. The timing of it arriving in my mailbox was such a gift… it was exactly what I needed to hear at the exact time I needed to hear it.

I sat down this weekend to finally write Dana back and to tell her how much her kindness, her words and her thoughts impacted my life. Because of her, I soon realized I wasn’t fooling anyone and was then able to come to terms with my thoughts and emotions head on instead of trying to suffer behind them.

I’m happy to say I’m fine now… there are times every day where my heart hurts and tears sting my eyes, but I can say that I am honestly able to see the light now instead of the darkness.

If there is someone on your mind…someone you have been thinking about and meaning to reach out to, I urge you to do so. Tell them what is on your mind through a card. You never know how life changing it can be.

I’m honored to be partnering with Hallmark in 2012 as part of their “Life Is a Special Occasion” campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.

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    • says

      Her actions and the actions of so many others have taught me the importance of reaching out… how many times do I think I should and then don’t? Now, I just do it!

  1. says

    A thoughtful gesture from a stranger is truly a beautiful thing and can remind of us of all the good in life we forget when we are suffering. We all need to remember that when we see others suffering because we will need the kindness of strangers at some point in our own lives.

  2. says

    I’ve followed your blog for a very long time and just wanted to thank you for sharing this beautiful post. It’s often easy to *think* that we’re fooling our friends and family by acting ok, but others’ intuition always prevails :) Wishing you a beautiful new week! xoxox

  3. says

    Kristin, this was such an incredibly moving post, and I know it is going to help and inspire so many people who are struggling with hard things in their lives. Thank you for this, and my heart and my prayers are with you.

  4. says

    Kristen, this post was wonderful in so many ways. Dana’s letter came exactly when you needed it…and I am so pleased to read you are back on track and feeling so much better.
    Thank you for sharing this with us….no doubt it will help others who need to be encouraged right now.

  5. says

    Oh Kristen, this post brought a tear to my eye. I lost my mother 20 years ago and still cry now and then, so I understand your pain. But even more recently I went through a similar depression (details I told you about privately) that I was afraid I wouldn’t get out of. But things have improved greatly and I am so happy to hear that Dana’s letter was what did it for you. Sometimes it’s just the small things, but God has a way of pointing them out when they are most needed. Hugs to you my friend.

  6. says

    Just beautiful, Kristen. I love your honesty, and I know that your words will help so many others who are struggling with similar thoughts and emotions. When we talked on the phone the other day, and you shared your grief with me, it was so hard to hear that my dear, sweet friend had been silently hurting. You are an inspiration to moms everywhere, Kristen. Thank you for being you! Love and hugs are being sent your way today…and every day.

  7. says

    So thankful for people like Dana, who reach out offer a word or a prayer when its most needed. And thank you for the reminded of just how important it is to do that… I think I will try and BE a blessing today instead of seeking to be blessed!

  8. Debbie Jean says

    We all handle grief differently and almost everyone has had a tough experience dealing with death, be it a family member, a friend, a co worker, a neighbor, a beloved pet, or the death of a solider one doesn’t even know. The strength to go on and continue comes from a deep religious belief, whatever your belief or religion is. I often tell people who have never experienced grief or complain about the weather, a job or just life in general, to go visit a cancer ward in any children’s hospital and trust me, it will change your attitude (well at least I hope it would). Life is precious, life is short and one never knows when he/she or a close loved one will be gone. So just do the very best you can each day and don’t try to figure it all out. I’m a Christian and I know I can’t handle all of my worries and concerns and fears so I share them with him and ask him to help point me in the right direction and as always, he does. Just trust your faith, he’ll know what to do.

    • Judith - Texas says

      Debbie Jean – my heart felt thanks for sharing your thoughts – truly beautiful and truthful. I have a Wall of Widsom where I print out inspirational thoughts to post – today, yours was printed out and posted.
      Your comment will be my daily reminder.

  9. says

    Beautiful post and so spot-on. After our loss, we received so many loving cards, emails, phone calls, meals and visits, but it was the unexpected notes and gestures, months after R’s death that touched us more deeply than others. Grief is never linear and it’s in those later weeks and months (and years!) that we still need the comfort of friends and family. I’m glad you’re doing better.

    Be well and be gentle with yourself.


  10. Lynne Laino says

    If it’s the Dana that I know, and the fact that she reached out tells me it is, she is truly a gift from God. A very special woman that you are lucky to have in your life.
    Your post is a great reminder to all of us to act on that litttle voice that tells you to reach out to that person you’re thinking about. Don’t wait, do it.
    I keep thinking about someone I haven’t seen in years and I am going to send her a card today.
    Sadly, we all experience grief in our lives and have to go through the process that comes with it. Blessings to you and your family Kristen.

  11. says

    What a wonderful verse. I’ve heard it before but I always seem to forget when I most need to remember it. I think I’ll write it on a slip of paper and put it in my wallet today. I’ll never be without the reminder from now on.

    Bless you for sharing your story. You will undoubtedly help many many people.

  12. Pat Wogan says

    I read this with tears in my eyes. I, too, have been struggling with Larry’s death. I told Dad the other day that I didn’t think I was over it yet. He said who says you have to be. You can’t turn grief on and off. Now I am wishing I had the right words to help my family, but I don’t. I know where he is, I know our bodies are just homes for our spirits and I know God is watching over us, but I don’t want anyone else in my family to die before me.

    • Whitney Schmale says

      Love to you both…It’s been almost 9 years since I lost my brother. It never gets better but it DOES get DIFFERENT. Most days that’s enough.

  13. says

    Kristen thank you so much for sharing this. I’m so grateful for the Dana’s in the world. Just knowing that someone is thinking about you and knows that you’re not ok when you’re pretending that you are is such a beautiful thing.

    One of my goals this year is to be more aware of others and act on my instincts to do small acts of service that might lift their burden. I know there have been many times where I was screaming inside while smiling outside and in need of someone to notice, listen, ask how I was REALLY doing or offer an act of service and I didn’t receive. I know how much that hurts to just blend into the background and I don’t want other to feel that way because I’m so wrapped up in my own life.

    So glad you had the support and love from Dana and I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  14. says

    Kristen, I am so sorry to hear about your suffering. I know how hard it can be when you’re sad and having to be the glue that holds the family together, gets the kids to school, gets the food made and the homework done…it’s a lot to handle.

    I’m so grateful that you have such kind and loving readers to help you. Obviously they see what I already know–that you are an amazing woman!!



  1. […] This is my final post for the Hallmark 2012 Life is a Special Occasion Campaign. It has been such an honor to work with such an incredible company. Even more so, it has been such a gift for me to explore personal topics and share them with you in a way I might not have before. With all the wonderful things I had the chance to write about in the past year, one very special thing has stuck with me… Tell Them. […]

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