The Changes We Make….or make us.

I write periodically on my son, Brandon’s Legacy page, leaving my notes for him. Below is the 2014 Thanksgiving note. I have learned to say “I miss you” in a million different ways, it seems. The change has been that I am determined to make my son a part of this life even though he has moved on to the next and better life.

Dear Brandon, 

I miss you and your appetite, son. Thanksgiving was not the Happy we used to know. We laugh, we joke, we eat, while our hearts long for you to be with us each day, especially holidays. But who would take you from the continual feast you have forever? I would rather join you there than to ever wish you to be here again. I love you that much – See more at:


It is this photo of Brandon and his grandmother (Mammaw) my husband’s mother, that I have framed and put out for the holidays on our special Brandon shelf in the livingroom. I have redesigned the dining room china cabinet to display photos of Brandon and Mammaw. I also have other mementos all about Brandon there. This photo reminds us of Mammaw and Brandon. Oh how they loved to eat!  Brandon weight trained and was an athlete so the food was his energy. It never appeared on his hips like it does me. Mammaw loved to cook and of course, loved to eat, as well. She made the best southern everything. I credit her for teaching me how to cook. Her biscuits and dressing are her legacy. None of us can quite make them as she once did. We all believe she is happily cooking for Brandon in Heaven…not that you have to cook in Heaven but it comforts us that she continues to be able to do those things she loved to do. She made everyone who came to her house feel so welcomed and you never, ever left hungry. Over the holidays, my daughters, my husband and his sister and myself remembered all those delicious foods she used to cook.

Our holidays have changed. We don’t have our Brandon or our Mammaw. They have been changed forever and have moved into a new existence of perfection with the Lord, our Father, in whom we believe. Those of us left behind know that changes have come whether we like it or not. What death has done is make us know, even more, those things of our faith that we have claimed throughout our lives. If we ever half-heartedly believed, well…we believe with our whole heart now. Death is a “game changer.”

I have changed in so many ways. I look at pictures of myself then and now. Firstly, I do not like to have my picture taken anymore. I am a fat old woman with a bloated face that will never be the youthful person I was. My physical self has no energy and looks like a faded rendition of what used to be me. It seems that just 5 1/2 years ago I was hopeful that I could retain my youthful looks and middle aged energy level. Not to be. Death changed all of that. In the first year of shock and tragic grief, I lost weight and any hope of being a whole person again. Grief held me captive with its tentacles. As time has worn on, I have gained the weight I lost and then some. I have not one ounce of energy and I wrestle with the Insomnia Monster every single night. I am a vision of all that I had hoped never to be. I do not see a way out of it. SO……..I am trying to accept it. Even writing the word “accept” has been part of that change. Believe it or not, there is freedom in acceptance of those things we cannot change.

While grief has been partly to blame for the vision of ‘loveliness’ I have become along with the naturalness of aging, it has also been the reason why I think I have become wiser. I am more aware of the internal; my heart and soul changes, if you will. One cannot help but to be transformed by how death affects everything in you and around you. Perhaps, those things don’t change physically but they change by how they are perceived by the griever. I cannot begin to list the changes death has brought to me. The physical is just part of it but not the whole.

One change in particular has been the acceptance of myself. I turn 61 yrs old before the year is over. it is not easy to look in the mirror anymore. I just do what I think helps and well, just deal with it. I look at the change of this body as unavoidable. There is constant change taking over. As is the case with some of life’s circumstances, it is out of my control. That is what I have had to accept. Please do not misunderstand the word “accept” for “like.”

I am dying every single day. My image is dying but my soul is being infused with a new life. I have an appreciation for the part of me that will live on and be perfect like my son and my other loved ones who are with God. My complaints here are a waste of time. It is my understanding of this that adds to any wisdom imparted to me through experiences. If I did not then all of my trials would be in vain. I should make use of what has happened as best as I can. I cannot have my son here with me in this lifetime but God has made it possible for us to be together for eternity. Wisdom has shaped my faith: Faith has shaped my wisdom. However it works, I am now able to realize that the biggest change is yet to come. Aging allows me to know that time is shorter with each passing day. My mirror reflects what I will leave behind. What I take with me is inside and waiting to be transformed. This I accept.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot pretend to understand your pain. Working at bereavment agency, I could help with the children, I could not help with the parents I would weep too much for their loss. Children who lost a sibling shared their loss of a family as it was…no one can understand and least all know how to get through this “grief game”. I think you can only take it one hour at a time, one day at a time and learn to live for you and your family despite this terrible loss. You don`t see your beauty as I do…as other so…your pain does not define you but is a part of you…you are a beautiful child of G-d…always, blessings, CherylLynn


  2. Love this, Dale! Oh how fortunate to have such a loving paternal grandma… One of the saddest things I ever heard, was a daughter speaking of her children’s (4 of them) feelings toward her own mother…

    “I don’t think they even LIKE their grandmother…” was her comment. Very sad.

    I completely agree with many points you made. One of the items that resonated, is what you said about “acceptance”.

    For some reason, people think “accepting” something, equates with “liking” it.

    But really, accepting the death of my husband and children is more akin to “tolerating it for the duration”-as really-what else CAN we do? Until it’s our time to depart this world, I believe endurance and perseverance, is of key importance, for bereaved moms’ survival.

    Thanks for a great blog with many helpful points many can well identify with.

    Love to you and Brandon Bear,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, “tolerance” is what it is about. There IS nothing else we can do but wait for that grand reunion. Forging ahead takes more effort from me but it always eases with the helping hand of our loving Father. I know He has sent many people/angels to help us through. God bless you. XO


  3. Dear, beautiful Dale,
    Our hearts and words reveal our loveliness. You have plenty, and it overflows. It shines through in a way your own flawed perception cannot hide. We (and God) see you properly through the eyes of love. Your outer shell reflects aging; that’s true for all of us. For those of us in our elder years (I just turned 64 this month), it also reflects our pain, our experience, our growing wisdom. Our softer bodies become luxurious places of comfort where others can fall into compassion, grace and mercy. You are an uplifting, loving soul whose beauty is reflected like a light on a hill. Be that light; don’t hide any part of you. Surrender is more than acceptance. It is embracing the whole of who you are, and seeing yourself as the precious and loved daughter of God.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aaaahh, thank you, Susan, for such kind words. I think this blog was born from seeing the photos that were taken of me on Thanksgiving. UGH….LOL Your encouragement is like a balm to these aching old thoughts. BTW, I do hope you had a wonderful birthday. Of course, 64 reminds me of the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty-four”….I’ll be singing that one all day long. 😉

    I am blessed by your words today.
    Love and Hugs,


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