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EVENT: Motherless Daughters book — 3-part discussion series

Hope Edelman's groundbreaking Motherless Daughters book turns 30 this year, and I'm hosting a three-part Zoom discussion series in honor of the anniversary. When this book came out in 1994, I had two children under 3 and was in the throes of excavating long held but unrecognized grief from my [...]

By |May 4th, 2024|Categories: Event|0 Comments

When an Adult Grieves a Loss from Childhood

It's actually common for an adult to grieve for a loss that occurred in childhood, though most people aren't aware of it. Since the Healing Power of Stories Book Group began meeting in September 2020, we've read more than two dozen books together, a combination of memoir, nonfiction/self-help, and fiction [...]

By |March 4th, 2024|Categories: childhood grief|0 Comments

The Marksmanship Medal

I fell in love with the Instagram account @thekeepthings when my friend Casey Mulligan Walsh had a piece published there about her dad's shaving brush. Immediately I wanted to write about my dad's marksmanship medal, which I discovered in a drawer after his death, but somehow, I never got around to doing it. [...]

By |October 5th, 2023|Categories: Remembrance, Remembrance 2|0 Comments

What’s Your Grieving Style?

Do you know your grieving style? I didn't, until talking recently with our youngest son brought a new epiphany about how I experience grief. Yes, after decades of grappling with it, I uncovered still more. This actually delights me. Christian is a graduate student in social work and needed to [...]

By |March 29th, 2023|Categories: Healing, Ritual|0 Comments

Advice to Myself at the Start of 2023

Written in response to a writing prompt from the always amazing Jena Schwartz.  Look out the window. Get to know the river’s waves and the flow, the barges and debris that float by. Notice how it curves, snaking to the east. Observe the birds gliding by.  Hawks and vultures, crows, [...]

By |February 4th, 2023|Categories: Healing, Ritual|0 Comments

Obituary Writing Brings Healing

Growing up, I never thought of obituary writing as healing. They were terse blocks of text that my parents perused each morning over coffee. Their purpose was to announce the death and share funeral arrangements. In my journalism training, I learned that junior reporters were often assigned advance obit writing [...]

By |January 12th, 2023|Categories: Healing, Ritual|0 Comments

EVENT: The Healing Power of Stories

Virtual Book Discussion Series for Adults Bereaved in Childhood Adults who experienced loss during childhood have few places to tell our stories, remember our loved ones, and connect with others. I want to change that! In memory of my mom - Mary Lee Wimberg Morse, 1933-1970 Though [...]

By |April 26th, 2022|Categories: Event, Healing|0 Comments

Healthy Grieving Over Time on Television

Remarkably, grief and loss claimed the television spotlight as NCIS episode 17 of season 19 ("Starting Over") models healthy grieving over time. The show has portrayed loss realistically before in the immediate wake of traumatic events. Also, the lead character of Jethro Gibbs was driven by grief to a great [...]

By |April 20th, 2022|Categories: Healing|0 Comments

“Where I’m From” — A Poem, A Process, A Conversation

My writer friend Alyson Shelton invited her Instagram followers to share poems created from the prompt, "Where I'm From," based on George Ella Lyon's poem with that title. I read mine live on Instagram as part of her weekly series, and I'm sharing the text below. You can also watch a recording here. [...]

By |April 5th, 2022|Categories: Remembrance, Uncategorized|0 Comments

EVENT Series: Grief Story Hour for Motherless Daughters

Is it time to tell your story? Women who lose their mothers early carry that grief throughout our lives, and we need spaces to talk about our experiences and receive support. Grief Story Hour is a series of Zoom gatherings that creates just that opportunity. Join us! Saturdays, 11 am [...]

By |February 3rd, 2022|Categories: Event|0 Comments

When Book Content Triggers Old Emotions

Some aspiring readers of my memoir on early mother loss and long-term grieving have expressed to me that, although they very much want to read the book, they fear the emotions it might stir up from their own past losses or trauma. I’ve had this experience myself, so I reached [...]

By |December 20th, 2021|Categories: Healing|0 Comments

Celebrating the Release of The Art of Reassembly!

Most often, the journey of writing a book and bringing it out into the world is excruciatingly long. There’s early scribbling or journaling, then ugly first drafts followed by rewrites, revisions, copy edits, proofreading—and more.  It can take years, and sometimes, decades. In my case there was another step that [...]

By |November 9th, 2021|Categories: Mother loss|0 Comments

RECORDING: The Art of Reassembly Virtual Event

Thanks to everyone who came and made the virtual launch such a rich and rewarding discussion! Special thanks to Got Grief Podcast hosts Craig Nannestand and Holly Sumpton for their gracious, skillful moderation. If you missed it, you can watch the recording HERE. (Passcode: %@u*v6K%)    

By |November 5th, 2021|Categories: Event|0 Comments

How to Stepparent Grieving Children

Four years after my mom died of cancer, my dad got remarried.  Right after the wedding his new wife, Aggie—my stepmother—moved into our family’s home.  In truth, my siblings and I barely knew her. I wish they had known how to stepparent grieving children. Changes in Routine Quickly, with my [...]

By |October 25th, 2021|Categories: childhood grief, Mother loss|0 Comments

Recognize That Somebody is Grieving—Even if They Don’t

Can you recognize the signs of grieving in this scene? One day when the youngest of my three children, Christian, was a baby, I placed him in his Pack’n Play and asked his older brother to keep an eye on him for a few minutes while I ran downstairs to [...]

By |September 22nd, 2021|Categories: Mother loss|0 Comments

Increase Calm in Your Life (and Enjoy It!)

I’ve always loved history, so over time my husband and I have evolved the habit of periodic “field trips” to places of interest. Our recent foray to ancient earthworks here in Ohio taught me as much about how to increase calm in my life as it did about people of [...]

By |August 2nd, 2021|Categories: Healing|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Meeting Grief with Grace after Early Loss

After Casey Mulligan Walsh and I met in an online writers group, I wanted to hear her early mother loss story, but I soon discovered her familiarity with grief goes far beyond our shared experience, as does her wisdom. She became an orphan at age 12, lost her only sibling [...]

By |October 19th, 2020|Categories: childhood grief, Early Mother Loss, Mother loss|1 Comment

Healing Presence at the Food Pantry

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash Desks shoved aside in the second-floor classroom created open space for three pairs of wooden chairs facing each other. They comprised separate Healing Touch stations, with a seat each for the healer and the client. Peace prevailed despite the bustle of the [...]

By |June 25th, 2020|Categories: Healing|Tags: , , |0 Comments

How Do Virtual Healing Sessions Work?

Healing Touch practitioners have always offered virtual healing sessions while in a separate physical space from the client, but Covid-19 brought a new focus on this approach. For example, some clients prefer virtual sessions because of underlying health risks for the virus. Virtual healing sessions unfold much the same as [...]

By |June 22nd, 2020|Categories: Healing|Tags: , , |0 Comments

What Does Science Say About Energy and Healing?

The science of energy healing has several facets. To start, quantum physics tells us that all matter is a bundle of energy that emits a surrounding field, even human beings. It might surprise you that familiar medical devices already use energy. For example, magnetic resonance imagery (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) [...]

By |June 22nd, 2020|Categories: Healing|0 Comments

Connect the Maternal Line on Motherless Mother’s Day

I wrote this post on what would have been my mom's 80th birthday in 2013. She had died in 1970 at age 37, more than half of an 80-year life span earlier. As the date approached, I found myself wanting to mark it somehow but lacking any specific ideas.  Finally, [...]

Breast Cancer Risk: A Long-Term Relationship

Breast cancer risk has defined my life in key ways, starting with my mom’s death from the disease when I was seven years old. While I was in high school years, my stepmother took the then-unusual step of having a preventive double mastectomy because of numerous breast cancer cases over [...]

No Joke: Gritty Truth about Mother Loss

Dixie Perkinson is an actor, comedian, storyteller, and writer in Los Angeles. The basic facts of her mother loss story sound like a movie script, but her telling of it is completely real. She and I met last year at a Motherless Daughters retreat, and I’ve been following her blog [...]

Mary Poppins Shines Light on Grieving Children

If you missed the Mary Poppins Returns movie back in December, it's now available on DVD and via streaming on Amazon.  Like the original, the new version creates a magical world of imagination, but this time childhood loss and grief drive the plot. As the movie opens, the adult Michael [...]

Telling Your Grief Story: A Playful Approach

Digital bread crumbs occasionally do lay a rewarding path, and I’m delighted to share such good fortune with you here. Clicking links recently from an article on Grief Diaries led me into the grief story of writer, artist and teacher Ann Petroliunas, a Chicago native now residing in Portland OR. [...]

Ripples of Grief Guest Post: Suriani Bakri

Reader Suriani Bakri submitted this heartfelt reflection in response to the Ripples of Grief e-course that I offered in 2018. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash What Happened It was November 11, 1986, and I was 15 years old. I had just come home from school. My grandma [...]

Children’s Grief Awareness Day

When a child's parent or other loved one dies, they often feel somehow different from their peers as a result, set apart by their loss. I remember this happening for me very soon after my mom died. At her funeral at the Catholic parish where I attended second grade, walking [...]

A Mentor’s Legacy

A dear mentor and friend died unexpectedly last week, and I was very sorry to be unable to attend her funeral yesterday. For 22 years that included my young adult and parenting stages, Rosemary Conrad was the director of religious education at Bellarmine Parish. Our relationship began with a simple [...]

A Grieving Child for Life

Prince Harry’s recent revelation that he’s been in therapy to address long unprocessed grief about his mother’s death startled the world with its frankness on this vulnerable topic, especially from a member of Britain’s royal family. He described how in his late 20s, he began to have chaotic emotions, especially [...]

Library Love

National Library Week           On a weekend away with several high school friends, around the outdoor fire pit one night somehow we began sharing stories of our early experiences with libraries. I thought I was just weird in my heartfelt devotion to these sacred spaces, but it [...]

What Is Essential?

On Thanksgiving Day, a dear friend sent an email greeting containing a link to this short reflection by Parker Palmer that included an amazing poem I'd never heard before, called "The Almanac of Last Things" by Linda Pastan. Kind of a reverse bucket list. The poem's title alone spoke viscerally [...]

Grappling with Body Image

Akagera Nat'l Park Recently I spent 10 wonderful days in Rwanda with my 22-year-old daughter. She studied there for a semester during college, and this trip was a chance to re-trace her steps and introduce me to the people and places she fell in love with two years [...]

A Season of Epiphany

Somewhere in my online reading of late, the phrase “season of epiphany” sparked my curiosity. A little searching uncovered that some Protestant churches observe the weeks starting with the feast of Epiphany on January 6 until Presentation/Candlemas on February 2 or until the start of Lent as the season of [...]

By |January 27th, 2016|Categories: Spiritual Practice|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Follow the Maternal Line

Tonight I had the pleasure and privilege to deliver the homily at the monthly liturgy of the Resurrection Community here in Cincinnati, an independent congregation led by Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Several people asked for a copy of my remarks so I'm providing it here, along with the reading texts. Advent [...]

Remarkable Woman Rediscovered

Just in time for remembrance of the dead throughout November, I was introduced to the fascinating life of Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi (pronounced ReGEEna YOnas). She was honored as part of a program on women rabbis I attended last week at our nearby Jewish Community Center. Although ordained [...]

Nurturing Seeds of Self-Care

Its always fun when several interests converge in a single project. I enjoyed that experience writing an article for Energy magazine about Vitality Cincinnati, an innovative enterprise launched by a group of folks led by our friend Brian Shircliff. Vitality makes Healing Touch and yoga and other self-care approaches available [...]

By |July 1st, 2015|Categories: Healing|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Ritual for Earth Day

On the eve of Earth Day, Joe and I seized the coincidence of lovely weather and an unscheduled evening to enjoy a walking ritual at a park near our house. In a sort of mini-pilgrimage, at points along the way we read aloud blessings for each of the four elements. [...]

A Brief Burst of Beauty

In the spring season of new life, the natural world teaches about resurrection. Visiting Washington DC this week for my first-ever Cherry Blossom Festival, I learned the Japanese word hanami, which literally means “to view flowers” but usually refers to the viewing of cherry blossoms. For more than 1000 years, [...]

A Patron Saint for Autism

In honor of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, I am pleased to share a guest reflection below written by my cousin, Ellen Wimberg Cicconi, the mother of two sons on the autism spectrum.  Among her many advocacy activities around autism, for more than ten years she and her [...]

Threshold to the Sacred

I had the privilege of leading a birth retreat for young alumnae of a Catholic girls’ high school here in Cincinnati this past Saturday morning. The Embodying the Sacred mini-retreat seeks to connect the physical processes of pregnancy and birth with symbols of Christian faith to empower and celebrate women [...]

Changing Direction

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen you,” a friend remarked recently as we chatted during an event for a non-profit where we’re both involved. “I know,” I said, “I’ve hardly been at church.” “Yes, I’ve noticed,” she replied, eyeing me pointedly over her glasses with an expression that said [...]

Ode to Trees

The soaring heights, elegant arches, and vast open spaces of Gothic cathedrals invite awe. As a college student studying abroad three decades ago, I wandered several times through Notre Dame in Paris, gazing upward and all around, amazed at the feats of engineering that produced such a worship space. Now [...]

Parable of the Spider

Joe and I frequent our back deck during the warm months, which is accessed via the sliding glass door adjacent to our breakfast room. Throughout the day we let the dog in and out there as well. It’s definitely a high-traffic entrance. On Labor Day morning, I slid open the [...]

Dog Day and Discernment

Eleven years ago today, also a Friday, we adopted our dog, Carly, from a shelter.  On our first visit to the shelter several days earlier to scope out possible dogs, we had spent time with Carly as well as a hound mix named Luke. Departing, the family was divided with [...]

Prayer for Graduates

The prayer below touched me very much at the conclusion of our son's graduation from Loyola University Chicago as part of the university president's blessing.  He acknowledged the parents and invited us to stand and extend our arms over the graduates as we recited it together, a gesture so familiar [...]

No Minor Occasion

Our third and youngest child, Christian, is 18 years old today. Wow! Now in my bio I can state with total accuracy that I have three young adult children. I purchased the plastic “Happy Birthday” banner shown here on our oldest’s first birthday, launching a family tradition. Last night as [...]

With Blessings

A couple friends and I participated in an annual Alternative Gift Fair yesterday as a fundraiser for the food pantry where we all volunteer.  We sold gift sets consisting of bean soup and cornbread mixes in a jar and also accepted direct contributions, providing a certificate for use in presenting [...]

Round of Life

For the ancient Celts, the year began on November 1, as the light gradually diminished to winter’s darkness.  It was to them the “thinnest” period of the year, when the veil between time and eternity could be transparent. My Celtic ancestry seems to awaken in late October to relish this [...]

A Daughter Turns 20

Already in 2013 I have marked on this blog the day my mother would have been 80, the day I turned 50, and now today we celebrate our daughter’s 20th birthday.  I rather like the symmetry of those 30-year intervals.  They suggest a connecting pattern between the three of us [...]

Food Pantry as Prism

Several new folks have come aboard recently at the pantry where I volunteer on Wednesday afternoons.  While one of the women observed, I demonstrated the role of shopping assistant with the first patron of the day, explaining to the first patron of the day how many vegetables, grains, fruits, etc., [...]

Yahrzeit — An Anniversary of Death

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my mother-in-law, Ruth's, death, and I had previously decided to mark it as a personal feast day.  "Yahrzeit" is the Jewish term for this occasion, typically observed according to the Hebrew calendar.  Their practices include lighting a candle at home, attending synagogue services, visiting [...]

Montessori Lessons for Life

Our youngest just departed for his first day of senior year in high school!  Early this morning, I found myself recollecting his early days of Montessori preschool, thinking fondly of his teacher, and remembered the piece below, which I wrote in May 2002 as he finished kindergarten.  Re-reading it now, [...]

By |August 22nd, 2013|Categories: Motherhood, Ritual|Tags: , , , , , |6 Comments

Celebration of Learning

I attended the final class in the two-year Melton Jewish Learning core program last week, and this Sunday afternoon there's a graduation ceremony to mark the conclusion.  I am inordinately excited about this! A while ago I got the idea to purchase a Jewish-themed article for myself when I completed [...]

Call Me Al

My heart is filled with joy and gratitude at the conclusion of my father's funeral rites today.  The visitation last evening brought many fond reminiscences, and it was so gratifying to hear how others valued my dad through the years.  This morning's funeral liturgy was just beautiful in every way, [...]

Father’s Day 2013

This piece became even more meaningful after my dad's death two days after the events described here.  The usual tremor of anxiety accompanies arrival at the nursing home. Parking the car, signing in, marks a crossing into the unknown. Will you be sleeping? Wandering about? Staring at the television?  Once [...]

By |June 19th, 2013|Categories: Elder care, Remembrance|Tags: , , , , |6 Comments

Making Memories

This week we moved my father from an assisted living to a skilled nursing facility, and the process was not unlike sending a kid to camp or off to college -- making sure he brings the proper supplies and clothing and that each is labeled with his name, acquiring decorative [...]

Farm Farewell

“I will stay until the wind changes,” says Mary Poppins, with typical aplomb, when the Banks children beg her never to leave. I love this scene in the movie.  This exchange between Mary Poppins and the children springs to mind whenever I make a decision that surprises me even though [...]

Ready From Within

The recent centennial of Rosa Parks’ birth evoked for me a lesser known but also highly influential woman of the civil rights movement.  South Carolina native Septima Clark has been called “Freedom’s Teacher” because of her role in educating others for action, and her example remains relevant today.  I became [...]

Guest Posting about Befriending the Darkness

What does high school swimming have to do with prayer?  For me there's a connection! I am honored that my guest post on the theme of "nurturing your mothering spirit" appears today over at the mothering spirit blog.  When the topic was proposed, my thoughts immediately turned to solo winter [...]

By |February 6th, 2013|Categories: Motherhood, Spiritual Practice|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

In Search of Simplicity

I chose not to make 2013 New Year’s resolutions per se, though I did spend significant time reflecting on the year just ended and how to foster growth and change in the year ahead.  For me it all boils down to how to allocate my time at a more fundamental [...]

Tradition and Change at Christmas — Part 2

I was not expecting a second part when I wrote my earlier post about simplifying our Christmas decorating a bit now that our children are increasingly away from home.  Adapting to changing circumstances by doing less actually brought more satisfaction with the holiday, we discovered.  Conversely, our daughter’s brief return [...]

Tradition and Change at Christmas

Creating and adhering to family traditions has been significant to our life as parents. Joe and I both are people who treasure tradition, so it came naturally to us to anchor our family holiday celebrations in meaningful practices.  The word "tradition" seems synonymous with "unchanging," but as I look back [...]

On Pilgrimage in St. Louis

The city of St. Louis and Saint Louis University (SLU) in particular have been important touchstones for me since the mid-1980s when as a college student I participated in a SLU study abroad program in France.  Dear friendships with then-SLU students Laura and Denise led to many visits to St. [...]

Radium Girls

I always look forward to seeing Kieran and Christian perform in plays, and this fall’s production at St. Ursula is no exception. However, with Radium Girls, a slight feeling of dread mixed with the anticipation as opening night approached.  The subject matter is not easy.  Set in the 1920s and [...]

By |November 12th, 2011|Categories: Spiritual Practice, Uncategorized|Tags: , |0 Comments

Remembering September 11, 2001

Every year at this time, I recollect what a perfectly beautiful September day it was. Driving my children to school that morning, I remember feeling grateful that the academic year had settled into a positive routine, especially for our youngest starting full-day kindergarten. The blue, blue sky affirmed that all [...]

By |September 10th, 2011|Categories: Ritual, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Art Illuminating the Spirit

This post’s title comes from the tagline for the Loyola University Museum of Art, a small museum hidden in plain sight off Michigan Avenue at the Water Tower in downtown Chicago.  The phrase succinctly expresses the museum’s mission to explore and promote the spiritual in art of all faiths.  While [...]

Drawing on Maternal Strength

By Samuraijohnny via Flickr, Creative Commons license A friend is having a double mastectomy tomorrow, and last Sunday she was anointed in a brief but powerful ritual.  That afternoon, changing clothes before heading to the church, with intention I reached for a certain spiritually significant necklace.  It’s descended [...]

To Bring Forth Children

Nineteen years ago today at 5:54 am, I became a mother for the first time.  Intermittent contractions had begun early in the previous morning, so to encourage labor Joe and I took a long walk up and down hills through our urban Cincinnati neighborhood of Walnut Hills.  It was unseasonably [...]

All the Saints

The custom of remembering the dead during November as the leaves turn and the light fades, continues to resonate from my Catholic background. To observe this time of year, my husband and I like to recollect our personal saints through a pilgrimage to local cemeteries where our relatives are buried, [...]

From the Ashes

A palpable sense of history left an indelible mark on my first trip to the Ursuline sisters’ motherhouse in rural St. Martin, OH, as a high school student on retreat.  I attended their girls’ academy in suburban Cincinnati, so the nuns’ heritage 50 miles east meant little to me until [...]

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