This morning, as I searched in my cabinet for a coffee mug, I spotted this one. It really describes how we are getting through these dark days. (And I don’t mean the steaming creamy caffeine inside, either!) As difficult as this has been, I’ve found such comfort in the constant prayer pouring from my heart all day long. Most of the time those prayers are a simple “Help me” when I am overwhelmed, at a loss for what to do or say, or know I just totally blew it.

I’ve also been surprised at how much joy I’ve found in reaching out to help someone else. It isn’t easy, and it can be thankless. But being useful to someone else seems to be one way I’m feeling my way into this new life without my daughter.

We worked on Elli’s headstone last night. It’s so sadly beautiful. But writing a headstone is even tougher than writing a eulogy. How do you sum up a life in 3 lines… on a stone that will stand long after everyone who knew her is gone? I finally dug back into Scott’s words at her service. He is so much more eloquent than I, and I found the perfect thing there. (I’ll post it when it’s finalized.)

I’m hoping that her stone will be in place by late spring or early summer. I know I’ll visit often when the weather improves. As difficult as it has been to order the stone, it’s going to be a big part of my healing, I think. For me, having a place to go and have a good cry that is also beautiful and peaceful is so helpful. Being outdoors is very healing — perhaps because it helps me keep my perspective. Being sad indoors on gloomy days weighs me down… literally.

Plus, crying at a cemetery is expected. A friend of mine wrote recently that this is why people used to wear mourning for a year — then it was clear to anyone looking that you had suffered a loss. I never understood why that was so valuable until now. Death is invisible; the fact that part of me is buried a mile away isn’t readily apparent. I have to face the “how many children do you have?” question and those who do not know Elli has died (Elli received a letter in the mail from one of her doctors today — apparently they didn’t remove her from their mailing list yet).

So we keep pressing forward, trying to love each other where we are at each day, laughing and crying when we feel like it. And praying continually that despite it all, we can also be helpful and encouraging to others, as they have been to us.