“I love you, too” echoed through the other side of the line, and I hung up the phone with my son for the last time.

The state of our world today is a place of grief. Perhaps grieving for you is the change in normalcy, the loss of a friend, a safe place in a population of division. Heartbreak is everywhere, and it is different for everyone. For me, grief lies with the loss of my child.

When I hear other’s stories about loss, my heart shatters for daughters who have lost their mothers, sons who have lost their fathers, and husbands who have lost their spouse. I, all too well, know that gut wrenching pain. And the worst part is, even though the feeling is familiar, there is no way that I can take the pain away for them—just as nobody can for me. 

My son Justin was a caring young man, a bright light for those around him, my personal comedian. He had his whole life ahead of him—a life of success, of finding love and of making a difference. And even though his journey was on its way, it was just beginning. 

On that Friday, a day that will haunt me until I get to see him again, he called me to ask for some money, just as college students do. I denied his request, however, I told him I loved him as I did after every phone call. “I love you, too” echoed through the other side of the line, and I hung up the phone with my son for the last time. His life lasted for only five short hours after I hung up with him. The next conversation was with a doctor I had never spoken to, telling me that my son, my light, my baby, had died in an accidental drowning. His heart stopped, they could not maintain his pulse but it is my heart that continues to ache. I lost my son that March day, and with him, a part of me died as well. Normalcy as I knew it was gone forever.

Grief for me is not an unknown monster. When I was 37 years old, my mother passed away. She was my best friend. There was rarely a day where we didn’t speak on the phone, share a laugh, and enjoy the sound of each other’s voices. I thought losing my mother was hard. Just three years later I watched any chance of having a deeper relationship with my father fade away as he lost himself in illness. And as he began to drift away from me, I began to cling to him more than ever. I thought watching my dad lose awareness was hard. And at 42, my breast cancer diagnosis shook my world yet again. Surprise, right? No surprise. My loss of self-care and strain on life caused so much stress. I thought battling cancer was hard. But despite all these things, nothing compared to the loss of Justin. Losing my son—that was hard.

It was this immense amount of dreadful pain that led me to my greatest realization: Share your story from pain to purpose while offering hope through writing and speaking. It was through this mission that my book, Pursuing Hope-The Story of Justin Hanna, as well as the webcast/ podcast, “The Struggle Is Real in Grief” was born. 

On “The Struggle Is Real in Grief”, my husband and I interview people who have been introduced and changed by grief; people who are at various stages of their grief journey. Our guests include physicians, chaplains, counselors, mental health advocates and people just like me. Everyone has a story to share that’s intertwined with lessons learned along the way. We intersperse these conversations with our own personal stories, research and life detour insight.  

Every time I share my story it makes a fresh cut, yet it is so bittersweet. I am blessed with self-healing while helping to inspire others along the way. I hope you will join us!

If you or someone you know has a story that needs to be shared, please reach out to us at www.verrettministry.com .