Don’t Worry, You Won’t Make Me Sad

tears in a bottle

It’s been eight weeks since the day Kalkidan left our arms and entered heaven. Maybe I should just say that it’s been eight weeks since she died, but it hurts my heart to write¬†those words. As I grow physically stronger and begin to reenter the world, I want to share something with you about our grief.

Don’t be afraid to talk to us about Kalkidan and our loss. Please don’t worry that you’ll make us sad or that we’ll cry. We already¬†are sad¬†and¬†we’re thankful for moments to acknowledge it. Our eyes may fill with tears when you talk to us, but it will be out of gratitude to you as well as sadness over losing Kalkidan.¬†If you cry or get choked up – that’s okay too – it only means that you care deeply about Kalkidan and our family.

In your cards, emails, phone calls, and conversations with us, not one of you has said the wrong thing Рnot one. The very fact that you sent that card or email, or made the phone call, or stopped to hug us, means more than you can know.

We worry about saying something that will make a grieving person sad or uncomfortable, don’t we? I’ve failed miserably at this myself. In the past I’ve been so concerned about saying the wrong thing, that I’ve said nothing at all. Now, living through this loss, I assure you that silence is not more comforting.

I had a medical appointment last week with a doctor I hadn’t¬†seen since September. We live in a small enough town that I was 95% certain the clinic had heard of our accident. The nurse walked in the room, and said, “A lot has happened since I last saw you.” It was perfect. She gave me an open door to talk as much or little as I wanted in that moment and I was very thankful.

A simple, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” or “I pray for you often,” or “We miss Kalkidan’s smile,” reminds us that we are not alone. You haven’t forgotten our sweet girl – and you haven’t forgotten us.

When you share our sorrow, even for a moment, we are strengthened and encouraged.

Don’t worry that you’ll make us sad, or that you’ll say the wrong thing. Meet our eyes, hug us, tell us you are with us. We will be glad you did.

Lisa 

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI¬ģ Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

62 Comments

  1. Tisha
    February 23, 2015

    We haven't forgotten your sweet girl. We haven't forgotten you. I've thought of you, Lisa every day. The way you have shared your life, your joy and your sorrow, has been such a gift to us all, your readers and friends. I wish I could give you a hug and cry with you. Love to all the Qualls.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Tisha, you are so sweet. You have also blessed me with the sharing of your sorrow – thank you.

      Reply
  2. Luann Yarrow Doman
    February 23, 2015

    I've wanted to tell you something since the day Kalkidan died, and I guess today is the day. On your blog that morning, you wrote that you would be traveling on snowy roads. I flippantly commented that I would pray for your safety. I don't think I did. I'm so very sorry.

    I miss hearing about Dimples. I loved your stories–good, bad, sad, and hopeful. But I'm sure it's nowhere near the depth of how much you miss living out those stories.

    xo

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Luann, don't for a moment feel badly about not praying for our safety — your prayers now are dear to us. What I miss the most is the hope we had for her future; it's just so sad for all of us.

      Reply
  3. Carly
    February 23, 2015

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL, Lisa! So many need to hear these words. Thank you for being so real.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Thank you, Carly. Love you friend.

      Reply
  4. DFNY
    February 23, 2015

    Thank you for this post, Lisa. It is often so hard to know what is the right thing to say in situations like these. It's good to read your words and know that you are being encouraged and strengthened by all the love and support. And, yes, my eyes did fill with tears…and do so often.

    Thinking of you all,
    Damaris

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Damaris, we're pretty tearful around here, but we have each other. Thank you for encouraging me.

      Reply
  5. Molly Kitsmiller
    February 23, 2015

    I continue to be sad with you also Lisa. We pray for you daily and I cry everytime I read one of your posts. Wish I could give you a hug!
    Much love and many prayers coming to you fro Colorado.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Thank you, Molly. I'll tell Michele to give me a hug from you.

      Reply
      1. Michele
        February 27, 2015

        Molly, You should come to Moscow so you can give Lisa AND me a hug.

        Reply
  6. Jeri
    February 23, 2015

    Then I'll tell that I cannot see your name without crying. Such an impact her story made on people she never met. Her life was not for naught. God had such an incredible work for such a little girl. Her destiny was fulfilled. Much love from me…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Jeri, thank you for your encouraging words. It's so important for us to know that Kalkidan's life mattered and she won't be forgotten.

      Reply
  7. shannon
    February 23, 2015

    we think of you often.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Thank you, Shannon.

      Reply
  8. Sophie
    February 23, 2015

    Thank you for writing about this.
    May I ask a question?
    I tend to talk about people who have passed as if they are still here, because for me, they still are.
    Otherwise, we would not be talking about them.
    For example, I would say "Kalkidan has a great smile" instead of "Kalkidan had a great smile".
    I am wondering, from your perspective, is it offending?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Sophie, I haven't figured that out yet either… It's definitely not offending to me, I think I worry about confusing people… I'll let you know if five years.

      Reply
  9. Mavis
    February 23, 2015

    I am so sorry for your great loss. I have cried many tears over your loss. I have never met you but i feel I know you through this wonderful blog. As weird as it may seem, I miss Dimples too.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Mavis, thank you for saying that you miss her. Sometimes I even miss calling her Dimples on my blog and wonder if it feels strange to all of you.

      Reply
  10. Sarah Gilcrist
    February 23, 2015

    This could not be more perfectly expressed! We are coming up on what would have been our sweet Eliana's 8th birthday. I have found the exact same to be true even this many years down the road.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Thank you, Sarah. I hope Eliana's birthday is filled with sweetness for your family.

      Reply
  11. Melody Slachter
    February 23, 2015

    When my brother-in-law passed away, my sister told me the same thing. She wanted to talk about her dear husband, Jack, but most people avoided speaking his name around her. That was very difficult for her. He was a real person and a precious part of all of all of our lives. I am praying for you and your family. Grieving is hard work. Bless you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      It is hard work – you are so right, Melody. I'm glad you your sister has you; no matter how much time passes, we need people who will still remember.

      Reply
  12. Lori Glasscock
    February 23, 2015

    Thank you, Lisa, for sharing these thoughts. It's new territory for us as well and I'm never quite sure what is best. I fear we have been too silent over here in Oregon, but you are ever in our thoughts and close to our hearts.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Lori, we are thankful for your love and prayers. A friend told me last night that she feels like she hasn't been here for me the past two months due to travel and life, but I assured her that the coming months are when I'll need her most. The world moves on and we are so thankful for the people who are in this for the long haul – like family.

      Reply
  13. kristen
    February 23, 2015

    Thank you for gently teaching us. if i could meet your eyes and tell you i'm so sorry in person, i would. i am so grateful for your posts. they are proof that we can survive such a great loss and testimony that God is near, which is a real fear for me (as i'm sure is for many moms).

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      We can survive even this because our hope is in the living God. Thank you for even wishing you could say this to me in person, Kristen.

      Reply
  14. Chantelle
    February 23, 2015

    I'm so glad you wrote this Lisa. I admit that every time I've gone to write an email or comment to you since the accident I've paused and second guessed myself and questioned my wording – worried about saying the wrong thing. Worried about making your hurt even greater. — Once again you open my eyes and teach me something that will help me in the future as well with other hurting friends. Thank you. (((((hug))))) <3

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      I'm glad this was a helpful post. I have so much to learn – I guess we all do. Hugs to you, Chantelle.

      Reply
  15. Ann Z.
    February 23, 2015

    Once again Lisa you gift us with your eloquence, taking a very challenging, difficult circumstance and set of emotions and manage to put the rest of us at ease and help us to walk along this mysterious path with you. Your previous post about the profound presence of absence was rich as well and keeps coming into my thoughts. You have wonderful gifts and we are ever so grateful that you are sharing them with so many. Love to all the Qualls.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      I appreciate your encouragement, Ann. I continue to learn more every day about how to be with people who are grieving. I honestly had no idea prior to our own loss. I wish I didn't have to learn it this way, but I want to use what I learn to help others. Love to the Z's from the Q's.

      Reply
  16. Laura
    February 23, 2015

    Thinking of you often and holding you in prayer. I appreciate how much you are writing. Thank you for continuing to share and to allow God to use your story to inspire others. Sending you hugs – with a tear!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Thank you for your prayers, Laura, and for sending hugs.

      Reply
  17. Angela Crawford
    February 23, 2015

    I remember well…. It's true… silence is far worse than saying something…. ! People don't know what to say and are afraid to make it worse, when in reality, you can't make it worse! I found that I actually lost "friends" because it was as if when they saw me and my family, they were faced with their very worst fears… "What if I lost my child?!" I am glad to hear you are talking daily and continuing to be open about losing Kalkidan! That is a powerful tool in healing… I still think of your family often! In fact, I have a card sitting here for you and your family. Would you mind sending me an address? I have had the card for a while, knowing that usually cards rush in shortly after the loss and then they taper off sometimes when you need them the most!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Angela, we're really savoring every card that comes and the ones that are coming later get our full attention. I met a woman who also lost a child, and told me she felt that some people avoided her as if losing a child were contagious. I haven't felt that yet, but it's true that we remind people of one of their deepest fears. Hopefully we also remind them that Jesus is enough and our hope is in him. I'll get my address to you.

      Reply
  18. Mary Ostyn
    February 23, 2015

    aahhh…. I'm sad with you too. Hugs.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 23, 2015

      Mary, you can give me a hug on Friday – see you at Refresh.

      Reply
  19. Luann Yarrow Doman
    February 23, 2015

    I've wanted to tell you something since the day Kalkidan died, and I guess today is the day. On your blog that morning, you wrote that you would be traveling on snowy roads. I flippantly commented that I would pray for your safety. I don't think I did. I'm so very sorry.

    I miss hearing Dimple stories. But I'm sure it's nothing in comparison to how much you missing living them.
    xo

    Reply
  20. Mary Andrews
    February 23, 2015

    Beautiful, Lisa. You are a gift to our family , to your blog community, to the world. We all love you ,Kalkidan and the family. Mom

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      Thank you, Mom. We love you, too.

      Reply
  21. Niki Bond
    February 23, 2015

    This is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart and words. My prayers are with you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      Thank you for every prayer, Niki.

      Reply
  22. Pam
    February 23, 2015

    Grief is so hard for people to understand. I was talking to a dear friend of mine recently, her husband quite suddenly passed away and left everyone reeling. She and I discussed this very issue, how those close to us handle our grief. Most don't even know where to begin so they say nothing which increases the feeling of isolation that much more. Although you haven't met all of your readers, myself included, know that your life and testimony matter. The light drives out the darkness. Those of us walking a similar path all prayed and rejoiced with you over Kalkidan's healing journey. None of us ever dreamed that her race would end the way it did. I feel as though we were all cheated out of the true end of her story in a way. I cannot imagine the depth of your grief. But even with all the questions that must plague your mind know this fact….her life mattered. Her journey to healing mattered. Your journey with her mattered. Those of us that followed your story and prayed over that precious girls life…we are so blessed to have had this glimpse into Gods work for her. I know her story gave me hope when there wasn't much hope to be had around here. May God continue to wrap His arms of comfort around you. Continued prayers from kentucky.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      Pam, my heart is comforted by your words today. Thank you so very much.

      Reply
  23. kristine
    February 23, 2015

    Your words today were a teaching moment for me. There have been numerous times I said nothing after a death because I didn't know what to say. I now feel comfortable just saying I'm praying for you or relating a story about the person who died. Thank you for teaching us even in your grief.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      That makes me happy, Kristine. Thank you for encouraging me.

      Reply
  24. Jewel
    February 23, 2015

    This is very true of our experience too Lisa. People talking about them might make you cry but not talking about them is like forgetting them or not acknowledging their importance in ours and others lives. Because of the age of our boys when they passed (agree on that other word too) we learned many things that we wouldn't have found out for several years. Friends shared things that made us laugh and gave us more memories to smile about. So blessed that God gave them to us for the time we had them. I don't know you and didn't know Kalkidan but every life leaves a hole that can't be filled by anything else. How blessed to know we will have eternity with them because of our redemption in Christ!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      Jewel, I've loved the sweet memories people have shard with us and I never want it to end. Today, I feel her absence so strongly, but I know tomorrow will likely be better.

      Reply
  25. Kimberlie
    February 23, 2015

    Thank you for posting your thoughts. I am a widow, 2.5 yrs now, and the hardest thing for those who are grieving, is for people to not say anything because they are afraid of making you cry. Because I still cry, and I wish people would just be comfortable with the fact. You will still cry probably 25 yrs from now because she was your daughter, you loved her deeply. The pain dulls, you have more times you laugh at happy memories, and you will still love her. The tears we shed are not for our loved one, but for all that we miss about them.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      I've cried a lot today. I think tears are going to be with me for a long time. I do look forward to enjoying the happy memories more and letting the sad moments slip further away. Kimberlie, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

      Reply
  26. Monica Robinson
    February 23, 2015

    Every time I read your post, I cry! I never even met Dimples and yet I miss her! I am standing in faith believing that all you learned during your time with Dimples will continue to affect people for years! I know that healing has come in our home because of things you shared. I continue to daily bring you and your family before the throne! Thank you for sharing Dimples with all of us. Her smile……I am sue you miss it greatly. Hugs and love to you!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      Monica, thank you for encouraging me today.

      Reply
  27. Kara Coe
    February 24, 2015

    Kalkidan is remembered even by those who only knew her through your blog. I am on another continent, connected to you by a chain of other adoptive moms, but the news of your accident and her leaving this physical world was shocking to me. I think of you often, pray for God to sustain you all through this hard walk of grief.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      Today is one of the hard, hard days, Kara. Thank you for praying for us over the miles.

      Reply
  28. ElizabethG
    February 24, 2015

    I just wanted to let you know, the two of you taught me to rock my babies more, especially the older ones.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2015

      Oh good, Elizabeth! Rocking is so healing. I'm glad we were able to help.

      Reply
  29. Abbey Bisschop
    February 24, 2015

    Love you…can't wait to see you and give you a great big hug!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 25, 2015

      Can't wait to see you either.

      Reply
  30. Laurel
    February 24, 2015

    Tonight, I decided to step back into the world of blogging for the first time in 15 months. I haven't looked at my old blog, nor read any other blogs since December 2013 (after vicious cyberstalking ripped my family apart). Your blog was the first one that I opened.

    I am speechless. I am so very sorry. I had no idea. I'm sure that I could sit here all night to catch up with your family from the past 15 months. My thoughts and prayers are with you . . .

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 25, 2015

      Laurel, it's good to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words and prayers.

      Reply
  31. Elizabeth
    February 25, 2015

    Your ability to recieve graciously is lovely. Receiving is a lot harder than we give it credit for. My family has always been very out reaching and involved in ministry. We entered a hard season over a year ago and my family was suddenly the needy one. There has been a lot of spiritual growth through it all and part of that has centred around receiving. The start of all things good is recieving the love the Father offers us, love that is not based on our actions.

    Reply
  32. erinyjeff
    February 28, 2015

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Six months ago we said, "see you later" to our little one who had only been with us for eight months (born in China, home with us, on to Heaven). Friends have expressed difficulty knowing what to say, and truthfully, I am glad to share your post to encourage them. We have been praying for your family ever since our friend Kelsey told us about the accident, and for your hearts as parents (since we too have recently said, "until Heaven" to one of our little girls).

    Reply

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