Grief Ten Years Later
Saturday, January 20, 2018 by Dee Lundgren MA LPC

Shoes Left Behind

It’s been ten years and I’ll never stop crying.


No, I don’t cry all the time or even every day or even every week. But on certain days like September 12, I’ll need my Kleenex.


And today is September 12. I drove with my husband, Bob, to the gravesite. He pulled his hand clippers from the plastic grocery bag and began trimming the overgrown grass and weeds.  Next, he got out a cloth and carefully cleaned the brass footer.  I just stared. It was our usual gravesite ritual.

Then Bob surprised me when he pulled out the Nike shoes.  It was the pair John wore until he had no need for shoes. We kept them. Reminded us of our active son.

Then Haylee, our golden retriever puppy, took a liking to the shoes. She would carry one around then place it on the carpet. Then she’d get the match and place it next to its mate. Odd. She never did that with any of the other shoes in the house. Only John’s Nikes.

Now was the appropriate time to part with the shoes. Bob placed a shoe on either side of the brass footer. With a colored marker, he penned a message on the top of each shoe. One said, “We miss you.” The other said, “We love you.”

I cried. Bob cried. We left the shoes and walked the fifty feet back to our car, dodging other gravesites where loved ones had carefully placed flowers.

Now a few hours later I’m grieving those shoes. It’s one more thing that we’ve had to part with the meant something to John. And since his death anything that was special to John is now special to us. I’ve kept more memorabilia from John’s life than from the other three children.

There will be no more things to collect from John. No new memories. A permanent missing piece to our family. And now a day in the calendar with a 100 percent chance of me crying. A day I don’t look forward to. A reminder of a life cut short.

What has changed in ten years? Lots in the world and in our family has changed. We’ve all gotten older and the other kids have moved on into adulthood.

What else has changed?  Me. I’m different. I find my thoughts about life and death have shifted toward the eternal. Heaven is more real to me. I have a son there. I now look upward expectantly.

Things that bothered before I realize don’t matter. My perspective has changed. My life is simpler. Stuff doesn’t have the same hold on me.

I also know deep within the truth that if we know the Lord, . . . absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2Corinthians 5:8). That’s what the good news is all about.

That’s why in the midst of my sadness I have hope.

I’m looking forward to when God calls me home. And on that day, I’ll also leave my favorite pair of athletic shoes behind. Because where I’m going I won’t need them or my Kleenex.

How have you changed since your loss?

Share This Blog:


Abbigail Kalaf From NC At 5/4/2018 8:34:45 PM

This triggered tears for me for so many reasons-my son didn't have a tombstone until my husband died. The secondary losses can be so painful and I know there are many more deaths/losses, to come. I'm so thankful I've learned to let the tears fall and ask God to heal

Reply by: Dee Lundgren

Yes, let the tears fall and ask God to heal. Good advice.

Becky From Ohio At 4/16/2018 4:07:13 PM

Thanks for sharing your heart. It’s been 35 years since my brothers death - the next generation of children in the family are the age he was when we said goodbye. Life does go on.-Bittersweet and treasured so much more since we lost him so young. Blessings to you my friend

Reply by: Dee Lundgren

Thanks Becky. I clearly remember the time we took a walk and you shared about your brother. Memories can be so bittersweet

Debbie Warren From Tarpon Springs FL At 4/16/2018 3:53:55 PM

Oh Dee....What a heartache. Sometimes as much as we want life changing tragedies to be nicely wrapped with a bow on top, we are called instead to keep on - always learning and experiencing God in new ways through the hurt. We never seem to get to the other side of the mountain. Thank God for HOPE

Reply by: Dee Lundgren

Yes in Christ there is HOPE! Thanks for your comment

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