Encouragement · Grief



That is the answer to the question people have asked me over the past ten years.

  • How did you get through losing Ryan?
  • How did you get past the pain of burns and skin grafts?
  • How did you (probably more like ‘Why did you . . .”) decide to homeschool three boys for six years?
  • How were you able to quit your jobs?
  • How did you afford to travel around the world with three boys?
  • How did you overcome your fear of more loss?

The process of putting together and now selling the Pilot of our adventure into recovery, is also about steps.  Painful!  As you probably know by now we chose ‘on-the-road rehab’ – not alone, but together. If healing means forgetting about the child we lost, Ron and I will never heal.  But we were determined to get past grief and willing to expose our trials and errors in hopes we could inspire others. Steps through recovery are uncomfortable, but we agreed to expose our flaws and failures as a videographer documented 180 of our days and nights. We didn’t want this show to become a carnival of abnormality, which so many networks thrive on, but want to inspire others to ‘get real and walk through their grief.’ We wanted to show others how to live ‘in the moment’ with your children, the time is “now”, not “later”  because “later” may never come. We have no more “later” on earth with Ryan. We had “now” with our other sons. On our Trip, it was my husband, my four sons and me.  The boys didn’t know their brother but gladly took turns carrying his favorite backpack containing some of his ashes.   If we could inspire others with our story, to show how to value the “now” with your loved ones, then perhaps the bad could be used for good.

The first step is always the hardest: for us it was deep, dark depression of knowing we would never hold our son on this earth again. We each go through losses in our lives:  loved ones, job, finances, home, security, health.  It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.  We hoped to help others get through it.

When you become a parent, the door to harsh criticism opens widely.   Naturally Ron and I wanted people to see us on our peaks rather than in our valleys.  But we willingly put it all out there, warts and all.  We certainly didn’t do everything right.  No parent ever does.

But like you, we are taking steps.


6 thoughts on “Steps

  1. Hi Dawn,

    I was so hoping you’d be available for lunch Friday. I read your posts daily and feel I’m still in touch and Karen keeps me current, too. Glad to hear you’re going to Mayo Clinic. Am anxious to hear what they say. Pls call when you’re back and let’s get together. Love & hugs, B


  2. Baby steps, mommie steps, Ron steps, lonesome steps, regretful steps, angry stomps, grateful steps, horrifying steps, putting-one-foot-in-front-of-the other steps, reality steps, marriage steps, staying in bed steps, shattering steps, stepping in shit steps, resignation steps, triathalon steps, healing steps, impossible steps, measured steps, wishing steps, sobbing steps, abandoned steps, healing steps, new birth steps, decisive steps, neverending steps, healing steps … how did you get through the loss? You went through every level of the Inferno and one morning woke up in heaven for periodic visits. It never ends, but neither does the love and transforming companionship with your son at every turn.
    I remember many of these steps. I felt helpless. God carried you. You carried on. It was completely sad, and wow.
    And always Ashes to Gold.


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