What to do when losses stack up?


Just when I felt I could take a breath, it happened again. After a string of losses last fall that included the deaths of my brother and seven weeks later his wife, our family has suffered another death.

Rob’s mom, our beloved MOTUS as she was affectionately called because she lived close to the White House, died April 22.

We are in grief again. Or, rather, we are in grief still.

What do you do when you have one loss after another? I wish I could tell you. Even though intellectually I understand and can even explain what happens when grief accumulates, it’s another thing to live it.

This week’s Pinspiration

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Inspiration on grief from Women on Fire- Womenonfire.com

So, I’m wandering around in a fog, noticing it takes me about four times longer to accomplish anything.  Noticing I can sleep way past my wake-up time. Noticing that I’d rather sit and watch the otters play outside our bedroom window than do anything else.
Simple joys — Rob captured these wonders of nature today rolling around in the sand outside our window in Florida.Otters serving as Women on Fire inspiration

Right now, creative thought is gone. Memory is out the door. Concentration hardly exists. Everything from eating and cleaning to reading and writing feels effortful.

It took me nearly an hour to write the paragraphs above.

What I do know is that the paralyzing feelings from this accumulation of grief are real — and temporary.

They are nature’s way of slowing me down to heal. It is as though I’ve been in an internal car accident. Outside, I may look normal (well, that’s debateable 😉 Inside, I need time, patience, love, support and self-care to heal from the wreckage that is my sad and broken heart.

I want to imagine it all fixed. All OK. All right with the world.

And, it will be.  Eventually.

In the meantime, I take great comfort in every kind word, every hug, every sweet gesture of love and care that comes my way.  Women (and Men!) on Fire are particularly good at “being with” during times like this.

From Wanda Dillard sending me a CD that helped her through her grief to Maria Cannone delivering a big basket of Mrs. Field’s goodies with a note that said “sweets really do help” to Debby Edwards’ offering of prayers and Father Edward Beck dedicating a Mass to MOTUS.

This is what gets me through.  The tremendous love and support of our community. If you’ve been part of us for a while, I know you feel it too.

Over the years, ungrieved losses can stack up.  If unnoticed and ignored, losses from moves, divorces, serious illnesses, children leaving home, and deaths can add up to inertia, depression, illness.

The only way around grief is through it …slowly, lovingly, carefully. Unwrapping each loss in its own time, honoring and remembering, until we can breathe again.

So for now I will:

  • · Listen to my body — and give myself permission to rest as much as I need to, ignoring any past programming that shames me for resting and napping
  • · Listen to my heart — and lean into the grief and express my heart’s deep pain no matter what form that takes — crying, screaming, sobbing, whimpering
  • · Listen to my head — and if I find that I am stuck in my grief or making little progress through it after a period of time, I will not hesitate to seek professional counseling or reach out for help from experts in our community such as Rev. Andrea Raynor or Hospice nurse Mary Landberg
  • · Listen to my soul — and be very gentle and tender with myself; understanding that the nature of suffering develops us into more compassionate human beings; and that I am stronger and better for having known, loved and cared about so many dear people who have now passed.

Even though I know this bittersweet time is part of the flow of my life, I want to express my eternal gratitude to you for the love and support that surrounds us here and makes it possible for me to share my heart — and for you to share yours.

As always, the love and care of our Women on Fire community is extended to you — in your triumphs and in your losses too.

Wishing you all good things in the week ahead ~



Courage To Grieve, Part 2

I am grieving. The impact of three deaths in six weeks – my brother, my long-time yoga teacher and friend, and our beloved Women on Fire member Jane – has left me exhausted and sad.

Your wonderful notes, gifts and words of support during this time have meant the world to me. Thank you.

*This Week’s Pinspiration*

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So, when my husband cheerily asked me what I was going to write about today, I drew a blank.  Nothing. Was. Coming.

And, I wanted to bop him on the head for even bugging me about it.

That’s how it is sometimes during grief.  I am not myself.  I’d never bop my husband on the head for being supportive! Except clearly when I’m grieving.

And to make things even harder, I can’t easily grab on – to plans, to thoughts, to what to do next.  Slights or perceived injustices that normally escape my attention can pierce my heart.

Having survived heartbreak from losing loved ones in the past, I know my current condition is temporary.  Yet I want these feelings to be gone now and my “normal” self to return.

If you, too, are experiencing the effects from losing someone you love or are expecting to lose, you know the struggle.  Sleepless nights, loss of concentration and perspective, fear, anxiety, physical and emotional exhaustion.

I want to think my way through – to make sense of the losses — but I can’t. And I know the only way around this sadness is to feel my way through it. Lean into my grief, which means to scream, cry, sob, whimper, whatever I need to do to express this hurt.  And, I want to dedicate myself to tripling my self-care.

It’s not even one day at a time for the grieving soul. It’s one moment at a time.

The French philosopher La Rochefoucauld said, “Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye.”

Last week I took note of what gave me relief when I glanced away from death and stopped ruminating.  Even if relief only lasted a minute, an hour, or an evening, it was enough to keep me moving and let me know I will get through this. Grief has no timetable. It takes as long as it takes.

Here are seven things I want to share that brought me comfort. If you’re grieving, my wish for you is to find what might bring you some relief, too. So, here’s my list:

Thank you for the fun, sweet Chloe!

* Playing with an adorable, cuddly, giggling, 9-month-old baby girl for an entire evening.

* Lunch with a friend whose mother is dying. From our touching time together, she crafted this beautiful video.  If you have someone terminally ill in your life, make sure they know what their life meant to you. It will be your greatest final gift.

* Joining the Women on Fire Fall Cleanse group – having the support of holistic health coach Amy Marzluff and Women on Fire members to eat healthy and take care of myself is extra powerful and helpful during this tender time.

* Reading a short, inspiring, uplifting book.  Stay tuned for this month’s Book To Live By. I loved this book so much I’ve chosen it as our November selection.

Homemade pumpkin cookies 🙂

* Baking pumpkin cookies (recipe when you click!) from scratch. As a little girl, I loved to bake more than anything. Even though I’m on the cleanse and not currently eating sweets, it gave me so much joy to bake cookies and give them away!

* A two-hour nap, a walk and a romantic dinner with my husband (the same husband I had the audacity to want to bop today!) at our favorite restaurant the night before I started the cleanse.

* Cleaning out my closet! Clutter bogs me down and makes me even more tired when I’m grieving.  So I took to my closet and am happy to report two boxes full of gently used clothing, purses and jewelry are headed to Dress For Success in Columbus, Ohio.

(Thank you to Women on Fire book co-author Marilyn Brown for introducing me to this wonderful organization, which recycles clothes for women in need.)

* And, you.  You give me comfort by being here week after week. Thank you for walking through life together.  I cannot imagine it without you.  The way you are with me. The care and support you give to each other is truly inspiring.

Now, that is something I can grab on to.

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!

With love to Jane

As you know by now, our beloved Woman on Fire member Jane Juergens of Columbus, Ohio died last week after she was brutally attacked by 16-year-old boy while jogging in a park.

I welcome the many members of her family and community who joined us in the past week because of Jane.

Today was her funeral.  Many Women on Fire attended, with remarks delivered by Jan Allen and a special dance performance by Jessika Ferm. You can read Jan’s beautiful and heart-felt eulogy here.

Knowing Jane as I did, she would have been so touched — and because she was so focused on others — I believe she would have been surprised by the tremendous outpouring of love for her.

During a candlelight vigil last week, hosted by Jane’s son Andy at the park where she was killed, Women on Fire from every corner of this country and from as far away as Africa and New Zealand celebrated her online.

Thank you, Women on Fire! And thank you, Kay Raypholtz who created exquisite collages from our candlelight tribute.

Jane was the very epitome of a Woman on Fire — a woman who listened, cared, cheered you on, and worked to be the best person she could be in this world. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Thank you, Jane, for living a life worth every single accolade you’ve received. We will move forward, honoring your memory, remembering your joy, and emulating your courage, spunk and spirit.

I’m thinking about all of you, those of you who knew Jane, and those who didn’t but who have been touched by our loss. The support this community has shown in this past week has been extraordinary, and you make me so very proud to be a part of it.

Thank you, too, for the way you’ve rallied around Jane’s family and each other. There is nothing more beautiful — even in this overwhelming sadness — to see than what the power of love and support can create in our lives.

I’d like to close by sharing with you a happy time from Jane’s Women on Fire coaching group from last year — and a quote by Fred Rogers.

Women on Fire members spent 2012 working together to further their dreams and goals in Jan Allen’s Life, Ignited coaching group. Pictured from left: Nicole Lovett, Mary Jo Hudson, Jan Allen, Keena Smith, Jane Juergens and Laura Tiberi.

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” ~
Fred Rogers

Thank you, dear Jane for leaving so many memories of your wonderful, sweet self with each and every one of us. Rest in peace, my friend. We will cherish you always.

Until next week …

Take extra good care of yourself.


Service for Jane Juergens

The funeral for Women on Fire member Jane Juergens was held today in Westerville, Ohio. The following remarks were made by Jan Allen during the service.

It was evident on Wednesday night, at the candlelight vigil, how many circles of love Jane Juergens occupied. First and foremost, her family – Andy’s words so eloquent, powerful, uplifting – funny and serious, just like Jane. Her lifelong friends. The people she came to know through her sons. The Westerville community. Her friends from dance and Pilates.

The people she knew professionally, who had become more than colleagues in and around the workplace.  And women she came to know through Women on Fire, the organization founded and led by my best friend, Debbie Phillips, of which Jane was such an integral part.  Women on Fire exists to support women to live their dreams.

That is where I first began to know Jane.  Then, she reached out to join my 2012 coaching group called Life, Ignited.  We connected immediately – a quality that Jane brought to every interaction – and she diligently began to work on her dream of having her own HR consultancy, and becoming a coach herself.

In our very first conversation, she got very clear about where she wanted to go and how and then moved with deliberation and speed to prepare.  Andy described her the other night as fearless.

I can’t recall how many times I said to myself, after hearing all that Jane had done in the last month to grow, learn, get certified, prepare to create new products and to launch her business, “wow, this woman has courage.”  And she was also saucy and so funny – we laughed out loud through half of that first, long coaching conversation.

One of our organizing tasks at the beginning of the group was to choose our personal “themes” for the year – something to guide each of our paths and help us focus.  A great exercise developed by my friend Debbie, a theme gives you an easy way to make decisions about where to invest your time and energy.

So I fully expected Jane’s theme to be about building her new business.  As she had said in a note to me and I quote her here: “I want to make the world a better place one manager at a time. I feel very fortunate and would like to help bring out the best in others.”

But she surprised me completely in this email about her choice:

I worked on my theme for over a month and had trouble making it truly resonate.  Last Wednesday morning I abandoned it altogether and replaced it with “inspire and be inspired.” In my Pilates class that same evening, Julie Wilkes, my instructor, friend and motivational guru announced that she had launched her first app – the “happy life app.” It has four tabs and the first one is “inspire me.” I knew at that moment that I’d made the perfect theme choice and I’ve been blessed by many opportunities to give and receive inspiration in the last few days.”

This, too, was pure Jane.  Choosing as her theme who she was  – so inspiring with her high-voltage smile, her always open arms, her unrelenting optimism, and always, always, her care and concern for the other – and pushing to be even more of that.

She definitely inspired us in life.  One of the notes that Debbie received after Jane’s death was from Brigid McClain who attended our Women on Fire Tea just a month ago, here in Columbus.  She and Jane had never met but sat next to each other that evening.

Dear Debbie,

I read this last night right after you posted it and I am still sick to my stomach…I felt so privileged to sit between Jane and Kacy at the tea. Their smiles were like sitting between two 150-watt bulbs! I had not met Jane before and we immediately connected. She was so upbeat and supportive when I told her snippets of my story. She told me one of the wonderful things about working for herself was now being able to take walks and run during the day and she felt so blessed…

As you mentioned, she also told me she was so incredibly happy at this point. Even though she was so busy she found time to call my daughter and give her ideas on how to find a business mentor. She just spoke with her last Friday evening! My daughter is so upset…I just can’t quit thinking about her boys. I hope they realize how proud she was of them and how happy she was at this point in her life…it is devastating and a senseless loss of someone so dedicated to bringing out the best someone has to offer…

And this from Debbie:

Jane was the very epitome of a Woman on Fire.  She was a charter member of our organization — she was member #00025 — and quickly became a role model for other women and a rising star because she arrived possessing those special qualities we cherish — she cheered on and supported others in their dreams; she never stopped learning and growing; she was brave and bold; she was loving and caring; and she went for her dreams!

Her influence in our worldwide community was strong enough that while we held a candlelight vigil here in Columbus last week, her light shone brightly across the Internet. Her Women on Fire sisters across the country and from as far away as New Zealand and Africa posted on Facebook tributes to her and photos of their own candlelight vigils in honor of her. It was a magnificent show of love for our Jane.

Jane will be remembered forever for her bright, shining light … an original Woman on Fire.

But it is evident from all the notes, Facebook posts and conversations, that Jane is also inspiring us – friends and strangers alike – even in death.  I know I have found myself in this last week, choosing those opportunities to “be with” those I love and care about, instead of just getting my next task done. As sad as I feel, I appreciate the world more, and the small precious moments of each day.  That’s because of you, Jane and who you remind us to be.

The last time I saw her was the Friday before last Sunday, at an early morning breakfast event I was co-hosting, with our guest speaker, a biophysicist from Wake Forest, here to talk about energy medicine.

As our mutual friend Jessika Ferm, who also attended, said to me in the last few days, Jane was radiant that day and indeed, she lit up this room as she lit up every room into which she walked. And she proudly gave me her new business card for her business PeopleGen, with the beautiful tagline “Bringing your talent to light.”

It is so tempting to dwell on Jane’s death, and the manner of it.  But to do that would be to dishonor her.  She died once; we should not have her dying over and over in our minds.  That would be a distraction from remembering her in life and the real lessons she taught us, among them:

  • Love your family and hold them close, very close.  Matt and Andy, she loved you dearly and spoke of you often, as she did her mom and dad.
  • Love and adore your friends and help them and be helped by them, as she was by her best friends Barbara and Marc, and so many others in her circles of love.
  • Live every day to the fullest.
  • Never stop growing.
  • Never stop moving, literally and figuratively, and never, ever stop dancing.
  • Inspire and be inspired.

Jane, we will never forget you.

In memory of Jane Juergens

We cherish each woman in our Women on Fire community so much so that the loss of even one of us affects us all.

Last night one of our beloved members Jane Juergens of Columbus, Ohio was killed tragically. She was in a park — most likely out for a run — and she was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old assailant.

Those of us who knew her well are devastated. She has been a loving, caring, uplifting presence at our retreats and teas, on our members’ Live Chats, and in Jan Allen’s Women on Fire coaching group Life, Ignited.

Photo by Heather Stone

Bright and shining Jane at a Women on Fire event pictured here with Jen Madson

And ignite her life, she did. Jane served as inspiration to us for her bold and courageous move in the past year to leave a solid, steady job to follow her dream and open her own human resources firm.

Photo by Heather Stone

With Jane at last year’s Women on Fire Retreat in Chicago

I had just been with Jane in Columbus on September 26 at a Women on Fire tea at the Cambridge House and several of you were there as well. That night, she was joyful and happy and so proud of the changes that she’d made and the success she was enjoying. She lit up the entire room that night!

Photo by Heather Stone

Having fun in Chicago in 2012, Jane is second from the left.

While Jane was friends with so many, I want to especially send love and wrap my arms around the Women on Fire in her coaching group led by Jan — Laura Tiberi, Mary Jo Hudson, Keena Smith and Nicole Lovett. These women lovingly nurtured and cheered each other on and I can’t imagine how hard it is to lose a member of your precious group.

Photo by Heather Stone

Jane with some her Women on Fire sisters is at the top of the picture

Personally, Jane was a radiant spirit in my life. Always coming from her heart. Living her best intentions. She recently went out of her way to re-connect me to Pam Smith Lucas, the daughter of my father’s best friend, whom I hadn’t seen since I was a child.

That’s just how she was. There to help. There to encourage. There to make life better for everyone.

Photo by Heather Stone

Jane getting a Women on Fire book signed for one of her friends

Ironically, last night, as Jane was no doubt fighting for her life, I received a note from a dear friend comforting me on the recent death of my brother. In part, she wrote:

It’s hard to comprehend when life takes unforeseen turns. Life always hangs on this very fragile string, which can just snap at any moment. It’s precious, so very precious and I am so sorry about your loss.

Those are now my words to you, as I light a candle in honor of our darling Jane.

On behalf of our entire community, we send our love and prayers to Jane’s immediate family, which includes her mother and two sons.

Please know in the coming weeks and months we will find ways to celebrate and honor Jane and to keep her beautiful spirit alive — and you all will be a part of that.

You are invited to share anything you’d like to say about Jane here.

Photo by Heather Stone

With love to you, dear Jane, forever and always.

May you rest in peace ~


Mustering the courage to grieve

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

My brother died last week.

On, of all days, September 11.

The picture above was our last photo together taken six months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Inside, my heart was breaking and when I look at his face I know his was too.

After more than a two-year battle, his death wasn’t unexpected.  But when it happened last week, I couldn’t have been more stunned.

He vigorously texted family members on September 10.  How could he just vanish from the earth a day later?

Four days later, I’m still tangled in that part of grief that is shock, sadness and denial.

Reading obituary pages, I’ve always imagined that every person listed leaves behind at least a dozen bereaved people.  That would mean millions of grieving people every day trying to carry on with their lives. How do they do it?

Now I am one of them. Again.

I’ve been in this aching, haunting, surreal spot before.  I was 10 when my beloved grandmother died, 32 when my mother-in-law died, and 49 when my father left this world.

Each of these devastating losses profoundly reshaped me.  I tuned into the spirit world when my grandmother died; my faith deepened and I started to live life on my own terms after Libby died; and I sharpened my focus on love and my life’s work after my Dad died.

With Steve’s death, I feel too sad, too raw, too guilty, too distraught to know what will come from losing this loved one.

So for now I just need to be sad.  Sad that our precious original family of seven, reduced to six when my Dad died, is now pared to five.  Sad that my mother should lose her child. Sad that my brother leaves a gravely ill wife and two daughters in their 20s. Sad that he is gone.

Our last family portrait of the six of us. My sisters Susan and Lori and my brothers Steve and Scott with my mother at Christmas.

Intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and from my experience, I know if I have the courage to lean into the grief, I will move through it.  I do believe, as awful as it feels, the nature of suffering is to develop compassion. I believe, too, that great and unexpected things will happen because of this loss.

At the moment though, I can do nothing but let my tears flow, ruminate over what I said or didn’t say, wonder if I did enough to ease his suffering.  I grab onto every new detail of his final days imagining I could have intervened and changed the outcome.

This is all part of the “magical thinking” of grief that comes with the loss of someone you love so dearly.

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.” ~ Joan Didion, Year of Magical Thinking

Rest in peace, my sweet brother. I love you forever.


Thank you so much for the tremendous outpouring of love and support I’ve received these past few days.  You are all so amazing and helps so much to move through this difficult time.

I know there are many of you grieving your own losses as well.  Let this powerfully loving and supportive community be there for you. I know I’m sure leaning into it.

Take good care and I’ll see you back here next week.

Just say goodbye

Have you ever lost or left a job – whether you loved it or hated it – and felt adrift, or vaguely unhappy, or even too stuck to move on?

Today I want to share with you a strategy – Writing A Goodbye Letter To Your Job – that can help free you if you, a friend, family member or client ever end up in job-leaving limbo.

I created this strategy many years ago when I had trouble making a clean separation myself.

I quit a job I loved as a Governor’s press secretary.  The Governor’s term was coming to an end.  It was time to go. And, writing the goodbye letter helped me to honor my work and move on to my next dream, which was to attend graduate school at Harvard University.

But first …

Let’s say hello to many, many new Women on Fire for whom this is your first Spark! 

We have so many new readers after radio talk show host (and beloved Woman on Fire) Janette Barber interviewed me last week on SiriusXM.  If you know Janette, you know what a dynamo she is.

She’s been a stand-up comic; she created and hosted “Lighten Up” on the Food Channel; she played a key role with Rosie O’Donnell on TV and radio.  And, for the last year and a half she hosted Janette’s Show on SiriusXM.

Last week, despite a very loyal listenership, her show was cancelled.

And, Janette, being Janette, has a peace about it all. She always lands on her feet and we can look forward to whatever she does next!

So, she asked me to come on one of her final shows to discuss strategies that can help people if they lose or choose to leave their jobs.

Writing A Goodbye Letter To Your Job can greatly ease the transition. I have used this strategy countless times since I started my coaching practice in 1995. And, it can bring insights, relief and hope to the writer.

It’s even helpful if you have a new job that you are excited about, but still find yourself ruminating or thinking about what went wrong or people and work you miss in your last job.

Below you will find 15 prompts to write your letter and suggestions for what to do after you finish your letter.  So, here’s what you do:

Begin by writing to your job.  For example: Dear Production Assistant, Dear Teacher, Dear Senior Vice President, whatever your job was.

Using all, or whichever prompts speak to you, take your time to wrote your letter. My preferred way is to write long-hand.  Continue writing until you feel finished and have nothing more to say to the job.

Prompts for Writing a Goodbye Letter to Your Job

  1. During the time you held your job, what significant events occurred in your life?
  2. Describe what part this job has played in your career.
  3. What will you miss?
  4. What won’t you miss?
  5. Who will you miss?
  6. Who won’t you miss?
  7. Who did you meet who turned out to be important to your growth?
  8. During your time in this job, what was your biggest disappointment?
  9. What do you want to “take” with you?
  10. What do you want to make sure you never repeat?
  11. Your funniest moment?
  12. Your best accomplishment?
  13. How much money do you estimate you made during this job?
  14. Is there anything about the way this job ended that you want to note?
  15. Five years from now, you will look back on this job and you will know:

When you are done, be sure to thank your job and say goodbye.

Then, you can choose to do any number of things:

Burn it.

Shred it.

Tuck it away for safekeeping.

Read it out loud to someone you trust.

Keep it with instructions to read again after a period of time.

Enjoy this strategy if you choose to use it.  And feel free to keep me posted on how it worked for you.

Janette said she plans to write her letter goodbye to SiriusXM.  Please join me in wishing this wonderful Woman on Fire a clear path to her next best and greatest adventure!

All that remains

There are no words.

Hanukkah candles lit in memory of all who perished. (Photo by Jill Dulitsky)

And so we need say nothing.

Yet, the horrific tragedy last week calls for us to want to say something … do something … to take the edge off this wrenching grief and disbelief.

Particularly for us.

Because the hand of fate directly touched one of our own beloved members of this circle.

Sophfronia Scott of Newtown, Connecticut sent Tain, her darling third-grade son, to Sandy Hook Elementary School on sunny Friday morning.

Then she went to work — with me on Women on Fire Book 2 where she is the publisher and to take her husband’s car for repair.  While at the garage, she noticed police cars streaming by.  Then she saw on TV there was a shooting at Tain’s school.

With few details, Sophfronia’s first response was to ask for prayers. And, then the long, what felt interminable, wait to hear if Tain was safe.

If you have been fortunate enough to meet Sophfronia you know what a kind, gentle, honoring soul she is.  Devoted to her husband, her son, her family, her church, her town, her work as a writer and publisher, and her role in our community, she is truly one of the most loving, caring and supportive women I know.

In waiting for news about her only child, Sophfronia was comforted when Tain’s godmother Fran, searching for her own two sons, spotted him with his class.

By 11AM Sophfronia learned Tain had been reunited with her husband Darryl in an evacuation area.

“Relief, just sheer relief,” she emailed.

If only the relief for her could have lasted.

Fran’s younger son, BenTain’s god-brother — was unaccounted for. And so began the long night of hoping for the best and knowing the worst.

What unfolded Friday in Newtown, Connecticut is the 9/11 for parents of school-age children.  And across the country, and indeed the world, we sat frozen, numb and teary in horror — once again.

As with 9/11, we are devastated, heart-broken, angry and outraged.  And, we are called to something deeper, something more profound to correct this terrifying  wrong.

Libby Bradford, my cherished, late mother-in-law, a Hospice pioneer and grief expert, used to remind me what remains in life is this: love and caring.

And, so it is with our precious Sophfronia.  She was supposed to babysit Ben on Friday night and instead she did what Sophfronia would do. She stood with Ben’s family and others in love and support during unspeakable grief.

And, so it is with Robbie Parker, whose 6-year-old Emilie died in the tragedy, when he offered a most extraordinary gesture of love and caring.

He extended his condolences to the family of the killer:

“I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well.”

Today Sophfronia did what she always does on Sunday.  She taught Sunday school at her church, and I guarantee her students walked away with the comfort that they are loved and cared about.

If you are like me, you want to be able to do something to make things better.  We can.

Who right now needs love?  Who needs your shoulder?  A pot of soup?  A few extra dollars?  Who is having a tough time that you can give help and comfort to?

In the days, weeks, months and years ahead, we will keep the vigil to love and care for those in Newtown, Connecticut, and we’ll offer ways we can do that as a community.

For now, please keep Sophfronia, her loved ones and community surrounded in your love and caring and prayers.  She is a deeply spiritual person and she will feel it!

And, I wish for you a gentle holiday season. One that finds you at peace with your family and loved ones.

I’d like to close by sharing this beautiful passage that Women on Fire member  Jill Dulitsky of Vernon, Connecticut and a mom of two young children sent today.  It was sung at her Synagogue in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.

Not By Might

Not by might and not by power,

but by spirit alone shall we all live in peace.

The children sing. The children dream.

And their tears may fall, but we’ll hear them call

and another song will rise, another song will rise,

another song will rise. (Zechariah 4:6)

I wish you peace. I wish you comfort.