Explaining Death to A 20 Month Old…

IMG_0539I will never forget the first time we went to visit Esther’s grave. Nothing can really prepare a mom for this, because it is never supposed to be this way. As we drove into the cemetery, I felt a torrent of sorrow hovering, ready to wash over me with all its force.

When we neared the place, my eyes began scanning for her grave marker. Everything looked so different this time. No white tent filled with all of our family, no carpet, no chairs, no flowers, no balloons, no programs. Just a dad, mom, and big sister looking for their baby.

Adam spotted the marker first and softly said, “there it is.” It was so tiny, yet carried a weight heavier than life itself. I fell into Adam’s arms weeping, as sorrow welled up from deep inside my being. We hadn’t even made it out of the car yet.

As we made our way across the wet grass, the reality of our loss once again seemed too horrible to be true. Instead of feeling my baby squirm in my belly, I was visiting her freshly dug grave.

We approached the spot, and our eyes took in the painful sight. A small rectangle of soft dirt. My mind once again argued with reality.

She was so tiny…so helpless…a baby. Babies aren’t supposed to die.

Yet I stood right before the cold, heartless reality of the death of my baby. Unable to change a thing.

Adam and I searched for answers in each others eyes.

Meanwhile Kyla danced around, seeming to enjoy the open space. I marveled at her unknowing, carefree spirit. Wanting to involve her, I said “honey, this is where your little sister is.” She, in turn raised her hands and her eyes became confused. She began turning to the right and the left as if looking for someone. She couldn’t figure out why mommy and daddy were crying over a spot in the ground. Soon she came stomping over in her sing song way and sunk a deep footprint right in the wet mud. I protectively yelled, “No Kyla! Don’t step there!” Then I cried again as I realized what I was having to tell my eldest daughter.

No parent should have to stop their 20 month old from stepping on her little sister’s grave. Or explain why we are leaving the pretty flower on the muddy spot. Or make the cemetery a “fun” walking place while mommy & daddy spend time there.

But we did have to. And we will continue to, because this is our new life.

The finality we felt that day seemed crushing and hope seemed out of grasp. Yet sitting there as a family, we decided to sing. As we lifted up our voices in that little cemetery, we spoke the words of life that we knew to be true, regardless of the circumstance.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand. 

When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne!

This has become my favorite song. Even when darkness veils his face, high and stormy gales come, and all around my soul gives way, I will hope. Because I stand on this solid rock.

I pray that whatever you may be facing today, you could find the same hope in the Rock of Jesus.




  1. Lisa Cherry says:

    I am crying as I read this one. She is so dearly missed by her Grammy!

  2. Lisa Vail-Rebelsky says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart. My Darcy has been in heaven since 1997, but God is using your blog to heal even the hidden edges of my pain.. Tell Adam and Kyla thanks for sharing you with the world! God gets ALL the Glory!

Speak Your Mind