Hey there! I’m Emily. Wife. Mom of 3. Writer (at least I pretend to be). Child loss survivor. Grief blogger. And a certified grief coach at After Child Loss (where I share my grief resources for bereaved parents).
In 2015 I traded my career in the corporate world to be home with my kids. This blog was born out of my desire to create and write (and keep me sane). Initially the name was fun. Just Playing House captured my attempts at domestication and motherhood. Perfectly imperfect and figuring it out as we went. Then life took a turn.
Christmas of 2015 my oldest, my son Cameron, unexpectedly died. He was only 7-years old. In a matter of 12 hours we went from healthy to hearing the news no parent ever wants to hear, “Your son isn’t going to make it.”
Talk about life changing!
Just Playing House took on new meaning. Now it meant going through the motions of life. Trying to create a new normal that just doesn’t fit. That’s life after loss.
As I started sharing our story of loss, discovering a life changing diagnosis for my kids (porphyria), and navigating life as a bereaved mother, the universe began to whisper in my ear. Keep sharing.
I regularly receive messages from readers that thank me for sharing. Each one on a similar grief journey of their own looking for support, validation they aren’t crazy (because we all feel like we are), and connection with other people that get it. Just Playing House is the start of supporting our amazing community of child loss survivors.
My goal is to be part of the movement that breaks the stigma around grief. That is why I became a grief coach, formalizing the work I do here as After Child Loss to help increase support for other bereaved parents. My dream is that someday we can all talk about child loss without it being uncomfortable.
As crazy as it sounds, grief and death have become the focus of my life. The center of what I’m learning is where I need to focus my time and energy.
If you’re looking for a place filled with love, grief, sarcasm, real life, a little humor and no judgement, you’ve come to the right place. Parenting is hard! Child loss is near impossible! Life after loss is a minefield. We’re doing our best to survive and move forward. Join me.
Thanks for stopping by.
P.S. Find more of my work at Still Standing Magazine and Her View From Home where I contribute.
I lost my 23 year old son, CJ, to malignant brain cancer. He was diagnosed in March 2010. He passed February 4, 2018. Devastated, heartbroken, and fearful…
Sending you hugs. This is not an easy path. I remember my first weeks (where you are now) so vividly. Allow yourself the space to grieve any way that feels right to you. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or feels about it. I constantly remind myself that my grief is between my son and I only. This journey may not get easier (don’t believe people that tell you it will), but the weight of it all does get easier to carry over time. Finding other bereaved mothers that get it helps. XO
I just lost my son in May 2020. He was stationed in Fort Lauderdale Florida. He was 23 and he died in a car accident. We was so close. I just talked to him the night before and told him I cover him in the Blood of Jesus and I loved him. I don’t know why I said that but I did. His name was Charles Ryan Waggie. He was in the coast guard and an amazing person!! I understand your loss because I feel it every day and it’s hard. We have to live the life they would want us to live!!
Hello Emily. I’m so sorry for the loss of your Cameron. I can’t even imagine the daily emotions you go through. I believe one thing…Cameron is beaming with pride over your everyday strength and courageous heart. Ever since my dear friend lost her 18 year old son to an asthma attack I view bereaved mother sites in hopes to find words to comfort my friend. She, her family and her son are heavy on my heart and I never know if I’m saying the “right” things to her. If I may ask you how did friends and how do they continue to help you through this part of your life? I contacted my gf at least once a week if not more, I deliver special care packages every month on the day he was sent to heaven, I send her homemade cards and along with care packages on his birthday and Mothers Day. I just wish there was more I could do or say.:( You mothers who have lost a child I think are one of the strongest humans. I admire your strength and drive to continue living for your child. Thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers,
What an incredible friend you are!! I was lucky enough to have a few people step up the way you have. It makes such a huge difference! Keep doing what you’re doing. For me, the thing that still continues to have the biggest impact is when someone will casually talk about my son in every day conversation. The way we would about any of our children. Those that aren’t afraid to ask questions and say “wow, I noticed…how did that make you feel” when things happen or people say stupid things. Let her talk about her son and share her memories. Remember the key dates (birth, death). All it takes is a text message, card, or phone call to say “I remember”. I admire what you are doing. Hugs!
Hi I lost my youngest boy 2/12/16 forever 18 I will NEVER forget that morning when my whole world crumbled around me the pain n emptiness i felt and still do today is unbearable most days I think I carnt do this no more i really do just want to be where Jayke’ray is (my precious boy) reading your stories helps me stay focused so I thank you for your words xx
I’m glad you have found comfort in some of my words. Keep going. It can be hard, I know. I read a post that said something like whenever I have a hard day I just think about my track record for making it through them…100%. So I know I can keep going. Hugs!
So sorry for your loss, I mean it, I am so sorry. Unfortunately, I too, am a child loss survivor…I am here and I am surviving. The loss of my 8 year old son in 2015 forced me to embark on a journey that shows no mercy. Death has no calendar, it has no sympathy. It is unfair and so unkind. So very very unkind.
Same here! My son’s death has sent me on a journey. How could it not, right?! It is so unfair and unkind. Hugs to you!!
Hi my 41 year old son took his life a month ago today. There is not a single day I have not broken down in tears. Where was God when my son was taking his life? Why pray?
Went a a grief support group but hearing everyone’s story just made me more sad.
I felt the same way about the idea of grief support. Early on I felt like I didn’t want to hear anyone else’s story, I only cared about my own pain. As time went on, I felt it was too hard to keep hearing everyone’s sad stories. I needed something more. You are not alone! While our circumstances are different, we share in the loss of a child. Hugs!! I hope you find the support that works for you.
Hi, I’m soo sorry for your loss, I understand because I just lost my son in May 2020. He was 23. I just want to say to please don’t ask where was God. We All have choices in life and God was right there because His word says He will Never leave us or Forsake us! And We have to continue to pray because that is our lifeline and phone to God. Please don’t be angry with God. I have never questioned God of why my son is gone because that’s not my place to do that. God understands Our pain. What we need to do is celebrate our children’s lives and Thank God for the years we got to spend with them because our children are only lent to us. They are not ours. They are Gods children. I understand your feelings because I lost my son just year.
My 23 year old son died suddenly in the early minutes of Christmas Day whilst doing voluntary work in Cambodia. I was struck by your comment that Cameron waited so that he did not die on your Birthday. My birthday is Christmas Eve! My son suffered from mental illness and I was his primary carer. The loss is so great that I cannot see the future improving. Child loss leads us to a “club” that no-one wants to join. God bless you and your family.
You are so right, no one wants to join this club we have been forced into. Many hugs to you Mama!
Hi there, I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Cameron. I just lost my 12 year old daughter as she was battling Leukemia. She was essentially cancer free but during treatment she developed an infection that due to her weakened immune system quickly spread to her blood. She was so brave and happy. She was sunshine. It has been a little over 3 months and we are doing our best…but it is impossibly hard. Thanks for sharing your story.
It is impossibly hard! Hugs to you!
My heart goes out that you lost your sweet Cameron. I started a blog recently and it has really helped. what caught my eye was you wrote when did life become about rainbows and butterflies.
my god if that isn’t a profound statement. my day consists of will I find a dime or a song or a sign. It is exhausting. I lost my son 2 years ago April 2 2016. He was 34. I hope we can follow each other on our journeys of grief. I have found perfect strangers have given me more help in this journey than closest family members.
Emily, thank you. You are a great mum and person. Keep going on. I understand your situation, as I also lost a 7 year old son in 2016, almost with similar symptoms as your late son. Except that he was not put through major or various tests. He passed out still able to talk. Let me many questions to which I am still seeking answers. Life without him is not like the life it was with him, and may not be life it in the future too, certainly because his non presence here has created a gap that and no one has filled in. And I live on with only the memories of his presence.
I admire you for the course you have taken. Keep going.
Hi, Emily! My husband and I started on this horrible journey of child loss just couple of months before you. On October 12, 2015, our daughter had a car accident and was declared brain dead about 12 hours later. Bryanna had a love for life, children, and animals. I imagine that by now, if she had lived, she’d have a house full of pets and babies. But, I’m struggling to accept I’ll never get to see her experience that. Your story has helped me so much! I think, “I can’t imagine what she’s going through, ” and then realize I am going through it. It’s still so hard to believe this happened to me! Thank you for opening up and letting the rest of us know we’re not going crazy, but we are grieving.
I was crying while reading your story. It is so sad and unfair. I lost my 4 years old nephew few weeks ago. He was hit by a car and died few hours later because of brain damage. When I got the news I went crazy and I still feel it cannot be real and that I will eventually wake up from this terrible nightmare. We do not live now, we are just surviving. Thank you for sharing your story. You are a strong woman.
I lost my beautiful son David on the 10th of December 2017. He was killed tragically in a car accident, and I feel such guilt that I was not able to be with him in his final moments. His Dad’s birthday is the 11th, mine is the 12th, and his fiance’s is the 15th. The words you write help.. thank you!
My published book is ‘Coming Through the Fog, One Woman’s spiritual journey’. It’s about all this and their presence that continues.
Thank you for sharing and supporting other breaved moms! I lost my son a year ago due to accidental tragedy. Michael was only 24 years old… had a beautiful life ahead of him, like many other children we lost untimely…
Today is a Mother’s Day and it’s so hard to cope with reality…
Can’t seem to get signed up for your blog. I reread the story about your sweet boy and want to reconnect with you and David. I sent David a message and hope to hear back from you. I know the sadness you feel as about 1 month before your tragedy, I lost Judy to cancer. It will be 4 years soon and I miss her as much as I did the day she passed. Love to the whole family.
Tomorrow, December 6th, is the 6 year anniversary of my loss of my youngest son. He was 26 and died in a car accident. I still struggle almost on a daily basis. It doesn’t get easier. He leaves me feathers and sometimes tries to hit me with acorns when I walk my dogs. I live in the mountains. My heart is with all of you!
Your blog caught my eye when I saw the name Cameron. It is nearly 15 years ago that I lost my Cameron, another Cameron Graham, to bone cancer aged 25. Two years earlier his young daughter had been killed by an out of control, unlicensed driver and he said we must learn from her life. We must be as bright and happy and friendly as she was – so despite the tears and frustration, over time it has got easier. Im sure there are many Cameron Grahams in this world but none so special as our two boys.
I lost my 3-year-old son 14 months ago. I am stuck. I can’t move through it. The pain today is much worse than in the shock-fueled first months. Reality has set in that no one is “fixing” this. I waited 49 years to become a mom and I had my purpose, the love of my life, for 3 short years. Now I have no purpose, no identity, no reason to get up in the morning. I don’t expect it, at this point, to ever get any better and every day is a nightmare.
Dear Emily, I stumbled upon your story today. I’m so so sorry for the loss of your beautiful son. My husband/I lost our son, Ray, 12/1819, to suicide. He was 46. Some days I think I’m in a nightmare. Its very hard, as you know. It has shocked us to our core. We are getting help to deal with his death. We miss him so much. We have a grown daughter also. We dont know what we’d do w/o her. Reading your story has helped. Thank you for sharing. I know it’s hard to do. Kathy
I am so grateful for this blog! My beautiful healthy Athena died abruptly, almost exact situation as your son. So great to read from a mom of a non baby. Thank you for sharing your grief and journey!
Hi Emily, I am so very sorry for your loss. My story is a little bit different from most of the ones I have read on here. If I need to remove it just let me know…… On May 26th 2018 my husband and I had already gone to bed and was fast asleep when the phones rang.. this want not uncommon you see my husband was the plant supervisor of a major company.. his phone was always ringing.. So when I heard him say the name Josh I knew something was wrong You see that was our baby boy’s name. Josh was killed on impact of a terrible motorcycle accident. Josh left a wife and three precious little boys.. I could not wrap my mind around it this was my son he was just 31 years old. He had three little ones who needed him he couldn’t be gone.. but he was the day of his memorial I got a call out of the blue my sister had just been diagnosed with kidney disease two weeks before. So three days later we had a memorial for my sister Sharon. Life as I knew it would never be the same Sharon was the one who you cried to when you were hurt or lost. My baby boy was gone and now my big sister was also. Life can’t get any worse! You might think but God has other plans. Oh June 25th my husband and I got up went to work came home had coffee and dinner. Sounds like a perfect evening right? it was around 6: ish and Wade told me that he had a little bit of a headache and was going to lay down for a few minutes. He gave me a kiss and off he went no more than ten minutes later he was gone. I heard a sound and I ran to our bedroom and he was gone. just like that here one minute gone the next. Heck I was the cancer patient Wade was never sick.. how? why? I’m as broken today as I was the 26th of May.
I was struck by your blog because I feel the same, child grief is not butterflies and rainbows, but really just sucks. I lost my son Joshua two years ago this 25 Jan,. He was 22 yrs old, and I still can’t believe this is my life. I never thought I would be the mom who lost her child it never occurred to me, and I never thought I would be able to live it. Yet here I am. My worst pain is the regrets, wishing I could have done more to prevent his death, and all the guilt I have from the “what ifs”. The death of my son really changed my life in a way nobody would want. It changed me and how I see this world we live in. I still can’t believe that this is my new life which I have to live for many more years without my Josh.
Thank you for this blog. Not much helps me, but I guess that misery does love company, and I am miserable. My beautiful 40 year old son accidentally overdosed on opiates 5 days after getting out of rehab in June 2020. He was my son, my friend, and a good person with so much to offer the world. Nothing has helped the feelings of failure as a parent, guilt and second-guessing that I have, but reading your blog gives me hope that some day I will somehow feel less worthless than I have felt since I lost him.
Hi Charles, I am so sorry for your loss!! You know if you never been through anything, then you don’t know anything. But I know exactly how you feel and everyone on this site because I been through it. I lost my son on 05/01/2020 due to a car accident and I am still going to court. I still cry everyday because just like you, Ryan was my best friend, we was so close and Ryan was a great person. and your name was my son’s initials. Charles Ryan Waggie. He served in the Coast Guard. But don’t ever feel failure as a parent because people have choices just like we had choices as children. We can raise them and lead to the right path but it is their choice of what they are going to do. I will Pray for you and your family But please don’t be don’t beat yourself up. You are are in my thoughts and prayers!!!
Thank you – I hear so much of myself in many of these replies. I lost my incredible 24 year old son 4 days before Thanksgiving last year in a car accident. I need to keep going because his younger brother (by 2 years) lost not only his brother, but his best friend. I always found comfort in music, was the goofy mom who was always bouncing around and singing (I have the worst singing voice ever!) . Now I prefer silence, listening to my son’s favorite songs makes me cry, just about everything makes me cry these days. The worst thing is, I haven’t seen any signs from him, and we were both into that type of thing. Some days I feel like his life was all a dream. I miss him so much!
November 13,2020 I lost my middle son Skyler.He had just turned 27 & for months i been looking for something not sure of what until i read your story and in my head i have a million things to say about my beautiful son that was taken from me but I cant find the words if that makes sense. I dont know what to do I am so angry & no one understands & think I am wrong for the way i feel and anything thing I say or do is wrong. Telling me to think about others feelings about my sons death and it just makes it worse for me so I dont tell anyone how I’m feeling or how I’m doing when they ask because to be honest I now live in this forever hell. I’m broken & it hurts so bad my heart shattered in a million pieces the night I lost my son. All i feel is anger. I have not grieved my son . I just sit in my thoughts alone & pretend I’m okay. But Im struggling…
I lost my daughter July 4th 2019. She was married with 3 children. She died from a blood clot. We were an hour away when the ambulance picked her up. We we minutes away from the hospital when we got the news she was gone.
A part of me died with my daughter. We were able to see her. I begged God to let me take her place. I prayed for her to just open her eyes. After that I was just numb. I don’t know how I went on.
I know she is in heaven. I thank God . But I can not get over my anger. Why did he take her. I would of given my life freely to save hers.
They say it takes time to heal. I’m sorry but it’s almost been 2 years. There is no healing. I just have to face another day without my daughter.
I am sorry if this is negative. But I am still waiting for anything to be positive about losing my daughter.
I lost my son on May 12 2021. He had colon cancer and I was there for the surgeries and to care for him. But the 1 thing he needed I couldn’t give him. Healing. I prayed like I’s never prayed before! I watched him suffer in pain day and night, the reactions to the chemo, losing 4-6 lbs a week till he was skin and bones, previously 220 lbs. Never drank, quit smoking 30 years ago, he would have been 51 on July 16, the day we spread his ashes over a reef in the Florida Keys as he requested. I watch for signs he’s still here but haven’t seen any. I watch the Moon come up as we used to do together even when he was 300 miles away. He was good. Kind, and would do anything for anyone. I miss him terribly.
My name is Heather, I came home from picking daughter up from work, to find my son, my 26 year old, healthy, beautiful son, somehow non responsive on his bed. My spouse attempted CPR and when the ambulance arrived they rushed my son to the nearest hospital. I followed the ambulance praying, screaming to God this cannot be, please please let my Johnny live, please keep his soul but please let them revive him and all be well..I ran into the emergency room where the quickly shuffled me to the “family” room….few moments later in comes a pastor..I asked a lot of questions to which he had zero answer. Finally, at around 8 pm, I was coldly informed that my son died at 7:56 pm ..I was frantic…I demanded to see my baby..no one answered any of my questions which totally took me aback and still sends anxiety shooting throughout my core. I went right away, to see my son…I immediately started to cry and hug him snd begged him to wake up..I lay next to his body, held his hands, kisses his head, took as many pictures as possible..I was..am..completely shocked, completely devastated and was finding difficulty letting go in any sense of the word and situation. My baby died, 9/7/21, today it is 2AM of 10/7/21…this evening will mark ONE MONTH of his death..I am only now, begging to realize the finality..I’ve already had several, unsympathetic people tell me things like, “it’s just life” or, “we all bury our loved ones so get over it” ….my own mother has been oddly, not there at all for me..I am devastated that my baby’s life was suddenly cut short, I am angry that I have to have the mindset that most people do not care, do not expect them to and I’m learning to stay kind and centered despite these people but it is hard when all I want to do is crawl in his bed and stay as near to him as possible. I don’t want to live right now. I don’t want to care about anything other than my son, my thoughts, my prayers and I want to heal naturally….MY SON IS DEAD!!! I would not wish this pain on anyone. A parent should never have to bury their child, regardless age. Not knowing cause of death is causing more anxiety, as if knowing how he died will help me in any way..more I could haves, should haves, what if’s, to beat myself over…The sadness permeates my core and I try pray for God’s help but so angry too.. So, I lay here, waiting, praying and looking at all videos and pictures of him I can find and I tell myself to take this time to fully grieve so as not to be crazier later in life..today, I’m devastated, not without hope and thankfully God is understanding and forgiving so I keep praying..all I can do…I can see how parents might want to take own life..something as strong as the bond between parent snd child is indescribable. Go slow, feel it SLL..do not listen to anyone telling you to stop thinking about your child or stop mourning..you ignore the obnoxious people and you do what is best for you❤️