Visit Holly's blog about Human empowerment.



They say confession is good for the soul… and my soul could use some good right about now. I am so tired, so sad, so lonely. I hate being alive, even during those moments when I defiantly raise my fist into the air and declare, “I will thrive!” the truth is I am dying on the inside. I feel myself withering away, shriveling up. My former ‘hard wired for faith’ self is being whittled away and I find myself questioning the power of prayer and the validity of God’s promises. I believe, yet I don’t. I have faith, yet I question. I hope for an eternal reunion, but I cannot find any proof of such a thing.

This is my confession: I am an absolute mess. I smile for the camera, I post happy pictures, I laugh with my friends, I act normal most of the time, but I am a crumbling, shattered, broken effing mess.

holly and madison

When I walk out of my bedroom in the morning, heading for the kitchen and my beloved Keurig, I still look to the left. To the left. The left is where the hallway is. The left is the path that leads to Mason’s wing of the house. I still look, hoping to see him there. Hoping to cross paths with him, to greet his sleepy, beautiful face. To hug the grumpiness out of him. I still look. Every single time.

When I come home, I enter the house from the garage door. I still look up to the loft where he usually would be playing games with friends online. “Hi Mama!” He’d call down to me when he heard the door. “Hi Shmish!” I’d call up. “Are you hungry? Whatcha doing?” Every time I walk into my house, I look up. I listen for his sounds, for his laugh, for his strong voice directing his team on the online raid they were doing. I still look up, I still pause and listen.

This is my confession: I am angry that he is gone. I am jealous that other people still have their kids. I am beyond destroyed. I hate myself for every single parenting mistake I have ever made and wish I could tell other parents to stop – to listen – to love more and hug more and just be present. People call me and email me for advice and I think, “Who am I? What do I know? My son is gone. I don’t have any answers for you.”

mason painting

Thanksgiving came and went. I spent the day with family and friends and was thankful to not be alone. I received the most beautiful gift: a painting of Mason’s face. They set it out in their family room so it felt like he was here with us. I didn’t look at it all day. I just couldn’t. Then I proceeded to drink all day, skip the meal entirely, and got super ridiculously drunk. Black out drunk. Missing pieces of the day drunk. Funny, laugh a lot drunk. Mean comments drunk. Inappropriately, socially unacceptable drunk.

This is my confession: I am a wreck. I have done a pretty good job staying away from self-destructive behaviors, and I have read a lot about the stages of grief to know what happens when people go off the deep end. I have stayed away from things that can hurt me, and resisted the temptation to sit in my garage with the car running or down a bottle of Xanax one night, just to end the pain. I am not suicidal, I promise. I will never, ever take that route. I do want to die and every day I ask the Lord to end my life for me. I volunteer to take the place of someone else… someone whose family would miss them, whose kids need them to come home. Yet day after day, God ignores my plea and leaves me here. I’m not crazy. I’m just hurting, and ok maybe I am just a little crazy.

So here I sit, in my bed, immobile and unable to make myself get up and do anything. I should go shopping, have lunch with a friend, find someplace playing Christmas music and soak it in.  I just can’t. I feel like I can’t. I want to go off the grid for a few days. Disappear, you know? Miss all of this fun and festive stuff and pretend it doesn’t bother me one bit.

But, no. I am going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m going to leave my room, look left for Mason, make a cup of coffee, and think about the day. I’m going to find the energy to do something, maybe that energy is in my coffee cup. I am going to raise my fist into the air, yet again, and say, “I will thrive!” Then I’m going to find a way to take one small step forward.

This is my confession: I am strong, and I am weak. I have faith, but I doubt. I need your prayers, but I don’t believe they’ll help. I am thankful to the Lord, yet still feel abandoned. I feel foolish exposing all of this, but need someone to see me.

last thanksgiving

My last Thanksgiving with Mason…

  • Diane Holly
    Posted at 20:42h, 30 November Reply

    Oh, Holly…I weep with you. I cannot imagine the pain you must be feeling day after day. The senslessness of this tragedy. I am glad that you are able to express yourself through your writings. Do not hold it in. Your questioning and the contradictory way you are feeling is the reality of someone in your circumstances. I don’t know if it will get better, but I know you will learn to handle it better as time passes. I pray that in time your memories of Mason will bring you more joy than heartache. God is using you even in your pain to touch others with the honesty in your sharing. And He’s with you in your grief, even when you can’t feel it. Just keep reaching for Him, and drawing closer.

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:41h, 02 January Reply

      thank you, diane. some days it seems i struggle more than other days. i do believe you’re right though, i am already feeling like i am handling it better. i get surges of strength and it’s on those days that i know that i will not only live through this, i will thrive. xox thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Gina Shiroyama
    Posted at 21:21h, 30 November Reply

    Before I even shared this, another friend posted a picture that read: Grief never ends…But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love. – Author Unknown.

    And I didn’t see the above until after I had shared this, and said that I am thankful for your bravery. Your words help me feel not-crazy when my losses make me feel crazy. I can only hope that someone is able to meet some need(s) of yours at the time most needed.

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:43h, 02 January Reply

      gina, that is an excellent quote. the price of love, indeed. xoxo thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Melissa Chavez
    Posted at 21:22h, 30 November Reply

    Holly…I couldn’t agree more with Diane’s words. I heart is absolutely broken for you. I wish God would turn back time. You are blessed by having so many that love you as their own and pray for you. Even in your sorrow you inspire all of us. You make me want to be a better mom and a more loving person. Mason was so blessed to have you. I am always here for you.

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:44h, 02 January Reply

      awww melissa… you are already an amazing mother. the decisions you have made over the past 2 years have changed the course of your daughters’ lives. they may never know or fully understand what you have done for them, but i see it and i recognize it. you are strong and brave. you can do this!

  • Pati Walter
    Posted at 21:51h, 30 November Reply

    You and I have never met and I never had the opportunity to meet Mason but I am a friend of Melanie’s and attended his service and will always remember the strength and love you shared for your son. Nine years ago my sister lost her son Jeremy as he also made a mistake that cost him his precious life. I could go on and on how wonderful he is but I won’t. I watched my sister go thru a living hell and during the holidays was and still is the worst. Jeremy always played Santa at at Christmas , passing out the gifts so that holiday is still rough for her then and now. So many of the feelings you are sharing about how your feeling reminds me so much of what my sister went thru and still does. She lost her faith and at times still does. Where you and her find your strength I don’t know, but it does help others. She is a trauma nurse and her job is to save lives but when Jeremy left us, she refused to answer any code where a child was involved. Her team was there and supported her until she was able to answer those calls. You and my sister have so much in common and your post reminded me of what she dealt with and still does. People would ask her, “how are you doing” and she said she wanted to scream back ” how the hell do you think I feel” but didn’t as she knew they cared. Three years after Jeremy passed she called to tell me that she knew what her purpose was now and that now she could honestly tell a parent that was going thru the same thing that she truly understood. She says the pain never goes away she just finds ways to cope with it and try and keep the faith, keep positive because that is what Jeremy would want. Holly, I asked my nephew that day to watch over Your wonderful son and show him the around in heaven and to watch over you as he does my sister. Please know that you are in my prayers and will continue to be

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:48h, 02 January Reply

      oh pati… my heart breaks for your sister. it’s an incredible and indescribable pain. i am encouraged by your comments and cannot wait for the day when the pain dulls just a little. thank you for asking jeremy to look out for mason. that’s a comforting image, isn’t it? bless you and your sister. thank you for reading and commenting. it means the world to me.

  • Kathy McNamara
    Posted at 03:51h, 01 December Reply


    You do not know me & never knew Mason. I am a friend of Michelle Rinda’s. She told me about what happened and I have said prayers for you! I cannot imagine the pain of what you are expierencing. We went throught cancer with my son and that fails in comparison to what you are going through! We will continue to prayer and while no words can heal – please know there are mothers that don’t know you but still our hearts break for you.

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:50h, 02 January Reply

      kathy, thank you for taking time to read and comment. mothers encouraging mothers is a powerful thing. i have a friend who is watching her son battle leukemia right now and i cannot imagine how difficult that is for a mama… i hope your son is victorious in his battle with cancer. i will keep you both in my prayers.

  • Bruce Weigman
    Posted at 04:18h, 01 December Reply

    Dear Holly,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have had a similar experience and have also lost my faith. I have never regained in since the loss of my daughter.
    In C.S. Lewis’s “A Grief Observed” nor in Carl Jung’s “Answer to Job”, I found little solace.
    My life has never been the same but still, somehow, I have gone on.
    I wish I could say something to console you but know that I cannot.
    There is no consolation.
    May you find your way.


    • its just me
      Posted at 21:53h, 02 January Reply

      oh bruce, my heart breaks again and again reading this comment and knowing a similar pain. i think the only thing that keeps me holding on to faith is the possibility of seeing mason again, looking into his eyes, apologizing for my failures, and telling him over and over how much he matters to me. i cannot risk missing that moment of reunion. i pray you find your faith again, even if just a glimmer of hope for a reunion. there is no consolation,but knowing i am not alone and that others understand is comforting. xox thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 20:27h, 01 December Reply

    I see you, amazing, beautiful woman xxx

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:54h, 02 January Reply

      my sister, my friend. thank you for everything. every single little thing and every huge & epic thing.

  • Juli Curtin
    Posted at 23:49h, 01 December Reply

    I am currently seriously struggling with my 12 year old daughter. Each & Every day. I have days where I wonder if things would be better if I weren’t in the picture. I read your blog & I know that I cannot give up. That it HAS to get better. That my daughter will get through whatever it is that she’s going through and that the help that we are seeking will eventually take hold and makes things livable again. For my daughter, for me, for my husband and our son. Through your raw and beautifully written words of pain, truth and love, there is always a message of hope. Thank you Holly for nice again giving me hope to persevere through a time I never dreamed I would be living through. Love to you and prayers that you too will carry on and find the strength that you need to live each day. Xoxoxox juli

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:56h, 02 January Reply

      juli, you cannot give up. you cannot give up. you cannot give up. you cannot give up, you cannot give up. you cannot give up. you cannot give up. you cannot give up.
      hold on. fight. pour your heart and soul into that daughter of yours. keep doing it. she needs you more than you will ever know, and more than she will ever admit.

  • Donna K Wallace
    Posted at 00:34h, 02 December Reply

    I see you, dear one…and I know a sliver of your grief at losing a son. I love you for articulating pain that I was not able to express. I went silent and was unfound. My agony did nothing for anyone because I turned inward. I drank, but not with friends. I screamed and cried, without anyone there to hold me.

    May your determination to share, be in some way the answer to your prayer.

    You are not alone. You are not alone.

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:57h, 02 January Reply

      thank you, donna. i know you understand, in your way. i hold you in my heart and hope you know that you are not alone either. thank you for sharing a piece of your story.

  • Lauren @Roamingtheworld
    Posted at 00:02h, 04 December Reply

    You Matter Holly. You’re amazing. You’re loved. You’re more than important than you know.
    Trust me. They’re are plenty of people who haven’t met you but love you and are sending you lots of positive energy during this most tragic and hellish time.


    You ARE amazing. Hang in there.

    • its just me
      Posted at 21:59h, 02 January Reply

      lauren, your comment is perfect and powerful and exactly what i needed to read. thank you. how did you find the blog? do you have one of your own? i will follow. send me info. thank you for taking time to encourage me and lift me up. xoxo

  • Amber Sage Yamileth Maddie
    Posted at 18:36h, 05 December Reply

    Hi, we would like to have permission to use your sons story in our essay for a school project. We want his life to be remembered, and we would like to contact you for more info and how you are doing with your loss. Maddie is a friend of Mackenzie Bowlen, if you thought we were total strangers,were not, were semi familiar with his story. Thank you for taking the time to read this and please get back to us ASAP.

    • its just me
      Posted at 22:04h, 02 January Reply

      hi amber, sage, yamileth, & maddie. we have exchanged a few emails but i haven’t heard back. thought i’d try to reach you this way… i’m happy to help so please ask me whatever you’d like to know.

  • Brandi H
    Posted at 18:18h, 31 May Reply

    Thank you for sharing this post. It must have been hard and I hope that it brought you peace to click ‘Enter’ at the end. Your words DO matter. Every single one of them. I appreciate your story more than you will ever know. Thank you.

  • Serena
    Posted at 03:48h, 01 December Reply

    I hope you’re doing well. This post has deeply touched me. I still pray for you and keep your encouraging words on my mind when life gets hard. I miss him dearly.
    With Love,

    • its just me
      Posted at 18:04h, 05 December Reply

      Thank you, Serena! I’m so happy you are encouraged by my words. You are loved, sooooo very loved. I’m keeping you in my thoughts always. xoxoxox

  • Freya Remmer
    Posted at 03:27h, 03 December Reply

    Hi Holly,

    I just read your post. I feel the heartbreak. This season is awful… I was just weeping for my lost son tonight like it was a fresh loss, and it was four years ago.

    Sadly, the loss takes away a lot of the joy… I guess there still can be some… somewhere… somehow…

    You will see Mason again. I am sure of it. I will see Zane, too.

    Love to you,


    • its just me
      Posted at 05:14h, 05 December Reply

      yes, we will. xoxox I am clinging to that Hope.

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