Woodland of Grief (Memoir Writing)


Woodland of Grief

When the wild woods of grief

call out my name

and I’m found wandering

on the river trail of pain


I need your merciful grace

to keep my steps straight and sure

So the journey of my loss

brings me back to where we were


Back to the tonic of Your Word

and to the kindness of Your Way

as forest rains match my tears

and the Sun returns to stay.


Wendy ❀ 2015




Recently my oldest son introduced me to a river trail I hadn’t been on before.

It reminded me of a memoir I’d read. It was written by a loving Christian father who lost his only son in a car accident. His son was also a believer and was on a mission trip with others from his church when he died. The father and son loved to fish together. Just as I started talking to my son about the book , two young men carrying fishing rods passed by us.




Back to Tonic was an emotional roller-coaster ride to read. Gene was raw and honest in this memoir. I gained a deeper empathy and understanding for parents who have lost a child. Gene’s writing is engaging and real. I cried, I laughed, and I faced some of my own demons of grief. If you like memoirs–you’ll love this one. It will help you with your own questions and doubts about how God can allow suffering. It challenged and changed me.


The above paragraph is my Goodreads review of Gene Kiepura’s memoir.




Gene’s book helped me gain a deeper understanding and compassion for what grieving parents go through. In his memoir he also included words his sisters had shared with him about how they reacted to the news his son, Jake, had died. This too ministered to me. My own experience was similar to one of Gene’s sisters.




When I received the bad-news-phone-call

 about a 16-year-old family member (8 yrs ago),

I was working on a rock garden.

But instead of giving into the temptation of hurling rocks in frustration

of what I perceived to be unanswered prayers—I chose to trust.

I’d been down the other road so may times before,

and I couldn’t bear driving that dismal highway of hurting again.

So I did a lot of crying. A lot. Because tears tenderize.

Because weeping won’t make me bitter.

And I’m believing my dear relative is in the arms of the One I asked to protect her.

I’ve chosen to trust.




I want to end on a positive note—like Gene does in his poignant memoir—my late niece’s legacy to me is don’t sweat the small stuff with my teenagers. Hug them lots and lots. Laugh with them. Listen. And give them unconditional love, even and especially when they mess up.


That’s what our heavenly Father does with us.

I’ll continue choosing the path of peace,

and allowing the hard places, the rocky places, to be used for good—

to accentuate the flowers in this garden of life.

Blessings of Trust ~ Wendy ❀


Here’s a link to Gene’s blog—it’s one of my favorites.

Eugene Kiepura




41 thoughts on “Woodland of Grief (Memoir Writing)

  1. Dear Wendy, what beautiful pictures of the woods, and how consoling they must be, in good times and in bad. I cannot relate to this man’s memoir, but I do enjoy an honest account of someone’s feelings, and I learn from it. When my mother died someone gave me a story written by a man who had lost his wife, who was his best friend. And even thought the relationship wasn’t the same, the grief was. And he went through anger, and loss of faith, and bitterness, the whole gamut. But in the end, the experience made him stronger, his faith grew in leaps and bounds, and he wrote a beautiful poem that I will forever cherish. He finally felt God, and he celebrated it. It was raw, beautiful and bittersweet all at the same time. Thank you for reminding me of the honesty of letting our feelings just be, knowing that God can heal all grief and unbelief. And your pictures are healing in and of themselves.

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comment, Linda. Yes, “letting our feelings just be” is part of the path to healing. There are no shortcuts. I’ve heard so many people share that grief eventually drew them closer to God. And this makes sense as his Word says He’s “close to the brokenhearted”—it’s certainly when we’re still enough to truly notice him. There is beauty in brokenness. It beats being bitter. ❀

  2. Wendy, I struggle to finds words to express my gratitude for your post. Thank you. You are a true blessing.

  3. I enjoyed your photos even more than usual. I rarely get to walk in woods anymore, so vicariously I had a good walk. Thanks for your review, as well. Too much of what is available is either trite or hopeless, even though they think they are being helpful.

    1. Yes, so many books are “trite or hopeless”. Gene is anything but—he puts into words what so many of us are already thinking concerning the flippant “faith” so many “Christians” exhibit. God isn’t a fairy godmother—He’s God. And sometimes we don’t get the parking spot we hoped for, and sometimes people we love die in very tragic ways… regardless of how strong our faith is. ❀ I think you’d like his blog/writing.

    1. Thank you, Marisa. I started off by reading a free sample on my Kindle and then I bought his e-book. When an author can make me cry, laugh, and read past bedtime—I know I need to get the whole book (or put it on my wish-list). ❀

  4. Grief: what a tough thing. One of the most heartbreaking kinds of pain. And losing a child, I’m told, is the worst. It’s easy to turn away from what we believe at such times, but you point out the better option: to trust. I’m glad that more people are opening up about their grief these days. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and if lucky, we might even grow.
    Thanks for this, Wendy.

    1. Cynthia, I agree that “losing a child” must be “the worst” kind of pain. ❀ The biggest blessing about people opening up is grieving family members finding out they’re not alone in their struggles.

  5. Wonderful post, Wendy. One of my favorite quotes is “Had the eye no tear, the soul would have no rainbow!” Tears are so cathartic and simply to only way to cope with deep grief. And none of our feelings should be denied or hidden. We are meant to be whole and not just the parts we or others choose. Hugs, N 🙂 <3

    1. Natalie, I love the quote and the wisdom you’ve shared . <3 And it's so true that our feelings must be acknowledged and allowed or we end up making the grief go underground—and therefore undermine our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Blessings & hugs. ❀

    1. Thank you, Catherine. I’m excited about the pictures I’ll be sending with my blog post for “A Writer’s Garden”. I’ve included a peek of my own special place. Blessings on your weekend. ❀

  6. Wendy, what an absolutely beautiful post. And I love your pathways pictures. These words: “So I did a lot of crying. A lot. Because tears tenderize. Because weeping won’t make me bitter.” spoke such gentle truth to my heart. Beautiful, my friend.

    1. Thank you for blessing me, Jeanne. I’m glad we met, and I’m enjoying watching your writing journey (and cheering you on) . It’s exciting to anticipate what God has instore. ❀

  7. Sounds like an amazing book Wendy. I did not read any books when I lost my brother, i did not really think about it. I am sure his book has helped many. As you do with your beautiful, uplifting writing space. It is always a soft place to land. The world can seem so harsh but spending time here, is a comfort. thank you. For some reason people are leaving in clumps around me at the moment. Not directly related but my husbands Auntie and his cousin, friends father’s, my sisters mother-in-law and then my Sister -in-laws Father. Sad times even if I am not close to any of them. It effects those close to me. I pray each one found peace. Hope your day is filled with sunshine.

    1. Kath, thank you for your kind words: “always a soft place to land”. That means a lot to me.
      I’m sorry you’re surrounded by a season of loss. I hope you’re able to nourish your own spirit through creativity and nature as you comfort those around you. Just by your calm presence and listening heart you are blessing those you love. ❀

  8. This is a beautiful post Wendy. I really need to catch myself when reading something like this, hold myself on a ledge of gratitude simply for the privilege of life. I have written poems about it, given much thought to it, but on a daily basis still manage to get caught up in the ego which takes me to places that exist simply to waste precious time where we could be kind, loving, compassionate, forgiving and a myriad of other values I like to think I aspire to. Thank you, and your photos are stunning. I adore the white frilly flowers! 😊 x

    1. Thank you, dear Christine. I love what you “aspire to” in your poetry. <3 You are honest and compassionate.
      Those "white frilly flowers" were a delight to find along the forest path. I've no idea what they are. ❀

    1. Thank you for your visit here, Victoria. It’s nice to meet you. I’ve just visited your lovely blog, and I appreciated how you acknowledged the different types of grief. Bless you.

  9. There is a lot here. I get chills just hearing of parents who’ve lost a child. It’s unfathomable…but it is actually the very Gospel I have placed my trust in. I appreciate that you wept so that, for one, it would keep you from the bitterness. Somehow we worship a God who wept. Exquisite pictures, Wendy.


Leave a Reply to stockdalewolfeCancel reply