February 3, 2023
My daughter Valerie, my only child, died on January 31, 2022, after a very brief, very brave battle with cancer. We were both completely blindsided by the Stage IV diagnosis only a few short weeks earlier on December 29, 2021. And from that day forward, I’ve kept detailed notes, starting with how we spent those final days, through my first year of living with indescribable pain and grief (the first anniversary was just three days ago). And I continue to write every day about journey in and (hopefully) through grief, which is invariably intertwined with all my memories of Valerie. So this blog will be my exploration of these dual experiences.
One small-but-important caveat: I’m not an expert, or a counselor or psychologist. I’m just a grieving mother who’s trying to find her way through this darkness. So what I write here may not be at all right for you, or even possible in your particular circumstances. One of the hardest things for me has been the realization that no one can actually help, because no one can understand — there’s not one single other person on the planet who had my relationship with Valerie. It’s a very lonely place, in that way. At the same time, I do believe we can help each other just by being there; we can’t fix it, but maybe we can make it a little more bearable just by being present. With that in mind, I would really love to hear about your own experiences.
I have these hopes for this blog: that you will get to know a little about my daughter, that being open about how I’m handling this might be of some help to you, and that sharing my experiences will encourage us all to find our own unique path to follow through life, no matter what losses we bear along the way.
I’ve recently started a YouTube channel to share memories of my daughter Valerie, as well as following my own grieving process; this channel is the companion to the Dear Valerie blog. Some of the videos will be illustrated readings of the letters I’ve been writing to Valerie including the one from her 2022 birthday; the original letter is here. I’d love it if you’d visit me on YouTube.