God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey

Dealing with the hard “stuff” – like her room


I am not even sure how to title this blog. After someone we love dies, it’s all hard. There’s nothing easy about heartbreaking loss.

For me, after losing my 15 year old daughter, there were aspects of the grief process that I confronted quickly, directly and aggressively. For example, I spoke at my daughter’s funeral. Looking back, I’m not quite sure how I had the ability to be articulate and not break down in tears. Well, yes, I do know. My love for her and desire to honor her gave me the adrenaline I needed to get through that experience. And only with God’s help.

Also, the first four years after Leah passed away, I was an assertive advocate for Make-A-Wish – speaking at events for them and leading a Walk for Wishes team in Leah’s memory for three years. My drive was to give back to Make-A-Wish. Our Wish trip to Paris was an incredibly wonderful gift. It was something positive on which to focus during Leah’s illness. As our last family vacation with Leah, the trip is a true memory to cherish.

One area of deep pain and avoidance has been going through her “stuff” and clearing out her bedroom. The first couple of years, I tried to go in her room. I even wrote a blog post about it. Yet, after I wrote that post, I shut the door and didn’t return for a very long time.

I wasn’t at peace going in her room. And I wasn’t at peace not going in her room.

It wound up being easier for me to avoid the whole experience. Her bedroom door stayed shut for more than four years.

Yet, every so often, I felt a nagging voice say, “You really need to get her room done. There are nice things our family and her friends can enjoy.”

Finally, the pestering voice won. For the last several months, I spent hours going through my daughter’s things and selecting items that I want to keep and items that I was open to giving away. Notice I said, “open to” giving away…

My husband and I are very different on this topic. He is very understanding and gracious. He’s given me the space to deal with her things in the best way that I can.

Going into her room felt like stepping back in time. Many items were left exactly where she placed them – books, clothes, stuffed animals, jewelry, photos, etc. It shocked me that there was no dust in the room.

This past month, I had friends, who were very close to Leah, pick out a few things before returning to college. I was worried her friends wouldn’t want to come to our home and go through her things. It has been almost five years. Happily, they were appreciative to select items that belonged to Leah.

Like so many moments after losing my daughter, this experience was bittersweet. It brought sadness and happiness. It is always wonderful to see Leah’s friends; I felt joy as they expressed their connection to her and her memory. It was meaningful to hear the reasons that they picked either a piece of jewelry, stuffed animal or Eiffel tower.

Other people I know dealt with  personal belongings quickly after a death – clearing out items within a couple weeks.

For me, I just couldn’t do it.

I’ve probably kept more of Leah’s items than I need, but it will be a process of releasing and letting go. The experience of clearing out her things feels like another goodbye – another sad goodbye.

I know that I am sentimental about “stuff,” I’ve learned to accept this fact about myself – items have meaning. I fully understand that the things aren’t Leah and they can never replace her.

A major step, in confronting the permanence of my loss, is complete.

One day, I may let most things of Leah’s go. For now, I have several boxes.

One item that I will never ever give away – Leah’s Bitty Baby Doll.

Never. Ever.

The joy on her face when she opened this Christmas present was priceless.

My reflection:

Do what you need to do – at your own pace – while being kind to yourself – and let your love win!

2005 5 septem bday dolls.jpg

My Little Miss with her favorite American Girl Dolls. The first two!



Author: Marie E Guthrie

What can I say about myself? My heart beats fast for my family, friends and calling. Professionally, I have a passion for helping people and organizations tell their stories in a compelling way and I have been doing this fun work my whole career. Never once bored in the marketing and communications profession. Presently, I am providing consulting services to corporate and nonprofit organizations. For seven years, I was the Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Awana. I am dedicated to learning how to better love my family members and friends. I am married to a very special man, Mark. I have two children. Grant in his college years - a treasure. My beautiful daughter Leah is now in heaven. Her 14 month battle with cancer has taken me down a road that I never thought I'd go, but I would do it all again. This blog is dedicated to my brave and faithful daughter. At a young age, I was drawn to the sacrificial love I learned about as I was taught about Christ. My heart since age eight was transformed from total selfishness to a heart that desired to love God and others. This love has driven who I am - far from perfect, but dedicated to the One who loves me more than any human ever could. I have questions for God about the story of my life; I wrestle with Him about losing Leah, but He and I go deep. Still feel His arms around me. We are taking it day by day.

10 thoughts on “Dealing with the hard “stuff” – like her room

  1. There’s no rule on what you have to do or when you have to do it. We donated her bed this Christmas to a needy family. We donated her clothes last summer. Of course, my wife and daughter kept some clothes. We still have all her toys. They are all still in boxes in her bedroom. I made her room an office, but I didn’t repaint the room. She wrote messages on her wall and she has her handprints all over the place. I use the room to write my blogs, otherwise, we don’t use the room much.

    • You are correct Roger. I’ve learned that there are no rules in living through the loss of a child. I am deeply sorry for your loss. It’s wonderful to share the items you can, such as a bed. I love that your girl wrote messages on her wall. That’s wonderful, so special. I cherish Leah’s notes and cards. It’s nice to have a space to go to that was theirs…

      • I used many of her writings in my first years blogs. I title most with the saying with “writings on the wall,” if you wish to check them out.

  2. It has been almost 20 years since my husband Jack passed into Jesus’ arms. Out of the situation I rehomed a great deal of his belongings. First it was clothes and items that family members wanted like tools. Last of all was his files and I sorted that myself the first spring, finally saving a wicker picnic basketful of items that meant a lot to me. Just this summer my 2 daughters and I opened the lid and began to pull out my mementos. Then we made decisions as to what to do with the items. A necktie was wanted by a grandson. Our oldest grandson was touched to now be the owner of Jack’s Navy doglegs. And so on. Would you believe that we ran out of time and I still have a bottom full to examine! So there it sits beside my desk reminding me of the fine husband he was to me and thankful for the years that I was able to be his wife. I never doubted that God was in control of the timing of his passing and I thank the Lord that he knows the reasons for all that happens in our lives. But I still will cherish a few meaningful mementos til I too pass into eternity.

    • Thank you for your sharing your sweet process Pat. (I love your daughter, by the way.) It’s nice that you were able to go through things and have so many items used by loving family. They have some creatively wonderful ideas to do with clothes items as memory crafts. We hold onto our faith as we miss our loved ones, and trust we will see them again – and run to them with joy! God bless you dear Pat. I am grateful you had such a loving and kind husband.

  3. Thank you. I lost my thirteen year old daughter Sadie to brain cancer last July. Her room is exactly like it was. Similar to you, I spoke at her funeral, set up scholarships in her name, spoke at the moving on ceremony at her school as her friends readied themselves for highschool and on and on. I do these things because I love her so much but that same love restricts me from letting these physical pieces of her go.

    • I am deeply sorry for the loss of your beautiful Sadie. Our response to losing our precious girls sounds similar. It was easy for me to activate for Leah in other areas. Her room – not so easy. I can hear her saying, “Really, mom? Don’t you want to use the room?” She was such a brave girl and didn’t want me lost in grief. So courageous our girls were. Your last sentence is so key. Take the time you need dear momma! Hugs to you.

  4. May your love for your baby always win. My heart wept as I read this post. I pray peace over you. I am glad you are taking your time to heal in the Lord .

    Your daughter looks so precious . I picture her smiling in Heaven with our sweet Lord.

    Hugs from one mom to another

  5. Marie, thank you for the precious memories
    Love from OPA Werner

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