Read personal stories from our founder and Jennifer's mommy, Libby, along with other Warrior Moms and news from our Unravel team.

Welcome to the Unravel Blog


June 28, 2014

Today I feel like I am grieving me. The old me. My old life. The woman, friend, wife and mother I used to be..

I went to a beautiful little girls funeral today. I sat and listened to how brave and strong she was.. and I wanted to just be grieving for her. I didn’t want to be able to understand the depths of pain. I miss not being able to imagine what its like to lose your child.

I realized today though that this is part of my new life.. part of the new me. Children’s funerals.

I picked up the kids and wanted to try to make the best of our day. To find a new groove of this new mom I have become. I tried hard. To put some “emotional money in the bank”. We did a craft together and played ball then I put on a show for them while I did “work” aka answering emails. Then cooked dinner together.

**playing "pool" a rainy day game jennifer made up that is throwing the couch pillows on the floor and diving in**

**playing “pool” a rainy day game jennifer made up that is throwing the couch pillows on the floor and diving in**

**our craft. He was so into it he wanted s'mores for dessert I said yes without checking for ingredients**

**our craft. He was so into it he wanted s’mores for dessert**


-Today was these pictures.. she was so present in my mind… just sitting in the background of my senses. Like her glitter picture was in these shots.-

I used to love cooking for my family. All aspects of it really.. even the shopping and I hate it all now.

We made a freezer meal. When JLK first got diagnosed. (I just realized I rarely use the term “sick” since I dont feel like she was ever sick.. just diagnosed.. treatment then dying….So back around that time some friends got together and bought us a bunch of prepped ready to be cooked,  frozen gluten free meals. I used one of those tonight and I thought how we still haven’t even hit 9 months since diagnosis.. that she should still be here, that I should have gone through all those meals long ago. But I haven’t. I have held onto them.

IMG_4761Cooking them without her is just a reminder she isn’t here.. but cooking non gluten free meals feels like a betrayal. I did the best I could with Jonathan though and we had a good time cooking and talking about it.. simmering versus boiling.. saute and garlic. We even took a selfie to remind myself I have control over the way I react to things. I am actually really proud of how I parented today. Outwardly I really am a better mom now that I ever was.. but inside I feel void of all the emotion that used to guide me.

Overall a  lot of really good times for all of us…

But my Jonathan is struggling so hard right now. I don’t know if its because we were gone.. or really what it is.. But he is just really having a hard time. Another child I cannot figure out a way to help. ..

I hate watching him like this. His outbursts are so hard on all of us. He gets upset and screams or cries or feigns hitting me.. Then feels badly about it. We are looking into a grief counselor for him. We have tried a few art therapists but they haven’t really stuck.. And I need to be really sure its the right fit for him before bringing somebody else in. . I don’t want him trying to connect over and over again only to have them not keep coming.

I just want to be back to worrying about more normal things with my kids.. not what I am thinking about. .. like if I should prepare them that I cleaned off the mantle .. finally cleared of all the sympathy cards .. enough to fill 2 shoesboxs.. And now on that empty mantle I can see I have her handprint with ours in clay from when Jonathan was in my tummy.. and hers with baby Charlottes from our time in Palo Alto..but nothing with her and her brothers… So now what? Let it go or try to figure out how to make one with her hand and the boys. I feel like every choice I make now can have major consequences given all of our mental states.

I don’t think I feel like writing. I have been staring at this screen for a few minutes.. looking at the blinking cursor.. thoughts jumbled floating through my head but unable to be articulated.

Exhausted but unable to sleep.. the new nighttime me..

I am going to watch her video now. .. Hope it brings her memory close enough for her to join me in my dreams.


… and then it flips. I was looking through pictures to find the ones I wanted for this post… Thinking I would just grab them and put them in and move away from this posting..

But then I came across ones for our… “s’mores”. The only correct ingredient I had was marshmallows.. old stuck together ones. We added in some ritz like crackers and some chocolate syrup … Surprisingly not too shabby.

IMG_4762 IMG_4767IMG_4766


She loved s’nores as she called them.. a fun dessert that she could have and make right alongside everybody else.  .

Looking at the pictures of our treat made me realize that sometimes you can make something that really works well without all the ingredients you are supposed to have.

Life will never be the same.. never taste right again without her…

but maybe if we just keep putting one foot..

somedays just one toe front of the other we can make something taste good again..




  1. Krista L says:

    I always struggle with what to write to you. All I can think of is this really sucks and I am really sorry. I am proud of you for putting one toe and one foot in front of the other. Hugs to all 6 of you!

  2. Kim Lancaster says:

    I too don’t know what to say ,I was just in my backyard thinking about Jennifer and feeling all the crazy wind here and Gilroy and wishing so bad that I could do something to help you, I’m so very sorry, beautiful Jennifer’s glitter has stuck on me, and I promise you that I will continue spreading her glitter, my love and hugs to all 6 of you, I’ll pray extra hard for sweet Johnathan tonight

  3. Jamie J. says:

    Your analogy about not having all the right ingredients, but somehow, surprisingly making it work anyway is so fitting for describing grief and finding the “new normal.” Gosh…I must type that a lot. My Kindle wanted to autofill “normal” as soon as I typed “new.” I don’t think it’s a process that we ever be complete or feel totally right, either. It will always feel off, but still will turn out all right.

  4. Ulli says:

    It just sucks. I’m so sorry. Your Jennifer is one beautiful girl. I write “is”, because I believe that she is still with you- it sucks to write this, because the way she is with you now.. is not okay, not enough. She should be right in your arms where she belongs. I’m sorry.

  5. Andrea says:

    You have an amazing insight to your own and children’s needs. You are an amazing mommy Libby.

  6. I’m sorry Libby! I don’t even know what else to say. I know I have said this before: I don’t even know you guys, but I feel such a connection to Jennifer and you. I am still reading, praying, writing…from Atlanta.

  7. Emily says:

    One toe in front of the other….perfect. You continue to inspire. Keeping your family, all 6 of you, in my prayers.

  8. Lorraine says:

    Ever thought about writing a children’s book on feelings after a loss? I think you are not only an inspiration to moms, but you have become a mom who can articulate your children’s needs during this painful time of adjustment. I bet you would e flooded with illustrator’s willing to “color the pictures.” Always in my thoughts and prayers….hugs

  9. Stephanie Cowan says:

    Libby, after my son died, my daughter acted much the same way that you are describing Johnathan’s behavior. She was so angry and so sad and I know she felt helpless to help Mommy not feel so sad all of the time. It was heartbreaking in so many ways, and overwhelming to deal with on top of all of my own enormous grief. She did see a children’s grief therapist at Hospice of the Valley. They have a wonderful children’s program there…groups, classes, art therapy and personal therapy with kids. I think it was very helpful. She went for a while after Aidan died, and then went back a couple of years later when my mom died. Perhaps the hospice you used has a similar program, but if not HotV is nearby and reasonable.

    • Love4JLK says:

      Our hospice doesnt have anything for his age. We did find something through the Bill Wilson center that will take him… nothing for Nicholas though..

      • Stephanie Cowan says:

        Yes, finding stuff for the younger kids is a lot more difficult. Hospice of the Valley does do individual play-based therapy for really young kids. As long as they are verbal and can play then it is appropriate. If you can’t find anything else you might check there.

  10. s says:

    You asked, and maybe it was rhetorical, but I’ll answer anyway. You don’t need to try to recreate something with her handprints and the boys’ handprints. You are worrying about lots of things like that, but you don’t need to. All that
    matters in the end with kids is did you love them and did they know it. (Even when they think you are not being “nice,” but you are doing what is best for their character development in the long run.) You are judging yourself based on how much fun you make for your children each day. You don’t need to be “their JLK,” cuz you’re not a kid. Let Jonathan take on that role. Try to find/watch some Leave it to Beavers with your kids. You’ll see that there’s a weight you can take off your shoulders. I just hate to see you living with such guilt and such responsibility when you don’t need to. You have enough to deal with and I think things could be a tiny bit easier if you could expect a tiny bit less of yourself. You are already the best mom your four children could ever have or want – just because you love them so much and you are THEIR mom.

  11. Anna DePalma says:

    When I read your posts I can see the pain and heartache your going through each and every time. You are too hard on your self. You amaze me how you function. I lost my father and it took for ever for me to function. I know with kids you have no choice. You have done so much for them and unfortunately we never think of the worst so we can take pictures or do things together because we think we are going to have our kids for a long time. You got gipped with Jennifer but seeing how fast it all went you did the best you could to build memories. Your a wonderful mom and I know your kids know that and will always love you for that. As they get older things will change because they will understand more. Right now its too much for them to understand death and all its negatives it brings in their life. Just keep doing what your doing less beating yourself up and trying to make everything what it should be. As I said your are a awesome mom and your dealing with the death of your first born. Not an easy task but you go on each and everyday and that is what counts. Sending you hugs and praying that the day will come when God will give you the comfort you so badly need to get through all of this!!!

  12. Bridget Dolfi says:

    That s’mores analogy seems very fitting. Still here sending support and love every step, forward or backward, of the way.

  13. Kristin says:

    The real question is if you would have her again, knowing she would have a short life? For me the answer was a definite yes and this was enough to shape my attitude. Siblings go through their own grief and in my experience kids seem to know what they need but we are sometimes in too much of a hurry to make them feel better. Just breathe, relax and let yourself heal on your own time. Your beautiful daughter will always be with you and a part of your family

  14. Crystal says:

    Cooking was a huge a sore point for me. Still is. Three years later, and I’m JUST NOW starting to try and ease back into it.
    Jonah loved food, and when he was on steroids, he REALLY loved food. For a year and a half while we lived at the hospital and the Ronald House, I was rarely able to cook. The times I was gone, people generously provided food for my husband and 5 other children. But the moment I returned home, ALL the food stopped 🙁 Everyone must have thought now that mom is home, she can cook…..sigh…..thankfully by then, my husband had taken over that area, and still does. It has been a lifesaver for me. But it has also been a feeling of failure for me…….I’m trying….I just thought I’d share. I thought I was the only one…..

  15. Karen Zoucha says:

    Maybe you have already done this or thought of this, but just wanted to throw it out there. I have a classmate who died around Christmas time. Just saw his mother a couple of weeks ago. They got from the mortuary her son’s finger prints and made a ring for her and her husband that has her finger print on half of the ring and her sons finger print on the other half (and her husbands has his and his sons). She was talking that she was going to have a necklace made for her, her husband, and her son who is still on earth with all of their finger prints. Maybe this is something you could look into for each one of your kids and you and your husband with the saying on the back “forever 6”. Something to hold and rub when you need to or when Johnathan wants to “feel” her finger in his hand. Continued thoughts and prayers for you all each and everyday.

  16. Kimberly (CO) says:

    Libby ,

    We had a picnic lunch in the backyard today, and I thought of you and your kids. Thanks for the inspiration even though it comes from an unwanted place. I’m so sorry that you do t have JLK with you.

  17. Leah says:

    Welcome home. Beautiful pictures. Sending love.

  18. Kristen Tredrea says:

    No words. Just prayers for all of your toes to keep inching forward

  19. Michelle says:

    Your ending to this post… So perfect!

    I saw your sweet, shirtless boy at the Farmer’s Market yesterday. Thank you for being such a beautiful part of this town.

  20. Linda Blundo says:

    All my love and prayers to you all ♡

  21. Erika M says:

    As always, you come up with an amazingly insightful way of looking at things. The idea of “not the right ingredients” but finding a way to make it taste all right anyway: so real and true. Big hug, Libby.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Newsletter




Unravel Team

Get Involved

Upcoming Events


Stay Connected

follow on instagram @unravelcancer

follow us on facebook 

Join our Newsletter



Unravel Team

Get Involved

Upcoming Events


Stay Connected

follow on instagram @unravelcancer

follow us on facebook 

Thanks for joining the unravel newsletter!