How To Be A Friend In The Midst Of Grief

How To Be A Friend In The Midst Of Grief | |

“As much as we might wish, none of us will be able to go through life without some kind of suffering. That’s why it’s crucial for us to learn to suffer well.

-Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning

This week is Infertility Awareness Week and it’s a reminder of how there are hundreds of thousands of women who suffer silently due to their struggle to have a baby. I’ve come to realize that there are many women in my circle that have either had difficulty getting pregnant, staying pregnant, or have had the inexplicable pain of delivering still born. It’s a spectrum of sadness that I cannot even begin to understand myself or even fathom what one must feel when those tiresome months pass into years.

But as a friend, what can I do to offer support to these women? How can I be there for them without making them feel worse? And what exactly is the right thing to say? Is saying nothing at all the right thing?

Our good intentions

Grief is an interesting thing and it’s something I’ve dealt with personally after the loss of my sister and through my own miscarriage. Although my friends and husband’s family immediately surrounded me in love, I was cursed with the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty and a lack of understanding of why this was happening. And although I’ve been on the one side of grief, I can also recognize that I’ve fallen into the pitfall of not being the supportive friend or daughter by eclipsing another’s grief with my good intentions.

We all have them – those good intentions. But, unbeknownst to us our good intentioned-filled words can have a lasting negative impression on the very person we aimed to help or support. Most importantly I’ve learned that it comes down to the timing, what is said, and how one says it – and sometimes it’s not saying anything at all. When my sister passed, I wasn’t there for my mother the way she needed me because I was gripping with my own sense of grief. I wasn’t in a position at that time to be as supportive as I could have been. I lacked in timing and my words ultimately tore a person to pieces when she was already hanging on by a thread. And after that moment, and even through the years that have passed, I am constantly reminded by God that…

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:4

However, there are many ways in which we can be supportive of someone who is experiencing grief whether it be over infertility, a loss of a pregnancy, child, or other loved one. We can all be there in some capacity for those working their way through their grief and God has given us a few provisions to help us along the way.

Listen, don’t speak.

This was a hard one for me because I so often feel as though when someone comes to me to talk they’re looking for a response. Sometimes, and probably most times, people who are in grief just need someone to listen to them. And if they’re not up for talking, just be in the room with them. Remind them with your presence that they’re not alone.

Ask what you can do for them.

You’re not a mind reader and it’s important to realize that everyone grieves differently. Some might like to reminisce, look through photos, or watch home movies. To have visitors or perhaps be alone. Whereas others don’t even want to talk – yet. Simply ask the person what they need from you in that moment and be ready that, over time, what they might need will change.

Ask what they need.

This moreso has to do with those little chores or things you can do of service for that person. Is it to go grocery shopping for them so they have food in the house, refill their gas tank, or simply just stay the night with them? Are there phone calls or emails you can send or reply to for them? These little tasks may be overwhelming to someone in grief so helping to take those off their hands may mean the world to them in that moment. It’s all about finding out how you can be of service in the moment.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
1 Peter 4:10

Remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day

It’s easy to get caught up on the busyness of such holidays. But those who are grieving the loss of a child or who suffer from infertility, such holidays can be crushing for them. It doesn’t need to be a super-duper gesture, but simply calling or sending a card lets that person know you’re thinking of them meanwhile allowing them to process that day privately.

Support them in their decisions.

This was a huge one for me because as I was easing out of my grief, my mother was still within the throws of hers. It was, at times, frustrating but while I was busy being upset with her choices I missed out on recognizing that she’s allowed to be human. Sometimes as ‘Mom’ you’re thrown onto a pedestal to which you need to be the strong figure you’ve always been for your kids – and for us children it’s hard to remember in times of grief that Mom is human too.

I’ve learned since then that I needed to be supportive of her no matter what decision she made for herself or how she chose to move forward. I may not have understood it or agreed with it, but my place was to be by her side regardless. The same goes for anyone in grief when making a decision for themselves or their family.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
James  2:13

 And the greatest of all these reminders is this…

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
Colossians 3:12-15

For more resources on being supportive through grief: RESOLVE: National Infertility Association and Psychology Today: How To Help Someone Who Is Grieving are great places to start.
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The Gym I Actually Look Forward To

The Gym I Actually Look Forward To | |

Ever since Greyson could begin pulling himself up onto our sofa or coffee table we knew our days were numbered. We told ourselves that he would eventually grasp this newfound ability of mobility and that’s exactly what happened. He was off. Suddenly my baby, who at one point could only barely crawl, was now this young boy who, what felt like in an instant, discovered that he could move even quicker. My Greyson is now walking. Walking!

In the wake of achieving this most coveted milestone, he took it upon himself that no matter how many times he fell, bumped his head, or toppled over something, he would pull himself back up. He didn’t much care for my assistance and better yet, he never got discouraged. Walking is a major milestone for any child (and parent!) and it’s pleasing to see that Greyson has this intrinsic motivation to figure it out for himself. Since discovering what his legs and feet were capable of, within a few weeks he became more and more confident.

Baby Proofing

However with this, he became more and more hazardous. I do say this with a bit of sarcasm, but also truth. We have baby-proofed our home, but only minimally, since he became mobile. For example, we have our sockets covered and purchased a foldable baby gate to keep him confined to our living room space. Although those steps were necessary safety-wise, moreover we want to teach Greyson boundaries and be more hands-on with our approach to discipline. Instead of over-protecting and eliminating all dangers that he may come across, we want him to fall or realize he isn’t entitled to everything he puts his hands on. We simply want to provide (supervised, of course) opportunities for Greyson to recognize and learn what he can and cannot do whether it be at home or especially in public. Since beginning this approach he’s come to understand “no” and not flip out every time he hears it. We simple redirect him to an activity or action we’d like or that is safe.

Along with this whole walking thing, and turning one, Greyson has also adopted stronger preferences and is very willing to express to us his displeasure about something.  He is quick to go limp and throw a mini fit when I tell him he can’t walk somewhere or try to redirect him. He sometimes throws things or knocks things out of my hands when trying to distract him from something dangerous he wants to explore further.

This is a new chapter for us in regards to his independence so, how do we as parents foster his development while teaching boundaries in a way a toddler can understand?

Apologies for the iPhone photos below 😉

My Gym!

The Gym I Actually Look Forward To | |

Practicing climbing with his daddy!

The Gym I Actually Look Forward To | |

My Gym Discovered

I stumbled upon My Gym as we passed it every week on our way to Trader Joe’s for our weekly grocery trips. I had heard of them before, and similar baby gyms, but never put much thought into it considering how young Greyson was. About a month or so later I figured that since Grey was now becoming more confident in his crawling, pulling himself up, and beginning to walk we should begin to consider a class that fosters these new abilities.

Free First Class!

I was happy to see that My Gym offers new families a complimentary class of their choosing. This was a great ‘toe in the water’ for us as it was a chance to see if Greyson would even like the class and if it would be worthwhile in terms of his development. We opted for the Tiny Tykes class which is developmentally structured for babies 7-13 months old. Our instructor lead us through stretches, dances, movement, and activities that are designed specifically for his age group. Greyson loved watching the other babies and exploring all of the activities they had laid out for him and his class. I really enjoyed that they encourage parent-child bonding throughout the whole class, but also offered opportunities for the kids to play and explore independently.

On the first day he was quite stimulated and seemed to really enjoy each of the activities. When we got home he literally went down for about 3+ hour nap, which was a gift from the heavens for us! My husband and I discussed whether or not it was a worthwhile membership and here’s what all we had to consider:

  • membership is $75/month and includes 1 instructed class and offers unlimited free-play sessions each week.
    • We scheduled Greyson for the 9am Saturday class and take him 1-2x a week to a free-play session to make this membership most cost-effective.
    • We can also change up his class whenever we’d like. Since Grey is a confident walker he’s almost ready for the Waddlers class.
  • scheduling and rescheduling make-ups for days we may miss are easy-peasy.
    • My Gym requires that within a billing period your child must make 4 of the instructed classes a month (1 weekly class for a month). There are times when we travel, like this weekend, where we will miss his class, but they have multiple sessions of the same class throughout the week so we just plop him into one of those upon our return home. So easy!
    • Also, when traveling you’re allowed to join a local class (worldwide locations available!) as a part of your membership. So when traveling check your local My Gym in that area and never miss a class.
  • they move and change up the activity layout each week.
    • Every time we’ve went there’s a new layout of activities to keep the kiddos engaged and moving.
  • each weekly class is aimed to practice and explore new stretches, play, dances, and movement which are geared towards the development of the children in that particular class.
    • For example, the Tykes class Greyson is in focuses on their developing hand, arm, and trunk control as well as balance, agility, and introductory tumbling. A lot, right?!
  • classes also focus on social and behavioral development as well. Children are encouraged to share, take turns, and have spacial awareness while playing and exploring.
    • We love that Greyson has a chance to socialize with other children throughout the week!

The Real Benefits

As you can tell it wasn’t difficult for us to sign on the dotted line after our first class. It was also nice to see that they were offering veteran families a waiver on their enrollment fee, which helps us out a great deal.

The Gym I Actually Look Forward To | |

After spending a month attending My Gym we both have noticed a considerable difference not only in Greyson’s abilities, but his overall attitude towards trying something new. He’s eager to attempt new things like climbing ramps or stairs (his new favorite thing to do) and it teaches us parents not to hover, which can be difficult to do sometimes. I love that their equipment is designed just for these little guys and gals, which puts me at ease and allows him to freely run around without me worrying of him bumping into a sharp coffee table corner (which, of course, has happened at home).

In a few weeks time he’s pretty much mastered walking, go from a sitting position to standing without assistance, attempts going up stairs by holding the railings and extending his feet for each step, and has learned to turn on his belly and crawl backwards slowly (think of a reverse crawl) to get down from a heightened surface. We have also noticed more of a willingness to engage other children, which I’m happy to see. All in all, we’re so happy with our decision to enroll Greyson.

The Gym I Actually Look Forward To | |

Learning to climb up a ramp.

Greyson loved getting to play and explore all of the different activities they had set up each class. I love his new sense of independence and learning to socialize with the other kids is priceless. I personally couldn’t recommend My Gym more for any parents out there looking for a meaningful experience for their child/children. Be sure to check out your local location!

BTW, I am not being compensated for featuring My Gym. I just love sharing companies and businesses that I personally love!

Have you tried My Gym before? What interests you about this experience for your child/children?

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Greyson Turns ONE! | 12 Month Update

Greyson Turns ONE! | 12 Month Update | |

Anticipating this moment when I acknowledge that my little guy turns one years old has been a constant feeling these last few weeks. I knew one day we’d be here, but as much as time seems to just fly right on by, I am always wondering just how fast a year really does go. So, to all other fellow mamas out there…it, indeed, goes by quickly so savor those little moments for in time you’ll be sitting here much like me wondering how in the hell we got here.

But nonetheless Greyson, as of March 10th, has officially became a one year old and here’s what he’s been up to this past month!

Date: March 10, 2016 – ONE YEARS OLD!
Weight: coming soon

Celebrated: my first birthday both in D.C. and back home in Ventura, Ca.! I also flew to Washington, D.C. while Daddy was on a work trip and visited the Natural History Museum and took a nap while Mommy toured the Holocaust Museum. I also got to see the Washington Monument!

Enjoys: I really love walking and beginning to run (more like a fast walking), playing hide-and-go-seek, and playing under blankets or making forts. I also continue to love reading and really enjoy all the new books I received for my birthday. Curious George is my newest, and most favorite, movie right now – I love watching George do silly things.

Dislikes: I am in the thick of stranger danger right now and do not like it when Mommy or Daddy leave my sight. When around new people, only Mom or Dad can hold me otherwise I throw a big fit.

Milestones: I am beginning to mimic sounds I hear most often, I can make the first sounds of the alphabet (A, B, and working on C), and repeat actions when playing with Mommy or Daddy. I continue to make lots of different sounds and babble all the time; often with great expression with raised arms! Oh, and I can make the sounds of a few animals when I see them like in my Dada book – Mom and Dad think it’s pretty adorable.

Learning: more and more about the world around me through taking blocks apart, dumping and throwing my toys from inside their bags or boxes, and learning to put them inside. I love fiddling with zippers, latches, or wheels. Stacking toys are fun for me and I love making noise by hitting everything I can find. I’m very curious about absolutely everything!

Greyson Turns ONE! | 12 Month Update | |

Greyson Turns ONE! | 12 Month Update | |

Greyson Turns ONE! | 12 Month Update | |

Greyson Turns ONE! | 12 Month Update | |

We had so much fun putting together and celebrating Greyson’s first birthday! We went with a luau theme and I have to say I’m so happy with how well it came together. More photos and a blog post sharing our day is coming soon! A huge thank you to all of you here who have followed me along in this journey of parenthood; from throughout my pregnancy, to giving birth, to now celebrating Greyson’s first birthday. Thank you for being a continuous supportive and encouraging group of women (and men if you’re out there, haha)…there’s no way I could have survived this first year without you all!

Here’s to many more adventures!

Greyson James: 11 Month Update
Greyson James: 10 Month Update
Greyson James: 9 Month Update
Greyson James: 8 Month Update
Greyson James: 7 Month Update
Greyson James: 6 Month Update
Greyson James: 5 Month Update
Greyson James: 4 Month Update
Greyson James: 3 Month Update
Greyson James: 2 Month Update
Greyson James: 1 Month Update
Birth Story

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The Daniels Take D.C.

We made it to Washington, D.C. where we are in town due to a work trip Greyson and I get to tag along for. This is the first time we’ve visited since Greyson was born (we took a quick trip during Thanksgiving last year) so we were looking forward to catching up with friends and seeing family.

 The Daniels Take D.C. |

 The Daniels Take D.C. |


Our flight was quick, thanks to a couple Bloody Marys and a showing of Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. Just like our trip to Texas, Greyson fell asleep during takeoff and slept sweetly the entire 4hour flight. I am so proud of how well he adapts to traveling. We were unsure of how he would take to the three hour time difference but overall he seems to have adapted fairly quickly.

 The Daniels Take D.C. |

Once we got settled in our room we were eager to grab some food and meet up with friends of ours for a late bite and some drinks. It was nice to see that our old stomping grounds have and haven’t changed since we’ve moved almost three years ago. The restaurants are all still there, with the exception of the forever growing 14th St NW. A lot of shopping and luxury apartments/condos stand in the place of the old neighborhood we lived in. You know gentrification is occurring when you can spot a Trader Joe’s, Soul Cycle, and a Lululemon within the same block.

The people are just as hustle and bustle, on-the-go in their own bubbles, complete with earbuds in their ears and phones in their palms. The young professionals have officially descended and brunch is still very much a thing. People watching during brunch continues to be a favorite pastime, almost like an urban safari, as I watch all the beautiful young people with a full set of makeup, a trendy outfit, and heels (HEELS! On a Sunday?). I suppose I remember the ‘good ole days’ when brunch meant you grabbed a shirt that was clean and sported a messy bun to meet with friends over a concoction that would ease that hangover from the night before.


The following day we managed to see a number of our friends we’ve been missing since we moved. It seems as though hitting the ground running since landing here on Thursday was beginning to take a toll on us – and Greyson. Saturday night is when things began to a take a turn for the worse as this is when Greyson began throwing up. Let me back up…


Saturday our friends hosted a little brunch gathering which allowed us to catch up with a lot of our friends. The town had a St. Patrick’s Day parade as well, but we never made it (something about prosecco and enjoying good conversation will do that). Instead we enjoyed drinks at a bar, then we peeled off for a moment to grab dinner at one of our favorite seafood spots in Alexandria, Hanks Oyster Bar. We enjoyed all kinds of food; Greyson of course couldn’t eat any of it so we fed him crackers and his packed snacks instead. Afterwards we returned to our friends house and stayed there, like old times, watching music videos and just enjoying the company.

Before we knew it, we realized Greyson hadn’t taken a nap all day (OMG, right?!) we fed him a bottle and within the hour he projectile vomited everywhere. After cleaning up and our clothes were dry, we caught an Uber back to our hotel. At first we didn’t think much of him throwing up, even though it was much more than just spit up. Later that night we pulled him into bed with us (even though our hotel is amazing and had a Pack ’n Play available to us) and after a small bottle he threw up again. This time we were beginning to think this is more than just a little throw up. We slowed down with the bottles, cleaned him up, and he was able to get much needed sleep. We were afraid that this was due to the stress of traveling or possibly motion sickness from being on the metro and in cars since arriving. Plus there’s the obvious like the extreme cold/weather change and different germs.


Sunday started off well, we all had a chance to sleep in and ease into our day. Greyson seemed to be doing better and kept down a little bit of formula at a time. We grabbed breakfast at one of our favorite places on 14th St and before the food could arrive Grey immediately fell asleep on my husband. We were looking forward to seeing my family later that day for a little birthday celebration for Greyson. My grandparents, cousin, aunts and uncles were there but as we grabbed an Uber and were almost to my parents house he threw up again all over the place. He just seemed so miserable and since this was the third time in less than 24 hours I felt in my gut we had to take him to the hospital to get checked out.

Heading to the hospital

Our driver was very accommodating and dropped us off at Inova Fairfax Hospital and we went straight to their emergency pediatric wing. We got checked in and by this point Grey seemed to be recovering from his upset stomach. I called my parents en route to let them know where we were and that we would keep in touch – hoping to still make it for his birthday party. We didn’t wait long before we were taken back and a couple nurses checked him out. His attitude and overall demeanor was normal, he didn’t have any diarrhea or a hardened abdomen, or appeared to be dehydrated. All great signs. They gave him a dissolvable Zofran tablet to stop the vomiting and we waited 20 minutes. Then he drank some pedialite and had a popsicle and we waiting to see if he’d keep that down. Within the hour he managed to keep it down so we made the decision after being discharged to try and make it to my parents house. Even though we only had a few minutes to spend seeing everyone before they all had to head home, I’m grateful that they stayed and waited for us. It surely wasn’t how I was expecting to spend his birthday, but at the very least he was able to see everyone for a short period of time.

Witnessing death

My parents let us borrow their car in which they had a carseat just for Greyson. We finally made it home and something put that day into perspective. When we drove up to the valet of our hotel my husband and I noticed there was a man, who appeared to be homeless, laying on the sidewalk near the street. It’s not an uncommon sight unfortunately in D.C. so we didn’t think much of it. I did hear him moaning, but again never thought much more about it as the homeless are usually on drugs or drunk. However, as we sat in the car I noticed a passerby happened to see him as well and went over to him and began turning him over. I was confused at the time but as I peeked outside my window I saw what looked to be white vomit coming from his mouth and that the woman was turning him so he wouldn’t choke. At this point I knew this man was overdosing and it didn’t look good.

I immediately took Greyson up to our room as my husband checked in with the valet and brought our things up. As I passed by the front desk a gentleman was talking to 911. As I got Greyson settled in our room, and  I took a peek outside our hotel window, which faces right out front, and by this time a firetruck had arrived and I could hear an ambulance in the distance. I noticed that the first responders weren’t moving very quickly at all, which is a sign that the man had died. The ambulance arrived and again they weren’t moving as if it were an emergency. My heart sank for this man. Here he was, unknown, and dying right before my eyes. The first responders placed him in a bag on a stretcher, cleaned up the mess he left behind, and carried him away. In that moment I prayed for his family and that his pain had stopped. That night both my husband and I processed what we saw. I had been stressing out about others and inconveniencing my family because of taking Greyson to the hospital when at the end of the day it pales in comparison to the phone call someone will be receiving; a phone call my own family knows too well.


As luck would have it, come early Monday morning I began to feel a little queasy myself. The tightening of my stomach and I knew this wasn’t a good sign. I had a feeling that since Greyson seemed to be on the rebound and I now felt sick, that possibly whatever he had he may have passed onto me. I found myself running to the restroom all day, feeling exhausted and trying to rest. My husband was to begin his first day of conferences and thankfully he got me some anti-nausea medicine, gatorade, saltines, and antibacterial everything before he left. I knew that if this were to go own this road I needed an arsenal to help keep it at bay.

 The Daniels Take D.C. |

I was miserably sick all day and on top of that had to care for Greyson. Thankfully he rested when I did and didn’t mind a day indoors to take it easy with mom. I got him all set up in his Pack ’n Play, his Veggie Tales on the iPad, and his books and this kid was good to go. I survived the day and my husband was pretty amazing considering he’s now officially at work on this trip. He went out and got our favorite noodles for us (from one of the first places he took me when we began dating) and returned my parents car. I was happy to see that thus far Greyson and I were both coming around and back to relative normal.

The key is to keep the hubs from getting sick.


Today is much better although it appears Grey has some diarrhea, although we’re thinking it’s mainly from the pedialite we’ve given him these last few days. Hoping it isn’t a sign that a little bug is still there, but I did read that if it’s, in fact, a stomach bug then we both could be contagious still even though our symptoms had subsided. The plan for today was to try and make it out to a museum, but with the possible rain and not wanting to expose others we may just enjoy another day inside. I know they’ll be a time to come back and share the museums and D.C. with Greyson, it’s just a bummer that I had so many plans that just went out the window. But, I suppose that’s life.

Tips for safe family travel + a few tidbits from our journey

  • Wipe down all surfaces in your hotel room that will be touched. This includes remotes, door handles, the thermostat, curtain pulls, etc. I would also recommend wiping down everything in the bathroom.
  • After a sickness, request new sheets and towels.
  • Keep bottled water stocked at all times and make sure not to share if you think you’re sick.
  • Buy antibacterial soap for the bathroom since most hotel soaps aren’t antibacterial.

Before any travel it’s just good practice to support your immune system and have healthy supplements packed and ready such as vitamin c or other natural remedies.

  • When booking your room ask to see if they can provide a crib. Most hotels offer them – and of course wipe it down. I also pack our own sheets, blankets, and mobile so that he has as much sense of home as he can – plus I know it’s clean.
  • We rented our stroller (wipe this down too!) from a great service called Babierge (baby + concierge). They delivered the stroller straight to our hotel (a $45 fee) or you can opt to pick it up yourself for no cost. They have a lot of locations around the U.S. so it’s a perfect option for those not wanting to travel with your own gear.
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