On the death of a daughter

On Thursday my friend Debbie Holloway texted me to say her daughter Tatum had just been killed by a hit and run driver in Miami.

I could hardly breathe.

There’s no place in my brain to begin to understand how the death of a child sends your soul into Code Black.

I can’t imagine how long it takes before you can laugh again. Can you ever laugh again?

I wouldn’t dare fling cheesy Christianeezy clichés about God causing all things to work together for

Not now. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

So I’m not writing this to jump on the grief bandwagon or to make it about me or to filter this family’s tragedy through the grid of my experiences.

But on Friday morning I woke up to a text from another friend, Kirsten. She said she’d been up half the night staring at the wall of pain looming before the Holloways and wondering if they’d find a way round it.

Then she read the devotion I wrote in Walking in Grace for December 8. Yesterday. The day after Tatum’s death. It’s the re-telling of a story Debbie told me years ago, to encourage me in our journey with Cameron, and remind me that to parent is to sow tears and reap joy. It was one mom of a differently-abled child blowing wind in the sails of another mom of a differently-abled child.

I first wrote it down in 2014 – not knowing it would hit the shelves again in 2017 – and not knowing the reality it would land in, this week:

Dec 8.png

When Job lost everything, his friends just let his unspoken agony lie between them on the ground. Because, no words.

Incredibly, when Job lost everything, he didn’t lose hope. Because, God.

So today, I don’t feel like believing. But I’m compelled to believe in the God who answers before we even call to Him. I’m holding onto Immanuel – God with us – as we sit silent with our friends in the dust.

. . .

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  1. Hi Dalene,

    I don’t even know if you will get this, but I feel COMPELLED to write to you, because you are just to freaking awesome for words! You write as if my ears and heart were shaped to hear exactly what you have to say. Your gift, sister, is NEXT LEVEL.

    Now, I left South Africa in 2002, but please tell me you are a big deal there? Because, really, what you have to say NEEDS to be heard!! I forward your emails to a group every week, because I just need to share your honest, hard-hitting, hilarious take on life as a God-fearing, Christ-loving woman.

    I just adore you. Thank you SO much for putting pen to paper (finger to key?).

    Lots and lots of love,

    Sozon Smit XXX

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Absolutely breaks my heart…thank you for this beautiful post. Only Jesus can lead them along this very dark valley to the place of beauty, sunshine and peace…the very heart of the Father


  3. I was given your book last week at a Christmas girl scout leader party. God knew I needed it. I needed not just another book I needed to know God is there when life is messed up. He is there after child estrangement and your 1st granddaughter is born full term stillborn. He is still there when your father in law is diagnosed with dementia and you don’t know what to do each day. I know my Savior lives and He holds tomorrow. Thank you for your gift of words and encouragement in a dark world full of hurt and the promise of God’s hope. I shared this same devotion yesterday . God bless.


  4. Hi Dalene

    No there are no words no express the pain a mother experiences when losing a child.

    I lost my daughter last year 1 October. I have been re-living the pain and sorrow the past few days since hearing of the Holloway’s loss.

    All I can say is that firstly, God’s grace, joy and peace has been enough. His joy enabled me to laugh even on the day of her death.

    Secondly, I immediately made the choice to LIVE. I had to live for my children and grand children who are still HERE in the current realm. Some days are hard… A big part has been physically torn out of my heart, so I have to make the choice to live again and again.

    And thirdly, the community at Hatfield CC, and the Griefshare Course has enabled me to carry on living.

    But I will never be the same person again as on the 1 October 8am……

    I will be carrying the family in prayer as well.

    Annette Roos


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