Grief, memoir

If You Know…

If you know,

then you know,

that you know.

It was the 29th time that the day of her birth had come around following her death. Nothing much seems to have changed over the past few years. At least on the inside.

I kept busy that day, working moving dirt and readying the planter boxes in the greenhouse for planting. It was a beautiful sunny spring day.

And then out of the blue it hit me.

The memories I hold so dear were of a young girl in her mid-twenties. In the fullness of life, with dreams of the future, until the last few months when the sickness began to overtake her. But this day it is the year 2022.

She would have turned 57 years old.

Just typing the words seems surreal. I will turn 58 later this year so it tracks mathematically. But the heart knows nothing of numbers, only images stored in the mind and carried forever.

And I have no idea what she would look like were she alive today.

I have aged, gray hairs shining through my blonde curls. My whiskers when I let them grow are tinged with silver and the lines at the corners of my eyes and on my forehead are tell tale signs of the years that have passed.

But in my mind she is still that young girl.

In the prime of her young life, long brown hair, and sparkling blue eyes. The ravages of time had not yet made their mark as they do to us all that are blessed to live for many years. My mind is swirling.

I cannot picture her as 57 year old woman.

So, I wonder at this. Another wave of grief and loss assaults’ me. I feel as I if I have lost her again. For a second time, no a third time… hell I have lost count of how many times over the ensuing years.

I live on with memories from long ago.

I am happy. I have moved forward with a wonderful wife and daughter. And yet, I have watched my daughter grow into a teenager, and my wife has aged as have I. And my memories of her are frozen in time.

She has never aged.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? She never got the pleasure of enjoying more of life. Of family and friends. Even the aches and pains of a body that is worn and tired from a life lived fully.

But maybe, just maybe she did.

I smile, my heart is happy because in her almost 28 years of life, she lived every moment fully. She was alive, even at the end when the cancer racked her body, when everything hurt and I stood holding her hand to the end of our journey together.

I carry the grief and loss, right alongside my joy and happiness.

PS – You can read more of my story of grief, loss, healing and life after in my memoir Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry, available on many online platforms. I use my experience to coach others struggling with grief and moving forward from loss, let me know and we’ll schedule a 15 minute intro call to see if I can help. God bless, ~M

Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 10 – A Different Trajectory

In the last few paragraphs of this chapter I paraphrase the C.S. Lewis quote about nonsense questions that God finds unanswerable which we ask in the midst of our pain. How I believe God may simply wave them away in compassionate silence.

So many questions still linger to this day and I am better at living with no answers… most of the time.

Things happen, and we must just continue to paddle through the rapids of our lives. #ThingsHappen #Quote #Memoir #Grief #Healing #CowboysAreNotSupposedtoCry

I recall an incident at the cancer institute where I was overcome with emotion at the perceived lack of compassion and concern for my wife and I uttered, quick loudly, some obscenities in a waiting room full of people. I still carry a lot of the pain, the hurt, and the confusion from those events that occurred many years ago and yet I know that now I am not the same as I was then.

My fears that began when she was diagnosed and grew through her illness and eventually her death are still with me to an extent. Some I have reconciled and even embraced. Some I have buried and I know I need more healing. I leave that to God and his timing… but I must be an active participant when it is time.

Only recently as I embark on a new business of coaching and mentoring others through grief have I begun to truly ask the question of what it is that grief asks of us.

What has your grief asked of you?

Get your copy of Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry here >

And a review on Amazon or Goodreads would be very much appreciated.  Thanks again! 

Read my thoughts on previous chapters of my memoir, links below.

Part 1 – Reconciling the Past

Part 2 – Embracing the Present

PS – have a nice day and remember faith is a belief in the unseen.

Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Big Boys Don’t Cry, Remember?

The myth continues… that boys don’t cry.

Ummm… I call BULL$#!+

Scene from the 1989 movie ‘The Abyss’

This scene caught my attention the other night while watching The Abyss with my family.

Why do we continue to perpetuate this belief? We see it in so many things in our society and especially in entertainment.

While the statement may be well intended… what harm does it cause?

I have spent a lifetime trying to live up to this lie. You can read my story in my memoir “Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry” available on Amazon and other online retailers.

And yes the title is a play on words and the lie.

What are your thoughts about this?

Grief, Life, Stories

Things happen…

𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧…

𝑄𝑢𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑠 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑜 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑡? 🤔

From flat tires, to roof leaks, the horse favoring one leg, clients saying no, friends turning away, health issues, and even death.

𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧…

𝐻𝑜𝑤 𝑑𝑜 𝑦𝑜𝑢 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑙𝑒 𝑖𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑠 ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑛? 🤔

I am conducting market research gathering information from people like you about grief, loss, and healing. This data will help me to create the best resources for those who are hurting and struggling.

If you’re willing to answer a few questions send me a DM and we’ll setup a time to chat.

This is not a trick to get you on a sales call. Promise!

*𝘽𝙤𝙣𝙪𝙨 𝙋𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣: 🤔

𝑁𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑒, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑖𝑡 𝑐𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑢𝑡, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑜.

Share your answers in the comments. 👊

Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 8 – The Lingering Ambiguity

Disclaimer: This post was written the day after the Good Friday and Easter weekend that I as a Christian celebrate. This year was also the 29th anniversary of her death on Good Friday in the year 1993. I was 28 years old when she died, thus I have been alive longer without her than I was alive when she died. ~Mark W. Schutter

One if the many reviews and feedback I have received for my memoir. I am blessed and also left with this lingering ambiguity regarding my story and it’s impact on others.

Even after writing my memoir, having it edited and published I am still left with many unanswered questions. Many that I believe will never be answered this side of heaven. When someone is dying and the dreaded end is evitable what then?

All the promises and the vows that no longer matter, ’till death do us part.’ The heartfelt pleas and prayers that went unanswered while time simply marches on. The ambiguity that can surround grief often leads to feelings that emerge that are not common. The expression or stifling of those feelings can lead to disappointments, disagreements, conflict, and confusion for all involved.

Death can bring out the best in people and the worst. And in those moments grace for ourselves and others is sometimes hard to find.

I realize now of many things I did without much thought for the impacts on myself and others. I trudged through the days expecting more of myself, more of those around me, more from the world and from God. I have since realized that for many years I never gave myself permission to feel, to grieve my loss. (And that is a story for another chapter later in the book. 😉)

I was just beginning to learn how to embrace my life as it was now, not as I wished it to be, for that was the only way to see a future. #Grief #Healing #LifeAfter #Trauma

Get your copy of Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry here >

And a review on Amazon or Goodreads would be very much appreciated.  Thanks again! 

Read my thoughts on the first seven chapters of my memoir, links below, and watch for Part 2: Embracing the Present and chapters 9-14.

And yet, I still believe that there is always hope and hope is never a small thing!

Grief, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 7 – I Am the One Dying

To begin this chapter I share a dream I had some years previous that had I never shared with anyone before it found its way into my memoir, 𝐂𝐨𝐰𝐛𝐨𝐲𝐬 𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐂𝐫𝐲. I am still quite honestly surprised that I shared the dream unedited. 😉

“I do not understand?” he questioned her, fighting to quell his surprise and rage that was growing.

“No, you do not,” she stated simply, still not looking at him as they continued to walk.

The words hung in the air as she paused before taking a breath. He watched her as she continued to look straight ahead, staring off into the distance as she calmly added in a tone of finality,

“I am the one dying.”

CHAPTER 7, I AM THE ONE DYING, PAGE 71 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Thus ended the dream from which I awoke my heart pounding. There is much more detail to the dream that is revealed in my memoir. If you haven’t purchased my book, go buy a print or e-book copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes (shameless self-promotion! 😉).

Have you ever had a dream from which you wonder at it’s meaning, even as you know there is truth spoken in the dream? Luka’s comment in the dream that she was the one dying definitely spoke a truth that I was unwilling to acknowledge while she was alive. I often found myself denying the truth and unwilling to face the reality of her illness.

Yet, I hope I am wiser now and realizing that we are all traveling different roads. Our roads will parallel and cross over others at times but ultimately we each must journey alone into the alone.

The words hung in the air as she paused before taking a breath. He watched her as she continued to look straight ahead, staring off into the distance as she calmly added in a tone of finality, “𝙄 𝙖𝙢 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙙𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜.”

CHAPTER 7, I AM THE ONE DYING, PAGE 71 – MARK W. SCHUTTER, Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry

Why is it such surprising news when we know that each one of us will face dying, both our own and that of ones we love.

God, Life, Writing

What Would You Say?

“A YOUNG AND OLD VERSION”

If you had a chance to go back in time and talk to your younger self what would you say?

What sage advice have you gained over the years that you could share?

Would you attempt to smooth the way and make life easier for yourself?

Would you give encouragement despite the hard times that are to come?

What would you tell your younger self is most important in life?

If you could go back in time and talk with your younger self would you? And what would you say? #WickedQuestions

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. ~Ecclesiastes 11:9

Again, I ask you what would you say?

God, Grief, memoir

Revisiting Chapter 6 – To Love What’s Leaving

We are all dying day by day, but following the diagnosis, I instinctively knew death would find her, statistically, probably before me, and it happened much sooner than I had ever imagined.

CHAPTER 6, TO LOVE WHAT’S LEAVING, PAGE 61 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Rereading this chapter now I struggle to come up with any coherent meaning to it. We were both denying the reality of her illness I guess, or at the very least the seriousness. However, we were also continuing to live in the face of it. An odd juxtaposition to me even now. It is hard loving someone who is dying, but as Stephen Jenkinson says in his book Die Wise, loving someone is not inevitable, loving someone who will die is.

We go through our days sometimes blissfully unaware that we are all dying a little our days on this earth numbered. And that is okay, even when the reality that time is limited smacks you in the face. You go on and in the daily rhythms of a ‘normal’ life you find some peace and satisfaction regardless of what others might tell you. You must find your own path, ask Jesus to reveal it to you and ask him to walk with you. He will and that is what matters.

To Love What’s Leaving – What is Your Experience?

I did not understand the grief. My heart was broken and yet, I never wanted it to mend. – Chapter 6, To Love What’s Leaving, Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry #Memoir #WritersLife #Grief

Read my thoughts on the first five chapters of my memoir, links below, and watch for the next one in the series – Chapter 7, I Am the One Dying

You can order your print copies and the e-book today, and one or two or three… as a gift for some else who is struggling. PAY IT FORWARD!

  • You can also contact me here on my website using the contact form to purchase signed copies. God bless! 👊
Grief, memoir, Writing

What Grief Are You Still Carrying?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ~Matthew 5:4

Hello friends!

Been absent for awhile just allowing the mud to settle if you will so I can see a little bit more clearly. Spending time with God in prayer and just being silent.

Lots of grief coming up lately that has been heavy on my heart. Both from the past and the current situation.

I am realizing more and more that after almost 29 years I am still carrying my grief. And really that’s ok. My grief and longing over what was lost and might have been can, and does, exist right alongside my joy and peace.

I mourn and I am comforted. I grieve and I am blessed.

What are your thoughts? 🤔

What grief are you still carrying? Tell my I am listening. #WickedQuestions

And if you stayed with me and read this far thank you. If you would leave me a comment or even just a 👊, 👍, ❤ or whatever so I know I am not alone.

Thanks again and I pray each of you is blessed. 🙏

PS – You can still get a copy of my memoir, 𝘾𝙤𝙬𝙗𝙤𝙮𝙨 𝘼𝙧𝙚 𝙉𝙤𝙩 𝙎𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝘾𝙧𝙮, either print or e-book at the following:

Thanks for the support and a review on Amazon or Goodreads is always appreciated! 👊