Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 3 – Walking Away

Sometimes you have to walk away…

Chapter 3 began taking shape in my mind following a conversation with my therapist. As usual we were discussing Luka’s death and the impacts on me, when I mentioned that in the moments after she died. I spoke about remembering standing by her bedside where she lay. Thinking to myself, there was nothing else I could do. I had to and needed to walk away. Yet, I stayed for several moments by her bedside.

I knew I needed to walk away. To turn from this lifeless body that lay in front of me that had held my whole world. There was nothing left for me to do for her.

I recall my therapist staring at me in silence for several seconds before he spoke softly. “It’s interesting in all my experience you are the first person to talk about that. I mean we talk about the death and then we jump to the funeral proceedings and all the logistical things around death. No one has ever mentioned before, those moments immediately following someone dying and what those left behind have to do.”

I swallowed hard and responded, “Yeah, her death was peaceful and calm but then what? I stood there, knowing she was dead and then realizing that was it. I had to turn away from everything I knew and walk away, leaving her there alone. That was hard.”

I don’t recall if I thought about all those things that would never be again or just the among of willpower it took to move my feet and leave her behind. Our time together in the physical world was done.

“Time together was the only thing, just being with her, sitting talking, watching movies, and holding her hand, so many things that I now believe may have helped her breathe a little easier in those moments.”

CHAPTER 3, WALKING AWAY, PAGE 40 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

There would be no more talks, no more movies, no more time together. Only the memories of what once was. I still carry those memories, nothing can take them away, although the edges of my memory may have frayed and faded a bit. That is just time eroding what once was. I was heading towards my 29th birthday…

“I was lost at sea with on wind in my sails. I had the freedom to do, to be, to go anywhere I wanted, and I did not want that freedom. I was free to walk away. How do you reconcile that?”

CHAPTER 3. WALKING AWAY, PAGE 42 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Here are links to my thoughts and revisits of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Order your copy today, and one or two or threeโ€ฆ as a gift for some else who is struggling, 

You can also contact me here on my website to purchase signed copies.

PAY IT FORWARD!

Grief, Life, memoir

When You Ask A Man How He Is.

“I’m alright.”

A man says “I’m alright” when asked how he is because nobody cares?

I tend to disagree with the last line in the audio of the video that a man simply responds “I’m alright” because no one f&%king cares. I think others, men and women, do care.

The problem is we don’t always know how to care or show that we care. We don’t know what to do or say, especially men. We get uncomfortable with the feelings and vulnerability that this question invokes. Life is a struggle at times and no one is immune. Why can’t we acknowledge the struggle and the pain that we may be feeling?

Are you uncomfortable sharing your true feelings and if so why?

I think we have been programmed, again especially as men, to ignore our feelings of sadness, pain, regret and grief. And women are programmed to expect men to respond this way. Remember boys, and men, are supposed to be tough and strong. But why do we stereotype a man who is hurting and feeling as not being strong and tough?

What strength does it take to confront our pain and heal from it?

I talk a lot about expectations, real and perceived, that I accepted from society, family, friends when I was grieving. The impacts it has had on me and the struggles in my book – ๐˜พ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™—๐™ค๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™š ๐™‰๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™Ž๐™ช๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐˜พ๐™ง๐™ฎ.

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.

When you ask a man how he is and he says “I’m alright.” #CowboysAreNotSupposedtoCry #MentalHealth #Men #Healing #LifeAfter #Trauma #Pain #Loss #Grief

What emotions and feelings are you hiding from others?

Grief, memoir, Stories

Revisiting Chapter 2 – A Far Better Place

Alone into the Alone

A far better placeโ€”the phrase echoes through my mind, and my faith tells me to believe in this. As a Christian don’t the words of our God tell us there is a far better place?


Yet I ask, what does that mean, and how do we know? We don’t know I often want to scream back. Instead, I and nod in a feinted attempt at agreement, holding onto hope, that there is a far better place.

An interesting chapter and maybe the most philosophical of the entire book, as I ask the questions that many have asked before me. The theological questions of life after death, what happens to us, is there a heaven and if so isn’t there a hell? Even atheists and agnostics with no faith in a god or a higher power have asked the question, wondering what is there after we die?

The last paragraph of chapter 1 of my memoir Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry speaks of Luka’s belief in a far better place. (You can read my thoughts and revisit of chapter 1 here.)

Luka was the one facing her own mortality, not me. She was the one who must venture alone into the alone, not me. I wonder even now what thoughts ran through her mind that she did not share with me. Or worse still those thoughts she did share and I have long forgotten. Her words tossed aside as if they were of no more importance than a scrap of garbage. What are you supposed to do with that?

Believe… in life after otherwise what’s the point?

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes
Grief, Life, memoir, Stories, Writing

Pay it Forward – Will You Purpose to Commit Intentional Acts of Kindness?

Signed copies of my memoir being packaged for delivery!

There is still time to order your own copy and one or two or three… as a gift for some else in time for the holidays. PAY IT FORWARD! ๐Ÿ‘Š Available in print and e-book.

You can also reach out to me here on my website to purchase signed copies. Here’s some comments I have received from readers –

  • Your story touched my heart in more ways than I can even explain. Even though it triggered a lot of sadness and emotions it also gave me hope.
  • Just finished the first chapter of your book and I must tell you how beautiful your words are. You have such an amazing gift. Thank you for sharingโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ
  • I will have to say I have never read a book like yours before. I read a lot! I do want to tell you that this book is absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing your feelings.

There is always hope of ‘life after…” and hope is never a small thing. #CowboysAreNotsupposedtoCry #Memoir #Grief #Healing #Trauma #LifeAfter https://www.amzn.com/1639031022 

Grief, Life, Writing

Pain – It’s Not a Competition

It is not a competition, although some will try to make it into one.

“Yeah, but let me tell you what happened to me…”

We all have stories to tell and they should be told. There is often healing in our sharing and it may give others hope. There is resilience and a vulnerable courage in sharing our pain and also our triumphs.

There can be “life after” if we choose it and others stories may help us get there. But sometimes, preaching to myself here, we need to shut up and just listen. Or sit in silence with someone in their pain.

There is more than enough these days to go around.

(Read Job 2:13)

Stories, Writing

A Conversation – What is truth?

Sharing a piece of writing I did recently below, let me know what you think in the comments.

โ€œWhat is truth?โ€

The words like honey slowly covered me in the air around me. He sat quietly, his eyes soft and inquiring. Simply waiting as if he had all the time in the world, which he did.

I averted his loving gaze as my feet scraped the linoleum floor beneath the table. I fidgeted in my seat and running my hand over my head and through my hair before looking back into his clear eyes. Eyes that carried so much emotion, strength and power. Like the ocean waves that never ceased washing up on shore it was hard to look away once our eyes locked. My upper teeth bit into my lower lip as it curled inward and I swallowed hard. I felt the lump in my throat like a huge wad of dry bed I could barely get down.

And still he waited his hands clasped in front of him, fingers intertwined, as they rested on the table top. I stared across the dark wood of the table and took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. His expression did not change. My voice trembled as I began to speak, the tone carried none of the sarcastic authority that I had intended.

โ€œWhat is truth?โ€

He continued to stare, his eyes softening a little at my remark causing my anger to rise and leaning forward I spat out the words.

โ€œYou quote those words back at me like I am the villain here? You have no idea what I have been through. How hard this is.โ€

I sat back in my chair as shame washed over me as soon as the words had let my mouth and hung in the air between us. And yet his loving gaze never changed. My mind swirled and I felt myself feeling light headed. I grasped the edge of the table to steady myself before softly saying.

โ€œI donโ€™t know what you want from me.โ€

He only stared, as small smile played at the corners of his lips. We sat staring at each other for several seconds, his eyes never leaving my face before he said in a soft voice.

โ€œYou can trust me. You know that donโ€™t you?โ€

I swallowed hard again my throat was dry. I reached for the glass of water on the table and before I could reach it, he swiftly reached out his hand and gently pushed it towards me. I smiled through clenched lips and nodded a thank you as my fingers closed around the cold glass. Bring it to my lips I drank deeply the cool clear water cascading down my throat like a waterfall over the edge of a cliff.

I set the glass down heavily back on the table with a loud thud as it slipped from my grasp. I quickly glanced up at him in surprise at the sharp clack of the glass with the wooden table top. His expression still did not change and as our eyes met, he said.

โ€œYou have not answered my question.โ€

I feigned what I hoped was a surprised ignorance and spoke in a voice that I hoped conveyed a non-interest, โ€œWhat question is that?โ€

โ€œI did not come here to play games with you. Time is short and there is much to do.โ€

His response was immediate and pointed his voice rising only barely from the soft-spoken words of earlier. Although, I could feel the emphasis that emanated from his comment. I hesitated knowing he deserved an answer to his question but afraid of my own response. He sat back in the chair and continued to speak and although subtle his tone seemed a shade softer.

โ€œYou remember the stories I have told?โ€ He questioned, continuing not waiting for me to reply.

โ€œI use them to communicate truth. I know, I know we are back to the beginning now. What is truth? Right? The age-old question that has haunted man, driven him to seek, and even caused him to go against his very nature at times in the quest for truth. There truly is no depth of depravity for the truly wicked. But that is not what we are here to discuss. So, I letโ€™s get back on topic, shall we?โ€

He paused for a moment staring intently at me. I nodded slowly, my throat was now dry again and I glanced quickly at the now empty glass on the table top, licking my lips as I did so. He continued to stare at me and if his gaze had not been so unobtrusive it would have been unnerving but rather it felt oddly comforting.

โ€œI am, and all I am asking if for you to believe and if you trust me.โ€

I felt the swell of anger explode like a volcano spewing lava and clouds of ash into the air as I grabbed the table edge hard with my hands and shouted.

โ€œWhat is truth? Do you trust me? Why the questions, why the damn questions! I am so tired, tired of trying and yet, I donโ€™t know what else to do. I am seeking this truth you mention and also trying to trust. I least I think I am but it gets me nowhere. So, I ask you who do I trust? If I trust you are there others also? What then? What then!โ€

โ€œIs it too much to ask that I find some solace and answers to my questions. Living in this dungeon of mystery is almost too much. The darkness seems overwhelming and suffocating. I wander through the days each no different from the one before and on and on it goes.โ€

โ€œYou say trust me, what then? You are the only one I trust and stillโ€ฆ it seems to get me nowhere. You see that donโ€™t you? How could you not understand? How could you sit there just staring like it doesnโ€™t matter? What is wrong with you? I always believed you cared, I always wanted to believe that you cared. Now it seems I donโ€™t matter? What am I supposed to do with that?โ€

โ€œEvery inspirational Hallmark card couldnโ€™t make this better nor fix things. It is what it is.โ€

My voice trailed off as I shrunk back in my chair exhausted from my outburst my eyes averting his gaze. Finally, after several seconds of silence I slowly looked up and the love and concern emanating from his eyes overwhelmed me. The strength of his gaze would have knocked me to the ground if I had not been sitting in the chair. As it was, I felt my back press tighter against the wooden slates behind me.

โ€œI only ask that you trust me. The rest is often irrelevant and often inconsequential to this story. Your story. For you see you can only read a book one page at time, on word and one sentence at a time. This also applies to your life. For it is only lived forward, not backwards and not all at once. One step, or one page at a time. And we donโ€™t see what is on the next page until we get there.โ€

He smiled and I felt the warmth of his love wash over me. I nodded suddenly so weary it was all I could do to hold my head up and keep his gaze. Leaning forward he reached a tanned arm across the table and gently took my hand in his. It was warm and comforting, soft and rugged at the same time. I bowed my head, my chin to my chest as the tears began quickly rolling down my cheeks and falling onto my leg causing dark blue spots on my jeans.

Continuing to hold my hand he said nothing. I cried, the tears flowing easily and effortlessly and I let them come. It was cathartic and if I had wanted to, I donโ€™t know if I could have stopped them. After a few minutes the tears ceased to flow and I lifted my head to see his eyes still staring at me with the same look of compassion and love. I heard the sound through the open window of the last autumn leaves rustling in the trees. It was a melodic wind chime sound of nature. For a moment I was transported.

The meadow in front of me was vast, the tall golden grasses waving in the breeze. On the far side of the meadow was a stand of aspen trees. Their leaves were still in full glory and they flashed as golden coins suspended at the end of each small whiteish branch. The sky overhead was a canvas of blue as the sun was sinking behind the mountain range far to the west. I scanned the scene reveling in the solitude and quiet. Nothing here that troubled me mattered and all was as it should be. I felt the last rays of the sunโ€™s warmth on my arms and I relished the embrace. I stood motionless listening to the soft rustling of the grasses. It felt like home, or at least what I imagined home to be like, for I had never known what a real home was.

Warm, comforting, and inviting.  Most of safe, a place where one could go to retreat to escape to and also to move forward. My soul yearned for just such a place and I felt the warm tear roll down my check before it touched my lips and I tasted the salt on my tongue. The voice came from nowhere and everywhere at once. It surrounded me and held me fast in an embrace.

โ€œDo you trust me?โ€

I slowly nodded my head as and heard the shriek. Quickly glancing up into the sky I saw the red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead across the meadow. He circled once before flying off towards the aspen grove and disappearing over the tree tops.

โ€œIf you want to know, what truth is you must trust me.โ€

My eyes shot open and he was still staring at me with love and concern. As I stared into his eyes, I would have sworn I saw a hint of sadness there also.

memoir, Writing

There is and can be ‘life after…”

Print and e-book available now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Here is the video trailer >

What do you think of when you hear the word grief?

How would you describe the experience, your experience?

๐—–๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜†๐˜€ ๐—”๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ก๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—–๐—ฟ๐˜† > Available now on Amazon > https://www.amzn.com/1639031022ย #Grief #Memoir #Healing #Men

God, Grief, Life, Writing

Do you feel alone? Maybe, you are not as alone as you think.

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. ~Luke 5:15 NASB

Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. ~Isaiah 43:5 NASB

These things I have spoken to you to that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33 NASB

There are a lot of troubling things going on all over the world right now. Whether you agree or disagree with decisions being made, I think we can all agree that the current state of affairs is troubling. As we watch events unfold we cannot help but think and worry about the impacts on your personal world. Our families and friends, our workplaces and places we visit all are feeling the effects.

I am in the midst of many changes in my personal life and the decisions often seem overwhelming. However, I trust the one who has the answers even when he doesn’t reveal them to me. I talk a lot about this in my memoir ๐‚๐จ๐ฐ๐›๐จ๐ฒ๐ฌ ๐€๐ซ๐ž ๐๐จ๐ญ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐‚๐ซ๐ฒ which was just published by Christian Faith Publishing and is available on Amazon.

I have to remind myself that I am not truly alone and there are others struggling with decisions and impacts as well. I think we have a couple of options:

  1. Trust God. This is where our faith determines our outlook and do we believe that God is still in control despite what we see happening all around us.
  2. Reach out in service of others. Those around us who are experiencing similar things, let us help one another grow as individuals and communities.
  3. Shrink back. This should not be an option as this only serves to isolate us more and allows fear, distrust, and distress to grow. (โฌ…PS – this is exactly what the enemy wants us to do.

Now, what will you choose?

Do not rejoiceย over me, enemyย of mine.
Thoughย I fallย I will rise;
Thoughย I liveย in darkness, the LORDย is a lightย for me.
~Micah 7:8

Grief, Writing

My Memoir is Available for Pre-sale!!!

Although not officially released my memoir ๐—–๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜†๐˜€ ๐—”๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ก๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—–๐—ฟ๐˜† is now available to purchase through pre-sale on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com – go order a copy today!

My publisher Christian Faith Publishing is currently converting the book to the various E-book formats to upload soon. They are also creating a video trailer for the book and a press release to go out to thousands of media outlets including bloggers, journalists, newspapers, television and radio stations, websites and book reviewers. When the press release goes out that will be the “official release” for the book, but why wait?

Go order your copy today! It is a story of love, hope, and healing.

Again, you can now purchase the book online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Soon I will be offering autographed copies through my website here, along with some other promotional events and giveaways to compliment the book. Stay tuned for that!

How can you support me and help promote the book?

  1. Buy the book (hardcopy and e-book), read the book and share on social media, post a review on Amazon, Goodreads etc.
  2. Buy the book (hardcopy and e-book), read the book and share on social media.
  3. Buy the book (hardcopy and e-book).

P.S. – I am planning an audio version of the book to be available soon also!

Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement! 

Go live your dreams because there is life after…

~Mark (Exodus 15:3)

Grief, Photograph, Writing

The Waiting is the Hardest Part!

๐—–๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜†๐˜€ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—บ ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐˜†๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ป’๐˜ ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ถ๐—ณ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—บ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด! ๐Ÿ“ท Carri Schutter

๐—–๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜†๐˜€ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—บ ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐˜†๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ป’๐˜ ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ถ๐—ณ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—บ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด!

Sometimes you just need to slow down and breathe in the moment. It has been a crazy couple of weeks and with everything going on around the publication of my memoir. The other evening I was blessed to go out to the barn with my wife and daughter. It was a quiet evening just the three of us and the horses, those are the times and the memories I cherish.

What about you?

As we approach the upcoming release of my memoir > ๐˜พ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™—๐™ค๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™š ๐™‰๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™Ž๐™ช๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐˜พ๐™ง๐™ฎ as a precursor I encourage you to take a listen to the conversation with Ronit Plank as a guest on her podcast ๐—”๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—˜๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜†๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฑ last January talking about life, death, grief and healing.

Click on the graphic to go to the podcast episode.