A Community In Pain

painBy its very nature, death makes you question things.

You question what you believe, what you thought to be true, and you question your assumptions about the way you, and others, are living life.

Death changes everything – some things temporarily, others forever.

Our community is in pain.

A community of students, staff, parents, relatives and friends will gather to memorialize Seth Budai, guidance counselor at Winters Mill High School, on Saturday. Seth waged a determined and dignified battle against cancer. He lived his life dedicated to the students of the high school. His testimony was one of sheer determination to never give up the fight.

On Sunday, the community will gather to memorialize JeannieBird, the beloved bakery shop owner, tragically killed in an accident this week. JeannieBird dedicated herself to sweetening life for every person who walked on Main Street Westminster. Her bakery is a gathering place of pure joy.

The North Carroll High School community is in pain over the fatal accident involving one of their teachers. When chaos comes, and families struggle to figure their way through the maze of pain and grief, there are words that help and ones that do not. May we be a community offering words of comfort.

Let me say it again – our community is in pain.

Chaos and disorganization are real. Things get messy. People ask you to explain what is going on, but you can’t explain. It isn’t possible to put into words what you don’t understand yourself.

  • the way you see the world is distorted
  • the way you breathe feels different somehow
  • the way you feel about life makes you question everything
  • the words and thoughts in your head seem like a foreign language
  • the beat of your heart is a distraction when it’s quiet

It is then that you have crossed over the invisible line; the line from which there is no going back. It is the line that divides before and after. How many times I unknowingly looked at the invisible line and uttered, sometimes out loud, ‘this is crazy’ or ‘I seriously can’t believe this’ or ‘can someone please tell me this is a nightmare – I think I am going crazy’ …

Our own losses affect how we interpret other people’s stories, and intersect with their pain. Everyone has a story; mine is one of pain, and I don’t always want to tell it, but there are threads of connectivity between those of us with stories of grief – deep loss and pain have common language.

There are precious and honorable existential moments in the sacred spaces of grief. Those moments are never to be taken lightly. They are moments when we find ourselves in the presence of the divine.

Life is heavier, slower, more deliberate now. Time is moving on, and life is continuing, but the absences are real and they are painful.

I pray that our words will be compassionate, honorable and consoling to the broken hearted.

May the God of love and grace comfort the families and may He comfort our community at large.


Ms. Cheryl Held




Today we remember and celebrate the life of our son – a day that I have decided to call ‘the last of the firsts’ …

The pain of grief changes us.
Over time, grief itself changes.

Pain has a purpose in the journey; it is part of the healing, but is an unwelcome companion.

I have come to understand why some choose to deal ineffectively with the pain of grief – because confronting it is hard work. Grief leads us into an unfamiliar maze, and challenges us to figure our way out.

When it’s hard to think, when feelings are jumbled, when words don’t come – that’s confirmation that the maze exists, and you are in it.

The maze of grief is our new reality.

Grief is slow, unpredictable, and unsettling. It evokes the deepest, most unfamiliar emotions I have ever experienced.

Grief is palpable – a full body experience. It is at times dull and achy or weighty, while at other times raw and crushing. The maze can be overwhelming, leaving the mourner empty, yet simultaneously filled with thoughts and emotions that are unfamiliar.

In my maze, God was ever present. The essence of my pain made His presence difficult for me to comprehend. It is a daily longing of my heart to feel divine presence and peace.

The physical and emotional pain of grief is, at times, indescribable. Some are unable to enter into those painful spaces in the lives of others.  Being with us in what I have come to call ‘the sacred space of grief’ is intimate and vulnerable; authentic.

Entering into that sacred space means you recognize the pain, and you are not afraid to be in the maze of grief; present with us..

The maze is too complex to manage alone.

Grief is lonely.

To those of you who have been with my family through any part or every part of this crazy journey, please accept my gratitude.

Thank you:
For listening to our hearts
For offering comfort
For accepting silence and understanding our lack of words
For acknowledging our fears
For encouraging us toward wholeness
For recognizing that we are in a period of refinement
For not being afraid of the pain
For your words spoken authentically
For the hugs, the texts, the messages …. the love

Thank you for walking through this year with us.

Bad moods, Irritability and Change …

Bad moods, Irritability and Change …

It’s that time of year – school routines have started. From kindergarten to college, few families are spared the moodiness that a change in routine brings.

For some, the irritability and moodiness is short lived. For others, it seems to be a test of daily endurance. Parents are posting on social media how anxious they are to return to daily routine, kids are posting they can’t believe the summer is over. Foul moods come as a natural response to change and the trick is to manage them effectively without harming anyone or anything.

  1. Understand it for what it is: a bad mood. Call it by name. Let people know what you need to help you through. Ask others who are grumpy what they need to help them through. The tough thing about the next few weeks is that there are so many grumpy people at the same time in the same places.
  2. Any idea what triggered that foul mood? Was it the change in routine? Are you tired? Understanding moods means understanding very normal feelings which could help prevent or lessen the next bad mood.
  3. Give yourself a break. This is a demanding time of year. Show respect and love to yourself and to those around you. This too shall pass – it’s a mood, not a forever thing. I, like most people, have occasionally chosen poorly or behaved badly based on my mood. See it for what it is and apologize when necessary. This shows good character.
  4. Make the choice to do something to end the mood. Do something positive. Calm the chaos around you. Simplify. Reduce or eliminate noise. Turn off electronics and television. Create calm and watch the mood shift.
  5. Tomorrow is a new day.Decide that your outlook will be positive, clear and calm. The simpler you keep things, the better you manage them. So here’s to you, and to your good choices.


Many blessings.