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Hello, My Daughter Died

Elli and Scott

Since Elli slipped into eternity 730 days ago, my daily reflections on her life have not faded. I still fold her pink pajamas and her flowery dresses, now worn by her little sister, some still slightly discolored around the neck from Elli’s drool. I love to watch Anna run and play in those clothes. They never moved that way with Elli in them.

The photos on the walls in our house, some taken weeks or months before she died, are of an 8-year-old Elli. It is strange to think that when we are 80, we will still have an 8-year-old Elli framed on our wall. We will not know a 10 or 12 or 25-year-old Elli. Her face is frozen at eight. I’m sure that is something all grieving parents have to come to grips with, and I still am.

I still dream about Elli. Often. In all of my dreams about her, she is active, able-bodied and full of life — more so than she was while on earth. I am not one to spiritualize dreams, but I have awakened many mornings with a smile on my face, because the dreams remind me that she is in that spiritual reality now. Heaven is hers.

Oh sure, tears can creep back in, in some scattered private moments when I least expect it. A speeding ambulance. A uniformed paramedic in line at Subway. A potato chip bag or a gallon of milk with the expiration date OCT 19. Small unexpected artifacts bring memories of the day, the morning she died, rushing back in.

Scott and Elli at her class party

Until the day I die, I will be a father of four. In my frequent “join-ups” with new colleagues at work, I will tell them about Elli because there is no other way I know. I cannot, with a good conscience, say, “I have 3 children.” I always say, “I have 3 children now. We lost our fourth, who was our oldest, at age 8 in 2008.” That feels right to me. And it has also opened up countless opportunities to share my faith that would have never otherwise emerged in a boring, get-to-know-you business lunch.

God has never stopped being good and gracious and kind in these 730 days. He has done much to mature each of us through what is often described as a parent’s worst nightmare. Her physical death has had a ripple effect of new spiritual life, both in our immediate family and beyond. Therefore, I cannot bring myself to call it a nightmare as I look back on it. All I see is beautiful grace budding up out of the ashes.

As Joy and I were making the short drive from the funeral home to the gravesite to bury Elli’s body, I remember turning to her and saying, “Time is going to go by so fast.” I was sensing the brevity of life at that moment, and how short a time we all spend from cradle to grave. Elli’s was especially short, but ours is not much longer, no matter how long we live.

I still sense that brevity — a bittersweet reminder that life is short, but heaven awaits. And today I am one year closer to seeing my little peanut again in the presence of the One I most long to see — the One who orchestrated it all the way He did, for my good and His glory.

We miss you, pumpkin.

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  1. Your words could be mind except my daughter was 9 and was my third. Nothing will ever take away that splintered part of my heart, yet I kjnow one day we will be reunited and until then Livvy and Elli are both safe in Jesus’ arms.

    • ioyu

      • My daughter died 1 yr and 5 months ago, she was murdered but the police say it was suicide, ive had4 people come to me telling me the exact same horrifying story on how she really died, she was only 21yrs old, she was my precious daughter i loved her so much, i cry every day and find life one big black dark place for me i dont want to live anymore but i am blessed to have a wonderful son just turned 18 yrs old, his name is Forrest, My daughters name is Roxxane Candace, my life didnt begin untill she was born July 19, 1989 she was my life, i was a good mom and every day was magical that I had her, i was blessed to stay home with her until she was about 3, and I only went back to work for a little bit, but my husband worked days and i nights so no babysitters yeah…she was the most beautiful baby girl, always happy, we got her a weenie dog when she turned 2 she called her katie bug, those were the days and i was blessed with my son when she turned almost 5yrs old. life was good, i never thought the day would come that she would die, i took life for granite, you,hear of others dieing but you never think it will be one of your own, i dont know how to life without her, nothing anyone says can make it better nor can anything make it better until she is ressurected i will wait….when i see her i am going to kiss her feet and hug her like ive never hugged her before, i will kiss her forhead 3 times, and feel he body warm once again, thats all i

  2. I’m trying to put together the right words, which is never easy – so I’ll just say Thank you. Thank you for sharing. Praying for you today especially.

  3. This is very heart-wrenching. My brother committed suicide at age 19, which was my first personal experience with grief. Now with three children, I can only trust God to hold the fragility of our family together since it is too great for me.

    • Jennie, I’m so sorry. That is so great a loss I can’t wrap my head around it. God is the only one who can hold us up and keep us together even in the face of such pain. I’m thankful for His grace and for His promises to bring something good out of everything…. even these terrible painful things.

  4. Scott and Joy,

    Your testimonies are incredibly powerful. The way you glorify God through your painful experiences is hard for me to comprehend. Both of you have been blessed with the wonderful gift of the written word. The last paragraph is wonderfully profound…

    “I still sense that brevity — a bittersweet reminder that life is short, but heaven awaits. And today I am one year closer to seeing my little peanut again in the presence of the One I most long to see — the One who orchestrated it all the way He did, for my good and His glory.”

    May God bless you abundantly for glorifying Him through your trust, obedience, and dependency on Him. Your rewards in heaven will be great. May He also comfort you and fill you with the peace that can only come through the love of His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Your brother in Christ,


  5. This was precious. incredible and written from a fathers heart. So powerful.

  6. Dottie Engle says:

    Oh my – how beautiful!!! Once again your post has brought me to tears, not only for Elli but for our Traci. You’re right that their faces are frozen in time – yours at 8, ours at 21. Some days that seems strange to me when others have children who are growing up before our eyes. But we’ll always have those wonderful memories of our girls won’t we? They will never be far from our hearts and minds on any given day. We love you guys and will be praying for you today.
    We miss you too Elli!
    Dottie and Terry

  7. Thank you for sharing both your grief and your hope and for touching our lives today. May God continue to comfort your hearts as you (and precious Elli) rest and trust in Him.

  8. Lots of hugs.

    Can I just say you have not lost her. She is still with you, you will see her again. She is just not in a physical body here with you.

    You are strong and I am sorry you have gone through so much pain.

  9. praying that you feel wrapped in love today, despite the unimaginable pain. this is a beautiful tribute to your daughter. she is lovely.

  10. “All I see is beautiful grace budding up out of the ashes.”

    So true, so lovely. Thank you for this beautiful post today, praying for y’all.



  11. Oh, grace, grace, grace! Tears this morning. Thank you for loving her so well and sharing her with all of us.

  12. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    My breath has been taken away for a moment. You’ve painted such a hopeful picture, I am so sorry today is such a
    day for you… bless your hearts, that was beautiful.


  13. Thank you for this post.

  14. Krista @ Life in Texas says:

    I’m giving my 8 year old daughter an extra hug this morning. Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Kelly Yakumithis says:

    Thank you. It’s been 130 days. My 6year old Elena. There is strength in you by Gods grace. I needed this story at this moment, and that is from God. Love and dreams…our girls are having fun in heaven

    • Oh Kelly. I just want to give you a big hug. I believe God created the body of Christ to carry each other through pains like the loss of our daughters. I hope that you have support nearby — people who will just sit with you, let you talk or cry or laugh or say nothing, and who don’t try to fix it. I am thankful that our post could encourage you today — it truly is God’s grace.

      • Kelly Yakumithis says:

        I am blessed with a strong support system, and I agree with you, Gods grace. I was led to your blog by a dear friend. my prayers are with you and your family. it is even a blessing to laugh!

  16. I just found your blog through the Band Back Together twitter stream (I am an editor on the site) and want you to know what an amazing site you have here and what a testimony you are to others. My son’s face and body is frozen at 24 days old. I mourn his death daily and it’s been 7 years. Keep inspiring others and keep talking about Elli for the rest of your days. (((hugs)))

  17. Wow. I don’t have the right words to express how truly sorry I am for your loss. It is refreshing to read that someone has deep faith in God. I believe in God. I believe like you do he has a plan. May God continue to be with you and comfort you. Love hugs and prayers to you and your family.

  18. Elizabeth Flora Ross says:

    I honestly don’t know how people survive a loss like this if they don’t know and trust the Lord. May he bless your family on this difficult day and always, and may you feel your daughter’s light shining down on you from Heaven.

  19. I weep with you as I too know this pain of temporary separation until we meet again in heaven. We have buried a stillborn daughter and a 16 year old son, both unexpectedly. We have seen miracles with a child, now 14, who we were told may live a year, had only a 30-40% chance of living thru her 2nd open heart surgery (since had a miracle 3rd one) and is a thriving active bubbly girl serving Jesus. But my mama heart has had dreams disconnected too, and it’s not the way God created us to have to go thru. The lump goes in my throat too when I see or hear an ambulance or aeromed helicopter. But what hope we have and am so thankful as He promised, though the night may be long, JOY does come again in the morning. May your mornings continue to be brighter and someday these tears us mamas have cried will forever be wiped away! Hugs . . .

  20. Thank you for sharing this because I have never known how to approach someone that has lost a child… do I ask about the child? do I say the family has 3 or 4 children? I can imagine it’s different for everyone. And although I can’t understand what it’s like to lose a child, I can understand always being a parent to that child. We never stop being parents.

  21. “Brevity” just took on a whole new meaning. Praise God for eternity and the place reserved for each of us there.

  22. Life is a vapor … so soon it is past. How blessed we are to have what little time together down here that the Lord allows. And now, though bittersweet it must be, you have a child in heaven. It’s a place we all long to be.

  23. Thank you for sharing your thoughts & emotions. Will be praying for you & yours.

  24. Patricia says:

    My 14 yr old beautiful girl also died. I want to die. I have no reason to live. I’m nothing. It’s been almost 2 years of nothing. I don’t know why we have to stand this.

    • Oh Patricia, I’m so sorry.

      Would you email me? joy [at] joyinthisjourney [dot] com. I’d be happy to listen. Maybe it would help at least to know you aren’t alone. If not me, please find someone to talk to about your grief and feeling of nothing.

      We will both pray, are praying, for you. You are everything to those who love you. You are very important to your family, and you would be missed as badly as you miss your daughter. Please don’t put them through what you are going through now.

  25. I’ve read through so many of your posts this morning…and have felt a connection to so many of them…but almost didn’t know where to comment or what to say.
    Maybe…just…. thank you.
    And Psalm 27:13 means tons to me… “I am still confident of this…”
    Ours was little when she died (5 months)….and I longed for more time…mourned (and still grieve) the things we wanted to share with her.
    But what you wrote above…about how many kids you have…
    It’ll be 3 years this April and I still feel a jolt of pain every time someone asks that question…and have come to a similar response.
    Because as you wrote…she doesn’t cease to exist….
    Heaven is real. And she will always be our child.
    Anyway–this post in particular resonated. The frozen photo that that others pass up in age….

  26. Thank you for posting. We have not lost a child to death, but our one adopted son has been in and out of prison for 24 years. In one sense it was the first relief to not have him in the home, guilt, fear, and relief is an odd combination to carry for so many years. In another sense, we could not stop loving him. Finally he came to faith in Jesus three years ago while in prison. Was it worth the 30 years of heartache? Yes, indeed. It changed us, we learned that only God can sustain us. Yet as we experienced the pain of those years, time seemed to move too slowly. Now looking back, you are right, it was such a short time. Now we have the ultimate relief, that if he dies he will be with Jesus forever.

  27. grieved mother says:

    My daughter died feb 15 2011 and I feel I am living a surreal life..I can not believe the rest of my life I will live without her right here…The tears flow constantly and throughout the day i see her I hear her and i cry whether at home or work day or night the tears just roll down my cheeks and i know how horrible this is …I live a surreal life knowing not only is life not the same but so much of me has died and my heart is so broken…I am left with ..how did this happen we are so incomplete there is so much unfinished business so much love not expressed.

    • My beautiful Kelly died (and I feel horrible every time I say that word) also on Feb 15, 2011 at the age of 25! I am so sorry for your lose and all the parents here who have lost their beautiful children! I do not want to be here! I do not want to live without her here! The pain is to horrific! My heart aches every day all day! I am so anxious inside waiting for this to not be true. I can’t stop crying sometimes for hours until I am totally exhausted! I feel I cannot take another day! Valentines day I will be waiting for her as the accident happened at 11:47pm. I used to think life was pretty good! I live in a different world now. A painful one. Love and hope to all of you! I hope time goes quickly and you are reunited as I can’t wait to be!

      • Wow, also February 15, 2011…That horrible unbelievable moment…it was all so surreal and still is unbelievable. I only know that you know the feeling and everything you say ..I totally get. She is still so much a part of my life…I see her in my mind, I hear her words and I hear her laugh…it truly just seems so impossible to believe that i am living the rest of my life without her here planning the holidays, the birthdays and just meeting for lunch and the phone does not ring…a mom is a mom forever and though I will never be called mom again …in my mind I hear her and know she is here with me. Together we must make a difference…something good has to come out of this awful experience. Love to you…February 15 is just a day way beyond our comprehension. God bless and i love hearing from you for you are someone that knows the “feeling”…something know one can know if they have not experienced this surreal loss…

  28. Dear Scott (and Joy), Even as I write this comment I feel like I have suddenly lost my words. All I can really think to say is thank you. I’m really quite unsure of exactly what I’m thankful for in knowing bits and pieces of your family’s story, but I am sure I am thankful of one thing — knowing you (well, knowing Joy, and knowing you, Scott, through Joy and your posts on her blog).

    I cried tonight as I read this post (a link back on Joy’s most recent). I cried because my heart aches for the loss in your family, and for the hole in your heart and home that will forever be there as long as your precious Elli is not. And I don’t mean to say that there is fill-less hole that you’re sinking into, but more to say that there is a hole only your family will know forever.

    It’s the same hole one of my dearest friends is now experiencing… the loss of one of her twins in the womb. Every moment I think of her, and I see baby clothes or small children running around the neighborhood, my heart aches. I’m not seeing or understanding the joy or “the plan” in this one. In fact, I’d rather avoid asking God the questions in my heart aloud because I know I will not like the answers.

    I feel like I’m rambling, but all I really want to say is thank you to you and your family for being a symbol of faith for me. I depend on symbols of faith like you to remind me of why we still believe in and love God despite the plans of his that we don’t agree with. Your story is faith for me, it’s strength and it’s love.

    Thank you for that.


  1. […] so well-cared-for by you. Your prayers and messages of support have been a means of grace through a difficult day. Thank you so much for showering us with such […]

  2. […] our local school district to put on a benefit concert for the Find a Voice Fund, established in our daughter Elli’s memory. A barbershop chorus came, in their lime green satin shirts and sequined suit coats, and put on a […]

  3. […] …Tears for Ellie again in the worship service at church, and the growing dread as October (it will be 3 years since she died) and winter (with its dark and depression) draw ever closer. (gratitude for the difficult graces… #435-436) […]

  4. […] heart ache and the reminder that what I feel is important and deep, and known by […]

  5. […] am linking to the post my husband wrote on the second anniversary of Elli’s death, and to one I wrote on her birthday this […]

  6. […] Joy and I’ve never met Scott, I love their family very much and think about them often… Hello, my daughter died from Scott on […]