About

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Photo credit: thejenproject

Hi, I’m Clara Hinton, and I’m a writer and a speaker. Many of you know me from my writings about child loss on FacebookClaraHinton.comSilentGrief.com, which actually began many years ago, and through the book Silent Grief.

I love helping people, changing the way we view grief, and anything to do with flowers and Italian food.  I began practicing writing and speaking before small groups when I was a little kid, and it is a real privilege for me to still be doing what I’m passionate about as a big kid!

I started this blog with some soul-searching questions:

  • How can parents survive the heavy grief of losing a child?
  • What does it really take to begin to see hope following loss?
  • When will it feel like life is worth living again?
  • Why does the grief of losing a child hurt worse than any other grief?

What I found in this search was a community of individuals who shared many of my same struggles and needed the support of like-minded friends.

This place is where we come together to show our support, to learn and grow, and are accepted as broken people who want to know how to live again. If you are struggling through the grief of losing a child, a grandchild, or a sibling, then this blog is for you.

I’d like to give you a bit of my background about how I became passionate about creating ways for families of child loss to get much-needed ongoing support. The very first time that “loss” meant something to me was when my sister Carmella died at age 13.  To this day I cannot put into words how her death touched every area of my life!  It was truly the most horrible, lonely pain I’ve ever experienced.  I liken it to hell.  Carmella died alone in the Atlantic City Hospital in New Jersey.  I will talk about the story of her death later on as we get to know each other more.  I have just recently forgiven myself after many, many years of living with guilt and shame for the part I played in her dying alone—away from all family.  Nobody should have to leave this earth alone—especially not a scared little girl who wanted nothing more than to have her family by her side.

My life has been blessed with living children, but at age 22 something happened to me that I never dreamed would be part of my life.  I miscarried my first baby.  This miscarriage took place during a time when there was little communication about what a miscarriage was, and I was scared out of my mind when I began to hemorrhage finally ending with passing my baby at home.  To this day, I still have occasional nightmares from that loss.

Sometimes life leads us down a road we never thought we’d travel.  Throughout the course of my married life, I lost six babies to miscarriage and delivered one stillborn baby boy, Samuel.  He was precious beyond words.  Sadly, I do not have one picture of my sweet little baby boy.

The grief from these losses felt at times like I couldn’t go on living.  I didn’t share my pain with others because, quite truthfully, it was during a time when very little was said about child loss.  Women were somehow expected to be stoic and strong.  How that’s possible when experiencing the pain of child loss, I do not know!

After years of struggling with emotional pain, panic attacks, depression from loss, and  not knowing how or where to find any type of healing or relief from this pain, a book was born.  During the dark hours of the night over the course of nearly a year, my heart poured out onto the pages of a book called “Silent Grief.”  If you haven’t read the book yet, I hope you will.  I know that you will identify with so much of what is shared in this book.  And, anybody who has experienced the loss of a child knows that we need validation more than anything else when seeking support.

 

Thank you so much for visiting. I’m hoping that you’ll join in and share your thoughts so that together we can grow a community of supporters.  Be sure to enter your email address to subscribe to this blog.  You’ll be given a brief email notification when a new post has been made.  I know you won’t want to miss each new post!

By the way, my two biggest hobbies are photography (mostly nature pictures) and gardening. I love both and can be found outside anytime the sun is shining!

I’m so happy to be here talking with you, and I’m looking forward to your comments, thoughts, and your questions as we travel this journey of child loss together!

Love,

Clara

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35 Comments

  1. Clara,
    I am an 70y/o greatgranma,who lost her 22 y/o grandson 4/4/13, this day had been the hardest day of my life to except in my time line of life. By now you would know that I have had loss of loved ones in many different levels of this journey the Lord has blessed me with. But this was and still is again one of the loneless times each day, I allow myself to focus on John Phillips life/death. I have some very great memories of my 1st grandson, on his 13th birthday, I took him on his first airplane trip to Houston to go fishing, (he loved fishing), so he and I spent the most wonderful weekend, I rent a convertable and we found a fishing pier to spend a whole RAINY DAY on this pier and fished with him, no matter what the weather was. He was so excited he new he would catch the largest fish he d ever catch, he asked all the people on the pier fishing, “what bait to use” We had such great weekend, so now I focus on the best of his 22 years here with us. So I thank you for the site, b/c Ive had so much I want to share, but know place that could understand the real feelings a Granma feels for her 1st Granson John Phillip (first time Ive written his name since 4/4/13)

    1. Violet, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your grandson. I think you are such a blessing to focus so much on the beautiful times you’ve had with John Phillip. It sounds like he was such a wonderful grandson and he enjoyed his time with you so very much! Your times spent fishing sound wonderful! I think sometimes others don’t understand how much of a heartache grandparents go through when a grandchild dies. I’m so glad you’ve found this site, and I hope you’ll visit here often for comfort and support. Again, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your grandson, John Phillip. May your memories with him be a lasting comfort to you!

  2. Thank you Clara for your message! (Vicki Sharp) this site is so wonderful because most of us have never faced such tragedy. We all need encouragement it seems like every day when my opens I realize my life my world will never be the same. I am a Christian and know God did what was best but my goodness it’s so hard to go forward. I’m 61 and really I just can’t wait to go home. There is nothing or no one that can fix my broken heart but a god. I admire what you are doing. I am pleased through our major legislation some other Mother will not have to suffer such heartache. Thank you for all you do!!!

    1. Vicki, I think of heaven every day, and every day it becomes more and more real. Without faith, I’m not sure how we could make it! Thanks so much for your kind comment. I love having this place for us to meet, talk, and be encouraged! Life is far too lonely when we try to travel this road alone!

  3. Morning Clara. This heartache of a death of a son, has turned our family over. When i got divorced i moved in with my mum. The boys and i love her so much and she us. We are unusually close family unit.
    My dad died when i was four and i knew the day he was going to die. I shared it with my mum and she knew of my ability to “feel” things. So when it happened it was expected yet beyond words traumatic that i could be right……..again…..at the age of four! That was the last time i “felt” things.
    That is……..till June 29,2011,
    my son had been living with my mum for three years as we worked and lived in the middle east. She was helping him keep focus in his studies and keep out of mischief.
    For a reason unknown, we decided to come home after 3 years and 1 month in Bahrain. We could have gone elsewhere but i wanted to be with my boys again, then 22 and 23,
    We got home to South Africa and lived 11hours drive away from them. The november before his last christmas he came to visit us. We has the best time EVER! No mommy preaching, just pool, lazy days and chilling! Christmas was the second time in our whole lives that we were apart for the holidays. We went to the Cape to just chill after a hectic year moving and setting up home again.
    Then June 27 we had a phone call that was special. For no reason we kept reiterating how much we love eachother. He told me i was “the bestest mommy” and he loved me”like all the grains of sand on the beach, all the drops of water, all the leaves on the trees…….and all the grass on the earth!” That was our little “thing”!
    The was killed on his bike by an impatient man, talking on his phone, jumping a que to cross the road in his huge 4×4! I knew something was wrong and called. His phone was answered by a paramedic. Must say his phone was badly damaged yet God allowed the call. His grandmother was there as he took his last breath on the tarr. I knew it as i stood on my knees in the driveway of a friend, 11hours away by car, away from my son. peace came over my desperate prayers and i knew my son was with my father, grandmother, grandad, stepdad and most of all…….JESUS!
    His memorial service was arranged by his best friends and it was spectacular! Huge! It then came out he had spent the whole day “visiting” every person he knew and could see. His mates warned him that he was using up his weekly quota of fuel and he did not care. He had a desperation to hand out chocolates and see everyone he could.
    Did he know? YES! I believe it. I felt him die, i know my son! We were one soul! We were one entity!
    At 24years old Tertius Phillip Heenen known as Phil Odendaal (cause his father had nothing to do with him out of his own choice) became an angel. How do i know that? Cause Jesus came to bring Tertius to me, with his arm wrapped around his shoulders! Tertius knew he was in the wrong in so many things and looked humbled but Jesus had him nestled under his arm! Tertius was nearly six foot! Jesus was bigger!! My son is safe in the arms of Jesus!!
    Tertius came to me before that to say goodbye. He was there infont of my bed as i slept, we chatted a desperate conversation, i got up and tucked him up as i always did when he was small, then he died again infront of my eyes. No matter how i shook him or screamed, he had to go! I saw the peace on his face as he left. My son was gone.
    We moved back into the house he grew up in and i have, over two years of desperate sadness found an equilibrium of peace. His brother at 27 broke his engagement and moved in with his gran. She needs no “babysitter” but we all need eachother. So now we live, looking forward, remembering good times and laughing at bad, but always together!
    Tertius Phillip Heenen aka Phil Odendaal is not lost, not gone for now………those leave a window of hope open that he can be found…….he is deceased! Dead! Finality that must settle on the mind but memories must live on in the heart! I know where he is! And THAT is cause Jesus promised us that he would look after us! Faith is all i have and it has become even stronger!
    Miss you my biker son…..like all the leaves on the trees…………….

    1. Dawn, This is just another example of how “our children know” when it is their time to die. I believe it with all of my heart, and your profound story emphasizes it even more. This is not coincidence that your son made all of those visits prior to his death. He knew, just as your knew. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for the death of your son, but heaven is waiting!

  4. I found your site from a friend who shared it on facebook. I have not followed any support groups until now because I didn’t think any would help. I lost my 22 year old daughter almost 3 years ago and still to this day just want to hear her voice and see her smile again. You know, I get frustrated with people when they say they know how I feel and they have never had to go through this. Some people think that since she was an adult that it’s not the same as losing a young child and I’m here to tell you that it is just as hard. No matter their age they are still our children and they are not supposed to out live our children. So all I guess I really want to say is Thank you for starting this group and giving people like me some where to look for support.

    1. Tina, I’m so glad that your friend shared this site with you. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your daughter. It makes my heart hurt so bad just thinking about it. Once child loss touches our lives, we know the real meaning of pain. It’s horrible. 🙁 And, you’re so right — many people want to minimize an older child’s death. But we know there is no distinction — our child is our child at any age, and we love our child with every fiber in us.

      It’s always my prayer that someone will receive a bit of encouragement and validation when traveling this difficult journey of child loss. My many thoughts are with you. Again, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your daughter.

  5. I’m so happy I found your website. I also lost my son on 2/24/2011 all though it has been three years it still hurt as if it was yesterday. I thank God everyday I still have my oldest son, Brian. Thanks for allowing me to share.

  6. I just found this site..I have been praying for a place where I know I am not alone. I lost my son 9 years ago…and some days it feels like yesterday. I know I will see him again..but until then. I must find a way to live fully again. I feel like I am stuck in limbo. thank you for this place to find comfort.

    1. Cheryl, I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. There is nothing to compare to the pain of a mother’s heart. You’re so right — it’s now up to us to find a way to live life fully again. It’s heartbreaking to know why you are here, but I’m so thankful you’ve found this place where you can come and receive comfort and encouragement.

      1. Ilost my son 28 yrs ago, he died tragically with his father, your words are so true, it’s just like it happened yesterday and I truly identified with you when you say you feetyou are in limbo, fot that is just how it feels. It does help to talk about it, that is why this site is so important. Xxx

  7. Clara, I found your site from a friend who shared it on facebook. So glad I saw this and finally I dont feel alone. I lost my son Ewald 19/4/2013 he was my youngest child my baby…..only 30 years, a father of 3 children and the youngest asking when is Pappa coming back. Thank you so much for this site, Clara, somewhere to express my feelings. Feelings nobody can understand and feel how we feel. It’s 2yrs 6 months and it gets worse every day, remarks from people doesn’t makes it easy…….they hurts you more and more. I’m so so sorry for you and all the parents here for the loss of your children. Thank you so much.

    1. Alida,
      I’m so very glad you’ve found this site, also. It is always my prayer that every person who visits this site will receive some kind of encouragement. I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your son Ewald. I think it hurts us a thousand times more when our child that died left behind children who miss their daddy so very much. It’s impossible to explain to them what happened. All that their young, tender hearts know is how much it hurts. My love to you. I pray that somehow, some way there will be peace again.

  8. I just found your site, by googling walking the path alone after the death of your child. I lost my son Cameron on 12/3/14. I have walked this path of grief basically alone, and I have a family, or shall I say had a family. I found my son passed away, I remember trying to give him CPR, be was still warm, but did not have a heart beat. I recall crying out to GOD to not take my son he was my only child. Yes I received numerous so many calls that were deeply appreciated and about 4oo people came to the funeral. When all was said and done, the calls stopped. Which I knew that was normal. Time showed me who were my friends and family and who were not. My family was not there which hurt very deeply. I found out who my friends were. Work??? What a laugh!!! I won’t even go into that. Let me just say a month after your child dies your boss tells you you need to just forget about it and go on with your life. My heart hurts so bad!!! I miss my son more and more each day.

    1. Lorrie, I’m so very, very sorry to hear this. I think those of us who have experienced child loss also know the pain of abandonment by friend. Few are the friends who will stick by us through the thick and thin of losing a child. I hope you’ll continue to read this blog, and receive some much-needed support. My thoughts are with you in a very sincere way.

  9. We lost our Dalton June 8,2015. Forever 19. He is one of our four sons. Miss him & love him more than words can ever say.

    1. Taralee, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your Dalton. Missing one child is like missing the world. We never feel the same or whole again because we aren’t the same or whole. How can we be with such a huge part of heart missing?

      My love and prayers go out to you. Again, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son.

  10. I just found your website. I am a Christian woman, but even still, I feel like I can’t bear the excruciating daily pain that wracks my soul and pierces my heart. I know we as Christians should always have “hope” for a brighter tomorrow, but right now, it’s early in my horrific grief and I see no bright future ahead. Along with mourning, I also have a deep, deep depression. My horrendous, unbelievable story is this: On Nov 17th, 2016, I lost my very beloved 30 year old daughter and her 2 daughters, my precious grandbabies, only 5 and 18 months. They were shot in the head while sleeping by her husband, Lance, also the girls most-loved Daddy. Until this fateful day, Lance was the kindest, gentlest, loving husband and father you would ever want to meet—totally devoted to his family, kind to everyone. In his mind he felt like a failure because he was not going to graduate with his Masters Degree, as he had told everyone he was going to. He placed too much importance on that degree! (In 2015 he ran away rather than confess to everyone that he wasn’t graduating). He NEVER, EVER showed one sign of being depressed in the days leading up to what he did. Obviously, he was, but we are all stunned how he could contain it like that; I’m sure not even his sweet, loving wife knew! This was a BEAUTIFUL family….very beloved by so many people in their congregation. I ADORED my Amy, my Claire and my Abi more than words can say. I doted on those grandbabies and they were the joy of my life. We are all so TRAUMATIZED that our son in law could do something so heinous and despicable, to those he loved the most and they adored him. Every day is a battle to just keep on living. I do believe in Heaven, the Ressurection, and that I will be with them again someday, but this pain that I am going through is BEYOND EXCRUCIATING. I spend the majority of my days crying, often hysterically and with panic attacks. I miss my 3 girls so bad and the wonderful relationship we shared and the thoughts of not being able to see them anytime soon pierces my heart and soul with undescribable pain and suffering. Every day is sheer misery. I am clinging on by a very thin thread and if it werent for my 20 year old daughter and my husband, I probably would have already committed suicide, in the hopes I can be with them. I have been through many, many trials in my life (including other loved ones dying) but nothing like this. I go to a therapist to help me with grief, but so far, nothing helps. EVERYTHING is a painful reminder of them and all the wonderful love and joys we shared. Even the memories are painful. I can’t look at pictures of them at all, without it increasing my grief. HOW OH HOW DO I GO ON, HAVING LOST THREE AT ONE TIME, AND IN SUCH A HORRIFIC, SHOCKING MANNER? I am in the pits of despair.

  11. I am also new to your website and the pain is still very fresh and raw to me. My oldest son of 19 was killed in a auto accident this past July 4th 2016. I am so very lost without him in my life. Life goes forward but you constantly think how how how can I move forward and be happy or enjoy life. Is it possible?? I have my 17 year old son who survived the accident and he is a blessing to me and everyone he meets. He has actually been my rock during these last several months. I worry that I am so lost and deeply saddened by Hunter’s death that Ryan may feel like I can’t ever be happy with him and enjoy our life together. God, friends, family, co-workers, and strangers have been pulling me through but that void is so real and always there. Thanks for being so proactive in this because there are so many people that suffer as we do. May God bless you all.

    1. Trina, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son Hunter. The grief is beyond what we can explain in human terms. In the months to come you’ll have so many mixed emotions — ones that you never experienced before. That’s normal. You’ve been through the worst kind of pain and trauma known to mankind.

      Be kind to yourself. I’m sure that Ryan understands the love you have for him. He, too, is feeling a lot of the same pain you’re feeling over the loss of Hunter. It’s such a mixed bag of emotions!

      Please know that my heart weeps with you. Love, Clara

  12. Hi Clara, it is now 15 months ago, as my sons silent birth. My only child. The last 15 months, since the doctor said “it is death” i needed to find out the hart truth that i was left allone. The first Person i called, was my mother just to hear from her “you are always making Problems”. At this Point i thought, well, good that you at least have some friends. But i was wrong. No one of my alleged friends, which i was helping so often, was there. Not even for this simple help, to give some Food to my cat as Long i am in Hospital. I needed to ask and pay a stranger to look after my cat. I was going allone to the Hospital, going allone through the birth. I was like a machine at this time. Feeling nothing. They not even asked if i want to see him. Just few hours after a Pastor was comming to my Hospital room even as i told them, i do not want her to come. Well her meaning of Support was to come in and ask if i know if it was a Boy or Girl and to say reproachful “it was a Boy, i have asked”. And saying immediately “you have to burry him”. Few days later i was comming allone back home. In a home where ony my cat was waiting. I was going allone through organizing the funeral. Fighting allone to see my son only one time, allone going to the funeral house to see him. At least going allone through his burry. My mother was not going, becouse of her sickness she ist not looking good enough. As it would be important. Just 3 weeks after the funeral the local Pastor was comming, bringing me a puppy to replace the loss. knowing well, which a Problem i had to find someone for my cat as i was going to hospital. A dog can not replace a child. And what should happen to the dog, when i would get sick and needed to go to Hospital again when there is no one who would care about? And so the last 15 months. Left allone. Just Forget and carry on. Hearing from some People, no worry, the next time it will be going well. Well in the last 15 months it Comes out, i would Need more then a miracle to just try, and even when i could get pregnant again, just a Little Chance that my Baby would be Born alive. And the only one that my mother have to say is “in your Age you do not Need children anymore. if you wanted to have some, then you should get them 20 years ago”. Not thinking about, that within 20 years it was the only one time, that i was getting pregnant. That since more then 15 years becouse of hashimoto Syndrome and wrong Treatments were a steadily up and down in which my hormones and Body were playing crazy, and there never have been a real Chance before. And now, i am so tired of the empty hope. And so tired of all the “good meaned comments” like this “without children you have more Money and more time”. Well, Money and time for what? Or “you have still your work”. Well, work can not replace everything in life. And all the Money and all the time of the world means nothing, when there is no one with whom you can shear it.

  13. I just lost my 26 year old son in a motor vehicle accident. I believe in Jesus, and still find myself inconsolable. He was a beautiful man.

    1. Heather, I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your son.
      You’re heart is going to feel inconsolable for a long time simply because you love your son so much. Your belief in Jesus will help you in the months ahead, but for now our Lord weeps with you. Again, I’m so very sorry. 🙁

  14. I am a grandmother of 6, the 6th one having passed away October 12, 2016 from SIDS at the age of 3 months old, this is the most horrible pain I have ever felt. I try to go through the days and smile, I try to be happy when I see pictures of my friends grandbabies that are the same age as he is. It hurts so bad, I want to be the one sharing pictures of the milestones he is making, but I can’t because we don’t have those pictures. My heart aches for my daughter, all I know to do is just be here when she needs to cry or scream or vent. I find comfort in your site and things that are posted on Facebook. Thank you

  15. I loss my two boys. Having 2 children, and loosing both. It feels like hell on earth. I haven’t found any one that can help me. Nor can they understand Loosing their entire family.

  16. I loss my two boys. Having 2 children, and loosing both. It feels like hell on earth. I haven’t found any one that can help me. Nor can they understand Loosing their entire family. At 22 my oldest son was killed by a drunk. The son I just lost was from a heart attack. He was 51. The only one that could under stand would be someone that has gone through the same as I have.

  17. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your words. My son Henry passed away Oct18,2016. He would have been 31 in Jan 2017. He has 2 young sons ages 9 and 3. I am raising them now. They have been what makes me get up every day. I don’t have much support. I find it hard to talk to my other 3 children because ​I don’t want to worry them. That’s why I am thankful for your group on FACEBOOK. Although it saddens me to see others suffering from a loss of a child, I am glad that someone else understands the pain that I can’t explain to anyone. So thank you again for helping me when I need it most.

  18. my daughter was 19 years old when she left the house 1 night 10yrs ago,
    I presumed(wrongly as it turns out)to meet friends.was missing for 6 weeks before being found dead in a ditch.the guilt each day gets worse,i shouldve
    known what she was up to, i couldve prevented her killing.the added media attention, ie, regular letters asking me to take part in documentaries,(because
    it was a serial killer)despite my not polite objections, the tv companies still
    go ahead,making money for themselves out of others misfortune. i dont know
    for how much longer i can go on,but i have to for my other family members.

  19. I LOST MY YOUNGEST IT WILL 2 YEARS SEPTEMBER 2ND 2015 HE WAS AMBUSHED AT A YIELD SIGN IN SAGINAW MI AND SHOT SEVERAL TIMES HE JUST TURNED 21 JUME 27TH HE HAS A BABY GIRL HE WASNT QUITE 4 MONTHS OLD JUST A FEW DAYS AWAY.STILL HAVE NO AMSWERS TO WHY OR WHO THANK YOU SINCERLY SUE RICO

  20. Im so glad I came across this site which popped up on Facebook, a grieving mother has a hard road to travel and by sharing this we can help each other in some small way. Xxx

  21. Hi Clara, I am so happy I came across your Facebook page today. Since I lost my son on November 23, 2016 I have wanted to start a support group of mother’s who have gone through the loss of a child in my area. It is just hard for me to get it started. It’s almost like I want to do it but not doing anything about it because it is too painful to think about. I really feel that this is needed in this day and time. I know so many mothers personally who have gone through this horrific painful life altering tragedy and I want to bring us all together so that we can help one another.

  22. I lost my 45 year old son, Aaron. He died of liver failure, lung failure, kidney failure and heart. He had Alpha1 of the liver. It is a genetic disease. The father and mother are both carriers. When he was born he was jaundice, bloated stomach, thin arms and legs but rallied and lived his life playing sports, working, being a Daddy, being a husband and lover of God. He suffered terribly.

    The date? March, 6, 2017. Yes, my heart is broken but I am so thankful for my other two grown children.

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