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Monday, March 24, 2008

Dancing with Grief Plus 1 week

Sunday at church I met a dear little girl named Hannah Grace. She was born on a week earlier, on March 16th--my daughter Jolene's birthday.

A nice coincidence except for one thing.

Jolene committed suicide on one of the days immediately prior to her birthday. Sometime between Thursday night and Saturday.

Jolene Elizabeth Franklin would have been 24 years old on her birthday. Like Hannah, we had committed our child to the Lord from birth. And the "Jo" part of "Jolene," from "John," means "God is gracious."

So although Hannah Grace sounds nothing like Jolene Elizabeth, her name resonated with me.

Seven days ago at 9:30 PM, I sat petrified in my living room, waiting for the officer who had taken my missing persons report to call. He finally notified us at 11:30 at night.

Now we know. This side of heaven, I will never again hear my girl's laughter or have her rub my back. The memorial service is completed. Family has returned to Oklahoma. Today I spent a hard day chasing done legalities--bank accounts, death benefits, getting the key to her apartment so that we can clear it out. All those things took days to accomplish because we have no death certificate (we won't until the tox screen returns in 2 months), no will, no experience and no one to give us a users manual for grieving family members. I am exhausted beyond what I imagined possible.

But perhaps I will see Hannah Grace again next Sunday. And be reminded that God's grace continues, His faithfulness endures, and life goes on.

I know that many of you have lost children due to various reasons. Others have lost loved ones to suicide. And those who have not those particular pains have gone through your own vale of suffering. I want this blog where we can all share, lift each other up, and cry on each other's shoulders. Feel free to share.


Mary Connealy said...

God bless you, Darlene.

Darlene Franklin said...

Thanks for setting it up, Mary. You did a great job.

Susan Page Davis said...

Darlene, we'll continue to pray for you and your mom. Your new site is beautiful, as is your tribute to Jolene.

NancyMehl said...

Keeping you in my prayers, Darlene.


Dana said...

Continuing to pray for your peace, my friend. Dana

Darlene Franklin said...

Thanks for your continued prayers, dear friends.

Pam Meyers said...

Praying, Darlene.

Lianne said...

Oh Darlene, I am so sorry. I have been out of town for over a week and am only just getting all caught up on emails. I'm glad you've set up this blog, and I hope it helps you as you try to heal from this. My prayers are with you. I cannot imagine what you are going through right now, but God does. May He bless you with an abundance of grace.

Tracy Ruckman said...

Darlene, may God comfort you as only He can during this difficult time. You remain in my prayers.

Robbie Iobst said...

Darlene, I never met Jolene but after attending the funeral I feel I know the kind of special woman she was. The service was really beautiful and what you and Jaren wrote about Jolene was such a lovely tribute. I am praying for you every day during this difficult time. This blog is a wonderful idea, too, for you and others.

Janice Thompson said...

My heart is with you, Darlene. I wish I could wrap my arms around you and let you cry on my shoulder.

As for the new baby... You probably remember that my dad, sister and good friend (Robin) all died within seven months of each other. I noticed (and it's almost eerie) how many babies were born in our family during that same time-frame. We actually have more people in our family now than we did before. And every baby is a reminder that life goes on. It's hard to think about, really, but it's true. Each new life is like a whisper from God: "I'm still here. Life moves forward."

And you will move forward. I know you will. There will be hard times, of course, but the pain will lessen a little bit as each month goes by.

I love you, girl! Imagine me hugging you. . .right now!

LaShaunda said...


My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

Sometimes writing about your grief helps with the pain.

May the Lord be a comfort to you and continue to share. Your words helps someone elses hurt.

Anita Higman said...

God bless you, Darlene. Praying for you today.

Anita Higman

Darlene Franklin said...

Robbie, thanks for coming! Those of you who weren't there don't know that Robbie, along with photographer Tonya (Varden?) put together a beautiful display of Jolene's poetry with pictures. Janice, dear girl, I consider myself hugged. Thanks for the rest of you for expressing your care and concern.

Trish Perry said...

Darlene, my heart is just broken for you at this loss. I know your pain is difficult to imagine fully, but I'm sure Jolene, regardless of her age, was always your baby. Please know that we're all praying for you and crying about your sweet girl.

Katie said...

I will keep you in my daily prayers. I heard this from someone who was confused about why the pain of losing someone so abruptly could still be so fresh even years later: The pain may never lessen through the years, so don't worry you're crazy if you continue to have feelings of great loss for a long time. But every day if you can turn to God and ask him to help you make the BEST of THAT day and then remember your daughter with love and compassion, the days will be easier over time. All my love goes out to you and your family.

Darlene Franklin said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Katie. My mother lost her husband several years ago and pain still washes over her from time to time.

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

Praying for you, dear Darlene.

My husband and I lost a son many years ago, the anniversary of which draws near next month. While it's true there are moments we still grieve, our God is an awesome healer. Every time I am reminded of our loss, HE reminds me of our gain in heaven one day. Be assured, God will not forget to comfort you, beloved.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Darlene, out of great sadness can come great joy.

How wonderfully gracious of you and Mary to set this up, allowing others to share. That's a beautiful and magnanimous thing.

Although that doesn't surprise me.

God bless you and all whose hearts are troubled or weary.


Missy Tippens said...

Darlene, Mary told me of your loss. I'm so sorry. I'll be keeping you in my prayers.


sherron said...

Darlene - I have your name from Marlene as I am on her prayer team. I know your pain and wish I didn't. Our 21-year-old grandson, Miles, fataly, purposely shot himself five months ago. He was bi-polar and paranoid.

I cannot help you with your anguish except to share it as one who is there now.

I can help you with some of the details and "how-toos" if you wish. I live 35 miles west of Lakewood CO and come to Denver vincinity once or twice a week. I have learned that healing comes in small pieces and especially when reaching out to help others, so let me help you. My phone # is 303-567-0274 and my email is
Peace- Sherron Slavens

Me said...

Darlene, I'll not say cliches, or clever anecdotes. I'll say that I can only imagine what you face moment by moment. To coind a phrase our family uses, you had a month year last week. You are in my prayers.

Cheryl Wyatt said...


You and your family are in my prayers.


Cheryl Wyatt

mamacow2 said...


I'm sorry for your empty arms. Like so many others, I can relate. Both joy and grief leave many faces on our hearts.

Remember to take care of you during this time. Grief and exhaustion come in cycles and it's important to allow yourself to feel whatever emotion swells within. God gave us emotions. He's lived them all.

May you have the courage during the deepest of those to crawl into His lap and allow "Abba" to comfort you like no one or nothing else can. He truely understands.

He will fill you with joy again.


Julie Lessman said...


I have never met you, but I am a friend of Mary's and now you too. My heart grieves for your loss, and my prayers beseech our God on your behalf, that His holy comfort and grace will carry you through.

Darlene Franklin said...

I can tell one frustration I will have with this blog. I cannot respond (or even read) comments while I am at work. :( So many beautiful thoughts. So many who share my pain. So many who care. Thank you all. As we share, I truly believe the burden will lessen because more people are holding it. Thank you for your vulnerability.

Darlene Franklin said...

As we go through this together,we will have to continually hold each other up. We need to be alert when the other has a fresh paroxym of grief, and try to help the other go through it.

Bonnie Leon said...


Two and a half years ago, my nineteen-year-old neice was killed in an auto accident. We still grieve, but it is better. My sister and I are very close and I have walked this long and lonely path with her. I know a lot, but I can't REALLY know what you know. But God does.

My prayers are with you.

With love,

Bonnie Leon

sherron said...

Darlene -- My daughter (the Mom of our suicide grandson)said it best. "I make a list of all I plan to do in a day and then cross half of it off." That is how we still are five months later. Be patient and kind to yourself. Sherron Slavens

Darlene Franklin said...

Sherron, what sound advice. Thanks.