Writing your Grief Course – Today’s Prompt

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.


In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I just started a course on grief. The course is called Writing Your Grief. Every day, we receive an email with a writing prompt encouraging us to explore an aspect of our grievance.

Today is Day # 3. I haven’t shared any of my posts with the public yet, but I’ve decided to share this one. Without getting into details, today’s prompt was about how do we live in a landscape that changed (I was living in the forest, now I live in the desert).

Here’s my story that makes an allusion to today’s prompt. For the ones who didn’t know Zackaël, I just want to mention that jumping was Zackaël’s favorite activity.

How do you live in a landscape so vastly changed?

We were living in a rainforest. Carl, Maxandre, Zackaël, Adélie, and I, even built a little cabin in the trees.

Every day, the richness of the forest made us discover life. The great diversity of plants and animals gave us completely different experiences. We were so well surrounded. We would wake up to the sound of birds and count the butterflies that came to us.

In the forest, the air was clean and fresh. After the rain, there was always sunshine. The alternation between rain and sun brought variety to our activities.

In the reflection of the raindrops on the leaves, we could even see our joy of living.

From tree to tree, we hooked up ropes and took turns bouncing. Our little Zackaël, skilled as always, would tumble in the air to swing with ease between the trees. Pure joy!

Maxandre and Zackaël would often grab their little sister with them and all three would spring forward.

Bright white, the beautiful big clouds allowed us to jump on them, high in the sky. What a joy! Our little athlete Zackaël always got so excited when he saw bouncy clouds. He would jump and show off his spins and turns, so effortless and gracefully.

The green of the trees, Zackael’s favorite color, was a rich green that went beyond nature.


However, on November 17, 2019, with no warning, we were shoved into the desert. We don’t really know how it happened. That day, we couldn’t see the forest anymore.

From that day, we knew we were in the desert.

At first, the wind was very strong, maybe even a sandstorm. The wind carried fine particles of sand and dust that entered our eyes. We had a really hard time seeing ahead.

After the storm, we gradually come to the realization that Zackaël is gone forever. He won’t come back. As much as he loved to jump up high in the sky, he has now reached heaven. The sky has no more clouds. Our Zackaël can no longer jump; his last jump was so high that he went to join the stars.

There’s no longer a cabin to protect us, we only have each other. We were five, but now, we are four. Only the four of us are stuck in that desert.

The rain in the forest has now turned to tears. The intense heat of the desert dries our tears as soon as they fall on our cheeks.

Devoid of vegetation and inhospitable, life is hard here; only a little cactus here and there. Be careful not to touch them, they are full of spikes.


Maxandre is lying on the sand. He is out of breath and looks at the sky trying to see his brother. But the sun is blinding and Maxandre looks elsewhere.

Maxandre’s gaze is turned therefore towards little Adélie. His little sister was injured by a 1,100 pounds beast. Despite her small size, Adélie is strong. She encourages us with her beautiful smile to continue the long course.

Carl and I try our best to ride our own camels. I am frail and have no energy, but I do everything possible to ride the camel. Two camels walking slowly but surely.

We try to bring up Maxandre on the camel that I am riding. Maxandre must hold on to me. We support each other.

On the other camel, Carl carries Adélie in his arms. Carl is already tired. It’s difficult to navigate with all this weight and only a free hand.

We don’t know where the camels will take us. We have been wandering into the unknown for ages. The days are alike. Every day, the heat is oppressive and heavy.

The humpbacks of the camels are indescribably uncomfortable. Several times a day, we imagined letting ourselves fall full on our stomachs in the sand, to let ourselves languish. But the sun is too strong and will scorch us. We don’t have that time.

We remain hopeful and try to keep our balance. Falls are dangerous and we have to hold on tight. The sand is deep and we have to be careful not to sink.

Every day, we travel for miles. The landscape is dry and always the same. There is no end to it.

Why are we alone in this great suffering? What did we do to end up here? When will we be removed from this desert to return and find our forest?

In the distance, we finally see a valley. Let’s go and get some rest. Maybe we will find an oasis?


That’s it for now!
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When Love and Sorrow Collide

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.


When Love and Sorrow Collide

This week’s post is about mourning as a bereaved mom, a more sensitive topic. I would therefore recommend that you might want to be in a certain mood to read this post. Although it’s not an easy topic, I think it’s important for people to understand how we feel in mourning. So I encourage you to read it at some point, even if it’s not right away. It can help to better understand those who are grieving, and therefore, to better support them. Thanks for reading.

Yesterday I had an urge to draw my heart. My heart is full of all kinds of emotions, but in large part, this panoply of emotions come from two principal sources; the feeling of love and the feeling of sorrow.

The left part represents the love that reigns in my heart. As you can see in the drawing, this love is solid, intact, soft, smooth, and even shiny. This is the love I have for my family, my children. This love allows me to continue and survive. When I miss Zackaël, that part of my heart calls out to me. Love is present and I think of him. There are plenty of moments in a day when I miss Zackaël. I don’t know how many times I think about him during a day, but I can say that it’s almost all the time.

Drawing of a broken heart: “When Love and Sorrow Collide”
“When Love and Sorrow Collide” – Coloured pencils – December 2020 – Brigitte Lehoux (Grieving Maman)



However, there are times when my love overpowers me; I miss him so much that I need to see more. I have to do more than talk or write about him. I have to see more than his plaque outside. I have to see more than his room which is empty. I have to see more than his photos in the living room. I need to see more than what I’m used to seeing. When we always see the same photos, you kind of become “immune” to them and the emotions and memories they represent. I am so used to seeing them that my heart has hardened over time and I am therefore able to deal with my emotions when looking at them.

But often when I suddenly want to see my sweet Zackaël, my heart is unsatisfied and wants more. So I choose to look at other photos. It is usually when looking at one or two photos that this urge appears, that is, the urge to see more. I can’t help it … I love him too much, he is too beautiful. This urge can manifest itself without even looking at pictures. I miss him so much that I have to open the computer or the phone.

At first, my heart is solid as love dominates. I want to see him, I miss him, so looking at pictures makes me feel good. This all represents the left side of my heart. I continue to look at his photos. Gradually, I become overwhelmed and need to see more. I want to hear his voice, see his movements and his smile, I am in my own world… a world where Zackaël is still with us.

By now I’m well aware of the risk associated with looking at more pictures. But I can’t stop, my heart wants more. I, therefore, keep opening more, sometimes even a video. Be careful maman Brigitte, it’s risky. Is my heart capable of it?

The two parts of my heart are now colliding, a battle of conflicting emotions. It doesn’t take long for the right part of my heart to suddenly take over. Sadness comes in full force, it is stronger and overpowers the love. We are now on the right side of my drawing.

My love has been converted into sadness. In my drawing, we can even see a (subtle) arrow in the middle which denotes this conversion. I would even say that my love was crushed by sadness. Once again, the sorrow has surfaced and I burst into tears. It’s the victory of sorrow, it has beaten love. I feel defeated. My heart hurts. There was already a big hole in my heart and lots of broken pieces, but now my heart is bleeding. I have to stop looking at the pictures, I can’t take it anymore.

This is an excerpt from my journal (dated April 2020) that describes how I feel when this happens. My journal is in French, but basically, I’m saying how torn I feel and how painful it can be when I decide to look at a video.

Grieving Mother Journal – by Brigitte L. (page 1 of 2)
Grieving Mother Journal – by Brigitte L. (page 1 of 2)

This conflict has been persisting for a year. Either I miss Zackaël and therefore want to see him, or I “see” him and cry my heart out. It is very paradoxical. My heart is never intact, there is always a hole, and on either side the two emotions collide. This is the heart of a bereaved parent … at least my heart as a bereaved mother. I hope this heart (my heart) will transform. I hope the black on the right side starts to fade. I hope the cracks will repair. I hope it can be even and completely smooth and shiny. I hope it will soon stop bleeding so much.

That’s it for now. Thank you to have read this post.
If you’ve lost someone special in the past, was it hard for you to look at several pictures at a time?

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Zackaël’s Honour Book (Mixbook)

Pour la version originale de cette publication (version française), cliquez ici.


I can’t believe we got the books today of all days! They were supposed to arrive on Thursday. Maybe Zackaël made it that they arrived today. This honour book about Zackaël was ordered last Monday on Mixbook. The book displays 77 beautiful coloured pages and includes stories, souvenirs, letters, poems and lots of pictures. We ordered 17 books in total.

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to stories about Zackaël and to Adelaide for her immense help with the book; without her we wouldn’t been able to make this beautiful memory book.

I plan to write a review of Mixbook and creating a memory book. Make sure to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out that review!

That’s it for now!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much and your private messages!

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Zackaël’s vigil – Vigile en mémoire de Zackaël

English follows…

La vigile en mémoire de Zackaël a eu lieu vendredi soir le 13 novembre 2020. Un énorme merci pour tous ceux et celles qui sont venus. C’était une soirée mémorable…. plus à venir à propos de cette soirée!

À noter que nous continuerons d’allumer les chandelles de la petite présentation avec photo que nous avons préparée, jusqu’au 17 novembre. Venez allumer une chandelle ou lampe solaire en sa mémoire, la présentation est à Ottawa jusqu’au 17 novembre.

A vigil in memory of Zackaël took place on Friday night November 13 2020. A huge thank you to everyone who came. It was a memorable evening …. more to come on about the vigil!

Please note that we will continue to light the candles for the beautiful display we have prepared, until November 17. Come light a candle or bring a solar lamp in his memory. It is located in Ottawa.