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Heartlinks Grief Center, a not-for-profit community-based program of Family Hospice, assists grieving children, adults, families and groups move from grief to growth through individual and family counseling, support groups, and other community programs.


An interruption by definition is an interference, a disturbance. It can be a break, a pause or a gap. In my many years working at the regional electric company, it meant a loss of electric service and hard work ahead to restore service. That’s what I still think of first when I hear the word interruption – I guess old habits do die hard.

Yesterday Pastor Jeff at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Okawville gave a meaningful sermon titled, “Interruptions.” He spoke about how an interruption is something that takes us out of our plans, our “normal.”

When a loved one dies, it’s an interruption to our “normal” life. People change their plans to attend the visitation services and funeral, they fly in from all over. Work and ball games and dinner parties are set aside. A pause is put on our routines as we grieve and show our respect and honor the deceased.

For the loved ones left to grieve, the interruption is usually much more profound than travel and inconvenience of changes to the schedule. Death and grief can cause a break, a pause to all that we know. It’s a demarcation in our life that defines us going forward – before he died, and after he died. Our grief can cause us to reflect on how we are living our lives and make changes.

A year ago, on December 4th I had one of these interruptions. My husband, Bill and I were on vacation in Thailand, enjoying massages and street food. Then that call came from our daughter, Joy. Sobbing, she told us Luke, our nephew, had died. They’d found him in his apartment when he didn’t show up for work. He was 37, healthy as far as we knew and not knowing his cause of death added to the distress. We’d learn later it was a massive heart attack.

We packed quickly and flew home right away. I felt so helpless to not be there helping my sister. I was able to help with the obituary via email, at least.

His death has put a pause on my life. As I wrote Luke’s eulogy, I thought deeply about the man he was. Here is the end of his eulogy I read at the service:

“Luke’s lifestyle was not conventional – he didn’t have a lot of money, or a house or children. He didn’t have a high-powered career or prestige. But what Luke had is what so many of us spend a lifetime seeking and not finding. He was really happy. He was happy with his life, just as it was. He didn’t have the same material requirements that consume so many of us. He was happy just as he was. He had good and many friends. He had a family that loved him. That’s what he valued. That was enough.

Luke didn’t succeed in life by some of our standards. But he succeeded in living – in living every day with gusto. With fun. With heart. He was happy and shared that with those around him.”

Thank you, Luke, for helping us all to see that. For giving us that example. I know I am a better person for having known and loved you and I vow to work harder to remember to live my life as happy as you did, dear nephew. Perhaps we could each accept that challenge and as we do, Luke will live on in us.”

In the past year, I have tried my best to honor my promise to live my life with the happiness and gusto Luke did, with less emphasis on material things and with more generosity to others. I share these words to remind myself and hopefully, you, too, dear readers, that sometimes interruptions, even hard ones like losing someone we love, can help change us in good ways.

Be Blessed,


Ellen Krohne, author of We Lost Her, available on

Heartlinks Grief Center volunteer and Family Hospice Board Member

“We Grow Stronger Together”

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