After a Daughter Dies

The experience of my daughter’s illness and death had seemingly sent me to hell and back. I became engulfed by rage, and my depression had finally whacked me out. It meant nothing to curl into a fetal position, with my back curved, head bowed, and all limbs bent and drawn in. I could have stayed that way endlessly.

I’ll say this again: parents aren’t expected to live to bury their children.

And when they do, the impact can be heartbreaking, devastating. Although the wounds mend, they are never fully healed—especially during holidays, birthdays, graduations, wedding ceremonies, and even when embracing someone else’s child or grandchild. In the beginning, the tears flowed outwardly, but later they would flow inwardly.

Losses Mount

My daughter China had made her transition. In this life, I’ll never see her married. Nor be able to help raise a child of hers, as a grandparent.

Eventually, I found some comfort. Certain things did help, like the day the nurse came and said, “I wanted you to know we didn’t let her die alone. When it was time, I stayed with her and held her in my arms until the end. I told her how much you loved her and that we all will miss her. For you, I hope this gives some comfort, knowing she wasn’t alone.”

Although I was grateful, I still longed to be there as a parent. Through all this, I knew I could not let go without making one dream come alive.

Beauty in the Casket

The mortuary that held her remains was Gatling’s Chapel on 101st and Halsted. Dana had picked out the most elegant white and gold casket. There China lay, dressed in a long, white lace bridal gown, wearing pearl earrings with her glossy red lipstick, and looking beautiful as an angel bride. Inside that beautifully white, satin-bedded coffin, I placed her little stuffed animals for comfort as she slept. I knew her beauty lived on as she married into another relationship.

As we move on, something must be left behind. Even though life is a batch of memories, there are no guarantees. It can be ripped out from under us at any point. So we need to live it to the fullest and give back our love to the max. As the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years pass, I’ve learned to go on with courage, strength, and hope. After finishing many years of continuous therapy, counseling, and support, I regained China’s inner strength—because someday our paths shall cross, and we’ll reunite in another life.

Excerpted from Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoeprints That Matter: Norstrom, Nina: 9781939371478: Books

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Nina Norstrom

Nina Norstrom is the author of Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints That Matter ─ A Journey Through Toxic Relationships. This author grew up in a small suburban town outside Chicago, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree from Concordia University. She has an extensive work history in the public sector, in the field of management. Additionally, she taught in the school system. She started journal writing to help find solace. The book, Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter, ─ A Journey Through Toxic Relationships, is a representation of her growth and signifies a milestone in her recovery from toxic relationships, to the transition of non-toxicity. She is a passionate champion for many noteworthy causes, including those battling toxic relationships. In her quest to reach out, it's through her role in volunteering and being a participant in various walk-a-thons that she demonstrates a passion in giving. When not reading or writing, Nina can be found mountain climbing, taking long walks in a park or alongside a beach, sitting at a concert, supporting an author at a book event, traveling, and jumping in to exert her energy by doing volunteer work at a variety of venues. You can connect with Nina on her website

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