Stay Put

There is something safe about staying where we are. When I was a child my mother always told me to “stay put” if I got separated from her. She would then find me. The few times I found myself lost as a child I would do what she said and wait knowing that my mother would come to me. It was very safe to "stay put" when I was lost.

 When my 4 and half year old son, Noah, died how I wish he could have “stayed put” so that I could quickly turn the corner and find him. With him gone I was lost in a way that I had never been before and I found that I spent a lot of time “staying put” almost as if staying right where I was emotionally, physically and mentally would change what had happened. If I didn’t move from where I was he would come and find me and just like the times of my childhood relief would flood me as I knew that I was no longer lost. It felt safe to “stay put”

 As time passed I realized that the safety of staying put was an illusion. Time passed whether I wanted it or not. Noah wasn’t going to come back; I wasn’t going to find him in the next aisle at the grocery store or hiding behind a clothes rack. He wasn’t lost he was gone. I needed to decide to either stay where I was waiting for him or to start moving forward towards a life without him. Those first few steps were so painful; internally I accused myself of giving up on him, leaving him behind. How could I continue to move forward when he was forever in the past?

 It was by not “staying put” that I found myself able to shed some of the weight of grief. Memories became smiles and laughter mingled with tears. Noah’s life became more important to me than the details of his death. I felt his presence with every step I took forward. I imagined him being so proud of me for each step forward that I took. “Staying put” has its purpose, stay put for as long as you need to and when you are ready take that first step towards the future, knowing that the one that has gone before us is cheering you along your way and when this life fades away they will be right where we left them waiting to welcome us with open arms.

 Personal Development:

 In what ways have you decided to stay put?

Is it physically staying in the same house, town or state?

Emotionally clinging to the pain of grief without allowing any joy or peace to enter?

Mentally staying caught up in memories of the past without allowing new memories to be made?


What areas would you be willing to move forward with? Not necessarily leaving anything behind but adding to what is there?

About the Author

Tanya Lord was a special education teacher when Noah died. After his death she read The Institute of Medicine’s report To Err Is Human and realized that the errors responsible for her son’s death were not unique. This created a desire and determination to better understand and work towards improving health care. Currently she has completed a master’s degree in public health and a PhD in clinical and population health research and is completing a post-doctoral fellowship. Lord shares her personal and professional experiences in presentations and workshops for medical staff and students focusing on the importance of effective communication with patients before and after an error. She also is a co-founder of The Grief Toolbox (, which offers tools to help those along the grief journey. Lord may be contacted at [email protected]

Grief In Action