Grace in grieving: Mom who lost daughter to cancer launches blog as a way to heal

Kim Taylor, right, helps her daughter Sarah, adjust her necklace at their home in Hope in February. Mike Wolanin

The words that she writes flow with a wide-open vulnerability over a stark wound that is still fresh. And occasionally those thoughts come with a pain so new that it sometimes still blindsides her in the middle of her day over something as simple-but-tender as finding her daughter’s lip balm containers, or discovering her daughter’s first Christmas stocking.

Hope resident Kim Taylor is sharing those telling little-but-large details with a big impact on a new public Facebook blog called Grace in Grieving. She launched it Sept. 30 as a way to work through her own bereavement from 15-year-old daughter Sarah Taylor’s death on Sept. 10 after a 10-month cancer battle.

“I simply felt like this is something that God wanted me to do,” the mom said. “And that is to be very open when, given a circumstance of pain or suffering, to make it a time of letting his light shine through us.”

Other people, including those who have lost spouses, parents, siblings and others, are reading her posts that have won encouragement from total strangers and triggered encouragement and hope in others.

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Taylor recently sat in the lobby of The Ridge church, a place where she has helped lead worship for years and where she sang onstage with her Sarah in February at one of the church’s regular praise concerts. But just a week before, tears poured down her face when she and husband Chad and daughter Libby attended services in person and the praise music somehow caught her off guard — and left her very much missing the one she and her spouse tried for a decade to conceive before Sarah finally arrived after two miscarriages.

Perhaps stirring added emotion was the fact that Sarah, in the final days before she departed this life, she sang praise songs right from her hospital bed.

“Pain is like a megaphone,” she said, quoting classic Christian writer C.S. Lewis. “People often will listen to you because, so often, they can relate to pain, right?”

The blog offers clear confirmation of that, with nearly 300 likes alone and 68 personal comments just on her latest post from Monday of hanging Sarah’s Christmas stocking the other day.

Sarah Taylor gave her mother permission — and in fact, frequently encouraged her — to post photos, videos and thoughts onto social media during their cancer journey that began in November 2019. Among other things, the teen saw the notes and photos as a way to draw her peers and others to Jesus. The Facebook status updates included such elements as a photo early this year of Sarah, sporting a knit cap to cover a hairless head, and her trademark joyous smile, heading down a hallway of Indianapolis’ Riley Hospital For Children at Indiana University Health.

Sarah, then 14, was a patient undergoing treatment at the time. But she was captured in the image on a mission: to walk room to room and visit and cheer much younger patients elsewhere in the facility.

“She never wanted to waste the opportunity that God was giving her to show his light, peace, and hope to others,” Mom wrote on the blog on Nov. 16.

Taylor has acknowledged on the online journal that she fights anger when looking back at so much of the cancer battle: at apparent illness signs she feels she missed in her daughter, at treatments that didn’t pan out, and so much more. The entries contrast that straightforward realness with her rock-solid spiritual belief that she can rest in the fact that Sarah is now whole and herself at rest.

There is this, for instance, in an Oct. 2 post:

“I know that Sarah being healed and perfect in heaven is definitely what’s best for her. It certainly doesn’t feel like what’s best for me. Being a mom though, how can I put my needs before hers? I can’t … I won’t. I’ll hurt, if it means that she doesn’t.”

Friend and fellow Ridge member Shayla Holtkamp, who lost her own teen daughter Jolie Crider to a sudden illness of bacterial meningitis in 1998, sees tremendous power and good in Taylor’s writings.

“Kim puts to words a pain that is like no other: the pain of losing a child,” Holtkamp said. “What a gift that Kim is giving to others by sharing her journey after losing her precious Sarah.

“She also blessed others when she shared her very raw emotions as Sarah went through the ups and downs of her cancer. She taught so many of us what it looks like to have faith and trust in God through Sarah’s illness and now as she moves forward after Sarah’s death.”

Taylor’s musings clearly mean plenty to those reading them. Besides, the note at the top of the blog reads: “A place to share your feelings, thoughts, info, and find support from others who have experienced grief, too.”

That sharing is unfolding in a big way.

“When we try to act like we’ve always got it all together, that actually turns people off more than it draws people to Jesus,” Taylor said. “I don’t like inauthenticity. I want to be real and connect to people.”

Readers’ posted responses include many comments demonstrating real connection such as “I have felt all of those things!” and “I’m so glad God connected all of us.”

On Nov. 4, the one-year anniversary of her daughter’s diagnosis, Mom reflected on the day’s indescribable pain and yet her equally indescribable hope of seeing Sarah once again in heaven.

“Every day completed is one more day closer to being with her again,” Taylor wrote, “and I can hardly wait.”

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Hope resident Kim Taylor’s public, online blog, Grace in Grieving on Facebook began Sept. 30 and serves as her Christian journey to healing after the death of daughter Sarah, an also a way for others to share their journey through grief.