Resentment. Anger. Steps Towards Bitterness. Our Solution.

Maya Angelou quote

We made a decision when we lost our son to not be bitter. That would have been the easy way out. He was only 26 years old. Bitterness would have kept us in one spot without movement upwards. Bitterness would have sent us downwards. Bitterness would have kept us from knowing who we are and what we can rise from.


We did not want to feel anger about the car accident. That would have been the easy way out.


We did not want to be resentful towards the person who lost control and crossed over into another lane of traffic. That would have been the easy way out.


We did not want to be sad. Little did we know that sadness is a new segment of life to someone who has lost a child. The sadness does not occur every day or even every week. Sadness just happens. Sometimes it happens in the most joyous of times. Sometimes it happens when we would just like to our son to share a moment with us.

From a personal perspective…at our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding, I could see Justin perhaps standing with the other groomsmen. I could see Justin dancing with his much loved younger sister at the reception. I could see Justin laughing and talking with friends and relatives. And yet…the vision was perhaps only in my mind.


We did not let any sadness take away from our joy. That would have been the easy way out.


And yet again…we do believe that he was there with us. We do believe that he is happy and smiling and filled with joy. We do believe that he is with us whenever we are sad and whenever we are happy and whenever we realize the wonders of our life.


We did not stop believing in the wonders of life. That would have certainly been the easy way out.




My feelings about losing our son came about because a family friend once told me…

“Don’t ever, ever think about

Should have, Could have, Would have

when you recall moments with Justin.”


“Think about what you can possibly do and what you can possibly accomplish to honor his memory. Think about what you can do to make your part of the world a little better.”


These words kept the bitterness from entering our lives.


“Should have, Could have, Would have”


Words from a family friend who had lost her own son years ago. Words that I share with you today in hopes they will also bring you peace in whatever situation you may find yourself.


***Thank you to my mother’s friend, Zelda Johnston for giving us words that have made such a difference in our lives.***



27 thoughts on “Resentment. Anger. Steps Towards Bitterness. Our Solution.

  1. Never stop talking about him and loving him just as you always have. I had to stop reading the posts here but for the best of reasons. They made me feel too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lump in my throat as I read this and tears in my eyes Pat. I think your Justin made a huge impact in his short time on this earth. I also think you are increasing that impact by being who you are and honoring his life the way you do.
    Should have, Could have, Would have. That is so true! I always tell people you cannot live your life on the “What ifs”.

    Liked by 1 person

      • You would never make me sad…I can guarantee that! I will write something else. When I saw the prompt, I knew that I had to write that particular story! Funny thing…it made me feel joyous to put my thoughts into words. I always feel that way! Thank you so much!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I sure hope I never would-I will say again, I have no understanding of that loss, but I know when I write about loved ones passed, it makes me glad to remember them and reminds me that their value in my life remains-that it has never diminished. I guess it is my way of expressing, that I still love them. Thank you for your kind words.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a truly inspirational and beautiful post and tribute to your mom’s friend and Justin. I can’t even imagine in my wildest dreams but I am sure it’s the worst thing that could happen to any mom!! God bless you for making that choice! I’m sure Justin is smiling reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you SO much! I’ve written several posts about Justin, but they were before I had the honor of knowing you. And…what about the honor of you knowing me? Oh no…I had to be sarcastic after you wrote such a nice post. Seriously, it was such a difficult time and he was such a unique, free spirit kind of person. He was a writer and an environmentalist and a musician. He lived in Austin where all the other free spirits seem to congregate! Honestly…he left for Austin the day after he graduated from high school…to attend UT. The first time we visited him that summer…he was like a professional tour guide for Austin. He already knew the best places to rock climb, canoe, hike, walk on fun trails, swim…you name it. My husband graduated from UT and was there five years…he knew about hardly any of these places! We guess that Justin went to class at some point!! He loved Austin!

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      • Aw, sounds like a great kid and fun person to be around! (Oh by the way we can both be honored to know each other’s magnificence I’ll be Queen Elizabeth of The Max Household and I’ll let you decide if will shall call you Her Majesty of The Exclusive Windchimes or Queen Still Hadsnot-eth Completed La Dare…but you can choose). Anyway, I truly cannot image possessing your immense courage, I’m sure just to get up some days. My prayers will be always with you guys 😘 I bet he was an absolute blast! He sure would have been someone you know I’d have been asking all the things to do and see there!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I imagine that you would have liked him immediately…so fun, yet introspective. He knew the best and most fun things about Austin and he lived fully everyone of his days. I am not surprised that you are Queen and I could use the name “Queen” only if I admit not yet taking the dare. Of course, I am “Her Majesty”. No doubt about that. I need that Windchime- Wind Sculpture immediately. How can I really be magnificent without one?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is a lovely remembrance of your son. Should have, could have, would have – I shall remember that when I think of the many losses in my life. Thank you for sharing something so extremely private from your life. God bless you and may you always smile when memories of Justin fill your mind. xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

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