Wendy's Blog

The hospital in England where they were so compassionate toward us.

The Crucially Important Survival Tool: Hope

by Wendy Keller, author & inspirational speaker

In a film I saw yesterday, one woman was crying to another that “they” had taken everything away from her. It was a poignant moment, because “they” had. The older woman strokes the crying woman’s back and says, “No, Tillie. You still got one thing left. They can’t take that.”

Tillie mumbles, “What is it?”

The older woman looks forlornly off into the distance and says, “Hope. They can’t take away your hope.

At the lowest points of my life, when every single thing was black and dark, cold and scary, I’ve often pondered “hope”. I remember when hope saved my life.

I clearly remember the feelings I had right after both my children died in that car accident, when my leg was so badly crushed they didn’t think I’d ever walk again, and I was in so much physical, emotional and spiritual pain that I made several attempts at suicide. All attempts were thwarted by the nurses at Cheltenham General (see photo). I was mostly paralyzed and lacked viable options.

More than anything, I yearned to die. There was nothing left to live for. My babies were on ice in the morgue below my hospital bed. I planned on never laughing again, never smiling, never having a day without crying. I had become a Bereaved Mother. I will always be a bereaved mother, from that day to this. It’s What Is.

My friend Lora Lewis called my draughty hospital room. Her precious son Sydney had died of SIDS back home in the USA just a few months earlier. I loved her dearly and his loss was the most devastating thing I’d ever experienced – until now that my own children were dead, too.

I said, “Lora, will I ever stop crying?”

She said, “Do you have a clock there? Watch the second hand. See if you can go thirty seconds without crying. When you achieve that, do some more.”

Seeing as every bone on my left side was crushed from my knee to my neck, I didn’t have a whole lot to do except look at the big, ugly industrial clock on the pale green wall of my hospital room.

After a few days, I went thirty seconds without crying!

After a few months, I had worked up to sometimes a whole hour!

After a few years, I could sometimes go a whole day!

Whether crying is good or bad is not the point. The point is that Lora’s simple challenge gave me something precious: hope. It set in my mind the expectation that somehow, one day, I might not spend the whole day in mourning, the whole day enveloped in bleakest anguish.

Hope is a miracle drug. When we allow in even the tiniest microscopic speck of hope that things can get better, it generates in even the most wounded heart the energy to begin the long, slow, bumpy journey back.

My son Jeremy and my daughter Amelia have been dead since the spring of 1991. I miss them and think of them every single day. I cry over their loss dozens of times a year.

But in between grief, there is light and life.


PS – This is really strange, but when I looked up the photo of the hospital, it was the first time in my life I’d ever seen it!  They brought me in and took me out on a stretcher.  I had a vague recollection of some pillars – and that was it!   I DO remember that the lovingkindness of the staff was amazing.  They were so sensitive and compassionate.


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  1. Mary McGraw-Jarvis says:

    I can relate to you whole story. I was in a motorcycle accident and lost my husband of only 7 weeks. But also like you I have never seen the outside of the hospital I was taken to either. I was brought in and left by ambulance. All I remember are the ceilings.

  2. I love your post, it is EXACTLY what I needed. The same day my mother was dx with breast cancer last week, I was dx with fibromyalgia and RA., perfect to go along with my ptsd, depression, agoraphobia, anx/panic attacks, etc. The worst part (besides the chronic pain) is not being able to work while I wait and hope ssi/disability will approve me and let me have medical care. I would love to have your book to read over and over again, I know it would be very helpful. If you do send it, I will pay you double when they do come thru!!! thanks, tinalouise…

  3. Your story brought tears and joy in my heart, as i can relate with your journey when things in our life gets bumpy…..and only and FAITH IN GOD” restored my ” HOPE ” to keep moving forward. Thank you for your sharing .God Bless us all !

  4. Thsnk you do much for sharing your wisdom…I lost my Mom in 1992 and sister in 1995, and favorite uncle in 1996. After theses losses I did not wish to go on. I almost attempted suicide, as my life had fallen apart and I felt I had nothing left to live for. They were all gone and I was left here alone….. I still to this day cry over their losses.
    I just lost my best friend of over 30 years on Tuesday. This time I am trying, one day at a time, to have time to grieve, and commit to do something positive to honor her life. I am trying so hard to keep going forward ….
    Thank you again, most grateful!

    • Oh, Barbara!

      I’m so sorry to hear of all your losses, most recently your friend! That must be very painful, and the grief from each loss stacks atop the next one unless we cope with it fully and completely. I think it’s lovely you want to do something to honor her life. On the one year anniversary of my dear grandfather’s death, I had a little ceremony on the beach with just my daughter and me. Grief is for the living, it is to make us feel better. I wish you much peace, love and joy again.


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