Lost for Words (Sometimes)


I have to vent because I have to accept that fact that sometimes people are just lost for words when they hear my story about Justin. This week I encountered two people yesterday and today. What I have learned these past few years without (Justin in our world) is that generally most people find it uncomfortable to remotely talk about the death or loss of someone in your life. Hell, it could even be from a loss of a pet-which in fact can also shift someone’s life. What I learned through (an education process) is that Grief and Loss comes in all shapes and forms and the reactions to them are unique to each person. Besides a death, people can experience grief from loss of a relationship, divorce, health, a move, a job, a disability etc. so the following are the important aspects of what I wanted to share:

“The Tip for the Waitress”

Yesterday, when we were eating at a restaurant, the waitress realized that Darrell was her college professor and she reintroduced herself and said: ” I am now the mother of a 17 – year old who is driving me crazy, she has bad grades, wants to enlist in the Navy but she likes taking her sign language classes.” I gently told her that sign language is not a bad skill to have.”


Justin doing his many things with passion!
Justin doing his many things with passion!

Then, I looked at her and told her that we lost our son -however, and we let him “be” who he wanted to be. Sometimes what you think is success it is not just about the Grades or the GPA-if the student is not happy, lost, or not seeking her passions this could be very detrimental in the long run.

When I told her how Justin died suddenly and unexpectedly she said assuredly: “At least he died quickly and did not have cancer!” Ok, you know what came next (my head quickly turned around) and I politely told her: ” You know it does not matter how someone died (suddenly or prolonged), what age (young or old) it changes you and any kind of loss can be unimaginable. There is no timeline or method to how people deal with it. She straightened up and said with a hug:” I guess I will accept my daughter the way she is.” I said: ” That’s not a bad option to have.”  I could have gone on and on … But I think the tip was well received. As for me, (always Justin’s Mom), I have learned to try and educate people who may not know what to say. Honestly, I did not always know what to say either…

“(A Doctor with Bedside Manners)”

Flip side today I went to my orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Diehl. He is a dapper gentleman who wears colorful bow ties, vests and socks and most importantly, he has the best bedside manners!!!

He has been practicing for 48 years and he is the father of two daughters. When I have my appointment, I always ask about them. One is a senior in high school and the other a senior in college. He said: ” Every time I see your name on the chart I get a chill before I come into the room, because you know honey, no one should experience the loss of a child. It is just too much.” Then we spoke about his kids and I told him I am on a new mission to try and help students find their passion and regain “their voice” and their curiosity for learning- because that is what we did for Justin.” He said that there is so much undue pressure on these kids today and I tell my daughters to: ” Do your best and your best is good enough.” I lost it at that point because that is the same phrase I heard over and over again from my Dad.

My Dad often told my siblings, his students and all the kids he encountered this same phrase…


Justin and his Papa
Justin and his Papa
Justin and his sculpture of my Dad- his Papa
Justin and his sculpture of my Dad- his Papa




With tears in his eyes ( and mine) he reached over and gave me a big long hug!! He said: ” Keep on doing what you are doing. This is more important and you will help those kids who need you the most. “I had to goggle his name and this is what I found about my fellow Trojan…”
We all know that Justin wanted to become an architect. The resume noted that Dr. Diehl is an “architect” in his field…
” Richard C. Diehl, M.D.
Adult Reconstructive Orthopaedics
As an early architect of Congress Orthopaedic Associates, Dr. Diehl understood the value of developing a core practice of outstanding specialists that has become the leader in orthopaedic skills. He was also the team physician for USC’s athletic department for 20 years–  probably when I was on campus. And I must add, he has the best manners!