photo of gray sneakers
Photo by Shane Kell on

This spring we passed the 5 year mark that Trucker boy physically left this earth, and we also celebrated what would have been his 9th birthday. I still think of him, and miss him every. single. day. and I thought with passing these milestones it would be appropriate to share with you, what I have learned so far. This is written for anyone who may be fumbling through the incredibly complicated painful process of the death. If this is you right now, I love you and am praying for your heart. Here we go. xo

Reflection #1

It will hurt like hell, and take time to process. I wish there was something more encouraging I could say here, but this has been my experience. There were times when I didn’t think I could still live with this level of heartache, however I did, and you will too.

It is just going to take time.

In fact, I would argue it will most likely take the rest of your life to process the death of your loved one, and all the emotions that come with it. BUT, I promise you will still have good times and joy!! and lots of it. YOU will have to choose this.

I do want to encourage you to allow yourself to feel all the feels. In no particular order you feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, exhausted, confused, have regret, numb, emptiness, and shock, and or all of the above, and over and over again. All of this is normal and the cost of love.

Be SO super gentle with yourself, and all your raw emotions, and learn to say no to things that don’t feel right. For the first couple of years after Trucker boy passed, I had a really hard time with baby showers. It’s not that I didn’t want to celebrate new life of people I love. It was more about meeting new people and learning how to speak of my new life minus one, without being a big blubbery pile of tears. The simple question of “Oh you have 4 kids?! Wow, how old are they?!” felt like a sucker punch right to the gut and very hard to recover from.

Reflection #2

No one will understand. Ugh, this one is hard too. Unless they have been through something similar this is something you also just have to get used to. Everyone is SO bio-dynamically different and will process experiences in different ways. You will have different memories, and have had a different relationship with the one who is gone, so even the people who are closest to you and grieving won’t fully understand. You also won’t fully understand what they are going through either. It just is lonely, and part of the process. Be gentle with yourself.

I remember one night shortly after trucker had died, I was lying in bed crying. My beautiful husband grabbed my hand and said “you don’t have to be lonely, I am right here.” Which was so beautiful and sweet but the truth is we can be holding hands and crying about the same thing and still experiencing something totally different. Please have SO much grace for the people around you. You will need them more than ever.

Reflection #3

It will be harder for other people than it will be for you to speak about your loved one that has died. Do it anyway. Your responsibility is to your own healing heart, not to shrink back because other people do not know how to process death. At some point in their life they may come to understand.

I never say I have 3 kids, I always say I have 4, because I do, and when asked how old they are, I always share about all my kids and that Trucker would be 9 in heaven. I honor his big little life by still speaking about him, even when it makes people uncomfortable, and they don’t know what to say.

A big part of my healing process has been learning how to do this, and you can only really get good at anything, by doing it. I still cry sometimes when I am sharing about him, but you know what?! I smile and laugh a lot too, and I have been told that my eyes light up when I talk about him. All of this is part of the process.

Reflection #4

Forgive the people around you who don’t know how to support you. No one really knows how to process death. Trauma and loss will change you, there is no way around that. I know I changed a lot and have had to re-learn how to be a good friend now. As long as you are open with the people around you, the people who really love you will stick by you, and try to understand. Some people simply won’t be able to hang with you in this space and that’s ok too, new friendships will also rise up, and some of those people will eventually come back around.

It is very hard on everyone, and so there must be a LOT of grace and compassion for all. It is a lifelong learning process, and as you experience more loss in your life you perhaps will gain new understanding of what it was like for other people watching you grieve.

I personally had a shift in perspective how hard and helpless it was for people supporting us at the end of Truckers life, this past fall when I travelled to Canada to say goodbye to my Dad, and be there for my step mom. Whether you are the caretaker or trying to support the caretaker, it is just hard. It is meant to be. There is no sugar coating death.

Reflection #5

Believe in signs. Some people say its the universe that gives us signs but I personally believe it is the God of the universe who in exactly the right timing that only He could know, gives us signs to remind us that our loved ones are swallowed up life with Him.

SO many times a song has come on the radio at exactly the right moment, or a butterfly or bee has flown by, or there has been a single white flower on the side of the road. About a week before Trucker died he asked Joshua to pull over so he could pick his mamma a white flower. We never saw a white flower for him to pick me, but guess what?! They show up everywhere, even when they shouldn’t be there.

Strategically planned, perfectly timed, beautiful little gifts from God. These are my favorite, they make me smile, and cry, but there is peace and I know that Trucker is safe.

Reflection #6

Scripture says that all the days of our lives were written before we were born. (psalm 139:16) There is SO much peace in that belief alone, and that when it is your time, it is your time.

Think about how one guy walks outside of his local grocery store and gets punched in the face by some random angry guy, falls down and dies. Meanwhile the next guy falls off a two story building at work, lands on his head and walks away with barely a scratch.

I know we don’t like talking about it but the truth is every single one of us is going to die. Some of us are just gifted more days. Are you living your life as if every day is gift?! It is.

I recently read the most amazing book I have read yet on grief, I highly recommend it. It is called Permission to Mourn by Tom Zuba. He says this which I love.

“He died too early. She died too soon. As if anyone of us can point to someone who has died ‘right on time’.” He goes on to say this” Who do you become when you believe that the person you love so dearly was taken too soon? Who do you become when you believe that? And when you believe that who does your version of God become? and how do you feel about a God who allows the people you dearly love to die much too early?

And who would you be and how would feel and how would you live life if you decided to believe that God whatever you believe God to be only allows each of us to die right on time? Regardless of the circumstances of our death. What if you decided to believe that it could be no other way? Everyone dies right on time. Even if you don’t understand it. And never will. While in your physical body. Who would you be if you decided to believe that everyone dies at the perfect time? Everyone.”

Reflection #7

There is NO such thing as moving on, there is only moving forward. One step at a time, one day at a time, and sometimes even one moment at a time.

We can not change what has already happened, and we certainly can not change death, but we do have a choice in how we choose to move forward. What I know is this. You can be the saddest you have ever been in your whole entire life and simultaneously feel joy. You can grieve and still also enjoy life. You can miss your loved one that has died and still enjoy the ones living, and we should. I hope that you still choose life. XO

Trucker Joshua Kanoa Dukes

April 10, 2013- March 3, 2017


  1. So beautifully written, I’ve followed your story and your son was such a beautiful gift from God 🙏🏻❤️

  2. Thank you for sharing this. You have such amazing insight. My mom passed seven years ago but a lot of times it still feels like yesterday. I love all of your reflections because I have gone through a lot of it and it also gives me insight into how others might feel too. Love and hugs to you and your family. Happy Belated Heavenly Birthday Trucker!

  3. Shauna this is so very beautiful, thank you for sharing and for giving comfort to so many this way. (I still have a Trucker sticker on my bumper,)

  4. Thank you so much for sharing ….this is such a special collection you have shared. My heart is moved to many emotions in response and the way you share on this topic of death helps me feel more connected to the humans in my life who have experienced it more intimately than I.

  5. “Strategically planned, perfectly timed, beautiful little gifts from God. These are my favorite, they make me smile, and cry, but there is peace and I know that Trucker is safe.” Beautiful reflections Shauna. I love that the ways Trucker speaks to you. He loves you so much!

  6. This is so beautiful, i read it this morning and it’s all so true. You have an amazing family.

  7. This is so well said, thank you for sharing, from one loss mom to another sending you so much love

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