Okay, but not okay… And that’s okay

I have often been asked by friends and even family, “How do you do it? How do you go about your life, smile, laugh and reach out to help others who have or are grieving?” I usually reply with a smile, hold back the tears that fill my eyes and tell them prayer.” Lots of prayer and understanding has helped me in the last…165 weeks and counting. When asked, “How are you and your family doing?” (Which is a very deep question to ask; I know it is always meant with good intentions, but it’s just a hard one to field.) I usually say, “We’re/I’m okay.” I came across this article today and it really hits the nail on the head. It’s a powerful, yet very true read and explains exactly what I mean when I say I’m okay. If you have had to experience the death of a loved one, I hope you know that it is okay to not be okay.

The funeral director told us it was time to close the casket and suddenly I gasped for air and tried to hold back my tears – but nothing could stay my sorrow. This was it. I wasn’t ready to look upon my son for the last time – to say goodbye to his little body, his sweet face … this little boy I used to cuddle, hug and laugh with. My youngest son, Wyatt stood beside me and watched me in grief and sorrow tuck his older brother one last time.

Months later, my oldest son, Ethan, came into my office while I was writing an entry for Mitchell’s Journey. I was unprepared for the interruption and my eyes were red and filled with tears. Ethan asked, “Dad, are you okay?” I immediately tried to be superman and put on a brave face, wiping my eyes and said, “Yeah, I’m okay” … as if to suggest all was well and that I was simply rubbing my tired eyes. But Ethan was discerning and knew better … I could tell by his expression he knew I was grieving.

In that moment I thought to myself, “What good do I do my children when I pretend?” I realized I do him no favors when I am not being real. I paused a moment then looked Ethan in the eye and said, “Actually, I’m not okay. But I’m okay. Do you know what I mean?” Relief washed over his face and I could tell he not only understood but that he was glad I was being real … as if it gave him permission to be real, too. I wanted my son to know that it is okay to hurt … that you can be “okay” but “not okay” and that’s okay.

Ethan and I talked about Mitch for a while and he shared some of his sorrows about losing his younger brother. We both cried together. I hugged Ethan and let him know how much I loved him – every bit as much. We crossed a threshold with grief that day. My son knew it was okay to hurt and that pretending otherwise serves nobody, not even ourselves. To the contrary, we do a great disservice when we pretend.

I had a moment of truth a few years prior when I read the words of an 18th Century French writer who observed, “We discover in ourselves what others hide from us, and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.” When I read those words I vowed to retire my masks and get real.

I’ve tried to have similar exchanges with my other kids. My children, each unique, process their grief differently. And that’s okay, too. In all things I want to be real with them – for it is when we’re real that we become equipped to deal with real life.

I am still walking on Jupiter. The gravity of grief is great. The air is thin and my tears fall as generously as spring rains. Yes, I have moments of sweet relief and happiness is returning – but grief and sorrow linger. I cannot run from sorrow any more than I can run from my shadow on a sunny day. I must learn to live with love and sorrow – there seems no other way.

I’m okay … but I’m not okay … and that’s okay. That is part of being human.


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Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas to all of our followers!

Bless You for visiting & sharing our Website♡

Prayers that everyone has safe travels!
Cherish all your time together and
always remember to say, “I love you.”
Keep “Christ” in your Christmas,
because Jesus is the Gift God gave us all.


Merry Christmas one and all,
WildfarmKids Family

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Number 3


For us we have always had numbers pop into our minds when things happen. This year we are thinking about “3’s”. We are thankful for Joshua being with us for 13 years, 3 months and 13 days. 3 years have gone by without Joshua. Today is a day that will always be engraved into our hearts and minds. The emotions will come flooding back to us, and our hearts will feel that breaking feeling once again as we reflect on everything that happened the night of November 21, 2011. Although it’s hard to focus on the good things over the sad, we know we have helped others in ways we wish we would have been helped.
We also remember this day for Ani, as it is her birthday. She will forever share this day with her big brother.
We would like to thank everyone for the kind words, thoughts and prayers. We know that we have touched the lives of many people some that we have known for a long time, and some that we have been brought to through our journey of reaching out and spreading awareness.
We hope that you all have a safe and happy holiday season. Remember to hug your loved ones a little longer and say, “I love you” a little more.
♥The WFK Family

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DSP Warns Parents, Family of Iowa Boy Discusses “Choking Game”

Yesterday Keri was able to do a Skype interview with a news station from Delaware. Below is the print version of the piece and here is the link where you can view the whole story and watch the video.


DOVER, Del. (WBOC) – There’s a renewed warning for parents after a Kent County teen died in what’s being called a “tragic accident.”

WBOC reported Monday a 14-year-old Felton boy died over the weekend.

Delaware State Police are not commenting on the specifics of the case. But troopers are urging parents to talk with their kids “about games that have a person tie an object around their neck to the point of passing out to obtain a euphoric high.”

The activity goes by a lot of names. It can be called “Pass Out Challenge,” “Space Monkey,” “Black Out Game” and most commonly “Choking Game.”

It’s been around for years but has seen a recent resurgence in popularity through social media. It’s a very serious, very dangerous activity that has claimed the lives of many kids nationwide, like that of Joshua Engle, an Iowa boy. Engle died three years ago playing the choking game. He was 13 years old.

His sister Keri Anderson remembers seeing her dad and mom right after they found Joshua.

“She told me he was gone and he can’t come back. My dad kept saying my brother’s eyes were glazed over. He could tell he was gone,” she said. “Once we found out it was the choking game – actually researching and finding out the warning signs and the symptoms – that’s when we really believed this was right in front of us the whole time. We just didn’t know.”

Anderson says recognizing the warning signs is one of the most important things parents can do. Those signs include bruising on the neck, frequent and severe headaches, bloodshot eyes and finding items like belts, ties, scarves left around.

“Unless you know what you’re looking for, you would bypass them and give them a different reason,” Anderson said.

There’s lots of information for parents available online, like YouTube videos showing what happens to the body during the choking game and how it can be deadly.

Anderson says it’s important to talk with kids. And it’s key not to be accusatory.

“I wouldn’t come at them from a defensive side, because that’s when kids are going to shut down and get scared.”

Anderson says it’s difficult every time she hears about a kid killed playing the choking game.

“All the emotions just come back. You know it’s not going to be, but you can get through it,” she said.

Again, DSP has not officially released a cause of death for the 14-year-old Felton boy. He was a middle schooler in the Lake Forest School District. District and school officials sent out notices Monday to families about what happened.

In a 2008 report, the Centers for Disease Control laid out the prevalence of the choking game problem. The report said the “game” led to 82 deaths nationwide between 1995 and 2007. Most of those happened from 2005 on. The majority of the kids killed were boys that were on average between 13 and 14 years old.

In an unfortunate coincidence, Saturday, the day the Felton boy died, was Worldwide Choking Game Awareness Day.

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Be aware, be informed

We are branching out to inform you of the dangers that we have warned our kids about and some new ones that we are learning of. Each time we hear of something new to be aware of we will research it and post about it. We want you to be informed. Here is the link to the new “BEWARE” section of our site.

Blessings from all of us at WFK

Feel free to email us with any topics you would like us to be aware of or discuss.



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Scar Tissue

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
quote by Rose Kennedy

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Sweet 16

Today we would be wishing Joshua a Happy Sweet 16th Birthday! It is hard to think that it was 3 years ago that we celebrated his birthday here with him. I often wonder who he’d be today.

With school starting back up for the year in a couple of weeks we hope that you share the knowledge of the choking game that we wish we would have had. It is real and happening around the world with little to no knowledge of the consequences.

We hope that you would share Joshua’s story and educate your children so that it doesn’t happen to you.

Happy Birthday Joshua, we love and miss you dearly!

♥ WildFarmKids – The Joshua Leo Engle Family

16th Birthday


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