In Memory of Kay

Without Gratitude, There Is Only Death


The moment I experienced gratitude is the moment my healing started– Kim Sisto Robinson


This photo is my all time favorite of Kay.  She is FREE!  Free! Free!

This photo is my all time favorite of Kay. She is FREE! Free! Free!

I distinctly recall somebody during my mad, suicidal stage after Kay’s murder making this comment— “You should really consider your blessings.”


I’m like,  “Fuck you.”


Okay, I don’t say it aloud, but the words smolder inside my mind like something ready to explode.


Please don’t give advice to a mourning, crazy girl unless you’ve suffered yourself. Otherwise, well, just shut the hell up.


I make no apologies for that last sentence.


It’s taken 1825 days to embrace this new life, this new reality. I mean, the man we ate Sunday dinners with & spent holidays with murdered my sister.  Did you expect me to smear on my red lipstick, smile a stupid smile, and proceed as if everything were normal?


Nothing will ever be normal again.   I know this to be absolutely true.


Yeah, 1825 days, at least,  to breathe, to make an appointment for a mammogram, go to the dentist, shop at my local grocery store, and stop drinking after two glasses of wine without emptying the entire bottle.  I desperately want to become an alcoholic to deaden the sting,  but I understand early on that remaining sedated isn’t the solution.


The pain will never go away.  Once I grasp this belief, I’m able to exhale.   Finally.


In those initial weeks, I try to discover light and blessings and a reason for not sliding my head into an oven like Plath, placing stones in my oversized pockets like Woolf, or gulping down multi colored sleeping pills like Sexton.  Everything could be so easy,  so lovely, so uncomplicated if I could only slip away from the universe.


But my freedom arrives in other ways.


For example, one summer morning while visiting Kay’s gravesite, I experience this hot rush from my head to my painted toes.


God’s presence.


A surprising pleasure I didn’t expect, but urgently needed.


Oh, yes, I remember you, sweet joy!


And these exact words form inside my brain like a revelation—–“Kay is not with Mike; she is set free.” 


Gold sun falls directly inside my soul; a beautiful poem unraveling.


Because Kay’s emancipation becomes my emancipation, as well.


As Annie Lamott says, sometimes the only prayer you need is this one:


“thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.”


And that is enough.


—-Dear, Reader,  do you have a gratitude journal?  Do you find it difficult to give thanks in the midst of darkness?  Do you pray?  xxXX

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  • Reply
    Elephant's Child
    November 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    No prayers here.
    Immense gratitude though. For so many things. For the light in the sky, for kindness, for humour….
    Grief is a never-ending ride isn’t it? Not to get over it, but to find ways to live with it.
    Hugs. Always.

  • Reply
    Minnesota Prairie Roots
    November 4, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    This sentence particularly strikes me in this post:

    Please don’t give advice to a mourning, crazy girl unless you’ve suffered yourself. Otherwise, well, just shut the hell up.

    Unless someone has walked in your shoes, they can never fully understand. Why is it that people can’t just listen? Listening is a lost skill.

    Pray? Yes, yes, yes, a billion times YES!

    Many hugs from Southern Minnesota to one of the strongest women I “know.” Yes, you.

  • Reply
    Kristi Campbell
    November 4, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I do pray, and I have felt moments of gratitude so overwhelming and so deep that my entire life has been changed. When my son was a newborn, I was so grateful for him and so so effing afraid. One night, I remembered that years earlier, when I was very depressed and convinced I’d never be able to have a viable pregnancy, I prayed that God give my life to a mother dying of cancer so that she could raise her children. Once my son was born, I wanted to live with a fierceness unparalleled, and I walked, and prayed, and felt All The Everythings. xo to you, Love.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      November 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      I’ve felt that deep, overpowering gratitude, too.
      I’m surprised, too, since Kay isn’t here.
      I just love your passion & love!!!! xxx

  • Reply
    November 4, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I agree with you, in the mourning part and advice… i’ve gone through it and heard some really WTF things and yeah, best to be left alone for a while if they haven’t dealt with something similar.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      November 7, 2015 at 8:23 am

      not really left alone, but shut the F up! xx

  • Reply
    My Inner Chick
    November 4, 2015 at 9:23 pm


  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's Recipes
    November 5, 2015 at 2:04 am

    I don’t pray, but am grateful for many things in my life.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 8:11 am

    You have covered a great points, Indeed it was an eye-opening post. Thank You!!!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I cannot compare my depression to your grief but I too get the “But why are you so sad? Look at what you have.”
    I want to scream.
    I know what I have. I do and I am eternally grateful for that and them but I can’t help my illness and the way it functions.
    I’m sorry that people have said that to you and to others. It’s an awful and inconsiderate thing to say. So much love to you and to the people who are grieving beautiful souls xooxox

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      November 7, 2015 at 8:26 am

      one of the reasons I added that comment in the blog was to educate others. You are doing the same thing w/ your posts. Most people are really considerate, you know? But the rest need help. xx

  • Reply
    Joan Peterson
    November 5, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    This is one of your best pieces. I love the wording- and turning anger and sorrow into love and peace is so important. Thanks for writing this one.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      November 7, 2015 at 8:26 am

      thank you for your continued support and love. xxxx

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Kim- this is such a powerful post, but it is feeling lighter. Kay will never be far from you. the pain of losing here will never go away, but another window opened for you and you can feel the breeze like a kiss from Kay. love you. xox

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      November 7, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Yes, I see light, darling.
      Thank you for being part of that process. xx

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Best. Post. Ever! People have no idea what to say. People have to be allowed to feel. xoxoxo You are awesome!

    I saw this last week:

    Thought of it when I read this.

  • Reply
    Julie Gardner
    November 5, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    God she is beautiful.
    So are you.
    And your words and your gratitude.
    Her freedom.
    So very beautiful.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      November 12, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      she was SO beautiful, wasn’t’ she? And more on the inside. xx

  • Reply
    Carrie Rubin
    November 5, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    The never-ending process of grief. Your words help us all–either with dealing with our own or understanding how to approach those burdened with it.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Wow! You’re blowing the lid off with this one, dear heart. This line is my favourite: “Because Kay’s emancipation becomes my emancipation, as well.” Love flowing to you across the world xx

  • Reply
    Terri Siegler
    November 5, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Kim this is beautiful I love U

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I like the idea of a gratitude journal. I think that will be a great thing to take on in the New Year.

    While I don’t think I would ever be as insensitive to say “count your blessings”, I do always wonder what I should say or do for someone that is hurting inside? I feel rotten for people suffering but I never know what to say- so I usually say nothing and that also feels rotten because I don’t want anyone to think I don’t care.. ??

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      November 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Hi, Trish,

      the best thing somebody did was walk up to me and HUG me REALLY tight without words.

      This was pure perfection.

      xxx kisss

  • Reply
    Amy Tong
    November 5, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Always appreciate your sharing and insight! I love the impact that you share in your posts, especially knowing it’ll help someone out there. 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris Carter
    November 5, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Oh girl, you KNOW I pray. Like breathing I pray…

    As always,I’m struck by your poetic words and fierce fire of faith, Kim. I LOVE that picture… Every time I see it, I think the SAME thing. She’s walking into PARADISE. FREE of Mike. FREE of this world. FREE… Falling into God’s arms at last! (I am touching her cross right now. And to know she touched it? I get chills every time.)

    And THIS —> “Because Kay’s emancipation becomes my emancipation, as well.”

    *Tears* YES YES YES!!

  • Reply
    Chris Carter
    November 5, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    TESTING… I left a comment and it is GONE! Darnit.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Hey Kim,

    I embrace the ideals of you being able to move on. The grieving process is such a unique and profound process.

    As for praying, sorry, but I cannot believe in a god and believe the world would be a better place without religion.

    Hugs and peace, your way,


  • Reply
    Totally Caroline
    November 5, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    I believe wholeheartedly in the power of gratitude.. Even when you can only think of one silly insignificant think to be thankful for, it makes a difference. Over time we train our mind to find things to be greatful for, and it really does affect a persons mindset. I have an app on my phone, a gratitude journal, where I write three things I’m greatful for every day. It’s been almost a month. I really think it’s helping me.

    May u always have much to be greatful for my lovely Chicky ❤️

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    1,825 days. I did the math: 5 long years for you to breathe again. I could feel the oxygen in this piece Kim; it is beautiful and pure. It made me happy. I am grateful that you’ve found some peace (to know that it’s even possible after such tragedy), and that people like you–who share their hard-won insights–exist in this world. A huge hug. ooooxxx

  • Reply
    November 5, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve entertained the idea of keeping a gratitude journal, but have never followed through. I could at least add that as part of my normal journal entries. I was talking to a friend a few days ago, and he mentioned how the act of expressing gratitude works to make us more grateful. Awareness can be such a powerful thing. When I try to think of things I’m grateful for, I get stuck, but writing always helps with that and solidifies things.

  • Reply
    Hotly Spiced
    November 5, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    It’s amazing how insensitive some people can be with the things they blurt out. I know they don’t mean any harm, but they really should just say nothing. You’re doing great! xx

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 2:23 am

    “Kay is not with Mike; she is set free.” – Yes, yes yes!
    Your words are beautiful! You are incredible!
    Love, love, love to you my darling Kim.
    🙂 Mandy xoxoxoxo

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Gratitude 24/7 365 days of the year. I can be grateful if I can’t be anything else.

  • Reply
    Balroop Singh
    November 6, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I have learnt gratitude slowly but surely. Thanks for the reminder dear Kim.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Pray ALL the time, darling! It’s in the Mama’s Book. Our babies never outgrow our need for prayers!

    I love how hopeful this post is, Kim. Yes, it’s taken a LONG time, but God had other plans for you. I imagine the person who told you to think of your blessings probably didn’t mean it as it sounded then. Grief and anger have a way of clouding how we perceive others and what they say. It’s only by clawing our way through the darkness that we can experience the light. And joy.

    I know you’ve missed Kay every single minute of those 1825 days. Blessedly, though, she’s no longer suffering — she’s FREE!! x0x0

  • Reply
    lisa thomson-the great escape
    November 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Oh, Kim I love this post. THIS: “Because Kay’s emancipation becomes my emancipation, as well.” What a brilliant revelation and no doubt God was there for that one. It has taken so much to get where you are and to that revelation. You are an INSPIRATION. Yes, I try to always remind myself of all that I am grateful for right in the moment. I still have darkness though and need to gently take myself back to that prayer. THANK YOU. xoxoxo

  • Reply
    Valentine Logar
    November 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I don’t pray, not the way others think of prayer. My life is a prayer of gratitude, I am always and eternally grateful.

    You remind me. To say I love you.

    I love you.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    I talk to God all the time. Don’t know if that is exactly prayer. Feels more like a conversation. I don’t keep a gratitude journal…closest thing is the blog.

    You are doing something similar to me and the Truck Safety Coalition…turning your grief and anger into something positive to make the world a better place for someone else…and while doing that it turns out the world is a better place for you too. Better does not mean perfect…or even good…just better.

    The world is a better place because you’re in it. Accept that as a thank you from one hurt person to another.

  • Reply
    Kim Gagnon
    November 6, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Love and miss you Kimmy!!!! Xoxo

  • Reply
    Little Chickie
    November 7, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Indeed I do pray, and yes I have much to be grateful for.

    I LOVE your bold powerful dialogue.


    Little Chickie

  • Reply
    November 7, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I do pray, but more often I take the time to be thankful. I do it in my head, but I think a gratitude journal is a wonderful idea.

    Thank you, Kim. Your writing empowers me.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Another powerful post… I’m sending you a hug.. A big one!

  • Reply
    November 7, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Once a young boy came over to my house after Kay’s death and just sat and
    sipped on a can of pop, he never said a word. He was a close neighbor of ours.
    he showed that he really cared. that meant so much to me.
    Maybe just a little hug or I’m sorry I think is enough.
    Love You

  • Reply
    November 8, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    It’s been quite a journey for you, Kim. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am grateful to have come to know you through your words. Gratitude is a good thing. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 9, 2015 at 3:28 am

    Dear Kim,
    yes, lots of praying and lots and lots to be thankful for…
    Sending you a big fat hug and a thank you for your beautiful, moving post!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Dear Kim, you are such a beautiful person, what a tremendously arduous path it has been. You inspire, you fight and lend your voice. I am so happy to know you, to have shared your journey. Grateful for you.

  • Reply
    Caroline Abbott
    November 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    It is so hard to feel grateful when you are surrounded by darkness. In fact, just about impossible. You can try, and others will tell you to, but it doesn’t really work, does it? All around is blackness. I have been there my friend. Still, it is totally worth the effort. Perhaps it will lift the blackness just a little bit. And then another little bit. Until it is only grey. Then, one day, the sun will come out again, just like what you experienced at your sister’s gravesite. Thank God there is God! Without him, what would be the point of suffering? We would suffer with no relief.

  • Reply
    Barbara @ Barbara Bakes
    November 9, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve never needed my faith as much as when my mom died. I can only imagine what a comfort it can be for you. Hugs!

  • Reply
    Darla M Sands
    November 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    How inconsiderate to give such advice to a grieving person. My heart goes out to you over this cruel injustice.

    I try to start each day writing in a journal (just cheap spiral notebooks) and begin with five joys/blessings. Even in my peaceful life that can be tough some days. But the practice does wonders for my attitude.

    As for prayer, it is definitely a part of my life. A few weeks ago a Wiccan friend, driving our close knit writers’ retreat group down a mountain, asked us to send out energy meant to help keep the prolific deer safely from our path. I offered to keep a close lookout, not much of a believer in the powers she referenced. Without skipping a beat, she replied, “Darla, your power is prayer.” Warmed, awed, I did just that. We all returned safely as an added blessing.

    Thank you for this inspirational post. Best wishes!

  • Reply
    Renee Johnson
    November 12, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I love that you quote Lamott here. She has wisdom about much, not just writing. However, my father suicided when I was eleven. People said things, well-meaning things, but things that pissed me off so badly. I’m glad you don’t apologize for that emotional sentence about shutting up. Show up–yes. Platitudes–no. Sometimes we have to roll around in grief until we are covered in its gray pall and pull the covers over us so tightly light can’t penetrate. When we are ready, it will come. And we will smile. I did. You did. It’s amazing it could ever happen.

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    November 12, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Wow asking someone to consider their blessings just after their best friend and sister were murdered is a hard task. I can understand your reaction completely!

    I try to think of my blessings often. Many of us are so, so blessed and we don’t even know it or we forget about it. xxx

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Dear Kim,
    I’ve been saving this post in my inbox for just the perfect time.
    Turns out, the moment you wrote if would have been perfect, too.
    What a great reminder for all of us.
    I went for a run this morning – it’s been a terrible week. My heart was heavy, and I tried to think who/what was missing.
    I breathed in gratitude to have the legs to carry me, a heart to pump my blood, and lungs to fill with Autumn air.
    Amazing how much better a run is when Jesus comes along.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    Love from Kansas.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2015 at 6:55 am

    You are so strong Kim.
    ps – I do love this photo of Kay. She is so beautiful!
    Sending you love and thanks for all the inspiration you share.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Gloriously written and so moving.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2015 at 4:24 am

    Kim, this is just beautiful! I can relate to not wanting to hear the banal comments people make when one is grieving. It infuriates me people are so arrogant as to think themselves an authority on death and dying. Every time I have lost a loved one, a piece of me has died as well. Ever since my nana died, I walk around with a hole in my heart. I think of her every day, and every day I have to remind myself that one day we will be together again. It’s the only thing that keeps me going–knowing we’ll once again see these beautiful souls we love so much. Hugs to you, dear friend!

  • Reply
    Anna @ shenANNAgans
    November 25, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    I find it so unbelievably odd that people can be so candid with sweeping statements about how best to deal with grief or depression or anger or old hurt, perhaps they are right, but surely there are so many other things they can say. Anyways, I am impressed you didnt tell that person to fudge off, I would have.

    I do have a gratitude diary, I write 20 things I am grateful for every evening before I go to sleep. I find it helps me let the days stresses go, and often find myself smiling about the silliest things, ie; my comfy bed or the blankets, or my delicious dinner. Because it is now a daily habit, it comes easier, even in the dark times. I figure if I cant think of the big things, little tiny things like having access to clean drinking water or comfortable PJs is enough. Not big on praying, I do not find peace in that at all.

    Hope you are well my lovely friend. Biiiiiiig squishy hugs and loves headed your way from Australia. xox

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