Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.

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Pet Sympathy Cards

Pets bring so much joy that when one passes away, you have to go through the grieving process, just like any other loss. Cards help during those times. Here is one of my pet loss sympathy cards: See more details at: Trees of Transition Cards on Etsy. Helping family and friends through this kind of loss can mean so much.


~Mary Hope

P.S. A book that has helped me process grief is:

A Grief Observed  by C. S. Lewis. Check it out. It is also an audio book: A Grief Observed Audio Book

Copyright 2017


Jess Gelso Andres Reminder…Missing Her Laugh…


This week a person I worked with on her writing reminded me of my friend Jess. Jess passed away in November of 2013, and the piece I wrote about her has been read by people all over the world (find it here: Writing that piece about her helped me process the suddenness of her passing. I now need to process a bit more of missing Jess.
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Top Ten Activities to Restore Hope After Job Loss

During this transition time, these activities have helped me greatly:

10. Run Toward Love. After I was fired, I drove out to my parents’ home where they served me pot roast and just let me cry, tell my story multiple times, and love me.
9. Take Someone with YouIf you still have to clear out your classroom or cubicle, take a loving person with you to finish off the job of clearing out your things. My Mom accompanied me; it helped to have a cheerleader.
8. Unpack Your Boxes and Reorganize Your Life. I let the boxes from work sit there for a week, then I tackled the project of finding spots for all those books. Just face into the boxes and start creating new life rhythms by putting your favorite work objects around your home.
7. Connect with Loving Co-workers, if possibleI communicated with several people at my old job about what happened, and it surprised me how compassionate they were! Several wrote me emails and cards full of truth and encouragement. One former co-worker brought chocolate and came over to talk; it was hard, but helpful to hear her opinion. Multiple people encouraged me to not let this situation jade me toward teaching, and told me “You ARE a good teacher.” Their words helped pull the poison out of the wound the job loss had afflicted. Because that co-worker had more objective viewpoint right then, she helped me know what I could say about the job loss. I’m so thankful for her coaching.
6. Go Away for a Few Days. Yes, file for unemployment as soon as possible, but you just need time away for a bit to let down so that you can heal. I visited my brother and his family the week after my job ended, and it was there, surrounded by love that I had the strength to file for unemployment. Filing and retelling the story was hard and very humbling, but it helped me process the trauma. Hugs from my one-year-old nephew, and then an invitation from my sister-in-law to stay for four days instead of one was healing balm. My mind could let down, forget what happened for a while, and just rest, play, and love.
5. Create a New Life Structure. Get up early on work days. Apply for jobs, go network, and let job hunting be your new “work.” Have hope; you will get another job.
4. ExerciseI planned exercise into my day because it relieved stress, and brought me joy! Go run by the lake or plan to go dancing.
3. Maximize Your Networks. Yes, sign up and use networking and job hunting sites, but also connect with people in person. I went to my grad school’s career office, and they loaned me career books (a great one is The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry), critiqued my resume, and supported me in thinking about different career choices. They helped me know it’s fine to try something different, like floral design…
2. Do What You Love and Feel Your FeelingsI read, I sang, I cooked. I took floral design classes, and I started writing a book. I cried, felt sad, shouted with anger, ached with loss, and chose to forgive. Then a tutoring job came!
1. Believe and Know That You Are Loved Just As You AreYes, sudden job loss wounds your heart and your confidence. Yes, you need time to heal, but while you are healing, just know that there is a plan for you designed by the Great Creator. Know that you are loved. You are not your job; you are of full value just as you are.
Copyright 2014 by M. H. Campbell

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Forgiving Yourself After Sudden Job Loss

The morning after I got fired, I wrote my former bosses a resignation letter because the word “fired” just seemed too painful; I wanted to control the situation and just resign. My sister-in-law, Erin, was the one who gently reminded me: “They fired you yesterday, so sending them this letter would just confuse them.” Right, that made sense.

Just writing the letter was enough (I didn’t need to send it); it helped me grapple with what I was feeling. Writing has helped me bring resolution to this situation; even just typing out a password for a job search website has helped my brain through the forgiving process.

At first I believed I could have done better and kept my job; however, looking back I see that I did the best I could. I fully jumped in and engaged the students, yes, I wasn’t perfect, but I connected and helped those high school Seniors become better writers for a month.

Over the last couple months, I have felt multiple emotions other than peace. First, when I was told I had two weeks to do even more with the students, teach better, I felt tension, but also a challenge. After working 12 hour days and doing the best I could, I felt confusion, when after those two weeks I was fired because I had not met their expectations. Crying and anger mixed with relief followed. Elation and tons of job ideas trailed by sadness and just needing to lay there and watch movies for hours have been part of my healing journey. Talking with people and finding out how many people have been fired at different parts of their lives has helped me connect deeper with humanity in general.

Each workday I would log into a job searching website and type in my password: 77forgive, and then continue on with my search. Each time I entered those job hunting passwords the forgiveness would grow toward the bosses that fired me and the pain would lessen. I just realized I also was forgiving myself for what had happened. Just seeing the word “forgive” and having to think it several times a day has really paid off by having that job episode fade peacefully into the past.

I’ve had to go through the cycle of grief in regards to losing this job. Numbness, followed by sadness and anger, mixed with a desire for revenge. As I received love and support from family and friends, I could let down and just be sad about it all and then acceptance. As this happened, I had the strength and courage to get back out there, apply for jobs, interview and land another job.

I chose to forgive from the start because I knew it was what I was supposed to do, but as I’ve daily typed in “77forgive,” my heart healed enough to forgive my old bosses and to forgive myself. I drove by my old school yesterday and felt peaceful; I give the credit for healing my heart to God (and the passwords you type every day influence you more than you think!)


By M. H. Campbell

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Push Into The Throb

I know the pain slices through your hope, it casts your eyes toward the darkness, thinking it is bigger than the light,
But it’s NOT!
Feel the pain,
Push into the throb,
Hold onto it until you navigate its rapids because if you numb out, medicate, and avoid it, it will stay there, buried, still aching.
Numbing seems safe, but it just delays healing.
Healing comes through feeling, weeping, cleansing, and releasing.
Be free
to heal,
to live.


Copyright 2014 by M. H. Campbell

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I Wish I Hadn’t Said That….Grrrrr

Processing Regret from Saying Stupid Things To a Cute Guy

The first statement that I said that has haunted me a bit is “You remind me of a combination of both of my brothers.” I meant he looked cute like both of my handsome brothers and had some of their other positive qualities such as kindness, brains, and love for God.

I did not convey all of that background knowledge when I said, “You remind me of a combination of both of my brothers,” and if there had been any spark, it was gone after that, and he soon started dating his eventual wife. This reminded me that guys can’t read my mind and to communicate clearly!

 Another statement I said to a guy that I regret is: “Don’t do that! [Act very different when following God’s leading to do something.] Stay the same. Learn to integrate them so that it doesn’t feel like you’re two different people.” Reflecting back on this situation, I didn’t like feeling uncomfortable, so I tried to control the situation. The guy never did it again with me, but I see now how I wasn’t able just to let him be who he was. There probably was some truth in my observations, but I could have just trusted the guy and not cared about the awkwardness his actions were causing.

 Via text: “No, I’ll be awake for a while.” Letting the conversation stop there would have been best! Late night texting with a guy you are not married to is not wise. Thoughts turn to areas that you don’t need to talk about with someone you don’t know well.

When I think about these three situations, I wince a bit, have a twinge of regret, but then just decide to learn from the situations. I’ve said these things once and seen the results, so now I know not to do these things again. Three important lessons I learned from these experiences include:

  1. Guys can’t read my mind!
  2. Late night texting is not a great idea…
  3. Let the guy be who he is, and don’t try to change him.

Copyrighted 2014 by M. H. Campbell

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A Year Since a Sudden Good-bye

I didn’t get to say good-bye to my brother-in-law before he died. He hadn’t wanted people to know how sick he was, so my sister didn’t tell family until he was almost gone. I got to the hospital 30 minutes too late. What made it real was seeing his shrouded form underneath the sheet that covered him.
I did make it in time to love and support my sister. I mobilized people and found a church where we could have a service to honor Don’s life.

Don had a great smile, he loved to give. He designed amazing furniture and was a true artist. He loved my sister and was her best friend for over 40 years. (This is making me tear up!)

He encouraged me in my career; he and my sister bought me fancy suits to wear to interviews. He was the first guy to buy me a necklace; I’m wearing it today.

He loved buying kids presents; he had a rough exterior, but a big, loving heart, and he is missed.

Good-bye, Don. See you on the other side.


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See You Later, Grandma Jane…Reflections About a Lady Who Inspired Me

Grandma Jane Elizabeth Read Latourette

She was a creative, energetic author and teacher who taught me how to write letters and who encouraged me to become a teacher.

Grandma bought me little plastic platform shoes for me and my sister when we were little, and we liked clicking them on the checker board floor of the basement until they broke. Grandpa glued them back together and then we broke them again with our clicking.

Grandma Jane taught me how to tie my shoes. I remember her showing me in the hallway outside their kitchen, and then I was able to tie my shoes myself!

She was an English and Speech teacher, and a writer! She wrote a lot of odes in honor of our birthdays and then little books of haikus for Christmas.

She was always writing my Mom letters, then when I was around 9 or 10 I started writing back and forth with Grandma and it didn’t stop until she couldn’t write anymore a few years ago.

She encouraged me in my writing and in becoming a teacher! It was exciting when I could tell her I got my teacher’s license. Grandma Jane believed in me, and it really helped me try teaching in Costa Rica and now in Chicago. Last year in my school’s library I found that they have two of Grandma’s children storybooks– Arch Books–there!

A week ago Saturday after Mom and I saw Grandma for the last time (the last thing I did was give her a hug, touch her warm hand one last time, and say “See you later! I love you.), we walked outside and Mom found a ginkgo leaf on the sidewalk–one of the old leaves from last year. Then on Tuesday, April 1st, it was Grandma’s time to let go and go to a better place.

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At her service last Sunday, I chose to read two of her poems that showed her skill as a poet, enthusiasm for life, and voice as a writer.

This one shows how she loved Philosophy and thinking about identity:

When There’s No “Next Thing” To Do
By Jane Latourette

I wonder where my mind and heart will wander
when “shoulds” and “oughts” have been removed;
when no obligatory chores remain, demanding to be done.
If given time and place and solitude,
will my own self emerge
in ways unknown til now,
to begin to tell me,
“This is really Who You Are”?
Or, am I a Mix of relationships
that pull me, willy-nilly
into time and energy-consuming actions,
So that, only if I make a place for solitude
Will I discover that part of ME I still don’t know?

And here’s the poem Grandma Jane wrote in honor of the ginkgo trees that loose their leaves all at once in one night!

The Ginkgo Gavotte
By Jane Latourette

Last night they agreed,
It was time to be freed,
Enough of being treed
branch-on-branch so proper.

Down, down they whirled and twirled,
In giddy, reckless flight–
Such storms of yellow light–
It seemed there was no stopper!

As the French peasants danced
in a quickened 4/4 time,
These fan-shaped joyous leaves
Had one last fling sublime.

Letting breezes blow them
In circles or straight lines,
Or zig-zag moves, or borne aloft.
No more the set designs.

Each one savored freedom,
If only for a spell–
Donated then their beings
For next season’s sentinel
Of green-leafed shade. Their offsprings
Would harsh hot sun dispell.

Now, I’m one of the writers and teachers left behind; Grandma Jane would have been happy to know that next week I get to teach my students how to write haiku poems.

See you later, Grandma Jane.

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Saying Good-bye to Jess Gelso Andres: Processing the Death of a Friend


Jess and Steve

On Wednesday, November 28th, 2013, sitting in the same room where nine years earlier we had celebrated the marriage of Jess and Steve, and now where we were celebrating the life of Jess after her sudden death was a strange, unnerving, and sad experience. There was hope, but it was mixed with grief. Many of the people who were in the youth group and in Steve’s worship band around the time when Jess and I were finishing high school were there, so it was reunion-like, but the reason to gather was not happy. Many people at the funeral knew Steve more than Jess, so here’s a bit of about this beautiful lady who is now peacefully with Jesus:

When I started attending the youth group at Calvary Church when I was sixteen, I was hesitant to fully jump in until I felt the welcome of many wonderful folks. One of the people I connected with was Jess Gelso. She had a bright smile, a gentle voice, sparkling eyes, and this wonderful dark, curly hair. She played soft-ball, and loved playing with kids.

We must have connected at the Intense Discipleship Training program Calvary offered during the summer. I remember helping out at the King’s Castle outreach that Jess was deeply involved with, so I think that’s where we connected, and it was over art!

Jess would drive an hour out to where I lived on a farm with my family, and she would hang out with all of us, but she and I would usually make something creative. I think she was the one who introduced me to using acrylic paint, and she taught me how to use hodge-podge glue to make collages of bits of paper.

Life moved on, but Jess and I would connect often at church and then occasionally hang out. Jess went away to college and came back, she fell in love with Steve, and then had an amazingly sparkly diamond on her finger. I had her over and we were making something at my parents’ kitchen table when she said, “Steve and I would love to have you be in our wedding!” I accepted and was SO excited to be part of their big day.

Jess chose an amazing bridesmaids dress for all of us bridesmaids to wear: It was the shade of eggplants, it was elegant and fun because it had a bit of netting underneath that made its long skirt to puff out just a bit. She gave each of us small silver crosses to wear. I’ve worn that dress and necklace multiple times since then.

Jess was the friend that helped me get started wearing make-up. She didn’t require me to wear it for the wedding, she just gave me some tips, and I was finally ready to learn.
Being with Jess and Steve on their wedding day was an honor. My favorite part was after they were married, we went outside into the chilly, clear October day to take photos on the hill next to the church. We were all so happy. It was freezing, but the photos turned out stellar. Jess told me one time that one of her favorite things about Steve is that he made her laugh.

After Jess became Mrs. Andres, I hung out with her every so often, but life picked up speed for both of us, so our visits got farther and farther apart. Many Christmas Eve services I would run over and say “Hi!” to her as she sat with the Andres clan. I would call and leave voice mails for her and we would occasionally text. The last text I had from her was on August 12th and she was letting me know I accidentally left a message for the Jess I work with on her voice mail, and she wanted me to know–she ended it with “:) hope you are well! Good night!” I texted her back letting her know I was well and with a photo of my nephew.

Even though the last season of my friendship with Jess wasn’t close, I always knew she was my friend. Now that I know I will never see her again, there’s a gap. How do you process losing a friend unexpectedly?

Here’s some things that are helping me:

My first response to the news was just to cry, so let yourself just cry and be sad.

I’m grateful I could attend the funeral and receive love from so many people that knew I had been friends with Jess. Hugs help a lot.

At the funeral I let myself feel the sadness, and when the casket passed by I said my final “good-bye.” The funeral was filled with photos, video, memories of her smiling, so that’s how I will remember her–her eyes sparkling and her wonderful laugh.

Talking about Jess with people who knew her has helped, and writing about her helps too.

I’m so thankful that Jess was part of my life. She gently loved me, encouraged me, and I’m so glad we created things together. Jess is missed, and I will not forget her. I’m glad she can now create with colors none of us have ever seen, and she gets to be with Jesus.

Jess, give Jesus a hug from me, and let Him give you a hug from me. I’ll see you later, Jess.

Heaven is richer now.

Jess and Mary

~Mary Hope

Copyright 2017

P.S. A book that has helped me process grief is:

A Grief Observed  by C. S. Lewis. Check it out. It is also an audio book: A Grief Observed Audio Book

Thank you for stopping by! I insert affiliate links, such as to  Amazon, into my posts to share interesting books and products. If you buy something or start a registry, I receive income, for which I am thankful. Please…

— shop on Amazon using this link: Amazon

–stop by my Etsy photo card/notecard/art shop: Trees of Transition Art, Design & Cards

–keep on reading this blog.

Thank you again. Peace to you and your family!

~Mary Hope

Copyright 2017


Josh Marks’ Funeral: How One Family Celebrated a Life that Ended Too Soon and Thoughts on Transitioning Through a Season of Mourning


On Monday, October 21st, 2013, several hundred people gathered to celebrate the life of Josh Marks, second place winner of Season 3 MasterChef reality TV show, basketball player, loving son and brother. How do you have a funeral for someone whose life tragically ended by his own hand during a time of mental confusion? I found out that how you do it is to just do it: celebrate all the wonderful life that person DID live. Focus on the life, not the death.

The only time I had interacted with Josh was a few weeks earlier. One student I was with recognized him and wanted to high five him, so I helped them connect. I got Josh’s attention and he smiled, reached out to the student to touch his hand, then the student was shyly grinning back as they high fived. The funeral reflected this part of Josh: how he loved and reached out to so many people.

The funeral service was crafted beautifully. Several of his closest friends from college shared how Josh encouraged them and would stay up until 3 or 4am to study with them. Josh’s family chose to show a video he had made of himself; he had recorded himself singing in order to practice speaking more clearly and smoothly (he explained that to us).  Before he started singing, he just talked a while (and drank from his glass of water!) From what he said, we all learned that he could make fun of himself, he wanted to grow and get better in life, and the most powerful thing he said was, “I want to be like Jesus and feed the masses.”

He didn’t cook to get famous, he cooked because he loved people and knew that food is a wonderful way to show love. One friend shared how even though one time Josh didn’t have much money, he chose to buy a homeless lady a pizza while he was hanging out with his friends. One way his family honored Josh was to provide wonderful food before and after the funeral service. Most of us were crying during parts of the service and then laughing during parts; Josh’s family composed a beautiful gathering to honor Josh’s life and celebrate his faith.

How do we transition through the time after someone we care for commits suicide?
From this experience I learned a few ways:

Let people know what is going on and let them come around and love you. Josh’s family was honest about what happened, and they let people come around and love them.

Celebrate all the wonderful things about the person that has passed; focus on the positive (feel the negative, process it, but choose to dwell on the good things about that person).

Having a funeral really helps. Just watching the family and friends that were close to Josh say good-bye to his body at the front of the church had me crying. Cry. Say “Good-bye.” Being able to see the body helps you realize the person is gone. Express your sadness.

Faith in God brings support and comfort. God can handle anger, so if you’re mad at Him for letting this person die, scream at Him if you need to: He can handle it, and He will always love you.

At the end of Josh’s funeral, a cousin sang “Amazing Grace.” I believe there’s enough amazing grace and love to support Josh’s family and friends and supporters through this loss. The funeral service, as it said on the program, truly celebrated God’s humble servant, Josh Marks.


P.S. A book that has helped me process grief is:

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis. Check it out. It is also an audio book: A Grief Observed Audio Book

Copyright 2017

Josh’s Mom encouraged me to link Josh’s words that they shared at his funeral, so here they are: