Mom/Wife Shares her Story of Loss and Finding a New Normal

Julie Kemp — May 7, 2019 — 5 min read
I was on my way home from church on a normal Sunday morning when tragedy struck my family. My nightmare began in one second. One stoplight. My husband was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and my son, Landon, was sitting behind his dad in the back seat. We were almost home when we were t-boned at an intersection by an ambulance. The ambulance was not on call. There were no flashing lights, no sirens, and no warning signs. The impact hit my husband’s side and his life ended that day. Since my son was sitting behind his dad, his body also received the immense impact. My husband’s seat and body was forced into the back seat covering my precious 8-year-old son.

Once the rescuers arrived at the scene, and they were removing me from the vehicle, one of them saw a child’s shoe, deepening their search to find the little body that matched. They had to go in through the trunk to remove my son. When they got him out of the car, he was not breathing. Landon and I were airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center and while we were being transferred, he died on the chopper again. Once we arrived at CMC, he was rushed to the neuro trauma intensive care unit and I was rushed to the emergency room. While he was there, he died the third and longest time. The nightmare would not end.
My Grief Journey Begins
A couple days later, I checked myself out of the hospital against medical advice to attend my husband’s funeral. As I was being pushed to the front of the church in my wheelchair, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. Everyone’s eyes were on me, but I couldn’t look back. I didn’t want to see their sympathy because I didn’t want to face what was happening. I was still in shock. As soon as the funeral was over, I had to rush back to the hospital to make sure my son was still alive. He was in a coma and not expected to live; however, after 19 days in a coma, brain surgery and reconstructive surgery, he woke up. He had a miraculous recovery.
Julie Kemp shares her story of loss, grief and finding a new normal. She sits in this photo with her son, Landon, who experienced a brain injury.

My grief journey began. My life as a single mom with a child who had brain trauma was my new life. I was not prepared or equipped. Due to panic attacks and injuries, I was medicated with painkillers and Prozac. It took me to a zombie stage where I didn’t have to feel the weight of the world. I struggled with questions about why. Why did my husband die? Why does my child have to live with these injuries? Why didn’t angels save us? Why is this my life? I kept praying for neon signs to give me answers. None came. And while I was begging God for answers, I became stuck in my grief. I didn’t know how to get out of it. For some reason, I felt that if I had joy in my life then I wasn’t grieving the loss of my husband. My loss was in 1997 and no one mentioned counseling to me. I desperately needed it. My thoughts were so twisted in my head that I couldn’t make sense of anything. My only focus was on the needs of my child.

Reaching Out for Help
If you are on your grief journey, I encourage you to reach out for help. Get professional help. There are amazing grief support groups. I am now a grief facilitator, and when I have people come into my group session, I understand what their tears mean; I speak that language. I recognize the dark cloud that they carry. I admire them for having the strength to deal with their grief, even when their hearts are breaking. They are not burying it, but are looking for ways to find their new normal.

Grief is a process. Be patient with yourself. You can’t rush through it. You have to work through the stages. Surround yourself with friends and family that can carry you when you don’t have the strength. It is okay to ask for help. This is too big to do on your own. Your family and friends want to help you. Your people will cry with you on your hard days, and laugh with you when you find happiness again. Pain and joy can co-exist. You can be happy and still miss your loved one. You hurt so much because you loved so much.

Finding Your New Normal
It is hard to find your new normal. You don’t want it, but you have to take one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow and don’t live in fear. Healing will come; focus on your hope for the future.

Journal the memories of your loved one. You never want to lose those. Your loved one left their legacy and so now you have to ask yourself what will your legacy be?

The big hole in your heart that hurts so bad you can’t breathe will get better. The hole doesn’t go away. It’s always there, but the hole changes. It’s not one that is filled with sadness, but one that is a reminder of the love you shared and the memories you cherish.

Each time that my son died on that horrific day in 1997, he had visits in heaven. He saw his earthly father and his Heavenly Father. I believed in heaven before our accident, but I am reminded every time I see my child that God keeps all of His promises and that I will have an amazing family reunion in heaven one day. Please know you will too!

About the author
Julie Kemp shares her story of loss of her husband.Julie Kemp is a North Carolina native and lives in Waxhaw. She said her most rewarding job is being a wife to Greg and mom of two sons – Landon and Parker. Due to her struggles and long grief journey, she finds peace in helping others as a grief facilitator. She has been facilitating grief groups at her church in Weddington, N.C., since 2008. Julie and her miracle son, Landon, survived many obstacles to share their story. They have appeared on The 700 Club, Dr. Oz, Charlotte Today, Expedition Unknown, Inspiration Ministries and many other TV and radio stations across the country. To learn more about her story, visit
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