Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | August 27, 2011

God’s perfect timing: a story of two women connected by grief, a gift, and healing

I believe that God brings us gifts in perfect timing, don’t you? When grief still covered me like a heavy, dark, wet blanket, I saw a rerun of Dr. Phil on Oprah speaking to a woman who remained hopelessly stuck in heavy grieving, 10 years after her daughter died. What he said to her was so profound that it gave her what she needed to finally begin to move through her grief and toward healing. In turn, witnessing their exchange, was a gift to me as well. It hit home.

Last night I stumbled across that rerun again on The Oprah Show’s Greatest Lessons. Having recently published the “Learning to live around the hole in my heart” post, leading to conversations and communion with others who grieve, I do not believe that seeing it again, now, was any more coincidental than it was the first time. I believe it was a gift of God’s perfect timing once again, only this time it is a gift meant to be shared with others, and so I share, knowing that it will be something that somebody needs to hear because that’s how He works, and thanking Him for bringing me yet another gift by allowing me to pass His gift on to someone else today:

When Dr. Phil asked Jo Ann if her daughter would want her to hurt like this, Jo Ann said that her daughter would actually be angry at her for her behavior. “So it wouldn’t be a betrayal,” Dr. Phil told her. “Maybe the betrayal is focusing on the day of her death, rather than celebrating the event of her life. She lived for 18 vibrant and wonderful years, and you focus on the day she died.” 

In that moment, Jo Ann’s perspective changed, and she began to honor her daughter’s life and her own. She was on the path to healing. In the moment that the gift was passed on to me, I also stepped on to the path of healing.


*You can read more about Jo Ann’s story and where she is in her journey today by clicking on the Oprah link above.

My prayer today is that your heart will always be open to seeing, embracing, and sharing God’s gifts in perfect timing.



  1. People tend to live the expectations of others. Maybe a part of this woman thought she should remain in a state of grief for others and her daughters. Somehow we feel we don’t deserve a good life. We have to stop and remember exactly what Dr. Phil told her. Our loved ones wouldn’t want that for us and neither would God. We can’t waste our lives when we should be living and feeling the joy of the gift of life we have.


  2. I think everyone feels that way in the beginning. Feelings of happiness, joy, and enjoyment DO feel like a betrayal. How could you possibly be happy when such a vital person in your life is gone? All the worse when it’s a child because you believe that you are supposed to be able to keep them safe, but you didn’t. They are not supposed to go before you, but they did. Neither one of those beliefs is realistic, they are your own expectations, and the person grieving feels like they failed to meet what they percieve to be a parent’s truth.

    It’s a part of the process. You have to walk through it, process it, and make peace with it. Jo Ann got stuck there. God used Dr. Phil, Oprah, and who even knows who else to give her the gift of getting unstuck when she was ready to hear it. So powerful!

    Thank you for your thought provoking comment Eileen :).


  3. Terri,
    I’ve seen the show a couple of times…and felt it spoke to me as well. I strongly feel that we honor our loved one thru LIVING! That is not to say we won’t ache, mourn and all that death creates. Yet, they have left a legacy…it’s our choice what that legacy is. It can be that our lives too have ended..or it can be that they indelibly touched our hearts and showed us that life is short but blessed. I can’t imaginge the pain of losing a child. Yet, they are a gift, for however long God gives them to us. To honor that gift means to never forget, but to LIVE. Thank you for choosing to LIVE!

    Much love and many blessings,


  4. […] More essays on grief from this author can be found here. […]


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