This has been one of the most difficult years I have ever faced. One that has tested my very soul. First, we lost our sweet little Declan, then we lost our tiny AJ, and a dear uncle unexpectedly passed away, and now, we are in the midst of losing another, a wonderful man, our grandfather, my husband's father.

It's so difficult to watch one's children, brother's, sister's, parents, and husband grieve with so much pain, pain that I can't ease or take away.

There have been so many heart-wrenching moments, when tears were the only release. But along with all the heartache, sweet moments have trickled in: comfort from friends and family, tender memories shared, and hearts speaking to hearts without a single word spoken.

But through it all, I've been so grateful for family, for the love we have for one another, and the tight bond that has been forged between us over the years to help us endure such pain together.

I know that in time, this horrible ache will lessen, the engulfing waves will dwindle into soft ripples, and we will be filled with quiet peace. But for now, we must take the opportunity to look for each tender mercy, and be grateful for each cherished moment we were able to experience with our dear, departed, loved ones.