Counting Cardinals

This page is dedicated to all of us who are suffering, or have suffered grief and loss. It is never easy to lose someone you love. But grief is a necessary part of healing. This I have come to understand very well with the passing of my beloved mother in the summer of 2013.

I was a stranger to unexpected loss. My grandparents died at a ripe old age. Although this was painful, it somehow seemed natural--because I somehow expected it. I was not expecting to lose my mother so suddenly.

It's been two  years since she left and the tears still find me. I'll be walking down the road and find myself picking up the phone to call her, only to realize that she won't be there. 

We all deal with grief in different ways. I worked  through my grief by writing a book. Counting Cardinals is a memoir written in free verse poetry, depicting the events that transpired over that stillest of all summers. I recommend this book to anyone who has suffered loss. It is my hope that you will find my story of hope and healing helpful. I pray it will be a blessing to you, as it has been for me. 

This web page will serve to share uplifting stories of hope and healing. My readers and I would love to hear your heartfelf story! Please submit your story by clicking on the link below. 

I will leave you with the following thought. I found this circulating on facebook. It brought a smile to my face.  

Grief is the last act of love we have to give
to those we loved.
Where there is deep grief,
there was great love! 

Submit your story here

Stories of Hope and Healing 

Hello friends! It's been a while since my last blog. As many of you know, I've been on a long journey. I'm thankful to announce that my journey has come to an end with the completion of my Counting Cardinals book, a memoir written in free verse poetry, depicting the events that transpired that stillest of all summers--the summer my mother passed away suddenly from brain tumors.

Over the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about the purpose of this blog. In the beginning, I could only write only about grief and loss . . . because my heart was so broken. But God has a way of changing hearts. He changed mine! He set my feet firmly on the path toward hope and healing through the writing of Counting Cardinals.

It's been over two years since Mom died. Yet the tears still find me. Sometimes when I least expect it. When I'm clothes shopping, or walking down our gravel road and catch myself pulling out my cell phone to give her a quick call, only to realize she wont be there.


We all deal with grief in different ways. It is never easy to lose someone you love. But grief is a necessary part of healing. Grief is a place we visit, but do not stay. I have come to understand this very well since the passing of my beloved mother. Some of us heal by writing books, poems, songs, or short stories about how we feel--how much someone has meant to us, and how painful it feels to lose them. There is something in the writing and reading of such stories that brings lightness of heart and healing. 

For this reason, I will use this blog to share stories of hope and healing. Your stories of hope and healing! Both happy and sad. Stories that will bring a smile to the readers face, and perhaps a tear to the eye. 

For those of you who would like to share your heartfelt stories with me, I encourage you to submit them by clicking on the link below. Please include your story or poem in the body of your email. No attachments please. I am particularly interested in any stories about cardinals, as I believe they are visitors from Heaven. 

For those of you interested in reading my book Counting Cardinals, I thank you for your support. It is my sincere hope that you will find comfort in its message. You can order your copy at I'd be glad to sign your copy. Just drop me an email.

In conclusion, I will leave you with this comforting thought. I found this circulating on facebook. It made me smile . . .

Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved.
Where there is deep grief,
there was great love.

Still Counting Cardinals,

Terri Sigafus


Back From A Journey 

It's been a while since I've posted. The reason is because I've been all consumed with my current writing project, Counting Cardinals. Two years ago September, I lost my mother to brain cancer. The book tells the story of our journey. This project has proven more difficult than I ever imagined. There were times when I sat down to write, and found myself sobbing so hard that I had to get up and leave. However, the hundreds of cardinal sightings out my sun room window gave me the strength to carry on! As I near the end of this project, I find that I am a different person. Through the writing of this book, God has helped me to understand and accept the loss of my mother with a full heart. It is my hope that this book will bring comfort to those who find themselves facing such loss. I wrote this book in free verse poetry, which allowed my inner-most thoughts to flow freely . . . I'd like to share the first chapter with my facebook friends. I'll keep you posted as to when the book will be available. I've still got some tweaking to do, but I'm thinking it will be ready by September 2nd, the two year anniversary of my Mother's death.

Chapter One

It was the stillest of all summers.
Not a butterfly in sight.
The birds did not sing.
The maple tree in the front yard
stood tall
and sad
against the empty blue sky.
The lilacs
I remembered from my youth,
once hearty,
looked pale,
frail . . .
like Mom.
And we set out on a journey,
through the stages of death and dying.
It was the summer of sadness.
It was the summer of laughter.
It was the summer that ended in silence.
as we laid Mom
to rest
in the shade of the oak tree,
beside Grandma and Grandpa.
It was the stillest of all summers . . .

Counting Cardinals

Why I’m Counting Cardinals . . .

I lost my mother to brain cancer in September of 2013. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to endure. The Bible says this:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
It was in the wake of my loss that I came to fully understand the meaning of this scripture. As difficult and sad as Mom’s passing was for me, God opened my eyes to the wonders of His mighty works. It was not easy to accept God’s will at the time, as I stood helplessly by--watching my mother die, knowing there was nothing I could do about it. But not long after her death, God came to my rescue.

Mom’s diagnosis came out of nowhere, taking us all (me and my two sisters) by complete surprise! Mom had been complaining of dizziness for a few weeks and decided to see her doctor. An MRI of her brain revealed twenty plus brain tumors. It was a miracle she was walking and talking at all! I rushed up to Minnesota to take care of her, as I am a nurse. The Hospice team was called in and our journey began.

Four weeks later, she passed away. Two weeks before Mom died, she shared a special story with me. We were sitting in her family room staring out into the summer day, when a cardinal landed on the barbeque grill. She turned to me, her eyes twinkling with child-like excitement, and she informed me that cardinals were visitors from Heaven—that they come back to watch over us—to make sure we are okay. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Little did I know her story would come back to bless me in so many ways!

After her death, I returned home to Missouri. I found myself swirling in a sea of depression. I felt like an entirely different person. I would break into tears in the oddest places, unable to control my emotions. I ached for the sound of her voice. I found myself picking up the phone to call her, only to realize that she was gone. Just when my pain was almost too much to bear, Mom’s cardinal story came to mind. That night I prayed for a cardinal, hoping it might ease my pain and sorrow. I waited and waited, but no cardinal came. My husband even hung a bird feeder in our front yard hoping to attract the little, red songbird . . . but still nothing.

A few days later I was caring for an elderly woman on the brink of death. I sat beside her and stroked her hand. I knew by the sound of her breathing that she would soon be leaving us. I leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Soon you’ll be going to Heaven. Please tell my mother to send me a cardinal.” The next morning, my husband called me to the front porch. There in the tree sat a big, red cardinal! For the first time since Mom had died I heard myself laugh. The next day, I learned that the little lady at the nursing home had passed away the morning of our cardinal sighting. Then the cardinals started coming in droves! We counted approximately twenty-four in our back yard one morning! That’s when I realized that my heart was healing—that God had not forgotten about me!

I still struggle with sadness, but it seems to get easier with the passing of time. I’ve counted hundreds of cardinals since Mom’s death. With every cardinal, I’m reminded of how God has blessed me. God never promised that this life would be easy, but He does promise not to leave or forsake us. If you are sad over the loss of someone you love (be it old or new), I invite you to start counting cardinals along with me. On a weekly basis I will share inspirational stories, poems, songs, and scriptures to help lighten your burden.

I’d like to start by sharing the following song/video, Pure Heart. I wrote this song while staring at a plaque that hangs in my bedroom. The plaque reads:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

Keep Counting,

Terri Sigafus