I Am No Stronger Than You

I am no stronger than you.

I do not possess super-human-powers that have somehow made me hurt less.
Than you.
Or anyone else.

My 18-month-old daughter Erin died in 1990.
That explosion rocked my world to it’s very core.
Destroyed it.
And me.
And could have destroyed my marriage.
If I didn’t hang on.
For dear, sweet life.

And then my wife Trici died.
In 1999.
On New Year’s Day.
The day before what would have been our daughter Erin’s 10th birthday. 
Had she lived.
The unimaginable, unfathomable, impossible
became my reality.
My new life.

And yes, I considered suicide after Erin died.
And most certainly after Trici died.

I am no stronger than you.
I am human.
Like you.
And the death of someone we love.
Smashes us into a million little pieces.
And then some.

And when my 13-year-old son Rory was finally diagnosed.
After months and months of mistakes.
With terminal brain cancer.
I lived in constant fear.
That he would die.
And I would live.
Balanced with hope.
That we could create a miracle.
If we “held the vision,” said the prayer, danced the dance, and chanted the chant. I was told over and over that I had the power to create my own reality.
I wanted my son to live.
I wanted to create that.

He died on February 22, 2005.

I am no stronger than you.
I am human.
Like you.

But I may a bit wiser than you.
At this moment.

And that’s why I do what I do.

To offer light.
And hope.
And possibility.

I did grief differently after Trici died.
And most certainly after Rory died.

I allowed myself to feel.
As many feelings and emotions as I could.

And some of the hundreds of feelings and emotions
that bubbled up in me
and anger,
and sadness,
and despair,
and confusion,
and loneliness,
and hopelessness,
and every other way that grief expresses itself.

Bucking the “American way” of doing grief,
I allowed myself to feel those feelings and emotions.

And in doing so, I was thrust into the deepest, darkest, blackest, seemingly endless pit of despair.

Complete, utter, indescribable despair.

Perhaps you have been there.
Perhaps you are there right now.

In that pit.

And, in time, I realized that grief was not the enemy.

Grief is not the enemy.
Grief is the teacher.
The powerful, blessed, gift-from-God teacher.

But you must be brave enough to enter the pit.
By feeling your feelings.

To recognize, acknowledge, and turn away from all of your soft-addictions. The activities you cling to in order to stay numb.

To your feelings and emotions.
To life.
And to wisdom.

Soft-addictions like watching endless television.
And shopping. Endlessly.
And playing mindless, electronic computer games.
Over and over.
And eating to fill the bottomless hole.
In your heart.
The hole that is there because someone you love died.
And drinking. And drinking some more. 
And relying on prescription meds, kidding yourself by saying they must be okay because the doctor knows I am taking them.

I am no stronger than you.

In fact, I was engulfed in despair.

And because of the complete and utter despair 
I found myself in,
having given myself permission to feel the feelings,
and enter the pit,
I thought:

“There has got to be another way.
I can’t keep doing the same things over and over again.
I must do something different.
I must discover my next step.”

And I did.

Discover my next step.
And I took it.
And then I took the next step.
And the next.

And you can too.

Remember, I am no stronger than you.

If my NEW WAY of "doing grief" resonates with you, I'd love to work with you one-on-one. If you are in the Rockford, Illinois area we can do that in person, otherwise, I am having great success working with people all over the country via Skype or FaceTime.  Email me at tomzuba@aol.com if you would like to take the next step on your grief journey and we can schedule a session.


  • Thank you for the latest Facebook post.
    I feel more hopeful today.

    Carol Raymonf
  • Dear Tom,
    I just discovered your web site and feel compelled to share my grief journey with you. I am a 64 year old woman who has lost hope. I seek help. I am a teacher in Los Altos, CA
    My 29 year old son, Geoffrey Rau, died almost five years ago. His death journey began on October 12, 2008, and he died on November 20. His journey was documented by my son Michael, and if you have a chance, you can read about our journey by googling Geoff Rau blogspot. In 1999, my step-son, Phillip Rau, was murdered while on a date in Atlanta, Georgia. Phillip was a high school history teacher in Norcross, Georgia. He was 32. Do you think you can help me? Thank you for your amazing posts.
    Carol Raymonf

    Carol Raymond

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