Featured Kara Kavensky Death of Son Grief thegem blog

Joy and Grief: Kara Kavensky Navigates both after the Accidental Death of her Son

Featured Kara Kavensky Death of Son Grief thegem blog
Kara Kavensky Grief 600x781 1
Kara Kavensky

In February of this year, I rudely and prematurely became an empty nester. Since that time, some moments are as raw as when I first learned that Jake, my 16-year-old son, had died in a car crash. 

Every day I move forward into uncharted territory, establishing a new normal with every painful step. Some days are filled with miraculous sparks of hope and joy, and then, unexpectedly, I’m hit with an emotional tsunami that momentarily paralyzes me. Then I get up again and keep moving forward. 

Grief feels like a blanket; sometimes it’s comforting, and other times it feels oppressive and suffocating.

All I can do is breathe as I experience the spectrum of emotions that accompanies the sudden, tragic, and preventable loss of a beautiful child. It’s unimaginable, yet I have had to face this harsh reality head on. There’s no other choice than to walk through the fire.

The threshold of grief opens us up to the rest of our lives, to feel with more depth.

Kara Kavensky and Her Son Jake When He Was Younger Grief 373x280 1
Kara Kavensky and her son Jake when he was younger

No one is spared suffering in this life, although many like to pretend they are. We don’t talk about this enough. We don’t talk about the tough stuff enough. I can’t NOT talk about it. Grief and healing happen within community. This is where we find strength, as grief pulls from reserves you never knew you had.

In my personal journey, I’ve witnessed the possibilities of love and of healthy, loving relationships. I’m now in one (and have been for nearly five years) and once you have that knowledge of what’s possible, especially with joy, you let more in.

The loss of a child hits the other end of the spectrum. The only thing that saves me from drowning every day is love.

Kara Kavenskys Son Jake Grief 600x937 1
Kara Kavensky’s son Jake

A dear friend shared with me that in our culture, grief and death are often ignored, even though both are going to be our experience at some point, and many times over. 

My friend Roger says, “Birth, death, grief, and love involve integrated steps in the dance of our journey. A life well-lived involves learning the steps of this dance rather than ignoring them.” He’s spot on.

Joy and grief can coexist. Every moment of every day I find joy in my life: with my work and writing, within my relationship with my partner, Adam, with my two adult children, Alex and Luke, and with my memories of my son, Jake. 

Since Jake’s death, I’ve noticed hearts, whether hidden in landscapes or more obvious ones, and even sometimes in the clouds. I feel Jake is with me every day and these hearts are reminders that I am surrounded by love and joy.


  1. Kara, you may not recall this, but when I met you (2013) I was working through the sudden tragic loss of my son, Evan. My personal journey through grief employed many avenues including Art Therapy, GriefShare, Parents Helping Parents, Yoga, Pilates, group & individual counseling, mediums, energy healing, and lots of self-care. About 21-months in, I had reached a place of mostly peace and acceptance. Evan was my youngest child & only son. It has been almost 11 years now since he left us, but we still have a spiritual connection, & many situations & memories bring smiles & joy, sometimes with a tinge of longing, occasionally with full-on tears. Blessings as you traverse this difficult road.
    Trish Poteet

    • Yes, Trish. I do recall. Thank you for sharing your journey. Not a club that anyone wishes to belong to. Much love to you!

  2. Kara, Each time I read your story my heart breaks. With the grief I have felt, I think it definitely comes in waves. I can’t claim to even half way understand the pain you must feel. My mother lost two children–one was very young. So, she would have understood. And my sister lost her 20-year-old in an auto accident years ago. Both of them always told me that there’s NOTHING worse than losing a child.

    The way you are able to share your stories through your writing amazes me. I’m sure many people wish they could put their pain into words as you do. You are a beautiful soul, and I appreciate that you share your stories with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content