Kelly: Notes About My Mom

Kelly: Notes About My Mom

My mom, Kelly Doornink, is an amazing human who raised me with grace and love, and who just happens to be no longer of this Earth. She died in her sleep on November 12, 2014, at the age of 54 from complications from Type 1 Diabetes. Her blood sugar dipped too low for her body to keep going, and the most beautiful light was extinguished that night, far too soon. Far, far too soon.

On the morning of November 13th, 2014, I woke up and got ready for work, as usual, with no possible inkling of the call that I would get just a couple minutes after I arrived at my office. That call – The Call – the one that would send me to my knees, to cry out “daddy, no, please no”, was the moment my blessed life would begin to spiral. At the age of 27, I was suddenly without my rock, my steering wheel, my closest confidante.

I wish that someone had taped a pamphlet to my door on that day that said “Dear Joli, Welcome to grief. This is grief, and this is your life from now on. You’d best learn to walk with it. Give it space in your heart; nurture it.”

Instead, being suddenly momless and feeling pain more great than anything else I had ever experienced, I fought my grief. I thought that’s what you’re “supposed to do” – get shattered, pick up the pieces, and go back to work next week. I live in the great United States, and this is what we do, right?

With general good health in my family and all four grandparents still here, death and grief and both stayed far away from my doorstep. Being from a good Midwestern family, we didn’t exactly chat about how to handle the death of loved ones around the dinner table, sprinkled in among the deep “Packers are gonna win the super bowl this year!” and “Joli, stop picking the peas out of your tuna casserole” discussions. I mean, why would we? We were blessed, and without need to talk about death and grief.

I cried…I cried a lot. I sobbed nightly into my husband’s chest about the unfairness of life, about the huge hole I felt in my heart, and about how I thought there was no end to my pain in sight. Yet, after such a monumental loss, I only missed a week and a half of work. I didn’t know how to grieve, and I assumed it was best to go “back to normal” and eventually, the pain would lessen.

In hindsight, that was what “worked” at the time, but now at this point in my life 3 years later, I feel like I have a huge amount of ungrieved grief sitting within me, and as I grieve Jonah, grief is coming out for my mom, too.

Kelly Doornink had the most beautiful soul of anyone I’ve known. She was compassionate, loved her children unconditionally, and had a soft spot for animals (especially birds and cats). She raised us to be independent and trusted us to be our best selves. She nurtured her grandchildren with the same amount of love as for her own babies.

My dad once told me that my mom loved having babies so much, she would have kept going if it hadn’t been for her difficult pregnancies with Type 1 Diabetes. Although she doesn’t get to meet my future Earthly babies, I know that she holds Jonah somewhere on the sunny shores of Heaven.

Now, because this post is getting long and I’ve probably succeeded in making you cry (I know I need a tissue), I’m going to tell you a funny story that always sticks out in my mind when I think about my relationship with my mom. You see, she failed her mom duties with one thing (sorry, mom…stop looking down on me for juuuust this one story)…she never told me about menstruation. Yep, she left it up to my school to go over that fun fact with me, for some unknown reason that I wish I could ask her about.

I remember that fateful day in 5th grade when the girls had to stay inside during recess and learn about menstruation. I can still remember the look of shock and horror that appeared on my face when the teacher told us that blood would be coming out of our vaginas. I must have been so shocked and traumatized that I missed one important detail – that it would only be happening once a month. Yep, I thought that when your period comes, you bleed every day for the rest of your life! OMG, I can’t even imagine.

That night, I brought the pamphlet home and proceeded to ball my eyes out about growing up. I distinctly remember sobbing, “I don’t want to grow up!! I don’t want to get a period!!” My poor mother just rubbed my back, tried to explain everything in a calming voice, and basically just said “Well, sorry sweets, but there’s nothing I can do about this one.”

LOL! Love you so much, mom, even though you made me learn about menstruation at school <3

This photo was taken at my little brother’s wedding, just one month before she died. Can’t you just see the love in her eyes as she looks at him?


Hi! I'm Joli, mom to my precious Jonah. Thank you so much for visiting my blog! Please feel free to reach out to me at any time <3


  • Christine Hong
    April 27, 2017 2:01 am

    Joli – thank you for sharing your story about your beautiful mother. I’m sure she and Jonah are so proud of you and your willingness to share in your grief.

    • jolissa
      April 28, 2017 10:58 pm

      Thanks Christine <3 I like to think they are 🙂

  • Naomi
    April 27, 2017 3:14 am

    I just love reading you! I’m sorry you lost your beautiful mom… You couldn’t be more right, I was blessed by a friend who taught me how to grieve. Without her, I wouldn’t be who I am now…

    • jolissa
      April 28, 2017 10:57 pm

      Thanks Naomi! <3 Grief is so confusing...and so different for everyone.

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