“It’s still ok to dream with a broken heart.” ~Nikki Rowe

How are we really?

It’s been almost 5 months without Harper and I have to say I think we are all doing pretty good.  This despite the heartbreak of her physical absence in our family’s daily life. Being able to see the transformations Harper has been able to make from living tissue in a petri dish, ashes in sentimental containers, to a beautiful diamond in a wedding band, has made the process more tolerable.  I have always shared our journey with you through the heartache of her CDKL5 disorder. Even though Harper is physically not here, her journey is not over! And neither is ours.

Dealing with life’s difficulties then

When our youngest child Seth became a very mobile toddler in 2015, our busy life got harder. Trying to juggle homeschool, Harper’s medical needs, the emotional needs of three children, and Hope4Harper’s fundraising efforts was stressful. Even with the help we had, there were times when we were simply overwhelmed (read about the 2015 Run4Hope that almost didn’t happen).

Dustin and I on occasion enjoyed a glass of wine. During this stressful time in 2015 I found myself enjoying a glass more frequently than our usual in order to relax; not to the point of concern but just something I observed. I also drank stronger coffee but that didn’t help either! But we did ok. Life was hugely challenging, but we made it work.

Now I have no Harper

My nights are harder now than they have ever been. For years, from 8:30pm to 10pm was my personal time with Harper. It was just the two of us and it was special. The other two kids were in bed and Dustin was exercising. But now…

How We Stay Healthy Parents After Tragedy 2 - Penny Howard

I have no Harper, and I have no desire to exercise late at night. It was our time, and now it is just me. I feel her absence so strongly and even if I wanted to sleep my mind and my internal clock cannot forget our routine. I used to wake at 3am to rotate Harper and then again at 6am to give her morning dose of RSHO hemp oil.

Now, if I am lucky enough to get to sleep before midnight, I am still waking up at 3am out of habit and I rise and shine at 6am. Or when racing thoughts get the best of me I can’t get to sleep until well after midnight and then sleep through until 6am.

Our adjustment to losing our child

The day after Harper passed we woke up to a living nightmare and after only three short hours of rest jumped in to take care of the business of Bio Banking. I remember knowing immediately that Dustin and I would need some assistance in getting through this tragedy. We had to figure out quickly how to remain the healthy parents that our kids needed.  In hindsight today I am amazed at the realization that it was so automatic for us to make a doctor appointment and turn to prescription medication first! Even after seeing the transformation in our children using hemp!

Coping option 1: pharmaceuticals

With good intentions to help, our doctors prescribed medications. We noticed the prescription made us feel……NOTHING! We didn’t want to feel NOTHING…we just wanted to hurt less. After a couple of weeks of use, just enough to get through Harper’s Celebration of Life, we discontinued the use of the medication.

But now what?  We are still sad and always will be.  Even when we seem happy a piece of us will always be sad.  Learning to live with that sadness is difficult.  But we can either let the sadness guide us to a better place of understanding in life or tear us apart and take us to a place of darkness.  With two other children darkness doesn’t seem fair!

Just My Opinions – The Way I See It!

Just My Opinions – The Way I See It!

Coping option 2: exercise

Dustin turned back to exercise, his all-time favorite, which has worked well for him. I, however, still needed some help. Opening Harper’s avoided medication drawer one day it hit me…DUH!!!!


After over 4 months of trying to get better sleep, lose weight (but gained it), eat better, think clearer, organize my time (all unsuccessfully); I finally made an appointment for a physical.  Now, in addition to RSHO, I also take a non-addictive prescription to aid in more restful sleep. My recent physical indicated I am deficient in Omega-3 and Vitamin D. But overall I’m very healthy with blood pressure of 110/68 and pulse of 58 despite my 10-pound weight gain.

Why did we not consider hemp first to help Us?

Because we have always saved the “good stuff” for our kids. Never wanting to take from them, we didn’t realize it then, but we suffered without.

Some have walked through this door of loss before us and dealt with the pain of moving forward in many different ways.

Some will walk behind us and I want you to know there are options. Do Not be afraid to think of YOU!

For those in the middle, I say stop hoarding the “good stuff!” It might help you be a better you!


Help MAKE HOPE REAL by being on a subcommittee for our Run4Hope 5K and Kids Fun Run event to raise money for seizure research and Epilepsy awareness.


DISCLAIMER: I am a firm believer in medical science. I am not against the use of pharmaceuticals. doctors or medicine. Advancement in Science saves lives daily as does the addition of supplements to one’s diet. There is a balance between Nature and Science and much of science has come from a form of nature. I am also not a doctor and in this post I am simply sharing my personal experiences. Readers are encouraged always seek professional advice for their own situations.