Fear. A construct we are all familiar with. Rational or irrational, we are all afraid of something.

Before we lost Vail, my biggest fear was that something would happen to me and I would leave my girls without a mother. The thought of those two special ladies growing up without the love and guidance of mom terrified me. Mostly because I grew up without a mom and I knew first hand how difficult that was. I didn’t want that for them. Plus, if I am being totally honest, it just never occurred to me that one of my perfect, healthy…


Tonight, is a night like most others. Twilight falls and the hardest part of my day arrives. It’s the witching hour, the loss-parent version. Maybe it’s harder for me, because of the time of day that we lost Vail. Probably. My nightly struggles are definitely amplified by my constant fear of sleep. Sleep equals death. Or at least an unknown factor, that the world has failed to identify. This is when my PTSD is the worst. I relive that night most often when I close my eyes and try to fall asleep. Which, in turn makes it impossible to fall…


Imagine that you have beautiful oak tree in your front yard. It has been there for 40 years, always growing, its leaves falling and branches budding in turn. It isn’t without its scars. There are the initials carved in its truck. The branch that was damaged in a big storm. But for the most part, it is strong and beautiful. It’s branches rise high into the sky, reaching toward the future. It provides shade to the grass and the plants below it, and a home for the squirrels and the chipmunks. It is the center of life in your yard.


As a busy mom of two active girls, there was never silence in our house. No silence, no downtime and little reprieve during the day. When I was pregnant with Vail, Aspen was a growing two year old. So while I only had the one child, there were not many quiet moments. I was worried about being able to manage both girls, balance all of my responsibilities and still be a good wife and mom. A common worry among mothers expecting their second child. I realized after Vail was born that I never should have worried. Yes, it was more…


In the wake of losing Vail, we pretty much live day to day. Ok, more like hour to hour. Despite needing to focus on the future for basic life functions, like meal planning or activities for Aspen, it continues to prove to be a huge challenge for me. And mostly, that is because the weight of her loss is so heavy that it forces me to chose between choking down the pain or drowning in it.

I think it is hard for those who haven’t lost a child to really grasp this reality. Blessed are those who cannot begin to…


After we lost Vail in September of 2019, Steve and I couldn’t sleep at night. No parent could, after their healthy, happy 16 month old child died in her sleep. Especially when no one could tell us why. So we began to look for a way to monitor our surviving child, Aspen, age 4. Steve and I were familiar with wearable devices, as we had used the Owlet baby monitor on both Aspen and Vail. After Vail’s death, in our desperate search for answers, I called Owlet and asked them for all of Vail’s data. The response was disappointing to…


When I was a working paramedic there were many tough situations in which I was forced to work. Pretty much every single shift I, there was a challenge that pushed me past my limits. Sometimes it was physical, more often than not it was emotional. Occasionally the people and situations I came in contact with stretched my moral and ethical capacity as a health care provider, and as a human being.

In the months since Vail’s death, I have thought about so many of those challenging calls. In my feeble attempts to manage the PTSD that has arisen out of…


When I was in college, I minored in psychology. Once I left, I never looked back. There have been very few times in my life that I have even thought about that field of study, despite having utilized professional counseling on occasion over the past 15 years.

I saw something written about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on facebook the other day and it got me thinking. So I looked it up to refresh my memory.

The general idea of this theory is a classification system which reflects the universal needs of society. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is used to study…


Vail (08/2019)

Grieving Minds Play Constant Tricks

In my grief process I am constantly amazed at how different every single day is. I say this, because unlike any other period in my life, my days are almost exactly the same. The same in terms of requirements and activities. This is even more true now that we are all on Covid-19 house arrest. The days blend together in way that they never did before. Most have no specific meaning, unless an activity or business call is scheduled. Just another day. Could be a Monday or a Saturday, makes no difference. They are mostly…


Secrets to Survival During Coronapocalypse

Let me start by acknowledging a few of our new realities. We are all suffering. Some more than others, so I think we can agree suffering exists on a sliding scale. Parents grieving the loss of their child is higher on the scale than the parent who find themselves saddened by the fact that their 18 year old will miss his/her high school prom. Actually, those two belong on different scales. I digress. The media will keep telling you the world as we know it is ending. In many ways they are right. When the…

Candice Nelson

Co-founder: SUDC Coalition, Founder: The Vail Project, VP of Vail Industries, wife, mom of two amazing girls; one on earth and one in heaven.

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