The heart shape is recognized the world over as a symbol of romantic love and affection. Everywhere I look I see little signs that say “I ♥ You”. The heart, however, is also filled with love that is not romantic.

Consider for a moment your love for chocolate or designer shoes. Your love for these items is not necessarily romantic or affectionate. It is more of an extreme preference that brings on the production of endorphins akin to those produced by love. Therefore, you may feel the same euphoria associated with your loved ones and develop a dependency on those items for fulfillment in place of relationships.

When my grandson, Mikey Joe, passed away two years ago, my heart was broken. Actually, everything about me was broken. His death broke my spirit, my will, my ability to function, my joy, and everything else that had ever mattered in my life. Nothing was the same and it seemed to me as though happiness would never return to me.

My daughter, Mikey Joe’s mother, adopted the heart symbol to signify the deepest love wound that her soul had ever suffered. The heart, you see, symbolized more than romantic love, it is also filled with love that is so painful and so sorrowful that it sometimes smothers your ability to live without extreme effort and determination every day. The pain of losing a child forces you to fight yourself from within to sustain your life. It robs your power to exist and steels your desire to continue breathing. My daughter’s wound, of course, was not one of romantic love. It was so much deeper, grander, and more profound than that. Her wound was the most magnificent wound known to a human being; the loss of her living flesh and blood; the loss of her beloved son.

For two years, I have purchased every beautiful set of earrings, heart pendants, and bracelets that I have happened across for my daughter. Each time I have purchased them, I have thought of them as little pieces of her broken heart.

My daughter’s husband serves in our great nation’s Navy. During the COVID-19 crisis, she and her children have been in Texas with my husband and me while her husband has suffered a temporary transfer hold on his orders. During our time together, my daughter and I have had occasion to talk in-depth about our sorrows over our loss. What I have realized is that the symbol of the heart, while at first symbolized the brokenness of our lives, now represents the warmth of our recovery.

Deep in our hearts, we know that our boy lives, that he is with God, and that one day we will unite as an eternal family. The sadness remains with us, and I believe that it most likely will for the rest of our earthly days. However, we are now able to realize hope. We are able to breathe a sigh of relief. We are able to have good days without suffering moments of devastation. And, we are able to wear hearts for the love they represent in our lives rather than the pain they carry in our souls. For us, that’s an improvement. That’s the return of life, the return of happiness; the return of hope, joy, and love. Currently, it’s a glimmer, but it’s growing.

So to all of you who wear and post hearts, keep on wearing and posting them because every time I see one, it reminds me that love returns where the world once ended, and it helps me to know that I, and my girl, are on the mend.

May God in his eternal wisdom bless and keep you as you journey through life, and may you never suffer the horrific loss of a child. God speed.My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.

It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at

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