Due to my mother’s illness and death, it’s been nearly three months now since I last updated this blog. At that time I was devastated by the lightning-fast spread of her cancer and knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her in whatever months she had remaining, so I dropped out of a number of other obligations, including this blog. (My thanks to the good folks at RNS for allowing me this needed leave of absence.)Riess Christmas 2012

It turned out that it wasn’t months she had left, but weeks. Mom passed away in early January. The inflammatory breast cancer she had only just been diagnosed with in early November had metastatized with alarming rapidity to her spine, her bones, at least one kidney, and—most lethally—to the lining of her brain (meningeal carcinomatosis).

Since then I’ve been navigating an uncharted territory of grief as I clean out her house and cope with the hole her absence has created in my life.

I am deeply sad and expect to be for months, if not years. But today I return to blogging because one of the ways I can honor my mother is by continuing to write. She was so proud of the books I’d published, and she faithfully read my blog every day, even when the religious issues I undertook — and the passionate responses they sometimes engendered — were not her thing. (“Mormons are mean,” she told me in surprise a few years ago, after an early blog post incited some flaming responses from some conservative fellow Latter-day Saints.)

So in Mom’s honor I return today to blogging, and to Twibling, and to the several freelance writing projects that have come my way. Last week I went to Buffalo for my first speaking engagement since Mom’s death. I’m certainly not back to “full speed” yet, nor do I want to be. I need space to think and to grieve.

But it’s good to be doing some of the things I love, the things that made her proud of me. I will see you tomorrow.


  1. We so appreciated your visit to the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York last week and have received great feedback from our folks who attended. Your honesty and sense of humor were so engaging. Thanks for helping us to open windows on our own souls as we journey towards deeper relationship with God.

  2. My condolences on the loss of your mother. I hope that getting back to writing will help you with the healing process. I’ve missed reading your blog, and I’m very glad it’s back!

  3. Jana, I’ve thought of you often the last few months, and I’m glad to see you back blogging again. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this incredibly difficult time.

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