Bereaved mother endures tragic loss and strives to encourage others.

Photo by Keith Borgmeyer

Kelly DeLine, a 17-year employee of Shelter Insurance, talks about staying strong after a car accident took her son’s life in July of 2002 and how donating his organs helped soothe her grief.

Age:
54.

Years in Columbia:
13.

Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
The Bible.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
There may not be another day. If something needs to be said, say it now.

From what do you draw strength?
Scripture reading, a smile from the people I love and care about, and spending time with my brothers.

What is your passion?
Being a source of encouragement to hurting people, especially bereaved moms.

What does it mean to be a strong woman?
Surviving the worst loss and still continuing to move forward with life.

What advice would you give a younger version of you?
Whatever it is you want to do, find a way to make it happen. Or at least give it all you’ve got — don’t be so afraid to try new things. Also: the answer is always “no” if you don’t ask, so ask for the moon!

What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I like to fry Colby cheese in an iron skillet and then eat it with a fork while its hot and bubbly!

How did you get where you are today?
By putting one foot in front of the other and pressing on.

What are five things that inspire you?
Women that take good care of themselves physically and mentally; godly women; assertive women; wise women; generous people.

What makes you smile?
My 8-month-old chocolate lab, Bailey.

Tell me about your family.
There’s my husband of 26 years, Greg DeLine; my step-daughter Aimee Briggs and her husband, LeRone; my step-daughter Jessica Christensen and her husband, Charlie; and my grandchildren, Isaiah, Xavier, and Lanee Briggs and Lincoln Christensen.

What is your all-time biggest regret?
That I didn’t cherish the years with my son as much as I could have. Jacob was born when I was 17. I made myself so busy with things that didn’t really matter. I wish I could have known he’d only be here for 21 ½ years.

Who do you admire most and why?
My mother. She always made me a priority growing up, even through my wild and crazy teen years. When I became a bereaved mother at 39, she kept loving me and encouraging me to keep going, especially when I thought there was no way I could go on.

If they made a movie about your life, what would the film’s most climactic moment be?
Deciding to donate Jacob’s organs. Parts of my son are still alive and well in other people — knowing that is truly a comfort. Knowing that his gifts gave the recipients a second chance at life helped with my grief.

If you were a crayon in a box of Crayolas, what color would you be?
Bright red.

Recent News

Made from Scratch

DeMarko Coleman and Teresa Wright connect over a bagel sandwich. Photos by Keith Borgmeyer The unlikely friendship between DeMarko Coleman and Teresa Wright started...

Laying Down Roots

Clyde and Sheila Ruffin have called Columbia home for 36 years. Photos by Keith Borgmeyer Modern families often find themselves scattered across great distances;...

COMO Loving: Karen Stone

Photo by Keith Borgmeyer Karen Stone, regional program director of The Caring People, is passionate about helping single moms. After teaching school for a...

COMO Loving: Sarah Sandkuhl

Photo by Keith Borgmeyer Yoga instructor Sarah Sandkuhl makes Columbia a better place just by being herself. “Sarah just has this incredible energy. It can...

COMO Loving: Verna Laboy

Verna Laboy lives out her love for the community. Photos by Keith Borgmeyer Community activist Verna Laboy shows up every day to contribute —...