A Friend’s Journey – Nicole Fisher Alston’s Story

images_Skye2On October 21, 2009, I put the following on my Twitter site:

“One of my BFFs from Plainfield, Nicole (Fisher) Alston & her @opentohope” story of death, loss, & purpose.”

Nicole Fisher Alston,  is one of my best friends from elementary school. We were from different schools.   Both from Plainfield, New Jersey, she went to Barlow Elementary and I went to Evergreen. We met at an all-city band rehearsal, where she was playing the clarinet and I was playing the oboe.  That was third grade.

Over the years we became great friends.  We went to the same Middle School (Maxson) and High School (Plainfield High), different colleges (Rutgers – Douglass College & Howard)  but talked all of the time, and yes, we had a good time when she came to visit during Howard’s homecoming!

There were joys (we were in each other’s weddings) and more recently pains.

But no one is prepared to see a friend experience the loss of a child, at any stage.  She helped me through my early miscarriage, but I was ready for the birth of her daughter Skye.

Nicole tells her own story best. It is chronicled here: on the OpentoHope website.

She has been through a lot, and I asked her if I could post her story. She said yes, and the rest of her reply was simple, “It’s not about me.”

I’m so proud to know her. She is now an international speaker on grief and grief awareness.  Her story has been told in Essence Magazine, she has been in the newspaper, is on boards, and has been on TV.  In many circles, she is very well known.

After speaking in different states and different countries, she told me that she was going to be in Baltimore. She wasn’t just attending a conference, she was one of the keynote speakers. I came to meet her at the hotel, and while I didn’t go to the talk (the topic was too poignant for me to sit through without tears), I waited for her outside of the room. As I waited, and as she emerged, there were lines of women, waiting to talk with her. All had lost a child. They waited, and she spoke to each one of them … hugging them, holding their hands, listening to their stories, and affirming their womanhood.  It was a sight to see! She was transferring whatever strength that she had (it was obviously God-given), to these other women … many who had flown miles just to meet and talk with Nicole.

As I post this, I know that Nicole and her husband Paul still struggle as they miss Skye.  Sometimes through tears as we talk I can only call out to God and ask Him to help her because there’s not much else that I can do.  The article also includes parts of Paul’s story.  We so often hear the Mom’s side, but the father has immense pain as well.


So as you read her story, she would want you to know that God still gives strength and purpose through pain. Also, be kind to others. You never know what they have been through or how they might be fighting through sadness and pain just to get through another days.  Sometimes a nod or a smile, though small, really can positively affect a person’s whole perspective on a day.

To Nicole, I admire you, I love you my sister. May your story touch the hearts, minds, and lives of others as you continue to live as God is leading you.

Nicole has more information at:


She continues her rigorous speaking schedule while running The Skye Foundation and continuing her graduate research on loss and grief with her advisor,  Dr. M. Katherine Shear (,  at Columbia University.


The short link to this story is:

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13 replies »

  1. This article was mirrored on Facebook under the NOTES section for Renetta Garrison Tull. Comments from Facebook are shared here.


  2. This was very touching and something I can relate to I don’t speak about it often but I have written poetry to deal with it.


    • Dear KED,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to post your comment. This is a lonely club that no one ever expects or wants to join. Like you, I have heard of many others who have been inspired to write poetry about their experiences. I wrote about poem a few months after Skye’s death. It is difficult to share these things because you don’t always know what kind of reaction you’ll get from people. At least that was my experience.
      Because of this, we often “suffer” in silence. Thanks again for writing; it reminds me that I am not alone.

      All my best,


  3. I am so proud of Nicole for telling her story…may she receive comfort in all of the lives she has touched with her story!


  4. I am glad that she finally wrote it all down! May the healing begin,God Bless you Nicole and all that you have helped with your story.


  5. WOW..I am totally speechless. I remember praying for Nicole and her family when this happened. God is using them through their grief. May God continue to strengthen them.


  6. Virtual hugs to Nicole! Much love! I admire her courage and know that many suffer with their grief in silence and Nicole’s testimony affirms and helps them!


  7. Thank you for sharing Paul and Nicole’s story. Through their pain they are able to comfort and encourage others and that’s a Blessing. It’s also a Blessing that they have you in their lives to encourage and support them. I will keep them in prayer.


  8. (To Nicole) My heart is hurting. It is truly amazing how strong people can be. I want to thank God for allowing you to use your loss to bless others. You are truly an example of His love.


  9. I remember Nicole from PHS. I’ve been out of touch with everyone being in the military at the time. I found this story going through our friends facebook. I lost my dad Jan that year to diabetes and I didn’t make it in time (by a few days), because I was stationed in Naples, Italy. But I did get to talk to him and told him not to worry, and that he could finally rest. I had a hard time trying to find Nicole’s story with that short link, and wanted everyone to be able to locate it easily. Here is the correct/updated link:


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