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  • Writer's pictureEllen Krohne


Social distance, self-quarantine, an abundance of caution, smize – these are all terms I didn’t hear much prior to the current pandemic. I knew what they meant, except smize. That one was new.

I found that “smize” is a term coined by Tyra Banks in 2009 on the television show “America’s Next Top Model.” Smizing means smiling with your eyes – bringing life to your eyes while keeping the rest of the face neutral.

“The safety mask has truly transformed smizing,” Ms. Banks said in a recent interview. It is less about penetrating the camera lens with intensity and more about conveying friendliness without your mouth being visible.

Now, restaurant workers and others who need to indicate they care about someone are practicing the smize before their shift. It’s more than just smiling extra wide under the mask. Banks suggests thinking of someone that fills your heart with joy and then reflecting that in your eyes.

This week my hometown lost a person filled with joy. Chip was a postal carrier for many years. He knew everyone in town. Chip was generous with his time, volunteering in many organizations and helping with countless youth sports events.

Chip “smized” all the time – his eyes would light up when he saw a friend coming. When we lived in Okawville our daughter, Joy, was excited to see Chip come down the road, knowing he’d have a smile, a story, and maybe a treat for her.

The next generation of our family found Chip to be a friend at the Easter service at St. Peter’s church in 2019. Bill and I were blessed to have all the kids and grandchildren with us that morning. As we waited for services to start, our youngest grandson, Benny, snuck across the aisle and sat down next to Chip. He’d never met Chip, but Chip and Benny talked and laughed like old pals. We had to bribe Benny to get him to come back and sit with us. Benny sensed Chip was a friend.

Chip was laid to rest this week. His daughter posted a message on Facebook that broke my heart. So much pain as the family was not able to have Chip’s many friends and extended family there to comfort them. The family wanted to honor Chip’s desire for a big party when he passed. That’s just not possible in today’s pandemic.

Chip, those of us who knew you, know you are smizing down on us now.

For all that have lost a loved one during this time, my heart goes out to you. Let’s remember to do all we can to help those grieving, in private pain not by choice but by necessity during this pandemic. Send a card and recall specifics of your relationship – the things that you loved about the person or that made you laugh. Bring over food, take time for phone calls, pray for them, give a memorial, any way you can find to let them know you care.

And, a smize under your mask when you see them can show your love, too.

Heartlinks Grief Center provides grief support to all ages, regardless of ability to pay. If you are grieving or know someone who could use assistance on their grief journey, please contact Heartlinks Grief Center at 618-277-1800 or email

Proceeds from the sale of We Lost Her and Heartbroken are donated to help support Heartlinks Grief Center.

Be blessed,


Ellen Krohne

We Lost Her, available at this link on

Heartbroken, available at this link on

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