Loving well: Understanding “Acceptance”

Sometimes those that walk alongside the bereaved are biding time, waiting for that “final” stage of grief: Acceptance.

And some therapists, counselors and armchair psychiatrists are certain that if the grieving mother can simply accept the death of her child, she can move on–that she can get back to a more “normal” life.

But this notion is as ridiculous as imagining that welcoming a new baby into a household doesn’t change everything.

And new parents have months to prepare.

I had the brief millisecond between the words leaving the deputy’s mouth and my ears hearing them for my mind to comprehend.   

And I admit, there were moments in the day, even a few months afterwards, that I found myself saying out loud, “How can Dominic be dead?”

But those have mostly passed.

I accept that my son is dead.  He will not return to me in the land of the living.  He will not walk through my front door and he will not grow older, marry and have children of his own.

Every now and then, I do see a shape in a crowd, the shoulders set just so and for a moment my heart leaps.  But my mind quickly remembers that Dominic is not here.

So, acceptance means that I understand that things are the way they are.

Acceptance does not mean that I have to like it or that I don’t wish some things were different.

Acceptance means that I comprehend the future will not include new memories with Dominic as part of our family circle here on earth.

Acceptance does not mean that I never look back fondly and with yearning for the years we spent together.  It does not mean that I don’t grieve the years we won’t have.

I accept that I have a life to live even though part of my heart is no longer with me.

But acceptance does not mean that the life I live going forward is not impacted by my loss or that it isn’t framed at the edges by grief.

I am now what losing a child has made me.  

Acceptance means that I will offer up this new me, just as I have offered up every new me in the past, to the God Who made me, to use me according to His plan and for His glory.

The people of Israel were shaped as much by what they lost as by what they gained.

A group of Israelites, led by Ezra the scribe, returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, and were charged with rebuilding the Temple that had been destroyed many years earlier.

A few among them had seen with their own eyes the glory and majesty of Solomon’s Temple, but most of those returning had been born in captivity.  To the older men, this new temple paled in comparison to what they had lost.  But to the younger, it represented a new beginning and a brighter future.

Many of the older priests and Levites and the heads of families cried aloud because they remembered seeing the first temple years before. But others were so happy that they celebrated with joyful shouts.Their shouting and crying were so noisy that it all sounded alike and could be heard a long way off.

Ezra 3:12-13 CEV

The grieving were sad, but they worked anyway.

Acceptance acknowledges loss, but is not immobilized by it.

So how to love me and others well in this phase of our grief journey?

Understand that acceptance involves both of us:  while I must accept the fact that my child is dead and that my life is different than the one I would have chosen for myself–others must accept that I am who I am and I will never be the other me–the one before losing a child, again.

My life as a bereaved mother is always going to be a mixture of sorrow and joy.

It will always include looking back and looking forward.

It can’t be anything else.

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

14 thoughts on “Loving well: Understanding “Acceptance””

  1. Thank you for speaking to and for my heart. I have been hearing so many “should’s” and “shouldn’t’s”, but your words shield my heart from the pain in those words of advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Melanie for your insightful words. I can’t help but cry like a baby when I read them. They touch my heart and I am so thankful. It will be 6 years in April without Kyle……I still have a hard time accepting his absence. I’m running out of pictures and I don’t want any of my memories to fade. I’m holding on….I know I will see him someday. Thanks for letting us share your talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I say “accept” I mean I accept God’s plan for me. I accept His will for my life. His plan is all laid out for me and I accept the handwritten story He wrote special for me. I don’t welcome Logan’s passing, but I accept God’s allowing of events.
    Just thought I should clarify my thoughts better. Much love, Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you again for speaking right to my heart. I accepted immediately that my son, Logan, was never going to come home. BUT that didn’t finalize any emotions, grief, or pain. We just passed the year mark of his passing and it is just as hard if not harder because there is so much he is missing from. You are right acceptance is as part of the process but does not put closure on it. Thank you. Sending you hugs as your journey has been long. Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thx so much for your messages. I found this one to be one of the more helpful ones although I appreciate & read each one. I shared it on Facebook. I hope you are ok w/ that. I lost my precious Lilli to a rare childhood bone cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma. So I know lots of other cancer moms & dad’s who have also lost a child to one of the 12 types of childhood cancer and I think many will appreciate the share on my FB. Hugs Kay

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Around my 3rd year after Jacob died I got so tired of the word acceptance that I told someone that I “acknowledge” that my son had died but I would never “accept” it…… so wish I would have had your insight then to express what I meant for this broken mama’s heart. Plan on sharing (once again) your blog to my GriefShare group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a wonderful way to say it. Acknowledge means to give assent to. Accept means to embrace. We know our children have died but we do not embrace it. We can’t. It’s a mother’s instinct to fight for the survival of her child.

      I hope the post helps a heart or two. I’m glad you share. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can only say Thank You again for the words you are able to put to paper.
    They are so true and eloquently written. These words are my thoughts and so much more.
    I can not Thank you enough for your Blog and your face book site.
    I am so bless to have found it. I know it was the lord.
    God bless and keep you.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Melanie, I love reading all of your blog, it comforts me with the truth, our faith in God and yet the loss of our child at the same time, thank you!

        Liked by 2 people

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