Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Almost anyone you ask anticipates that Thanksgiving and Christmas, two family-centered holidays, are difficult days and seasons  for bereaved parents.

And they are.  

Especially for families that enjoyed special times around the table, unhurried visits reminiscing about years past and traditions that reinforce the unique heritage of their shared history.

But this time of year is also challenging for me and many other parents who have lost a child.

The mailbox is flooded with graduation and wedding announcements. Social media newsfeeds are packed full of smiling parents surrounding relieved and grinning kids proudly displaying the culmination of their educational efforts.

Pretty soon photos will be rolling in as folks head to their personal “happy place” for family fun in the sun, mountains or amusement park.

Our own family participated in two graduations and a wedding within weeks of Dominic’s accident.


My youngest child, Julian, graduated from UAB on April 26th-five days after we buried Dominic.

He walked the same stage where his brother had given the undergraduate commencement speech  a few years prior.


Less than two more weeks and we were celebrating Dr. James Michael DeSimone as he graduated from Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Six weeks later-James Michael married his bride, Lillie, on June 21, two days shy of my thirtieth anniversary.


Close to a year later in May, Dominic’s University of Alabama School of Law class graduated.

Some of his friends graciously arranged for me to receive his Juris Doctorate degree posthumously.

I sat, both proud and stricken, as his name was announced at the end of the graduating class and his photo flashed on the giant screen above my head.

So please bear with me and all the other mamas whose children aren’t here.  

While I rejoice with those that rejoice, I am also reminded, again, of what I have lost.

If it takes a little longer for me to send a graduation card, if I don’t “like” your status or post a sweet comment-it’s really NOT you, it’s ME.


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.

12 thoughts on “Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I also feel robbed , Katherine was 20 I didn’t get to see her graduate from college or be a bridesmaid in her sisters wedding last summer. As we are planning a family trip next year for our 30th wedding anniversary we will be taking some of her ashes with us to scatter, those were her wishes . ❤️ love reading your posts they truly resonate with this journey we are navigating.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the picture of Dominic in the rain! What a handsome guy! It reminds me of the saying I’ve come across in my grief that says, “Think pictures aren’t important? Wait till they are all you have left.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t imagine those first few weeks for you…your heart pulled from depths to heights and you were probably still in shock. I find this time of year hard too. Sometimes harder than Christmas, which has power and meaning for bereaved parents along with the pain. Jesus came so we could one day be with him. Graduation and summer vacations have less obvious spiritual depth, they only feel like losses. Plus others don’t realize that these times are hard for us, so they carry on unaware of the conflicting emotions touched off by their happy last-day-of-school photos. May you experience peace this month.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I completely understand! My son’s best friend is getting married this Saturday, May 14, 2016. Kyle, my son, would have been one of the ushers. It will be difficult for me but I have to keep it together! Somehow! A beautiful sunny day also is a reminder of what he isn’t here to see. This journey can be so hard more than it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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