A Fine Line

“Can you?”  ” Would you?” “We need you to… Help!”

You’d be surprised how soon people start expecting a bereaved parent to jump right back into the responsibilities and activities they shouldered or enjoyed before burying a child.

I know the rest of the world didn’t stop when mine did, but I was truly amazed that some people in my circle seemed unaware mine had stopped at all.

As I’ve written before here the funeral is not the end of grief’s journey, it’s quite near the beginning.  It took a year for me to just convince my heart Dominic wasn’t coming back.  It took longer to begin to understand how very different I am now and to embrace those changes.

I simply cannot do some things I once did.


And some of the things I can still do, I do differently or not as well. So I have to say, “no” more often than I used to-even when others don’t understand why.

But there’s a fine line between self-preservation and complete withdrawal.

I try to walk it each time someone asks me to take on a new responsibility, join a new project or agree to a new commitment.

I am honest about the fact that while I may say “yes” I might have to back out.

I’m also realistic about my new limitations-lower noise tolerance, greater anxiety when things change unexpectedly, inability to sustain small talk for more than a couple of minutes.  So if the request means I am likely to hit my personal wall before I can meet expectations, I decline.

I’m also learning that I can use my grief as an excuse to get out of things I just don’t like.

And I don’t want to do that.

I can play the “child loss” card and push others away when it isn’t healthy.  I can dig a hole and hide and then whine when no one comes to look down my pit to check on me.


So instead of rejecting every request out of hand, I respond-honestly-that I will think about it.  And I do.

By slowly choosing thoughtful engagement I’m expanding my social circle again.  I’m learning that if I push myself just a little bit, I get stronger and better able to handle the next thing.

I’m learning who this new “me” really is and what her limits are.  I’m also learning that she has new strengths.  

I’m still not as involved in anything as I once was.  I don’t expect that I ever will be again. But I’m not a hermit.

It’s a balancing act-I’m slowly learning to walk this line.


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.

17 thoughts on “A Fine Line”

  1. My son shot himself the year before his accident. This changed my life and I started backing out of things after that. Then after the car accident took his life the following year I quit doing everything. I am starting to get a little better about doing things. This month marks 18 months. I still struggle to even get out of bed and go to work. Most times I have such major anxiety my mind is nearly useless. I usually back out of things last minute because I just can’t do it. I just live day to day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have had difficulty processing the new me but for the most part tge people around me have accepted that I am different even if they can’t detect it themselves. It’s a bit like having the stuffing knicked out of you isn’t it? The bits “seem” to be all there but not quite in the same place….ah but we are constantly aware that rhere’s a bit missing 💔

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  3. I have that issue as well. My two kids are 14 hours away at school and my husband works 12 hours from me. So it is really easy for me to fall into that pit. I work to not do it but for the most part, I go to work and go straight home to my emotional support dog. We don’t get out much. So I need to work harder on getting out and not backing myself into a den of grief. Thanks for this!


  4. I want to first start out by saying I am new to this whole blog thing. Secondly thank you for writing. My sons birth/deathday is June 14 2013. It’s been such a struggle pretty much having to learn to be human again. Having to force yourself to go out. Leaving the house is huge. I have found that this blog stuff isnt the easiest thing to do but for the short time let’s me breathe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so very sorry for your pain and your loss. This is a hard, hard journey. I hope you find blogging helpful. It forces me to capture random thoughts and helps me understand my own journey better. I pray that you feel the loving arms of the Father wrapped around your wounded heart. Hugs, dear mama.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I remember the month after my son passed, I had to continue with my already booked schedule. Our B&B was on our community’s brochure of historical
      ….homes tour, if it had not been for good friends and neighbors to take over for me…..I just don’t that I could have continued. I actually did not conduct the tour. I wept in my bedroom, wondering what happened to my son….our lives.

      It took months, years for me to ease my way back into church functions or just allowing myself to smile and not feel guilty. It is very much a balancing act for as long as it takes.


  5. I’m a bit of a hermit. I’m trying to do things I used to do but I’m starting at home. I’m glad you are so self-aware and even hold yourself accountable. I feel like I’ve turned a corner, but I have a long way to go. Keep plugging away, Melanie. I’m rooting for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On a scale of one to ten, I’m definitely more hermit-like than not. As an introvert, I can make up all kinds of excuses to stay home and away from people. But I’m trying to venture out just a bit. Say, one day a week 🙂 I appreciate that you are cheering me on!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As always, your words reflect my heart. Thank you for sharing your deep thoughts and feelings. I have been aware of walking this same fine line and like you do not want to use grief as an excuse. At the same time, I must protect my heart and try to stay as sane as possible on this terrible path. Just one day at a time. Love & hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am almost to 7 years, to this life I didn’t choose. I am still figuring out what works best for me and what leaves me strong enough for my family. I could never have imagined the ripple effects of my son’s death and how certain friends who react. Other life challenges occur. Self care is one of the hardest things to learn and most necessary. I appreciate this post- thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Jane-I’m realizing that Dominic’s leaving continues to have an effect on me and on my family. As circumstances change and life seasons turn, I’m having to adjust too. I’ve always been one to exhaust myself caring for others or in serving others and have had to learn to take better care in these last years. I pray that we both continue to learn how to do that. Blessings, dear one. May the Lord strengthen you for each new day.


    1. I said no to almost every single thing for nearly 2 years. It was very helpful to me in many ways and winnowed out the people who were willing to stand by me for the long haul. I’m beginning to reengage thoughtfully, slowly and in ways I know are sustainable. “No” is a complete sentence. And it’s a good tool for making the space we need to do the work grief requires.

      Liked by 1 person

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