Refuse Shame

I remember the night of Dominic’s visitation-a few of us, including our pastor were there early and prayed together for strength and for God’s Presence.

In that circle of loving friends and family I was overcome with the need to kneel. My body had to acknowledge the fact that my heart was humbled as it never had been before.  I was in the dust and ashes were my food.  

What could be worse?

But in the days and weeks and months that followed, as the fog of disbelief lifted and the reality of pain, sorrow and missing became undeniable, it did get worse. Part of the “worse” was a sense of shame.

A sense that I should have been able to protect my son, keep him safe, make sure he lived-but I couldn’t.

The pain of child loss is often accompanied by shame:

Shame that I couldn’t save my child.  Shame of suicide, addiction, being in the wrong place, with the wrong people at the wrong time.  Texting while driving. Not wearing a seat belt. The shame of missing something. The shame of waiting to intervene.  The shame of pushing too hard.

The shame of just not being there when it happened.

The list is endless…

Often that shame keeps bereaved parents from reaching out, imprisons them in their own minds and sometimes in their own homes.

owning-our-story-and-loving-ourselves-through-the-process

But it shouldn’t be that way.

Child loss is a tragedy, not punishment.

It highlights the fact that I am not in control-and neither are you.  It happens even when a parent or a child does “everything right”.  And some kids survive to old age even when they have done “everything wrong”.  

Shame tells me that I am unworthy of love and unworthy of belonging.

And that is a lie.

It “erodes our courage and fuels disengagement” (Brene Brown) If I allow shame to overwhelm my heart it drives me away from the very help I need to make it through this awful Valley.

I have to shake it off.

I have to refuse it’s cold creep into my soul, toss it out and bar the door so that it can’t come back inside.   I will name it and drag it from hiding for others to see.  

It cannot survive the light of day.  

shame-cannot-survive-being-spoken

There is NO shame in burying a child. 

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.

7 thoughts on “Refuse Shame”

  1. It still nags at me….I knew my boy was suffering and he told me he didn’t want to be here any longer.
    On occassions I still question every conversation I remember and second guess the alternatives that are unchangeable.
    In my head I know I couldn’t have done anything more and he told his dad and I that in his note…thanking us for what we had done. But oh how it hurts that we couldn’t “save” him 💔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our heads and hearts often don’t agree. I am so, so sorry Carol. There are no words I can give you to make it “better”. But I can tell you that you are a grace-filled, loving person and I am sure that your son knew that too. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eight years prior to Klint’s death, I divorced his father (I was an unbeliever). We split the custody: our 4-yo daughter lived with me, 10-yo Klint lived with his Dad, and the kids spent every weekend together at alternating homes. I missed most of the last 8 years of his life; I always believed that I didn’t deserve such a great kid who was about to graduate as a National Merit Comnended Scholar & valedictorian of his HS senior class. And besides that, he was witty, winsome, wholesome—every parent’s dream. Needless to say, I thought that his death was inevitable since I never deserved him anyway, and besides that I had left him with his Dad to pursue my own happiness. Four years before his death, the Lord graciously drew me to Himself and soundly saved me.

    Fast forward to nearly 27 years after his accidental poisoning by carbon monoxide, and I have come to understand that God in His sovereignty could have intervened in Klint’s death—but He didn’t. The number of Klint’s days was ordained by God before he took his first breath, and for this reason there is nothing I could have said or done to change his appointed time for departure. Klint’s life was perfectly complete and God’s plan for his life was satisfied at 18 years, 5 months, and 18 days on April 10, 1991. I wish every bereaved parent could grasp this truth; it would save years of torture and wondering if things could have been different and suffering with blame. We can rest in the assurance that there is nothing we can humanly do to affect the timing of a child’s death.

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  3. Melanie, you are brave to even broach the topic of shame. Like you, mine came on after everyone left, the fog cleared and I started the inner blame game. I still stuggle. I still blame myself for not being there. I was there EVERY Monday to greet him off the bus except this one time…shame is a heavy terrible burden. Thank you for the encouragement of this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Jennifer! I am so sorry that your heart is overshadowed by shame. A sweet friend of mine recently shared something that I absolutely love and recite to myself: “Jesus never says, ‘Shame on you!’ He says, ‘Shame OFF you! I took the shame. I bore the shame. I transformed the shame.'”

      I pray that you feel the Father’s loving arms around you and that He overwhelms your heart with His grace and mercy. May He help you lift your eyes and see His favor. ❤

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  4. So that’s the unsettling feeling I’ve had lately. Thank you for defining it. Because I truly do feel ashamed. And sometimes I even feel ashamed to smile when I’m out in public. Like people are saying, “How could she when her child died?” It’s a process.

    Liked by 1 person

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