I recently heard  a young woman describe a Chinese grieving ritual on an NPR broadcast:

At her grandfather’s funeral, his oldest son was tasked with demonstrating the depth of grief and pain the father’s passing left behind. He stood before the casket, raised a clay bowl above his head and smashed it to the ground while loudly wailing.

The bowl was shattered into fragments too small and too fragile to be put back together in any semblance of what they once represented.

broken bowl

When I heard the story, my heart cried, “YES!!”

Why can’t we do something like that?  Why can’t we have a dramatic outburst at the edge of death that burns an unforgettable image in the hearts and minds of those who join us to say good-bye?

I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about Dominic’s Homegoing Service –except for it to be unnecessary.

We had a beautiful video full of photographs provided by friends and family. There were praise songs chosen to remind us of the brevity of life and the eternal hope we have in Jesus.

He was placed under a giant Tree of Life that had been constructed in the sanctuary as part of the Palm Sunday/Easter celebrations of that week. Even as we planned the service I remember thinking, “Only a DeSimone could leave earth when some wild thing like this was available to mark his passing!”  


And our Pastor/Shepherd/Friend who had spent many quality hours with our children gave the message.  The sanctuary was filled with people from all walks of life, all faith traditions and all ages-many hearing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus for the first time.

It was as good as it could have been.

But if I could go back-I’d add this element:

I would raise a clay bowl over my head as high as I could and I would smash it with a loud wail.

Because in the end, that’s what child loss does to a mama’s heart.  It shatters it into pieces so tiny and so fragile that simply to gather them into a pile takes oh, so much time.

And the pieces never fit again.  They never make a whole.  There are always gaps and the vessel remains fragile and easily broken.

I am still gathering pieces.  

Still looking for the ones that slid under this edge out of sight or got kicked farther away than I thought they could be.

I’m placing the ones I recognize back into what seems the proper setting.

I’m finding some that look like they don’t belong anywhere and will have to wait to see if I ever figure out where they should go.

I’m beginning to look more and more like I’m whole.  

And in some ways, I am.  But in many ways it is an illusion-a trick of the eye-a turning of the ugly broken toward the wall where you can’t see it.

I’m still missing so, so much.

dickens quote rainbow

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.

18 thoughts on “Fragments”

  1. Such a true description of how we, who have suffered this loss, feel. I am so early in this journey, and I believe I will discover pieces as I travel this life, will try to put them somewhere in my bowl, but I’ll never find them all. The bowl is forever broken until I see William again

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I dissociated during the funeral and was unable to do much of what I planned to do. I always promised my children I would bury them with my own hands but I left it to strangers and ran away when the first clods fell. However, I am pleased that I kept one promise. Months before my angel passed we were chatting about life and death which always seemed to haunt her as she had been a sickly child. She asked what I would do if she passed. I said I would die. She waived that and said I should live for her sister and her cat. We hummed and hawed about my options and then I said I would shave my hair to show my loss and honour. 18 months later this head is still shaved and it is a relief to run my hands over it and feel the sorrow is tangible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The shattering of the bowl is one of the best visuals of grief I’ve ever read. Thank you….when I read it my heart cried “Yes” too.


  4. While visiting the rural graveyard where my son is buried I discovered a gnarled dead oak tree on the adjoining property that my family owns. It reminded me of how I felt…… dead but still standing. I named it my grief tree and have found it quite freeing to throw old plates etc. when my pain was unbearable. Being able to “name my pain/anger” while breaking these objects may sound extreme but for me it works. So wish I could have had others with me to do this at Jacob’s death.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Melanie, I always enjoy your posts. You find the words I never can. In a few days it will be 22 months since my son Steve ended his earthly pain. I am still and always thing I will be looking for missing pieces. Wishing you love today and always……Katherine

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our son was 20 days shy of his 24th birthday also. I also wish we had more mourning rituals in America. It’s hurry up get back to “normal”. Although we all know it will never be “normal”again after we lose a child. My mother tells me in the early 1930’s there were more rituals back then. Her grandmother wore a black dress for over a year, when her husband passed away. I don’t think I would like to wear black for a year, but there seems to be something missing in our mourning these days. Thank you Melanie for helping us bereaved parents put back a few pieces of our “broken bowls”back. Your blog is very healing. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Melanie, I like to think I KNOW where these missing pieces are, our children have taken them to heaven! That is the part they have from us…forever..I like to think that ache and gap in my broken heart are those pieces that my darling son took with him the day he left for heaven, to keep safe until we are reunited..when the Lord decides. I like to think that these parts of my heart, overflowing with a mother’s love, beat next to him and he feels it. I know my heart beats for him and always will.
        I felt my heart shatter that day and a physical void that I could FEEL appear, and so it remains. Shattered.

        Thinking of you and your beautiful son Dominic, Melanie and thanking you for sharing your heart and soul with us on this journey. I hope you feel the love we all have for you x


  7. My daughter was 19 and has been gone for 15 months. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hate saying it like this, because I would never wish this hurt on anyone. But it is nice to know that I’m not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are not alone. Sorry that we share this pain, but thankful we can walk this path together-encouraging one another and supporting one another. Praying for you. ❤


  8. Once again, my words exactly! Cannot tell you how much your words touch me, as if they were spoken from my lips. How old was Dominick? My precious son was 24
    Three and a half years ago. Still cannot believe it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dominic was just a few weeks shy of 24 also. I’m sorry we share this pain. Praying that you feel the Father’s Presence in way that speaks hope to your heart. ❤


  9. Your service sounded beautiful for your beloved Dominick. I find your posts so profound. You are a beautiful soul and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings that some like myself cannot find the words. Thank you


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