Feel and Deal to Heal

If I touch a hot stove my hand jerks away almost before my mind registers the searing pain.  It’s reflex.  Our bodies were designed to react to and protect us from things that cause pain.

Run away.  Don’t go back.  Set up barricades and warning signs so that others can be protected.

Most of the time, this reaction serves us well.

But sometimes those reflexes keep us from healing.

Anyone who’s had major surgery knows that when the nurses come in the next morning saying, “We’re going to get you out of bed today!”, the last thing you want to do is swing your legs over and stand up.  It HURTS!

We want to avoid what hurts, not embrace it.

So it’s no surprise that when we suffer deep emotional wounds, our first response is to try to run away or bury them or ignore them.  The last thing we want to do is face them.

But if I am to heal, I have to face them.  I have to take hold of each place where the dagger of grief and sorrow and regret and anger has pierced my heart and examine it closely.  I have to decide what to do with it, how to integrate it into my life after loss.

Grief is work!  That is one of the reasons grievers need solitude as well as companionship on this journey.  And that is why grief can’t be hurried along.  It takes a great deal of time to do the work grief requires.

If instead of facing our pain, we try to run away or distract ourselves or numb ourselves with alcohol, food or drugs, we only prolong the process.  Grief will not be ignored forever.

healing doesnt mean damage never existed

We must FEEL what we need to feel.

Then we must DEAL with those feelings-it might mean seeking a professional counselor or a trusted friend.  Online or in-person grief support groups are a wonderful resource. Journaling can help too.  But we have got to acknowledge and work through these feelings.

And then we can begin to HEAL  Hearts that have embraced and made some sense of grief can begin to beat again.  They can begin to love again and feel joy again.  They can learn to carry both sorrow and happiness-to remember and honor the missing child while also honoring and loving family and friends still here.

It’s not a “once and done” exercise.

I have repeated these steps over and over in the nearly three and a half years since Dominic ran ahead to heaven.  New feelings show up at the door of my heart and I have to choose to feel them, to search for what they mean and why they are here and then allow them to be woven into the fabric of who I am NOW-this side of child loss.

It takes courage and stamina and determination, but it is the only way forward.  




The Fight For Joy is Not for the Unarmed


the fight for joy is not for the unarmed

This is very true.

I found that when I received the news of my son’s accident-it was Scripture I had hidden in my heart that helped me stand.

My Bible was available, but I could not open it. My heart was too broken to read.

But the Spirit brought to mind exactly what I needed from the storehouse of Scripture hidden in my heart.

I am still fighting for joy.  

I still have days when my Bible lies unopened beside me.  

And it is still those verses engraved on my heart that help me battle on.  




Bereavement: How Other People Can Help

I ran across this infographic awhile ago and LOVE how it puts things in an easy to see and easy to follow format.

It’s a great tool-not only for those grieving the loss of a loved onebut for anyone going through a rough patch.  

bereavement how others can help graphic

Choosing to Be a Lighthouse

There are two ways to deal with the scars pain leaves behind: try to cover them up or display them boldly.

Hiding seems the easier way so many times-because the scars are tender and the last thing I want is to invite more pain.  But it takes great effort and is rarely successful.

The edges peek out here and there and then I’m left awkwardly trying to explain how I got them and what they mean.

If I refuse to hide my scars and instead lay them open to the world, I am vulnerable, true. But I am also in a position to help others who are suffering the same pain that etched those scars in my heart.




So I choose not to hide.  

I choose to be a lighthouse.  



Not because I think I can steer others clear of the rocks of loss and sorrow, but because I want them to know they are not alone.

the scars you share become lighthouses




Strong or Weak? How Labels Harm the Hurting

Labels and categories can be helpful.  When cruising the grocery aisles I’m thankful for the signs that point the way to “vegetables” or “baking needs”.

But labels can be harmful when applied to people.

Read the rest here:  Strong or Weak? How Labels Harm the Hurting

No Mirrors, Please!

I hate mirrors.  Not because I’m ashamed of my wrinkles or my fat hips.  But because the face staring back at me now is not one I recognize.

I see someone who’s supposed to be me and can’t quite place her.

There’s a vague resemblance to the person that used to look me in the eye while I was brushing my teeth or fixing my hair.

But now, she is “other”, unfamiliar, strange in a “slightly off” kind of way.

I often laugh and smile but I’m rarely in front of a reflective surface when giggles animate my face and redraw it in the old, familiar outline.

My resting face looks old and sad and tired.

The eyes that used to be clear are clouded.  The mouth that more often than not was turned up in at least a hint of a smile is, at best, a straight line and, at worst, a frown. Deep lines show that I spend most of my days squinting, as if I’m searching the distant horizon for a glimpse of something that SHOULD be there but is just out of sight.

I can’t erase what grief has etched in flesh.

So I try not to look.

heart and wood


The ETHICAL Way to Share

I hate that there is a need to even address this topic.

Call me naive, but when I started writing for (primarily) an audience  who had also suffered child loss, I assumed we would be of one accord in protecting each others’ hearts.  But that has proven false.

So here we are-one more time.

How should I share the words of another?  What is the RIGHT way to use a blog post or FB post or quote from an online or offline article on my own timeline that resonates deeply with my heart?

And, most importantly, when should I NOT share?

Let me just begin by saying that this is not about “credit”-my blog and most blogs I read are not monetized in any way.  The authors are sharing because they are passionate about exposing their hearts in the hope it will help another heart just a little bit.

That said, it’s important to understand that in sharing, I (and others) are choosing vulnerability when we could choose to hide.


So when someone steals our words (maybe changes them just a little) and posts them as their own, they are stealing our identity-and in my case, since the blog is about my grief journey after losing my son-they are stealing his identity as well.


And that is a terrible thing to do.

The RIGHT WAY to share a blog post is this:

  • If it has been shared on a social media platform with the setting on “public” you may simply share it directly from there.  I post each day’s blog on my personal FB page that way as well as on the public page Heartache and Hope.
  • If it has been shared in a closed group, click through to the blog itself and share using the social media buttons at the bottom of the post.
  • It’s NOT ok to copy/paste the blog in its entirety and post it on your own timeline. Even if you use quotes and give the link, it is typically seen as being your work and is then shared around the Internet without proper credit.  Someone did this with one of my posts and it was shared tens of thousands of times before I found out about it.  My heart, my story, my relationship with my son and my tearsMY identity.  And it hurt. Now it floats in cyberspace without my permission and without anyone knowing it was my Dominic who inspired it.

The RIGHT WAY to share another person’s Facebook post is this:

  • If the person has set it on “public” you can share using the “share” option at the bottom of the post.  This way it shows where it originated.
  • If the person has limited the audience, ask if it’s OK if you share.  Once permission is granted, you can share it the same way OR , if they agree, you may copy and paste but should use quotation marks to indicate the words are not your own.
  • If someone has shared something in a closed group you SHOULD NOT share it. Period. Those groups are intended to be safe spaces where what goes on in them, stays in them. It is never, never, never acceptable to copy and paste a post or comment from these groups and make it public.

That’s it.  It boils down to the same rules we learned in high school: if you didn’t write it, cite it appropriately so your audience knows that.

Otherwise it is theft.

I love for people to share the blog.  I love that my words speak truths that echo how their heart feels.

But please, please, please do not pretend they are YOUR words.

do unto others rainbow words