Halloween

Except for a few years early in childhood, I have never liked Halloween.  The combination of darkness and creepiness makes my skin crawl.

And now, this side of child loss it makes me angry. 

Why?  Because for one night (really, for a couple of weeks!) Americans not only think about death, they spend millions of dollars celebrating it.

Not celebrating ACTUAL death-not the absolute horror of being told your child is gone, gone, gone.  Instead it’s a fake, “funny”, silly made-up mockery of a very real, very awful truth.

Sometimes the “celebrations” involve desecrating cemeteries.  And that makes me even angrier.

grieving-mother-at-grave

Graveyards are the final resting place of other people’s loved ones.  My son is there!  You don’t have the right to make his grave part of your truth or dare game.  

So just don’t do it!

What makes me angrier still is that people will talk for weeks about what they want to “be” for Halloween yet shut down the first mention of a bereaved parent’s pain.

Conversation about costumes, haunted houses and scary movies is invited, conversation about burial and broken hearts is taboo.  

Why, why, why do Americans embrace this paper mache version of death yet refuse to acknowledge or embrace the reality of death in daily life?

It’s no game.  It’s no holiday.  It’s nothing to laugh about or make jolly over.

It’s a very real, very painful, very awful part of my life.  

I won’t participate in making light of it.

pair of shoes

Repost: Don’t Want to Miss a Post? Here’s How.

I’m reposting this one just to help those of you that either want to catch every blog post and/or want an easy way to share them with friends and other bereaved parents.  ❤

I’m no tech expert.  I kind of blunder about like a blind mouse searching for cheese most of the time. So I feel you if you haven’t figured out how to make sure you get each day’s blog post.

For those that do want it each morning here are several ways to get it:

Read the rest here:  Don’t Want to Miss a Post? Here’s How.

Why I Won’t Forget Death: Lessons in Living

The other day I listened to an NPR interview of Amy Tan, author of the Joy Luck Club among other best-selling titles.

Her brother and father died within an year of one another when she was fifteen.

I was spell-bound as she recounted how that experience shaped her adolescence and still shapes her today.  I identified with things I am observing in my children and things I feel in my own heart.

She said she thinks about death every day.  Not in a morbid sense, but in the sense that she is very aware death is every human’s experience, eventually.

Some of her friends call her paranoid.

Some of my friends call me gloomy.

But she went on to say that thinking about death gave her a precious gift:  It made her constantly evaluate if what she is doing right now matters, if it is truly her passion and if it is something she will be glad she did when her time comes to pass from this life into the next.

I think she’s right.

Solomon said, “It is better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that [day of death] is the end of every man, And the living will take it to heart and solemnly ponder its meaning.”  Ephesians 7:2 AMP

It’s easy to get caught up in everyday details and forget the sweep of life.  It’s tempting to fritter away a day, a month, a year, a decade doing meaningless and unfulfilling things.  But my time is limited-whether I am 20 or 40 or 60.

Burying Dominic has made me zealous to make every day count.  It has made me impatient with foolish pursuits and material measures marking success or failure.

I will not waste the years I have left on things that don’t matter.

And I will measure what matters by the yardstick of death.

“Whatever will matter on our dying day, and then when we stand before the Lord, is what matters most today, right now, at this instant.”
~Ray Ortlund

life in your years

Fault Lines: Bereaved Parents and Social Anxiety

I’m no geologist, but from what I understand, earthquakes are nearly always “about to happen”.  Fault lines guarantee it.  Pressure is building underneath the surface of the earth and when it reaches a level that can no longer be contained, it spews.

Can I just let you in on a secret?

Bereaved parents are full of fault lines.

Many of us are nearly ready to blow almost every single minute, yet hold it in and hold it together.  If you could put a meter to our temple and measure how close we are to a come apart, you would be amazed that it happens so rarely!

And this is why we sometimes say, “no” to an invitation.  It’s why we stay home from church or baby showers or weddings.  Not because we are anti-social, but because social situations present unique challenges to our desire to keep it together.

We don’t want to become the center of attention when the center of attention should be the mom-to-be or the wedding couple or the birthday boy.

It may be months or years or decades since our child ran ahead to heaven.  And you may think that’s enough time to “get over” or “get past” or “learn to live with” his or her absence.  In some ways it IS.  Most of us have a “game face” we plaster on to make it through ordinary days and even some extraordinarily difficult ones.

But underneath the veneer of “everything’s OK” there are the fault lines and when extra pressure is applied, we just know we might blow.

Many times I want to be there, really I do.  If I choose not to be, know that it’s because I am trying to be thoughtful, not ugly.  I stay home out of love, not disrespect.  

So please extend grace. 

Give me the benefit of the doubt. 

Let me bow out gracefully when I  know in advance my heart won’t be able to hold on. 

It’s best for both of us, really. ❤

the best we can falls shour

 

 

 

Repost: Daily Battle-Tempted to Give Up

I wrote this over six months ago.  Parts of it still describe me.  Parts of it don’t.

I continue to struggle to find an overarching narrative to my current story.

My empty nest (which was inevitable and a GOOD thing) is somehow emptier with one child not just out of sight but totally unreachable.

So many adjectives that once reflected who I am no longer fit.  And I can’t seem to find the ones that do.

When a bad day comes-and it does from time to time-I’m still tempted to give up and give in.  Struggling to endure seems like more trouble than it’s worth.  Heaven is tempting, and I’ve got someone waiting for me there.  ❤

So many things raced through my mind in the first five minutes of hearing the news:

Oh, God!  Is it true? (I have to authenticate his identity);

How do I tell everyone? (I have to make phone calls);

What do you do when your child dies? (I have no idea how to plan a funeral);

and on

and on

and on.

Of course, that doesn’t touch the FEELINGS flooding my heart.

Read the rest here:  Daily Battle: Tempted to Give Up

Trying to Hold off the Holidays

Here they come round the bend like a pack of dogs chasing that rabbit on a racetrack.

No way to slow them down, no way to step to the side and ward off the relentless message that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon-so, so soon.

Stores scream, “You’ve got to buy it NOW!  You’re running out of time!”

Billboards, radio and television ads, and calendars count down the days.

Decorations assault my eyes and ears and nose (thank you pumpkin everything!).  I cannot get away.  There’s no where to hide.

pumpkin spice

So I have decided to take the offensive.  I will do the things that must be done as quickly, as efficiently and as quietly as possible.

I am sending Thanksgiving cards instead of Christmas cards.  I like the fall colors better than traditional yuletide hues anyway.  No one says the yearly update letter has to be postmarked in December.

Our gift-giving is much simpler now than before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.  I’m less inclined to wrap dozens of presents to pile under the tree and more likely to give cash or gift cards along with a heartfelt note.   So I will get all this together before the weather warrants a fire here in the Deep South.

I’m easily overwhelmed.

And too much of anything just seems like entirely. too. much.

Instead of loads of decorating that involves changing out all the everyday with holiday, I will put out a few bright things and lots of candles.

glowing candles huff post

Flickering light in approaching darkness speaks hope to my heart.

I will concentrate on people, not on things.  I am making space on the calendar for casual conversation instead of constant motion.

I won’t be swept along by the yuletide current, struggling for air, barely making it to January and glad the holidays are over.

Sip and savor.

That’s my motto.

I’m sticking to it.

coffee cup fall leaves

 

The Reality of Ongoing Grief in Child Loss

 

One of the most difficult things to explain to anyone who has not buried a child is this:  I didn’t just lose Dominic ONCE, I continue to lose him.

dom looking up with camera

I lose him every single time there is a moment when he SHOULD be here but isn’t.

I lose him when his friends graduate, get married and have children.

I lose him again on Christmas morning when HIS face isn’t around the breakfast table and HIS name isn’t on the presents around the tree.

I lose him when I need to call and ask a question about my computer or need his opinion when trying to make a decision.

I lose him when everyone else is making their way home for the holidays or a birthday or just a visit-his car never rolls up the lane, his smiling face never emerges, his arms never reach out to wrap me in a bear hug.

I lose him when his siblings line up for photos-the space where he SHOULD be but ISN’T looms large.

photo-36

I will never know the joy of standing at his wedding.

I will never be able to congratulate him on his first court victory.

I will never see his children

I won’t have his companionship in my old age.

He is gone-out of reach.

Untouchable.

Lost.

 

i will always wonder what you would have been