What is Safe?

I remember as a  young mother of four working hard to keep my kids safe. 

dominic and siblings little children at nannys

Next to fed and dry (two still in diapers!) that was each day’s goal:  No one got hurt.  

It never occurred to me THEN to add:  No one got killed.  

Because the most outlandish thing I could imagine was one of them falling or touching a hot stove and us having to rush to the emergency room.

Then I became a mother of teens and one by one they acquired a driver’s license and motored away from our home.  

That’s when I began to beg God to spare their lives.

One particularly frightening test was when all four went to Louisiana-my eldest driving and the rest in the van with her.  I made them call me every hour and tell me they were OK.  It was the first time I realized that I could lose every one of them in a single instant should they crash-all my eggs in one basket.

I was glad when that day was over.  Although the irony is they were no “safer” at the end of those 24 hours than they were at the beginning.

Because what I know now, but didn’t know then is this:  There is no such thing as “safe”

Not the way we like to think of it-not the way we add labels to devices, seat belts to cars, helmets to everything from bicycles to skateboards.  Of course we should absolutely take precautions!  Many lives are saved by them every single day.  

But.  BUT…

Life is more random than we want to admit.  And there is no defense against random. 

There is no way to screen for every underlying physical abnormality, no way to drive so well you can stop the drunk or inattentive driver from plowing through a stop sign, no way to anticipate every foolish choice a young person might make that ends in disaster instead of a funny story.


My first response when Dominic died driving his motorcycle was that I wanted my surviving sons to sell theirs.  They did so out of respect for me.  Neither of them wanted their mama to have to endure a second knock on the door and the same message delivered twice.

I receive it as a sacrifice offered in love from them. 

Because it was.  

Since Dominic left us almost four ( now five!) years ago, I have had to deal with my desperate need to keep my living children safe. 

And it is a real struggle.

Each child is involved in a career that includes inherent risk.  None of them are foolhardy, but they are exposed-perhaps more than many-to potential bad actors and dangerous circumstances.

julian and branch in snow
This branch fell just minutes after my son was standing in that spot splitting logs.

How I long for those days when I could tuck everyone in, turn out the lights and sleep soundly because all my chicks were safe inside my own little coop!  How I wish the only danger I thought about or knew about was a bump on the head from hitting a coffee table!

How my heart aches for one more moment of blissful ignorance!

But I can’t live in some imagined water color past.  I have to live in the world as it is.  

So I remind my heart that safe is an illusion-no matter where we are.  Life is not living if it’s only about preserving breath and not about making a difference.

And I let go.  

Over and over and over.

I release them  to be who they were meant to be. 

Even if it costs more than I am willing to give.  

fiona james and julian at james wedding by water



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.

15 thoughts on “What is Safe?”

  1. My heart resonates with so many of you, I always wanted to keep my children safe..I was somewhat of a worrier, would go check at night to make sure they were all tucked in and safe..and then one night after spending the evening flying with friends, my 22 year old son never came home..he was found in the morning with another friend only a mile from home where the plane had gone down…my heart shattered into a million pieces…💔 I had 4 sons and 2 of them also had a passion for flying, I could hardly bear to let them out of my sight but you can’t hold on to adult children, and one by one they moved on and now live in a different province than I do..it was so hard to let go… my husband and I have had to learn to let them live their lives and so thankful we can still go spend time with them. After losing a child we are forever changed, that ache will never be gone.. thank you for blogging, It helps to share others stories who’ve suffered a loss like this

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have put into words, the jumbled thoughts of my mind.
    At night, once everyone was in bed, I felt like I could take a deep breath and relax.
    They were home, they were safe, I knew where they were.
    Then the phone call and David was dead.
    My children live far away from me now. We let them go to live their lives. We have not let them know the pain it has been, to watch each of them go on their life journey.
    To allow God to watch over them. To allow life to unfold for them.
    But it has crushed me.
    I find it hard to trust God with their lives and ours.
    But what choice do I really have. I must.
    With every bit of sanity I have left , I cling to him.


  3. We managed to get them to adulthood didn’t we…..non of us could have thought that we would have to endure this brokenness of losing their child. For some more than one child.
    I know now I too can never be confident that my living adult children are safe, particularly as they now have moved into a category of “vulnerable.” The impact of their brother’s death by suicide made us more susceptible to mental health problems which in turn threatens their safety.
    I wish with all my heart that it didn’t and I am forever vigilant but I. Failed. Once…
    Who knows 💔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You didn’t fail Carol. But I know my saying that doesn’t necessarily help your heart. I pray for all of us that we only have to walk this awful path once. Like you, though, I know there are no guarantees. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, that’s so true, and my worst nightmare came true, I also did everything I could to keep my kids safe, seatbelds, keeping to the speed limit, everything!!!! And then, on the very misty morning of 11 August 2018 a young truck driver made a u turn in front of us, every thing happened in slow motion, I still see and hear those devastating sounds of my car been torn in half, on my children’s side, Christiaan (16) and Jaco (7) died on impact, they were hurt so badly, parts of them lying in the road, that sight is killing me, a mom never wants to see her children hurt, and to see them like that, oh goodness, feels like I’m living in hell, all my eggs in one basket, gone, in one minute, because of a young man’s mistake!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, I totally relate to this. From the time our Jonathan was born, we felt like we had to protect him from getting hurt. He was our most active one who was very gifted athletically, but at the same time did things at an early age. It was hard to stay two steps ahead of his energy level and constant activity. He played soccer at age six on a team that was made up of mixed ages up to 13. If he got knocked down, he simply got up and kept playing. No big deal. Sports helped channel his energy. But, as he got older the activities were of course more of a risk. He loved to ski, snowboard, water ski, play football, baseball, and soccer. When he was young I was vigilant about scanning any new environment that might have a potential risk. He had been a child who could open childproof caps off of medicine bottles or pull the stopper off a sample bottle of French perfume and drink it before I could get to him. So, that curiosity for exploring had trained me to be the protective mother. But, after he was out on his own and living at college, all I could do was pray and let go of that . Being an adventuresome type he got a motorcycle on his 21st birthday. Two months later, he crashed and died on the highway when another driver crossed the highway in front of him. She did not see him although she did have a stop sign.
    So, from that point on, my mothering was characterized even more by fear and worry for years with my other three. But, you are right, there is no totally safe world. God is in control of our circumstances and even the lifespan of how long we live is still in His control. Living without fear and trusting the Lord with our children’s and grandchildren’s lives takes great faith. I continue to have to let go and trust more fully .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As a mother, I worked so hard at keeping my children safe. I worked so hard at protecting them. It feels almost like a “mommy” video game in retrospect, each level of new dangers…if they can just survive crossing the street, swimming pools, riding their bikes, driving, dating…..we are going to be okay. I didnt know to be afraid of blood clots.
    Thank you for your writing Melanie. I am grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so very sorry for your pain and your loss Donmarie. Who can possibly imagine all the things that might/do go wrong? It’s a mercy that we don’t know about them-until we do. Praying that the Lord overwhelms you with His mercy, grace and love and gives you strength for each new day. ❤


      1. I just woke up to a “scare” early 5am
        Panicking and I instantly started thinking about how I would wake up and speak to the day……commanding the day according to Job 38vs12 and Psalm5 and Psalm 91!
        I would always pray that God surround them with His divine protection. My last baby had Sickle Cell disease…..but our faith and belief made us strong and confident that she would live through pain and trouble ,worshipping and praising God…..death was the last thing on my mind…..we are a praying people….we believed in His safety and His comfort and wisdom even through the moments of crisis. On 18th December 2022….i took my baby in to ER 13 year old Chibuye with what seemed like a simple crisis! She died that same day some hours later
        My prayer life…..all that i believed …..my Spirit ,My Soul my body and my mind have been crippled and I cant help but think……maybe i didnt pray how i ought to towards her last months…..maybe i dudnt pray right or believe right!
        What is worse though for me….is the inability to pray….like if Chibuye was here….it would all make sense
        What and how am I going to pray
        I have 2 children here on earth and i am traumatised……fused out by life and the sudden death of my baby
        I am struggling to even listen to or sing christian songs…..i just feel crushed and judged…..and in most churches there is not so much sensitivity and appropriate services for those who are grieving
        I am in Central Africa…..Zambia

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: