“Don’t Dwell on That!”

Why is it “dwelling” in one instance and “remembering” in another?

Who gets to decide whether I’m taking out a cherished memory, holding it, stroking it and reliving it because it’s all I have left or I’m clutching the past, refusing to let go?

I will be the first to admit that mulling over past offenses is probably the last thing I need to do.  Especially if I’m trying to forgive them.  That’s not helpful nor is it healthy.

But there’s a difference between THAT kind of thinking and the kind of thinking every bereaved parent does about his or her missing child.

When Dominic ran ahead to heaven, there was a sudden, horrible and unchangeable end to new experiences, to making any more memories, to another conversation, picture or text.

All I have of my son is whatever I had saved up to the moment of his accident.  

And it is not enough. 

It will never be enough to fill up the spaces of what my heart wishes I had.

He lived for nearly 24 years.  But I can’t withdraw those memories like cash and “spend” them, day for day, for the next 24 years.

It doesn’t work that way.

So I have favorite moments, like we all do, that I pull out over and over.  I cherish them like precious stones or rare coins.  I hold them, stroke them, tell the stories behind them and hug them close.

Not because I can’t “move forward”.


Here I am nearly seven years later living, breathing and fully connected to the people and events in my present!

I do it because memories are a way to remain connected to Dominic.  

He is as much a part of my life-unseen by others, unheard by others, often forgotten by others-as the living, breathing children that are still here with me.  

So I am not DWELLING on these memories.

I am hanging on with both hands because I refuse to let one-quarter of my heart be relegated to darkness and silence because of other people’s discomfort.  

I will remember.  

As long as I have breath I will speak my remembrance.

I will never, ever, ever let go.  

handprint on my heart

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.

21 thoughts on ““Don’t Dwell on That!””

  1. I LOVE this essay. Our sons were the same age (almost 24) and you posted this the day before my son’s 8th anniversary in heaven. Thank you for using you words, so well and filled with meaning for those of us who lost our sons or other children.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. people tell me I am just existing, not living. this isso hurtful and just adds to my grief. like I am grieving wrong. I know they dont understand, but I am soso tired. just want to be outof this pain

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always had pictures of my 8 grandchildren on my refrigerator. They have tended to be the latest school pictures. After Isaac died, I was hit with realization that his picture won’t change. The pandemic meant no new school pictures this year, but I know it will be hard next year as I change out everyone else’s pictures and not his. I won’t take it down though. I still have 8 grands.


  4. I know these days, I often don’t comment on your posts Melanie but I do re-read each one and mostly I have left a comment and my thoughts haven’t changed.

    Rereading today’s stung a little not because of anything you had written but a bit of a realisation I have had during Holy Week.

    I am involved with the Oxford University here in an advisory capacity, developing an online Grief Therapy Programme. It is mainly for someone with complex grief abd maybe PTSD. We have had input in some of the Modules and have been asked to now work through the drafts of the ones they have ready.

    One of the Modules is “Our Story” in which you can write or leave audio memories. It was always going to be a difficult Module wasn’t it?

    What I am painfully aware of is that from teenage years to Luke choosing to go on ahead we have really distressing memories alongside treasured ones. Depending on the tangle of emotions running backwards and forwards, I can sometimes be overwhelmed with sadness that Luke’s life wasn’t as he wanted it to be. This makes me remember and dwell on the not so good memories as there wasn’t enough good ones. This does not happen all the time it really does depend on the grief phase I am in at that time. You know like that grief ball illustration you have on one of your posts.

    It just made me think reading your post again that this is exactly how our relationship would have continued if Luke was here. I’m sure others who have still got their children with them probably wouldn’t get this but possibly many of us bereaved parents feel the same as me.

    Sending love and thanks across the ocean Melanie. Peace be with you and the Light of the Risen Christ shine on you and your family xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Carol, Thank you for taking time to comment at all. I can’t imagine doing the kind of deep and meaningful work you are doing-it must take most of your days and probably follows you into the night as you drift off to sleep. You have a very good point!

      Things would not be perfect if our boys were here. Life would still be life, wouldn’t it? And we can miss what we have now by conjuring up a perfect past or fantasizing about a perfect future.

      Thank you for that insight and the prayers! ❤


  5. I read your blog and the exchange between you and Carol. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, I have experienced child loss “before” and “after” through a relationship with a friend who lost his son 8 years before I lost my daughter Levi. I don’t remember thinking how strong he was because he’d always been one of the strongest people I knew for the past 40 years. We live fairly far away from each other but keep in touch sporadically. Finally we visited, and I was devastated by the changes in him, changes I could see and feel. He told me that he probably would never enter another romantic relationship because he was already in a relationship with his son. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with sorrow by that statement. He was so lost, and I couldn’t help him. That was about a year before Levi died. I didn’t understand anything. My only experience at that point were deaths of grandparents, friends, my father. I thought he would reach a point that he’d think of his son now and then, maybe smile, but for him to feel that he had a relationship with his dead son? At that point I felt like perhaps he had completely lost it. He was a shell of the man he once was. Then it happened to me, and I understand now. Others say I’m strong, but I’ve always been strong – so maybe they see no difference? Probably they just don’t understand that although Levi is not here physically, she will always be with me. She is also the part of me that will always be a mother. I think of her every day. I understand now, and I remember what it was like “before” I understood. Huge difference in mindsets. I will never expect others to fully comprehend what this is like. I will try to help them understand better than they do, but I hope for their sake that they never have the opportunity to tell me, like I’ve told my friend, that they are so sorry, but they understand now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am struggling more as April 26 marks 2 years of separation from my son. I have dreaded each holiday & birthday to the point of nearly ignoring them.Easter brought me pain not joy…I am vacant on these days. I cannot help but remember our ‘last’ of every celebration with Ryan.I find myself silently saying”what is wrong with me?” and then answering myself…While everyone else has ‘moved on’ I feel as though I am dragging every memory, good & bad. I remember the ‘bad’ and that brings me to his pain…God forgive me…my joy is not returning. I find more comfort in Melanie’s Blog than in God’s Word…Will I ever be whole? I am trying…


      1. Pamela, I’m just now seeing this comment, and I hope things have changed for the better for you this past year. That’s all I can do is hope for others and for myself. Each of us processes our grief in our own way and at our own pace. I used to read posts from parents who had rediscovered their joy and thought “These people are nuts! How can I find joy when my daughter is not here with me?” I still feel that deep sense of longing for her and the despair caused by her death five years and four months ago. I still have problems concentrating at times and focusing on the task at hand. There are times when I actually feel joy now or at least happy. Am I nuts? That’s always a possibility, but I don’t think I am. About six months ago, maybe longer, I turned a corner in my grief although I do not know exactly why or when. My daughter still travels with me so I didn’t lose her when I turned that corner, and I never will. Do I still remember the good and the bad? Yes, I do. Has everyone else moved on? Yes, even her best friends although they still miss her. I asked one of them if they had moved on, and I saw the look of amazement on her face as she realized that she had moved on. At first, she expected Levi to call or she’d think of something she wanted to ask her about then realized she was not there. Now it is totally different for her. I will never reach that same point, but I don’t expect to. I’m Levi’s Mom. For me, I have accepted the situation. They still remember her, and that is what is important. I still remember a friend of mine who died 50 years ago (I’m 64). We may think our kids are forgotten, but others do remember. As for your faith, I am still struggling with mine, but I know one thing. He hasn’t left me and is still waiting and watching over me each step of this journey. Peace.


  6. So true…..and especially pertinent on this, my son’s birthday. Twenty-nine years ago he came into our lives and then left 27 years later. I keep his memory alive by talking about him with my husband, family, and friends (and fb). Thank you for these encouraging words. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so sorry for your pain and your loss. Yes, telling the stories, sharing the memories and speaking about our missing sons is important! I’m glad you have a circle of people that encourage you to do that. ❤


  7. I have woken up this morning with my son on my mind….not as you say dwelling on things. I think of him in a healthy continuation of our relationship. I guess people who don’t walk the path we are walking, can fully grasp our new relationship with our child who has gone on ahead…
    I am often told how strong I am or our family is, I don’t feel strong, I am still connected and as you say it is unseen by others…..is that what they see strength? When we continue our relationship with our sons and verbalize it does that somehow make us weak in their eyes?
    I agree never, never let go.
    I think across the ocean my heart us beating with yours Melanie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you hit on something , Carol. Maybe when we speak of our sons others DO think we are weak-or weaker than they hope we are. I’ve written before about how labeling us as “strong” takes a burden off the backs of others. If we are strong then they can breathe a sigh of relief and go about their business without concern for our welfare. I’ve never thought about it from this angle before. I think you absolutely have a point.

      Thank you for the encouraging words. I’m so sorry we share this awful knowledge. May the Lord give you exactly what you need for each day. ❤


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