For You, a Moment; For Me, a Lifetime

I used to look at tombstones in cemeteries and do the math between the dates. 

I was most focused on how long this person or that person walked the earth. 

I still do that sometimes.  But now I do something else as well. 

I look to the left and the right to see if the person who ran ahead left parents behind.  My eye is drawn to the solitary stones with the same last name next to a double monument clearly honoring a married pair.

grieving mother at grave

And then I do a different kind of math. 

I count the years between the last breath of the child and the last breath of his or her mama.

Because while that first date marked an end for everyone else, for the mama, it marked the beginning of the rest of her life- a life she never imagined nor would have chosen.  

I wonder how many lives have been cut short by the effects of grief.  I know some folks have tried to research it, but it’s so hard.  Because grief ends up doing things to bodies that look like aging or like other disease processes and it’s really difficult to tease it out.

But those of us who live this life know. 

We know.  

What’s a moment for everyone else, is a lifetime for us.  What is a date on the calendar, a trip to a funeral home, a casserole delivered to a door in hopes of lifting spirits for everyone else, is so much more for us.

grief as timeless as love

I don’t begrudge your ignorance. 

I celebrate it! 

My heart breaks every single time another name is added to the roles of “bereaved parent”.

I think a lot about the generations gone before.  Before vaccinations, before penicillin, before so many modern blessings that lengthen life and give hope where there used to be none.

I think about the families involved in WWI and WWII.  I understand the need to call the first war “The Great War” and assume such atrocities would stop mankind from falling headlong into them again.

But it didn’t.  

So, so many families that made the highest sacrifice. 

So, so many parents that hung that photo of their son or daughter on the wall and never moved it-because they were as frozen in time as their child.  


I have a friend who does home-based physical therapy.  She often goes to the homes of elderly patients and lovingly and gracefully listens to their stories.  If it is part of their history, they almost always point out the child who never grew older and tell the tale of how much they miss him or her.

It’s so, so hard for others to understand how very different child loss and out-of-order death is from any other loss in this life.  

But it is not a moment.  

It is not even a week or month or years.  

It’s a lifetime. 

We miss them and mourn them for a lifetime.  

grief is a pain that cant be spoken goes on and on


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.

9 thoughts on “For You, a Moment; For Me, a Lifetime”

  1. It’s hard for those who have not lost a child and do not walk this walk to understand what it’s like. No matter how much they try to imagine it, it’s not the same as experiencing it. And I am very glad for those who will never have to live the rest of their lives without their precious children. I will always miss my precious boy every single day until I see him again in heaven.
    Jason David Carney 7/29/82 – 3/3/02


  2. I too count the years between the death of the child and the mother when I read headstones of a child. Sadly, this is one of the only ways I have to relate to anothers’ experience like my own – as well as a verification of this ‘sentence’ of still a lifetime to live through this, with this grief and emptiness and heartbreak, missing her.


  3. Each year on the third Sunday in May, my mother’s home church has Memorial Day. Graves are decorated usually with red and white. My grandmother used to tell me about the sister she never knew who is buried there. Clara was about 20 months old, when she died. I always walked the cemetery with my grandmother and later with my mother. It was important to find that little stone with the dove. Now it is even more important to me to find that stone and leave a flower. Levi has a marker in that cemetery with some of her ashes installed underneath. (Requested by one of her friends to have a place to go.) The marker had to be repositioned when Mama died because it is at the foot on Mama’s side. I’ve always thought how sad it was to see all the little stones with angels, lambs, doves, but I never thought to do the math on the parents’ stones. There is even an enclosure where all the children of one family passed away from something like the whooping cough. I have other relatives who lost children to car wrecks, violence, health issues. I had no idea what their parents went through although I saw the “aging” process hit them hard. Now I understand. and it never ever ends.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some 20 years ago, I found out my mom had another brother but he passed away at 2 years of age. My mom never knew him. She was younger than him. My grandma was always very reserved. After I joined the club, I now know why she was that way. I had thought about this for the last couple of years. Never thought about blogging it. Hugs.


    1. My sweet Nana, who I loved very much, lost two of her boys. One at 6 years old because of a drunk driver and one at 28 years old, lost and never found in WW2. The first brother died before my Mum was born and the second when she was 12. After Kari died, I asked my Mum (this Nana’s only daughter) about how Nana was affected by it. She said that she seemed to recover quickly and was always a happy person (that’s how I remember her too, although it was many years later when I was born).
      Now that I too have experienced the loss of a child, I know that Nana would NOT have recovered quickly, no matter how it appeared. I wish I’d asked her more about her precious sons. I wish I’d given her the chance to talk about them. I’m happy for her now, because as far as I know, they all knew Jesus and so are enjoying that wonderful reunion. My Nana lived to 89, but I’m sure she thought about her boys every single day until she saw them again. ❤️💔❤️


  5. My thoughts too often wander to previous generations, how on paper they all seemed so stoic…I now know different.
    Every day I find myself in an internal life with Luke where I play memories endlessly. Oh how our memories are so few and I wish the traumatic ones were not so predominant. 💔

    Liked by 1 person

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