Death is Winter

Death is winter.

Cold, hard, gray.  Every lovely thing fallen and dry underfoot.

A season of rest-not chosen, unwelcome, resisted.

But rest just the same.

Yet the sun still shines and spreads warmth and light on even these bare branches.

Read the rest here:https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/01/30/winter-sunrise/

Every Tiny Step Counts

When Dominic ran ahead to heaven, I felt like I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually knocked to the floor.  I had no idea how I was going to make a life after this great blow.   I could barely get dressed, much less do anything that took more thought or energy than that.

I was overwhelmed.   I had to learn to walk all over again.

And I did it with baby steps, in a judgement free-zone I created for myself where I refused to gauge my progress against anyone else’s.

its all about the baby steps

Because baby steps count.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/01/28/baby-steps-count/

Celebrity and Death: Kobe Bryant Wasn’t The Only One In The Helicopter

I get it-media is looking to sell papers, get hits and make money.

But I’m oh, so tired of the only names mentioned when tragedy strikes being ones that make good headlines.

Mr. Bryant was traveling to a youth basketball tournament with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who was also killed in Sunday’s crash. Two of her teammates and their parents also died.

The NY TIMES, Morning Briefing

Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash.

So were John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester and daughter Payton, along with Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan, the pilot.

No one survived.

Every family that lost a member in this awful accident will have to walk the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Money and fame don’t protect a heart from the pain, sorrow, despair and overwhelming darkness death brings with it.

But public focus on only the rich and famous can add to the burden when your family member is among the slain.

No life is more sacred than another life.

Every life matters.

You Will ALWAYS Be A Mama (or Daddy)!

There are all kinds of ways child loss plays with your head.

One of the most common and often repeated questions among bereaved parents (especially those who have lost their only child , all their children or a child before or at birth) is this: Am I still a mama (or daddy)?

Short answer: YES. Absolutely!

The fact that your child has taken up residence in Heaven and is no longer here to hold and love and parent on earth changes NOTHING about your status.

Being an almost mother isn’t a thing. You have seven children, whether they made it here or not doesn’t take away from the fact they existed. They were yours, and they were loved fully if only for those small moments.

You are a mother, Grace. I am so, so sorry you were never able to hold your babies, but you are, and always will be, a mother.

Brittainy C. Cherry, Disgrace

For the uninitiated, it may well seem that the lack of a physical presence changes how a parent’s heart feels or thinks about a child.

But it doesn’t.

Sure it’s more complicated-in fact I’m not certain that six years has been time enough for me to figure it out-but I am still Dominic’s mother. He is not an only child, but even if he were, I’d still be a mother.

I know that for those in our “club” who had only a few minutes or hours with a precious child it can seem even more difficult to convey to others that our daughter or our son is very, very real and important to us.

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When there are few witnesses to the beautiful life and light of a tiny baby, it can almost seem like a dream.

But it’s not.

So for every single parent who has wondered if you are “still” a parent-please accept this affirmation: You ARE a parent. Your child matters. Your relationship is ongoing regardless of your child’s address.

You are a mama.

You are a daddy.

And don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

How I Long To Just Be Me!

I first shared this post two years ago when I was approaching the four year milestone of Dominic’s leaving for Heaven.

By that time most folks who knew me when he died had relegated that part of my story to some ancient past that surely I was over by now. I’d met others who had no clue my heart skipped a beat on a regular basis because one of my children was buried.

And even the closest ones-the ones I thought would understand forever-were sometimes impatient with my ongoing refusal to leave Dominic behind and be “healed” of my grief.

What I long for more than anything as the sixth anniversary of his departure draws near is simply this: Let me be me, whatever that looks like.

Don’t try to fit my journey into your mold.

Melanie ❤

Even in the very first hours after the news, my brain began instructing my heart, “Now, try to be brave.  Try not to disappoint people.  Try to say the right thing, do the right thing and be the example you should be.”

Whatever that meant.

As I made phone calls and received concerned friends and family members I was so aware that they would take a cue from me-how much can I say, how hard can I cry, should I hug or stand back, should I talk about him or be silent lest it make the tears fall harder?

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/01/26/can-i-just-be-me/

How Much Should I Shield My Young Children From My Tears?


This was not my experience-all my children were adults when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven-but so many grieving parents want to know:  Should I let my younger children see me cry?

How much is too much for them to witness, process and hear?

Do I need to shield them from the awful truth of how much this hurts?  CAN I shield them?

It depends.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/01/25/should-i-let-my-young-children-see-me-cry/

How To Find What You’re Looking For-Practical Search Tips & Tricks

I get emails and messages and texts pretty often from folks who either follow me here or who look for each day’s post on Facebook or Twitter trying to locate a specific post.

Even I sometimes can’t find the one they are looking for.

So I’ve done a couple things recently that might help and wanted to share how to use them.

There’s always been a “word cloud” on the sidebar (if using a computer) or when you scroll down (on a phone). Those words represent the most-often used tags and you can just click on one to find posts on that subject.

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I added a “search” box about a year ago.

It can bring up more specific results if you remember a word or phrase that isn’t as common as those in the word cloud. Even part of the title of a post will almost always narrow it down to two or three choices. It won’t recognize dates, though, so for that I’ve done something different.

Now there is an “archive” section that links to each month’s posts since I started writing in this space. So if you are new to the blog and interested in a series of posts, you can click on the month and find them.

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Two other ways to find what you are looking for is to simply Google “thelifeididntchoose.com and [whatever topic or part of a title you want]” OR do the same in Facebook search.

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I even do that sometimes to get a more refined search since Google spends billions on their process and Facebook tends to prioritize friends’ posts and pages I look at most often. (Nope! Can’t remember all the posts myself. )

I am thinking about (when I have both the time and energy and mental space!) doing a series of posts that aggregate themes so that one post will automatically give readers five to ten options for exploring a topic. My goal is to have them done within a month or so.

I hope this helps folks find that one post (or two) that spoke to their heart but they didn’t save somewhere.

Please share your comments and experiences with me if you use any of these tools-I would love to know how well they work.

I want this space to be as user-friendly as possible.

~Melanie

Repost: Sudden and Unwelcome Change

Imagine being used to the modern convenience of electricity at the flip of a switch and then being suddenly plunged into darkness and disconnection.

Unprepared-no matches, no alternative fuel sources, no extra warm clothes for winter days and nights-just plucked from the world you knew and dropped into a world you didn’t recognize.

That’s what it felt like when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.  No warning, no chance to think through what life might be like, what changes I would have to accommodate, how I would need to face the days, weeks, months and years of his absence. 

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/01/21/sudden-and-unwelcome-change/

Sorrow Will Not Have The Last Word

If you find your heart limping through Scripture instead of gaining strength, may I suggest you try a different Bible translation for a bit? Sometimes familiar words-even the words of God or His prophets-just fall flat.

I can read them and not digest them at all.

So lately I’ve been reading and copying from the VOICE translation and it has helped me see old passages in a new light.

Here’s one of them. I think those of us walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death have a lot in common with Jeremiah.

I love to read familiar verses in different translations or paraphrases.

It helps my heart hear what I might otherwise miss because familiarity DOES breed a form a contempt even when considering the Word of God.

Recently, on my way through verses on HOPE I copied out Lamentations 3: 19-26.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/01/20/new-mercies/

New Year Goals Revisited: When Blank Slate Meets Full Plate

Oh, how I love a fresh new calendar!

It’s full of promise and lots of space for all the wonderful ideas I jot down when sitting in my chair fantasizing about how much time, energy and strength I’ll have in the coming weeks.

And then comes reality.

So even though THIS year I only publicly shared self care goals for 2020, I’m here to tell you-it ain’t lookin’ good.

I admit that many kind readers pointed out that twenty goals for anything (self care or not!) was a little ambitious.

They were right.

I got about a week into the new year when three commitments for February were added to the list. One is a scripture study conference which I will absolutely love and doesn’t require anything but my presence. One is a speaking engagement at a local church’s women ministry event (I’m working on the notes now) and another is a three day retreat for bereaved moms in Mississippi.

While that might not seem like much, in addition to daily writing, feeding critters, work in and outside our house plus administration of a closed Facebook group for bereaved parents, it adds up.

So some of those lofty goals are being laid aside or modified.

I promised accountability so here’s an update.

I’ve been much better at reading Scripture every day. Not as much as I had hoped, but more than I had toward the end of last year.

I’m walking every single day that the weather allows. I’m up to 1.4 miles in about 30 minutes and my hips have gone from screaming to only whispering their objections. I hope to make it to 2 miles most days at a pace of 15 minutes per mile. (We’ll see how that goes!)

I am limiting the number of times I automatically say “yes” to every request for my attention. I’ve even (gasp!)let the phone go to voicemail when it’s someone I know but it’s simply not convenient to talk right now. I call back later when it works better for me.

I’m decluttering and establishing a daily rhythm that supports some of my goals and learning to let go of others that apparently just aren’t going to happen right now.

I’m reading more.

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I’ve watched many sunsets and even caught January’s full moon!

I’m making lists of “Things to Do on Rainy Days” and “Things to Do on Sunny Days” and work from whichever is most appropriate on a given day. Slowly, slowly I’m whittling down my outdoor work. I’ll never be finished but I’ve stopped accusing myself as I walk the property and enjoy the fresh air.

I don’t know what, exactly, I expected from middle age and an empty nest, but I think I thought it might be a little less hectic than those years of raising and educating a household of kids.

It is, in many respects, less hectic. Most of the demands placed on me are not time sensitive to the minute or hour.

But there is just as much to do.

And perhaps that’s how it should be.

I’ve always said that, like Amy Carmichael, “I want to burn out, not rust out”.

I’ve got a new grandbaby who is going to be one in March!

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I might not accomplish all the goals I set for myself earlier this year but I hope to accomplish every single thing God has for me to do as long as I have breath.

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