Bereaved Parents Month 2020: How Do You Breathe?


I’m ending Bereaved Parents Month by sharing this post because I still have moments when I marvel that I’ve survived.

It was the question I asked the bereaved mother that came to my son’s funeral.

It was the question a mother asked me as we stood by her granddaughter’s casket, surrounded by family and flowers.

And it is the right question.

Because when the breath leaves the body of your child, and you look down at the shell that used to be the home of a vibrant, living soul, you simply can. not. breathe.

Read the rest here: How Do You Breathe?

Can I Feel Joy Again?

In case you’re wondering if joy will ever return, I want to assure you that it most certainly can.

It will take a lot longer than you wish it might, but it is there, waiting for you to welcome it.

At first it just felt WRONG to have a moment of happiness because if the pain of missing Dominic somehow didn’t fill my heart I was afraid it meant my love for him was fading. If the broken pieces were knitted back together then maybe one day they’d mend so well I couldn’t find the spot where he fit in.

But I’ve learned no amount of present joy will squeeze out that space where Dominic lives.

I can love him, miss him, sorrow over his absence and still revel in the beautiful blessings the Lord brings into my life.

Just this week I had the privilege of watching my grandson while his mother and father had a little time away. It was so much fun (and hard work!). I had forgotten how exciting it is to view the world through a young child’s eyes. Everything is new, everything is wonderful, everything is worthy of exploration and comment.

The little fellow walked down the hall my great-grandmother walked, my grandmother walked and my mother walked pointing a finger and asking, “This?” as he passed photos and paintings, doo dads and doorways.

The sixth generation to hear the creaking hardwood and learn about life.

What joy!

We showed him family photos and talked about Uncle Dominic. It raised a lump in my throat each time but it also helped me place Dom in his story-helped me learn how to talk about the uncle he will never know except for what we share.

I’m not going to lie.

More than a few times tears threatened to make their way down my cheek as I held his little hand and remembered holding another one just like it decades ago. Nostalgia can be hard to swallow when it’s all you have left of someone you love.

But I reminded my heart that it is big enough for both.

I can miss what I once had AND delight in what I have now.

Both are gifts I cherish and hold dear.

joy and sorrow | Poetry Joy

Bereaved Parents Month 2020: There’s No “At Least” In Child Loss

I know most folks are doing the best they can to come up with something to say when both they and I know there’s nothing to be said.

So sometimes they fall into the trap of pointing out what I still have as if it makes up for what I’ve lost.

But there really, truly is no “at least” in child loss.

None. At. All.

“At least you had him for 23 years.”

Yes, but I thought I’d have him for my whole life!

“At least you still have three other children.”

Yes, but which one of yours would you choose to do without?

Read the rest here: At Least?

The Ugly Shoes Club

It’s an old standby-before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.

But we rarely take time to do that.

Instead we look at another heart and assume that if they are struggling, it’s because they aren’t trying as hard as we might in the same circumstances.

Read the rest here: Walk A Mile In My Shoes

Bereaved Parents Month 2020: Grief and Holidays-What the Bereaved Need From Family and Friends

I’m pretty sure THIS holiday season will be different for a lot of folks. Fears surrounding the pandemic may force even the most ardent traditionalists to change their plans.

But some will still forge ahead with all the usual expectations.

So I wanted to share this post NOW while there is time for conversation and adjustment.

Trust me, waiting doesn’t make it any easier.

❤ Melanie


I know it is hard.
  I know you don’t truly understand how I feel.  You can’t.  It wasn’t your child.

I know I may look and act like I’m “better”.  I know that you would love for things to be like they were:  BEFORE.  But they aren’t.

I know my grief interferes with your plans.  I know it is uncomfortable to make changes in traditions we have observed for years.  But I can’t help it I didn’t ask for this to be my life.

I know that every year I seem to need something different.  I know that’s confusing and may be frustrating.  But I’m working this out as I go.  I didn’t get a “how to” manual when I buried my son.  It’s new for me every year too.

Read the rest here: Grief and Holidays:What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

Children Grieve Differently: Sibling Grief Reactions By Age Group


Grieving parents often face the additional challenge of trying to help their surviving children process the death of a sibling.

While there are many factors that influence how a particular child understands and works through his or her grief, age at time of bereavement plays a significant role.

Children’s grief can look very different than that of the adults around them.

And that grief may resurface later on as the child grows and matures, even long after the death of a loved one.

Read the rest here: Bereaved Parents Month Post: Sibling Grief Reactions By Age Group

Mountains And Mole Hills: Sometimes Doing My Best Has To Be Good Enough


There’s a saying in the South, “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill”.

It’s supposed knock sense into someone who is overreacting to a small and easily resolved problem.  Most of the time it works-stepping back and gaining perspective is a good thing.

But I find that this side of Dominic’s leaving, many, many things that were mole hills before are MOUNTAINS now.  Because my faith in my own ability to handle things has become so very small, nearly any challenge feels like a never-ending ascent up the mountain.

Read the rest here: Mountains and Mole Hills

Seriously. Why Can’t I Keep My House Clean?

I freely admit I was never a housecleaning fanatic.

With a busy family, a small farm and mountains of paper, pencils and books scattered around I was content if the most obvious dirt was swept up and the sink free of dishes.

But, I DID have a routine.  I DID clean my bathrooms and wash clothes and make beds and vacuum the rugs on a regular basis.

Not anymore.

Even all this time after Dominic ran ahead to heaven, I have not reestablished any kind of rhythm.

Read the rest here: Why Can’t I Keep My House Clean? Grief and Everyday Responsiblities

Bereaved Parents Month 2020: Companioning The Bereaved


I’ve learned so much in this journey.

I’ve had to unlearn some things too.

One of the things I’ve had to unlearn is that the medical model of “identify, treat, cure” is not applicable to grieving hearts.

Read the rest here: Companioning The Bereaved

Comfort Amid Strange Shadows

I’ve had the privilege of keeping my grandson this week.

It’s the first time he’s been away from his mom and dad since he was born early and stayed in NICU for over two months.

So it’s no wonder the first night he was here and sleeping in a different room with light coming through the windows from the moon and casting strange shadows his sleepy eyes told his little brain there was something to fear.

What started as a whimper grew to a full on desperate cry and I could tell it wasn’t just restless sleep-he was startled and afraid.

So I picked him up, held him close to my chest, nestled his head under my chin and whispered, “It’s alright. You’re not alone. I love you.” I rubbed his back, calmed him down and he was able to drift off to sleep once again sure he was safe.

When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, I felt like I’d been picked up from the world I knew and understood and thrust into one where everything was unfamiliar, frightening and potentially dangerous.

There were strange shadows everywhere.

I not only whimpered, I cried out in desperation for some solace, some confirmation that I was seen, heard and loved.

As my perfect, faithful, loving Father, God reminded my heart He was there in the dark when the shadows threatened to undo me.

One of my favorite verses is found in Zephaniah and is a picture of God gathering His people in His arms, comforting them with His love and singing peace and joy over their souls.

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. ~ Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

When I listen I can hear Him sing over me.

When I am still, He covers me with His grace.

When I lean into His arms and rest my head on His chest, I am filled with strength and peace.