Memorial Day Matters

Today is a day when we honor those who gave the last full measure in service to our country and our country’s wars.

It is a day to remember and mark with solemn gratitude the sacrifice of a life poured out.

You don’t have to agree with the reasons for a war to grieve the individuals who died fighting it.

Read the rest here: Why Memorial Day Matters

What We Can Learn From Bereaved Parents

There’s a kind of relational magic that happens when people who have experienced the same or similar struggle get together.  

In an instant, their hearts are bound in mutual understanding as they look one to another and say, “Me too. I thought I was the only one.”

It was well into the second year after Dominic ran ahead to heaven that I found an online bereaved parent support group.  After bearing this burden alone for so many months, it took awhile before I could open my heart to strangers and share more than the outline of my story.

But, oh, when I did! What relief!  What beautiful support and affirmation that every. single. thing. that was happening to me and that I was feeling was normal!

Read the rest here: What I’m Learning From Other Bereaved Parents

Why Grieving is a Family Affair

Child loss is also often sibling loss.  

In addition to their own heartache, bereaved parents carry the heartache of their surviving children.  

The family everyone once knew is now a family no one recognizes.  Hurting hearts huddle together-or run and hide-and it is so, so hard to find a way to talk about that pain. 

Read the rest here: Grief is a Family Affair

STILL At A Loss For Words

Today is Dominic’s birthday. He would have been thirty-one if he lived.

I find as the years roll by it becomes increasingly difficult to “age” the person I last saw into the person he might have become. Oh, I can guess-but that’s hardly worth doing since we all know life rarely follows a straight path.

And that’s really what defies language and steals my breath. On milestone days especially, I’m not only mourning what I have lost but also what I will never know.

It would surprise my mama most of all that on this day I’m at a loss for words.

I regularly embarrassed her with my non-stop commentary as a child. I told stories about what I heard and saw (and what my young mind THOUGHT it heard or saw) to anyone who would listen.

But I realize now there are moments too sacred, wounds too deep, experiences too precious for words.

Either you are there and share it-or you’re not-and can’t imagine.

This is one of those times.

Dominic would be thirty-one years old today if he had lived.

Read the rest here: At A Loss For Words: Another Birthday Without You

Unwanted Assignment: Enrolled in the School of Suffering

I have written before that Grief is Not a Hammer in the Hand of God.

I do not for one minute believe that the Lord I love inflicted this pain on me for the purpose of “teaching me something”.

But I absolutely, positively believe that He can use it (and HAS used it) to make me more compassionate, kinder and more grace-filled than I was before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.

Still, “becoming” is painful and requires that I submit to the hand of the Potter.

Grieving is not passive. Suffering isn’t something that happens to you and then you ride a wave of emotions until the circumstances quell. Suffering is like school, and grieving is how we accomplish the coursework. It’s not the kind of education anyone signs up for. But, when devastation enters our lives, we are automatically enrolled into the seminar on suffering. And, just as we would prepare for any class, we must download the syllabus and begin to faithfully complete the assignments.

Ann Maree Goudzwaard

This is truly insightful.

I think that’s what makes the difference between finding a meaningful way to live in the “after” or not.

Of course, at first NO ONE is keen to “download the syllabus”.

Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.

James 1:2-4 TLB

So for those of you fresher on this journey, don’t be dismayed or discouraged!

But at some point, what I (and others) refer to as “grief work” must be done.

In the meantime, I pray that the God of all hope fills you with His grace and strength and helps you hold onto hope-even on the days you feel overwhelmed and abandoned. 

Want To Try Journaling? Here’s How.

Journaling has been and continues to be a very important part of my grief journey.

Putting thoughts on paper gets them out of my head.

Writing them down helps me understand them.

Read the rest here: Grief Journaling Prompts

Baking Hope

I’m a “dash of this” and a “bit of that” kind of cook.

Nearly forty years of prepping meals for a large family and literally hundreds of guests has provided confidence when making a roast or stew or casserole.

But baking is another matter entirely.

Baking is science (as my high school chemistry teacher pointed out) so the proportions need to be precise and measurements matter.

It’s much the same when it comes to feeding my heart and mind in the “after” of child loss.

Before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven it wasn’t as critical if I paid attention to how much negative information or opinions I consumed. I could brush them off and focus instead on all the blessings I enjoyed.

But after-well the equation changed.

I was already so weighted toward sorrow and despair, adding even a dash of additional negativity could push me right over the edge.

I learned to limit my exposure to generally unhelpful sources (like social media from some folks, clickbait websites, negative Nellies who only rant and rave). I learned to shut down my own tendency to rehearse slights, sad memories and internal dialogue that said I was a failure because one of my children died.

I work hard to find something for which to be thankful each day. I try to get outside and breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sunshine.

And when I have a rainy day-whether it is literally dripping water from the sky or simply dripping tears from my eyes-I try to do something that will help my heart hold on.

Often I turn to baking.

There is hardly a more satisfying moment than when I pull a perfectly formed loaf of bread or cake or muffins from the oven.

I never get tired of the magic that occurs when you mix the right amount of flour, eggs, sugar and leavening to produce a beautiful edible gift of love.

If you want to find me after a stress-filled day or week, join me in the kitchen.

It’s where I do my best work.

It’s where my heart heals as my hands knead dough or I scrape the mixer bowl.

Baking hope is what I do.

In case you want to join me:

*MAMA D’S POUND CAKE*

  • 2 cups quality flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks butter (not margarine) OR 1 stick butter and 4 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla
  • 5 eggs

Cream butter and sugar until fully blended and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla. Finally, add flour a bit at a time and beat until blended. Then continue to beat for 2-3 minutes until batter reaches a shiny smooth consistency.

Pour batter into a prepared (greased and floured OR use quality baking spray) Bundt pan or tube pan.

Bake 10 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 45-60 minutes (pans and ovens vary).

Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack.

Serve with fresh berries, ice cream or toast for a yummy breakfast treat.

Here’s A Blessing For The Brokenhearted (A Poem)

I’ve kept a little notebook by my rocking chair for decades.

It’s where I jot down bits from whatever I may be reading that touch my heart.

When I was younger and focused on raising children the pages were filled with inspirational and aspirational quotes, Bible verses and poems.

Now the pages are full of laments, reminders of life’s brevity and blessings.

Here is one I really love.

Sometimes I run across a poem that is absolutely perfect.  

This is one of those.  

Blessing for the Brokenhearted by Jan Richardson

Read the rest here: Blessing For The Brokenhearted

Some Unexpected Things Can Make Grieving Harder

No one wakes up one day and just “is”. We become, over time, as our innate nature interacts with the world around us. First our parents and siblings influence us and then school, friends, life experience either gently molds us or pounds us into shape.

Often we get so used to our own way of doing and being we never give it much thought. It’s just “how we are”. We work around our faults and try to use our strengths to our advantage.

Most of us are pretty good at it.

Then something earth shattering comes along and suddenly the cracks are exposed and we haven’t the energy to cover them over.

Read the rest here: What Can Make Grieving Harder? Things You Might Not Expect.

Can I Trust My Child Is With Jesus?

There are many burdens bereaved parents bear in addition to the heaviness of living with child loss.

Some had unfinished business,

some were estranged,

some had harsh words

or no words at all before their child left them.

And some are oh, so afraid that the child who made a sincere profession of faith in Christ might not be in heaven because he or she was living outside the will of God when they died.

Read the rest here: How Can I Trust My Child Is With Jesus?