Challenge Accepted: Why Am I Still Here?

Recently I was challenged by someone close to me to examine the impact on my heart of spending so much time in community with those whose loss was fresher and more raw than my own.

They were being neither judgmental nor argumentative.

They were coming from a genuine place of concern, grace and love.

So I took the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate whether or not I need to continue writing in this space, spend time reading and responding to posts in bereaved parents’ groups and ruminating on how grief has changed over time (now seven plus years!).

It was an excellent exercise.

I looked back over social media posts and blog posts from the half-decade and more since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven. I could trace progress from breath-robbing, body-wracking, all-consuming sorrow to a gentler, muted and tender missing that made room for joy and beauty alongside the ever-present tangible absence of one of my children.

I also noted a transition from “spilling my guts” to “trail guide”.

I’m no longer primarily using this space to release feelings and thoughts I’m not comfortable tossing out in day-to-day conversation. Instead, I’m mostly thinking about and sharing what I’ve learned along the way-pointing out the pitfalls and (hopefully!) encouraging hearts to keep on keeping on.

I’ve given myself permission to repost earlier entries (please note dates when you click through) that represent more raw emotions without making apology for either the lack of time or energy to write something new or the angst I once felt.

I’m also choosing to limit my online interaction to an hour in the morning and maybe an hour in the evening.

I absolutely desire to speak encouragement, grace and hope to hearts that are struggling but still need to guard my own from overload.

And as for friends, family or strangers who think, “Goodness, gracious! She needs to MOVE ON!”.

I say, “How can I hide or hoard this hard-won wisdom and experience?”

This is my ministry.

I didn’t ask for it, but it’s mine.

I won’t run away.

So until the Lord tells me definitively He has another path for my life I’ll be here.

Every morning.

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.

35 thoughts on “Challenge Accepted: Why Am I Still Here?”

  1. Your words are truly a ministry. Your courage to face the loss and the pain have encouraged me to do the same, I share So many of your posts with my family and others who are suffering. I always say these are my words – these are my feelings – you have truly been a torch of light in the darkest moments of my life. To know I was Not alone in my feelings gave me so much comfort. You write the truth and your words are God’s message to me. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to help me and others. I ache For my daughter #Tara4ever38

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bless you for being an encourager, even as I hope your sharing has helped you throughout this life-long grieving process. My 8+years may feel like an eternity, but Eternity with both our boys stretches before us. We’ll just stay true to the course and join them someday. What blessed hope!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie – I am almost 12 years into my journey and look forward to what you have to say each morning – I can’t tell you how many times I have thought “that’s exactly how I feel” or “I’ve had that same experience”, but never quite find the words to articulate it. Thank you for what you do – it is such an important ministry, and I have no doubt that God wants you to keep it up! Thank you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so thankful and blessed you are still writing about this God awful grief!!! You have guided and grounded me in this life changing journey and reassured me I’m not losing my mind…. It really is the most unbearable tragedy to bear…. Life will never be the same without my beautiful son… if you give up your writings your will be giving up on us that need you to be our trail guide…💙💔❤️‍🩹❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There is no way I could express my thanks better than the numerous comments above. You so often hit the exact emotion I’m feeling at the time, it’s difficult to explain. Please continue as long as you feel it necessary for your own peace. Thank you again from the bottom of my very fragile heart 💙☘️💛⚾️


  6. I’m so glad you’re here. And I truly believe you are here for people like me. My 21 year old son died in an auto accident just 6 months ago. You have been such a blessing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know how much your ministry must taking out of you Melanie, taking time out is a must. I too question myself with the suicide prevention and postvention work now I feel stronger.

    When I read your older posts and sometimes read my own comments again, I see how much your blog supported me through the darkest times.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Peace be with you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Melanie i lost my boy in a car accident at 22 yrs of age last year. He is Very similar to your boy from what i have read. Your experiences, emotions, and internal self has truly helped me in more ways than i can count. I hope your calling continues for the sake of so many broken hearts and us lost parents. Much gratitude.


  9. Thank you, dear Melanie, for your ministry to all of us other bereaved parents. It is costly for you but it is beyond worth to those of us who may have given up without you and your faithful words. None of us want another to suffer and none of us would have chosen this life, but God’s word tells us that we suffer so that we can comfort others. We all have a cross that we take up daily. When you join Dominic in Heaven one day, your Heavenly Father will say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. Thank you for expressing what I couldn’t even grasp and giving me strength for the journey. Your ministry is priceless and only one who has experienced the loss of a child could ever understand, much less express, both the depth and pain of loss and also the comfort and hope you have given to us. God keep you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “When you join Dominic in Heaven one day, your Heavenly Father will say to you, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ Thank you for expressing what I couldn’t even grasp and giving me strength for the journey.”

      My thoughts exactly. Thank you, Melanie, sincerely.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You have a gift, an extraordinary gift for understanding & expressing grief’s journey, & opening your heart & exposing your own vulnerability can’t be easy. I would never want you to continue doing what you do if it becomes “too much”….
    As you’ve said many times, grief IS exhausting. You spend so much of your day reflecting on it & sharing with all of us. Does it ever feel like a burden? Does it make you sad? I hope you do know how grateful & blessed WE feel to read your posts. I am 4 years without Ryan (May 23, 2017) & every day his loss is deeply felt. You have given me tools I never knew I’d need…. you’ve read my mind when I felt no one else could…. you’ve proven over & over again that we CAN carry our grief & even carry it next to moments of joy. I am part of an AMAZING grief support group (for parents whose children died by suicide, ages 10-50) – & many, many times I’ve shared one of your posts. You, Melanie, are like that ripple that just keeps going. I am so grateful, lucky, & blessed that you do what you do. I hope you’re able to share your heart for many more years, but certainly know all of us would understand if you can’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you, Melanie. I am in the 6th your without my Jeff and have followed you since the beginning of my journey without him. Your honesty and wisdom and healthy questions help my husband and me as we navigate our lives. Jesus is our hope and rock. May our Lord encourage you as you continue ministering to grieving families.

    Love, Jeni 💛💙
    Jeff’s mama 6/3/93 – 12/19/15


  12. My grief is raw and I came upon this blog and I read it all the time. I look forward to the words of comfort that God has blessed you with to minister to me and others. My beautiful daughter ran ahead to heaven in December 2020 from a fatal car accident. She leaves her 3 yr old son behind for us to love and share with his father. Until God shows you a different path, I appreciate you listening to his calling. I’ve learned a lot in 5 months and your words have helped me. I want to sincerely thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. If not for your words, dear Melanie…
    Now that my journey of grief has extended past that first year, I feel “safe”. I struggled so hard with clinical depression after my Nick died, I wanted to join him in heaven. Your words helped me see my grief through another Christian mom’s eyes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Melanie-thank you for sharing this post. I’ve often wondered how you could do this for so long, but it is a beautiful and necessary ministry you have been called to. It is beautiful because He brings beauty from ashes, and necessary because each day new families face the pain of loss. My son passed not too many months after yours so I’ve been on this journey with you for many years. I can’t always go back and read your older posts as they bring back thoughts and emotions I prefer to not relive, but as you share older posts they help those who are new to the journey–keep sharing those. I appreciate your newer posts as I, too, see the grief transition that has come over the years. The picture that came to mind this morning was grief was like being thrown into a raging river full of rapids and crashing water. You hang on for dear life, always afraid the water will overwhelm, fearful of drowning and sometimes caught in swirling eddies. But eventually, we get to a point where the waters are gentler, calmer, and we can rest and take hold of the journey and see it for what it is, as steady flow forward. Our gaze can finally move to the scenery around us instead of being focused on just staying alive through the tumult. Yes, there are still rough waters to navigate and always will be, but through experience we know to hang on as He will see us through them. So please, keep on writing and resharing as the Lord leads–you minister to many in many different places on this river called Grief.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I found your blog and I don’t think it’s an accident. I hadn’t been close to Jesus. Since joining your ministry, I realize he has been with me on this journey of child loss all along. I am hoping your writings are still helping you because I know the are definitely helping me. Its been 2 1/2 years since my son passed away. I had come pretty far on my own but I think that building a relationship with God has been my missing piece. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Melanie yours if the first email I read every morning when I open my eyes, right after that split second when I open my eyes and my first thought is “Ethan is gone… how did this happen , is this really my sucky life for the rest of my life????😢💔? You have been a friend, a teacher , a minister to those of us who are experiencing the hardest thing a parent can imagine. What would we do without you???? Thank you so very much ! You are a part of our “grief work “ you talk about❤️


  17. I am so thankful for your guidance , wisdom, and honesty of your growth , but, also the life altering , devastating , rawness that child loss brings us as parents and has brought you . I find your posts so encouraging and a wonderful balance.
    Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart!


  18. Ditto to all of the above comments that are spot on! THANKYOU Melanie For continueing this work for the greater good!


  19. God bless you and yours! You are a trail guide for so many of us.

    I thank God for you stepping in and taking your cross and making something so encouraging to many of us.

    Thank you…

    Isabel, Christina’s (1974-2017) mom 💛

    On Sun, May 16, 2021, 2:38 AM thelifeididntchoose wrote:

    > Melanie posted: ” Recently I was challenged by someone close to me to > examine the impact on my heart of spending so much time in community with > those whose loss was fresher and more raw than my own. They were being > neither judgmental nor argumentative. They were c” >


  20. Melanie, rest assured your words are a God-send to all who read them. I do, every day, and save in a folder the ones that particularly touch my heart. Many days I re-read those. My heartfelt thanks.
    RIP, my precious son Erik. 5-1-79 to 7-23-18.


    1. Claudia- I do the same! And share with many in my support group. My son, Ryan, was 39 when he ended his life. The grief journey we take without our children is never-ending. Melanie’s posts are a godsend. I’m so, so sorry we’ve had to face life without a child- but, oh, so grateful for the people who walk next to us.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Melanie, every morning I read your posts and to know that what I am feeling and thinking are expressed by you in words. I am grateful that I found your blog as I feel that I have a friend alongside as each day passes since I last hugged my son. I share your posts with my griefshare group and how God works when your posts hit the same emotions we discussed at group. It happens more that you can know. Thank you. You could have kept your wisdom to yourself but chose to let God use you to minister to us, the broken-hearted. May God continue to bless you and your family as you are a blessing to so many.


  22. What a honest and frank post Melanie, written from your soul as always. You have a gift.
    You have been here for me every day since my darling son left for heaven last year, and I want you to know you have been the first thing I’ve read each day. From the first few days, to now, seven months on your posts and your gift to express your feelings, and innermost thoughts have felt like you were holding my hand.
    The words of prayer, thought and also..others comments mean although we can’t see each other we have a unseen bond together, you are that link. Churches may have been closed, but nothing can shut out the love of the Lord..he lives in us!!
    I hope you are still working on your book, because through Dominic you have not only kept on walking but also showed strength and most of of all, that your pure love for him has encouraged you to reach to others and bring us hope in the promise of eternal love and life through the Lord.

    Without faith I would have not got this far..keep on Melanie because you can’t see us, and often people may not comment..but we can read and each day take away thought and perspectives on what is the absolute worst. God bless you Melanie and Dominic, and all reading this each other, and our children are loved eternally until we are all reunited.

    PS keep on writing!!

    Liked by 2 people

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