Even though I said I’d be taking August off, here I am because I think teachers, parents, friends and family members need this reminder at the beginning of every school year.
Siblings are often forgotten grievers. But they shouldn’t be.
They have not only lost a brother or sister but also the family they once knew and relied upon. They (if young) may not have the capacity to express or process these losses in ways adults comprehend or recognize. And if older, they may work hard at hiding grief so as not to add to their parents’ burden.
It’s so, so important for those who love and serve bereaved siblings to pay attention, to offer support, to grant space and grace and freedom of expression. They are grieving too.
I am always afraid that Dominic will be forgotten.
I’m afraid that as time passes, things change and lives move forward, his place in hearts will be squeezed smaller and smaller until only a speck remains.
Not in my heart, of course.
Or in the hearts of those closest to him, but in general-he will become less relevant.
But he is not the only one who can be forgotten. I am just as fearful that my living children will be forgotten.
It will soon be seven years since I started writing in this space and I have to say, it’s been such a blessing to share the good, the bad, the ugly and the desperate with hearts that choose to come alongside and encourage me!
But I’m tired.
I’m just not certain I can keep pumping out (even recycled) posts every single day.
I still have a lot to say-especially to those of you who are fresh in this journey and are terrified that the way you feelright now is the way you will always feel. It doesn’t have to be and I want to hold a lantern high so you won’t grow so weary that you give up before you see the path does eventually level out a bit.
So I don’t think I’m disappearing forever.
Honestly, writing isn’t what I DO it’s who I AM.
I can’t stop but I do need a rest from creating public worthy polished pieces that neither make my family blush nor make my readers scratch their heads.
I’m taking a break.
If you want to see posts, you will have to go to my public Facebook page “Heartache and Hope” or follow my personal Facebook page where I’ll put up some posts from the archives.
My goal is to give myself August to regroup, reenergize and rest.
Part of the reason I share my story is to provide insight for people who haven’t lost a child into the hearts and lives of those who have.
But mainly it is to be a voice for and to encourage other parents walking this valley by letting them know they aren’t alone, their feelings and experiences are perfectly normal and that just as welcoming a child into your family is a life-altering event, saying good-bye to a child is a life-altering event.
We do not expect a mom to “get over” the changes having a baby brings to her everyday experience, and we should not expect a bereaved mom to “get over” the changes burying one brings either.
If we can keep the vision of how much mercy has been poured out on our own hearts and in our own lives, it is so much easier to pour it out on others. We don’t have to manufacture it-we only have to be a willing conduit of the mercy already overflowing from God’s heart to our own.
When the deputy delivered the news that Dominic was gone, my heart broke wide open, its contents spilled on the floor.
But I knew it would not remain empty for long.
It would be filled with something.
And I begged God to fill it so full of love, grace and mercy that bitterness, unforgiveness and anger would be squeezed out with no room to stay.
I’ve spent the last two days rearranging our family room.
Since my husband has retired, we no longer use it as we once did and I realized a few weeks ago that it was ridiculous to have it set up the way it’s been for decades when our needs have drastically changed.
So we decided to tackle the job of sorting/moving/dismantling books, videos (yes, we still have a few!), DVDs, CDs and random other bits and pieces of a life long lived in the same place.
For those of you who have moved often you may have been spared the detritus of papers stuck in cracks and crevices on bookcases with the promise to yourself you’ll “put them where they go when I get a chance”.
Me, not so lucky.
I’ve found treasures-scribbles of younger days from my now (very!) grown children-and sad reminders of projects begun and left hanging because we got too busy to see them through.
The one thing I celebrated in taking apart, digging through and tearing down was this: totally destroying and trashing an old, old, old television stand from back in the day when TVs were far too heavy and far too thick to mount on walls or above fireplaces.
I’d always hated that thing.
We bought it as young marrieds when our budget was tight and floor space was precious in our first small home. It did the job but it was just not my style. And at the time, I wasn’t bold enough or strong enough to speak up and advocate for a different choice.
Oh, there are wonderful memories of my two oldest kids putting on shows dressed up in fun costumes and singing along to our cassette tape playlist. We have more than one photo of that delightful era.
But there were years and years of putting up with something that no longer served our needs (because it was here, bought and paid for, and convenient) instead of ditching it and buying something that would both serve and bring delight.
So other than a long march down memory lane, what does this have to do with child loss?
I’ve learned since Dom left us that I’ll no longer stay silent when a habit, a situation, a relationship or a piece of furniture doesn’t serve my current mental, physical, psychological, emotional or spiritual circumstances.
I won’t wait for someone else to notice I’m upset or sad or happy or delighted.
I’ve learned to speak up for myself and ask for things I need. I’m learning (haven’t made the progress I’d like!) to set boundaries and tell others that they may come thus far and no closer. I’m trying harder to rid my life of what is unhelpful and unhealthy.
I’m definitely a work in progress.
And most of the work won’t have such a satisfying and concise conclusion as when I cheerfully watch the pieces of that old TV stand go up in smoke.
But I’m committed to continue dismantling the parts of my past that no longer serve my present.