Bereaved Parents Month 2020: But I Had All That BEFORE!


I absolutely understand that when people say things like, “Just think of all the wonderful memories you have” or “He brought you so much joy” they mean well.

Because it’s true-I have beautiful memories of Dominic.  And he DID bring me great joy.

But I had those things BEFORE he was beyond my reach.

Read the rest here:But I Had All That BEFORE!

Why Am I Still Writing Six Years After Loss?

I first shared this last year when I was reflecting on half a decade of living without one of my children beside me. I’ve now had another year to think about why or if I’ll continue to write.

And this year has, in many ways, been one of the most difficult since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven. Today marks nine months since my mother joined him. Fresh grief has once again visited my heart.

The whole pandemic thing has wrecked havoc around the world and death fills the airwaves. My family has faced several unexpected changes and we are still trying to sort those.

But I find that writing still brings clarity and comfort to my soul. I still have things to say and I hope what I say still brings some small measure of light, love, life and hope to other hearts.

❤ Melanie

If someone had said, “Pick any topic to write about”, child loss wouldn’t have been in the first million choices.

No one CHOOSES child loss (Thus the name of the blog:  The Life I Didn’t Choose).

But untold numbers of parents EXPERIENCE it every year.  This very day,  parents somewhere got a knock on the door or a phone call or sat next to a hospital bed as life slipped slowly from their child’s tired body.

Since I was already journaling and had walked this Valley for nearly a year and a half, it dawned on me that the ramblings I’d put down might be helpful to another heart.  So I started THIS blog in September, 2015.

And I’ve been here ever since.  

Read the rest here: Why Am I Still Writing About Loss Five Years Out?

A Bereaved Dad’s Perspective


I belong to a number of closed online bereaved parent groups.  

I’m not sure if it is a function of gender or not, but the moms seem to be a bit more willing to share their feelings and to respond to the feelings of others.  

Every now and then, a dad speaks up. When he does, I usually pay close attention to this male perspective.

Read the rest here: What I’ve Learned About Grief: A Bereaved Dad’s Perspective

Anything Human Is Mentionable

We wall off our world with words.

The ones we speak and the ones we swallow down so they don’t escape our lips.

But, as Mr. Rogers says, “Anything human is mentionable.”

Won't You Be My Neighbor?' the Mister Rogers Documentary, Comes to ...

Even death.

We don’t like to talk about death. It’s unpleasant and frightening and often divisive. We all know it’s coming-no one (except Enoch and Elijah) have left this world any other way. Yet the polite thing to do is pretend it doesn’t exist or at the very least, isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

But that serves no good purpose.

It stops us from having meaningful conversations with those we love as they approach the end of their days. It keeps us from making amends while there is still time, saying the things that need to be said, wrapping up loose ends and frayed relationships.

It stops us from listening to the bereaved. If we get too close and pay too much attention to the aftermath of loss then we have to think about what it really means to live on without someone we love.

And it has shaped a society in which those who grieve too loudly or too long are shushed and shamed.

Refusing to talk about death doesn’t make it disappear.

It only makes it harder to deal with.

The rest of the Mr. Rogers quote is this:

…and anything mentionable is more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.

Fred Rogers

Learning the language of loss and lament is part of the healing process in grief.

We’ve never been very good in Western society talking about or dealing with death. And the recent restrictions around traditional rituals associated with saying farewell to loved ones have made it that much more difficult. So many hearts are hurting and have nowhere to go, no one to talk to, no safe refuge for their pain.

If someone trusts you with his or her feelings, receive it as a gift.

Make space for them to be honest about what they are experiencing.

Remind them that “Anything human is mentionable”.

And listen.

I don't believe in best friends {discuss amongst yourself ...

Feel Like You Don’t Measure Up? Be Gentle On Yourself.

It’s been years (decades?) since I watched much, if any, commercial television.

I do get those annoying pop-up ads from time to time when I visit websites and, of course, Facebook loves to “suggest” products I “need” in my timeline.

But I’m really not exposed to a lot of advertising or images that scream, “You are not enough!”.

When You Don't Feel Like You Measure Up - Beyond Sunday Mornings

Even so, that’s often the way I feel.

Somehow I’ve swallowed the lie that the only way I can be worthy of love and even breath is to be “all that I can be”-whatever THAT means. I need to have the right exercise regimen, the cleanest home, the healthiest food, a morning quiet time with my Bible and praise music, the perfect filing system for all the random papers I have stuffed in boxes, a tidy closet, and a day filled with meaningful activity that produces either income or social change.

All this time stuck at home has served to point out the many ways I fall short of those standards.

Steve Furtick Quote (With images) | Steve furtick quotes, Lovely ...

We’ve lived in this house for twenty-two years which is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. It’s filled to the brim with memories and stuff and dusty corners where the furniture hasn’t been moved since we got here.

The kids were six through twelve the day we bought the place.

There’s been a lot of activity and growing within these walls and frankly, you can tell.

I need to paint but the idea of wiping off the last little marks of Dominic and his siblings made when they were all here and happy is overwhelming. I need to rearrange the things in what was once his room and make it more useful for when the kids come home to visit but that means I have to go through some drawers and stuff that haven’t been touched since he touched them and I’m not ready.

That’s just two of probably one hundred (literally!) things I could or should do.

What I’ve been doing instead is living through what I call my Season of Sorrow which runs from March through the end of May every year-all the “lasts” (last time I saw him, last time I hugged him) and all the “firsts” (the day he left for Heaven, his funeral) and ends with his birthday on May twenty-eighth.

I’ve learned that I’m no good at starting projects this time of year.

I’m doomed to leave them unfinished which becomes its own kind of condemnation.

But I still feel like I SHOULD be doing them.

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I need to be gentle on myself.

That list of things to do is always going to be long. If I worked every day, all day for the rest of my life there would be things left unfinished.

I need to remember that how I loved and who I loved is the measure that really counts.

The most important things in life are not things" Quote

What’s Changed, What’s The Same Six Years Down The Road Of Child Loss?

What’s changed and what is still the same six years down the road of child loss?

I’ve thought about this a lot in the past few months as I prepared for, greeted and marked another year of unwelcome milestones since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.

Some things are exactly the same:

  • Whenever I focus solely on his absence, my heart still cries, “Can he REALLY be gone?” I am STILL A Mess Some Days….
  • The pain is precisely as painful as the moment I got the news.
  • It’s just as horrific today to dwell on the manner of his leaving.
  • I miss him, I miss him, I miss him. I live every day with his Tangible Absence.
  • I am thankful for his life, for the opportunity to be his mama and for the part of me shaped by who he was.
  • The absolute weight of grief has not changed. The burden remains a heavy one.
  • Daily choices are the difference between giving up and going on. I have to make Wise Choices in Grief.
  • My faith in Christ and my confidence that His promises are sure is the strength on which I rely. I have been Knocked Down But Not Destroyed.
  • I passionately look forward to the culmination of all history when every sad thing will come untrue.

Some things are very different:

  • Dominic’s absence is no longer all I see.
  • Sorrow and pain are no longer all I feel.
  • I’ve learned to live in spite of the hole in my heart-his unique place isn’t threatened by allowing myself to love others and pouring my life into the people I have left.
  • Joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive. They live together in my heart and I can smile and laugh again while still pining for a time when things were different and easier.
  • I am Stronger because I’ve carried this burden for years. I’ve learned to shift it from side to side.
  • The darkness has receded so that I see light once more. I’m not as prone to fall as fast down the dark hole of despair.
  • My heart longs for reunion but has also learned to treasure the time I have left here on earth.

I’ve never hidden the struggle and pain of this journey.

But I don’t want those who are fresh in grief to think that how they are feeling TODAY is the way they will feel FOREVER.

By doing the work grief requires, making wise choices and holding onto hope a heart does begin to heal.

I am not as fragile today as I was on the first day.

And I am so, so thankful for that.

Of All The Things I’ve Lost (besides my son) I Miss My Mind The Most

Yesterday was one of those days.

I started looking for something and ended up rummaging through several other stacks, bins and hidey holes to find interesting and useful items but not what I was hunting .

It confirmed a couple of things: (1) I have entirely too much craft stuff; and (2) my mind is not nearly as sharp as it used to be.

I am a person who automatically calculates the per unit price of items, groups like things together and labels nearly everything. I used to be super organized.

It’s how I raised and homeschooled four kids.

But since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven my mind just doesn’t work the same as it once did.

I’ve written before about this phenomena: Grief Brain: It’s a Real Thing!

I really do miss the ability to remember where I put things, why I entered a room and what I went upstairs to get.

Enrique del Rey on Twitter: "Where did I come in here? What was I ...

I did find enough of what I was looking for to begin working on a tiny project for my grandson, so that’s a win.

Free pattern: Lucky Chicken softie | Chicken pattern, Sewing ...

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Out Of Sorts

I’ve tried. Honest.

I brought my sewing machine downstairs (more natural light) on Monday. I looked through patterns online Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I even cut and pinned the pieces.

Still, I don’t think I’m going to sew that face mask.

Where to Buy Fabric Face Masks | POPSUGAR Fitness

It’s not complicated and I could do it. But I can’t force myself to concentrate on sewing straight seams, making neat corners, being careful to get the pleats right so it fits on my face.

I feel like there are so many things I have to get right, do right, plan for and organize that even though this might really be satisfying and would certainly be useful, I’m not motivated at all to do it.

I’m out of sorts.

Been that way for a few days.

It happens from time to time when I feel overwhelmed or underappreciated or both. It’s not pretty and I’m not making excuses for my bad attitude.

Just confessing.

Feeling Out of Sorts | 161 Days in Paradise

On the one hand I long for quiet, rest and maybe a luxurious soak in the tub along with a good book. On the other, I long for laughter, good conversation and maybe a surprise take out meal in the backyard at sundown.

There are literally dozens of things I COULD do. And at least ten or twelve I SHOULD do.

Yet here I sit.

Unmotivated.

Definitely not making that mask.

Grumpy Cat, the internet's most famous cat, dead at 7 - CNN

It’s STILL Complicated

I first shared this post four years ago after a group of bereaved parents and I were talking about how things that used to be simple and straightforward simply weren’t anymore.

Things like the question, “How many kids do you have?”

Things like going to a movie or picking a place to eat out.

So. Many. Things.

Honestly, I thought it’d be less of a minefield by now-I mean it’s been six years already! And while there ARE some things that I find easier, most of the things I talk about in this post are still hard.

One of the things I’ve been forced to embrace in the wake of child loss is that there are very few questions, experiences or feelings that are simple anymore.

“How many children do you have?”

A common, get-to-know-you question lobbed across tables, down pews and in the check-out line at the grocery store.  But for many bereaved parents, it can be a complex question that gets a different answer depending on who is asking and where we are.

Read the rest here: It’s Complicated

Am I Refusing To Accept My Child Is Gone?

Even therapists get it wrong sometimes.

Especially therapists that only know what child loss is supposed to look like from books and lectures.

I understand how logical it seems that a parent should be able to accept his or her child is no longer alive. After all, most of us saw our child’s lifeless body and performed whatever rituals our hearts find most comforting.

We haven’t received a phone call, text, message or new photograph. Weeks, months and years pass and no word.

Of course this child is gone.

But a mama’s heart still hopes. Somewhere deep down there is a part of me that longs for connection to this child I carried, nurtured and loved.

So sometimes my heart will play tricks on me.

It started just after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.

I was the one who had to make phone calls and inform the family of his passing, repeating the awful words over and over and over. So my head got it right away.

Dominic was dead. He was not coming back. There was nothing I could do about it.

Still, I found that for the first year or year and a half, every time I went somewhere we usually went together or attended a family function or celebration where we’d all be in one room, I looked for him.

  • If someone came around the corner and I caught a glimpse of a shoulder-could that be him?
  • If voices drifted upstairs-maybe that’s Dom’s laugh down there?
  • A whiff of soap or shampoo on the grocery aisle-was he just ahead of me?

Ridiculous. Maybe. But very, very real.

Now these six years later that hardly ever happens. Once or twice a year, when the family is together and especially if we are together in a crowd of other people, I’ll kind of “look” for him-on the fringes, around the edges, his voice maybe mixed in with others.

I do still sit silent in the dark hours of early morning shaking my head and saying aloud, “How can Dominic really be dead?”.

But that’s not denial of the fact he is gone.

It’s acknowledgement of how hard it is to live with that truth.

I really don't know why are we trying to put each other down and ...