Grief: Friends and Family Can Anchor a Heart

Child loss rips through a life like a tornado-wild, unpredictable, viciously destructive.

It drops from the sky like a meteorite-no warning, no defense, just crushing weight.

It wrecks havoc in absolutely every corner of a bereaved parents’ heart and life.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Friends and Family Can Anchor a Heart

Choosing My Path Through Sun and Shade

We are only officially a few days into summer here in Alabama but we’ve already suffered weeks of extra hot weather.

And while I can’t do a thing about the absolute temperature outside, I can make choices that help me tolerate it.

It’s the same in my grief journey.

Everyday decisions make a difference in how well I cope.

I walk the half-mile stretch down and back on my driveway at least four or five times a day.

In the winter I follow the sun.

In the summer I follow the shade.

The path I choose to take either adds to or subtracts from my ability to make the trek in relative comfort.

Read the rest here: Sun & Shade: Picking My Path

Thirty-Eight Years and Counting

Today is thirty-eight years since we said, “I do”, and had absolutely NO idea what that would look like.

I first shared this a few years ago on our anniversary because I wanted other bereaved parents to know that while it is hard (and isn’t marriage always hard?), it is not impossible for a marriage to survive child loss.

We are definitely not the perfect couple. We fuss and struggle. We sometimes retreat into our separate worlds as we process some new aspect of this earthly life without one of our children.

But we have learned that we are stronger together and that we are willing to do the work necessary to stay that way.

Today my husband and I celebrate 38 years of marriage.  

Our thirtieth anniversary was a mere two months after we buried our son.

Here’s the last “before” anniversary photo (2013)-unfeigned smiles, genuine joy, excitement to have made it that far:

hector and me 29 anniversary

Read the rest here: Dispelling Marriage Myths Surrounding Child Loss.

Fear of What You Know Is Impossible to Ignore (Lightning DOES Strike Twice!)

I was reminded today how close fear sits to the door of my heart and to the door of the hearts of many bereaved parents.

Once again a mom shared an experience of not being able to get in touch with a surviving child and how that quickly spiraled downward to a frenzy of fear.

To some it may seem like an overreaction. But to those of us for whom the one thing you think won’t happen, HAS happened, it made perfect sense.

Read the rest here: If It Happened Once, It Could Happen Again

I Need to Give Sorrow Words

I’m participating in an online discussion group with others who are reading ATLAS OF THE HEART* by Brene Brown.

It’s a helpful exercise to map, name and explore emotions so that I can create more meaningful connections to myself and others.

I think I’ve been doing some version of this my whole life. Language matters. Being able to give any emotion-especially the deep pain and sorrow of child loss-matters.

Language is our portal to meaning-making, connection, healing, learning, and self-awareness….

Language shows us that naming an experience doesn’t give the experience more power, it gives us the power of understanding and meaning.

Brene Brown, ATLAS OF THE HEART, xxi

The morning Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, after I made the awful phone calls I reached for my journal.  

I knew if I didn’t start spilling the grief onto paper my heart would explode with sorrow.  

Since I learned to hold a pencil I’ve been writing. 

It’s how I sort my thoughts, figure out my feelings and express my heart. 

Read the rest here: Give Sorrow Words.

*Warning: ATLAS OF THE HEART contains language that may offend some folks. I just don’t want anyone to be surprised. ❤

Grief: You Aren’t Required To Pretend

There is SO much pressure on grievers to pretend they are “OK” once the socially acceptable amount of time has passed since their loss.

And that is more than unfortunate because not only does it place an undue burden on broken hearts, it inhibits the very necessary work grief requires.

Sharing honestly and openly with safe people, giving voice to our feelings, letting the tears and words flow freely is the only way forward on this treacherous journey.

It’s OK to not be OK.

If you are grievingyou are not responsible for making others feel better about YOUR pain.

You have suffered a great wound and you carry a heavy load.

You are allowed to express sorrow and longing.  It’s what people do.

Read the rest here: You Don’t Have to Pretend

So, How Do I DO This?

This is still the question that comes up most often in bereaved parent groups: ‘How do I DO this?’

No one is prepared for the devastation of child loss. There are no manuals issued as you walk away from your son or daughter’s earthly shell.

And what makes it worse is that because child loss is every parent’s worst nightmare, no one wants to talk about what happens after everyone else goes back to their lives and families are left alone with grief, isolation, devastation and desperate pain.

❤ Melanie

After the flurry of activity surrounding the funeral, our house was so, so quiet. 

Even with the five of us still here, it felt empty.  

Because Dominic was gone, gone, gone and he was not coming back.

And the silence pounded into my head and heart until it became a scream: 

How do I DO this? 

Read the rest here: How Do I DO This? The Question Every Bereaved Parent Longs to Ask

Always Minding the Gap: How Families are Changed in the Wake of Loss

I think often about the things my children know that others don’t have to know.

The fact that life is precious, short and never guaranteed no matter how young or healthy you may be.

The reality that doing everything right or keeping your nose clean or staying “prayed up” doesn’t guarantee you’ll be spared from death, destruction or devastation.

It’s true that several generations ago folks grew up knowing all these things as a matter of course. But we’ve forgotten so much of this with antibiotics, life extending interventions, emergency medicine and abundant food, water and other resources.

I never interact with my earthbound kids without thinking about all the ways we are changed because death has invaded our home and our lives.

❤ Melanie

My youngest son worked hard to retrieve some precious digital photos from an old laptop.

Being very kind, he didn’t tell me that we might have lost them until he was certain he had figured out a way to get them back.

So he and I had a trip down memory lane the other evening.

It was a bumpy ride.

Read the rest here: Mind the Gap

The Second Year Can Be Surprisingly Hard

It’s not true for everyone but it is true for enough of us. The second year after child loss can be especially hard.

Numbness and the rhythm of all the “firsts” in the twelve months following Dominic’s death kept me both anticipating the shock and protecting me from its full impact.

The second year was when it dawned on me that I was doomed to repeat this cycle as long as I lived.

I was absolutely overwhelmed.

Melanie

I remember very well the morning I woke on April 12, 2015-it was one year since I’d gotten the awful news; one year since the life I thought I was going to have turned into the life I didn’t choose.

I was horrified that my heart had continued to beat for 365 days when I was sure it wouldn’t make it through the first 24 hours. 

And I was terrified.

Read the rest here:  Why is the Second Year SO Hard?

Celebrations After Child Loss-Life at the Crossroads of Joy and Sorrow

I want to be everything my living children need me to be.  

I try hard to celebrate them, be available, listen closely and love them well.  

I never, ever want them to feel they are competing with their missing brother for my affection or my attention.  

But I’d be lying if I said it was always easy.  

Read the rest here: Crossroads: Celebrations After Child Loss

%d bloggers like this: