What Exactly IS Normal In Grief?

It hurts my heart every time I hear it or see it written at the end of a long, heartfelt post in a bereaved parents’ group: “Am I normal?”

Because in addition to bearing the weight of child loss so many mothers and fathers wonder if what they are feeling, what they are thinking and what they are doing is within the range of “normal” for those who have buried a son or daughter.

If we didn’t closet the deepest and most difficult aspects of grief and loss hearts wouldn’t have to fret about whether or not their experience was common, expected, typical, ordinary and very, very NORMAL.

I just came home a couple days ago from a weekend retreat for bereaved moms and was reminded again that the range of “normal” in grief-especially child loss-is so very wide.

Still crying after a decade? Absolutely normal.

Trouble getting dinner on the table or remembering your child’s school schedule? Yep. That’s normal.

Read the rest here: Grief-So What’s Normal???

Can My Marriage Survive Child Loss? Absolutely.


A few decades ago, faulty research methods made popular an inaccurate statistic that a disproportionate number of marriages fail after a couple experiences child loss.

Like many urban legends, once fixed in the minds of many, it’s nearly impossible to dislodge.  

And that is more than unfortunate because when marriages falter (and they often do) after child loss, lots of people just give up because they think failure is inevitable.

But it’s not. 

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Can My Marriage Survive?

Grief: “Acceptance” Isn’t A Stage, It’s a Lifetime

In all fairness, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had no idea her research would be taken out of context and plastered across professional literature and media outlets as a definitive explanation for the grief experience.

But she didn’t mind the notoriety.

And ever since, counselors, pastors, laypersons and the general public have come to expect folks to politely follow the five (sometimes described as six) stages of grief up and out of brokenness like a ladder to success.

It doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes those that walk alongside the bereaved are biding time, waiting for that “final” stage of grief: Acceptance.

And some therapists, counselors and armchair psychiatrists are certain that if the grieving mother can simply accept the death of her child, she can move on–that she can get back to a more “normal” life.

But this notion is as ridiculous as imagining that welcoming a new baby into a household doesn’t change everything.

And new parents have months to prepare.

Read the rest here: Loving well: Understanding “Acceptance”

Understanding A Grieving Heart

In the last post I shared the difference between mourning and grief. While the outward ceremonies have long passed, the inward struggle to embrace and understand the pain and sorrow of losing my son continues.

If you love someone who has lost a child, perhaps these thoughts might help you understand a bit of their pain and how completely it changes the way bereaved parents encounter the world.

Please be patient. Please don’t try to “fix” us. Please be present and compassionate. And if you don’t know what to say, feel free to say nothing-a hug, a smile, an understanding look-they mean so very much.

❤ Melanie

A bereaved parent’s grief doesn’t fit an easy-to-understand narrative. And it flies in the face of the American “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality.

You can’t beat it–it’s not a football game-there is no winning team.

You can’t lose it–it’s not the extra 10 pounds you’ve been carrying since last Christmas.

You can’t get over it–it’s not a teenage love affair that will pale in comparison when the real thing comes along.

You can only survive it.  You can heal from it, but it will take a lifetime and require very special care.

Read the rest here: Loving Well: Understanding the Grieving Heart

How To Help In The First Days After Loss

It will be seven (!) years on April 12th.

And yet those first hours and days are some of the most vivid in my memory. Who showed up, what they did, what they said (or graciously and wisely DIDN’T say), how fragile and lost I felt as precious friends guided me through so. many. decisions.

I will never, ever forget the kindnesses shown to our family during that time. I will never, ever stop thanking God for the brave souls that entered into our world of pain and simply refused to be shooed or frightened away.

❤ Melanie

The death of any loved one opens a door and forces you to pass through.

You cannot procrastinate, cannot refuse, cannot ignore or pretend it away.

Suddenly, you find yourself where you absolutely do not want to be.  

And there is no going back.

Many bereaved parents describe the first hours, the first days after losing a child as a fog–we feel both horrified (I can’t believe this is happening!) and numb (Is this real? Am I dreaming?).

Read the rest here: Loving Well in the First Days After Loss

Meaningful Ministry To Grieving Parents

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared this series of posts.

They were birthed in the safe space of a closed Facebook group of bereaved parents.

It was nearly two years into this journey before I even knew such groups existed but once I joined, a whole new world of acceptance, understanding and compassion opened wide before me.

And it didn’t take long to recognize that while every single journey and loss story was unique, there were some common experiences, similar challenges and shared needs.

That’s how this series came to be.

For some of my readers it will cover old ground, for some it will be fresh. For any of us walking the Valley of the Shadow of Death I pray it’s helpful and shareable (in a non-threatening way)on your own social media for family and friends.

❤ Melanie

Our journeys begin in different ways.

Just as every birth story is unique, so, too, is every parent’s story of loss.

It may be a phone call or an officer at the front door.  It may be a lingering illness or a sudden one. Our children may have lived days or decades.

Their death may be anticipated, but it is never expected.

Read the rest here: Loving Well: Meaningful Ministry to Grieving Parents

Secondary Losses And Child Loss

While I certainly had no real idea in the first hours or even weeks what losing a child entailed, I understood plainly that it meant I would not have Dominic to see, hold or talk to.

I wouldn’t be able to hug his neck or telephone him.  

He wouldn’t be sitting at my table any more.

But the death of a child or other loved one has a ripple effect.  It impacts parts of life you might not expect.  As time went on, I was introduced to a whole list of losses commonly called “secondary losses”.

Read the rest here: Child Loss and Secondary Losses

How To Bless a Grieving Parent-Even When It’s Been YEARS

I do NOT blame you that my son and my sorrow have drifted down your list of “things that need attention”.  Your life is as busy as mine once was and your calendar full of commitments and celebrations that require your attendance.

But each year it feels lonelier and lonelier.  

Because each year fewer and fewer people remember or if they do, they don’t know how to offer that up as a blessing because it feels awkward or stiff.

So may I suggest a few things that most bereaved parents would absolutely LOVE for friends and family to say or do-especially as the months roll into years or even decades?

Read the rest here: When It’s Been YEARS-How to Bless a Grieving Parent

How Do You Mark Milestones After Child Loss? Here Are Sixteen Ideas.

I’ve found myself in a bit of a writing funk these past weeks. Once January draws to a close (a short reprieve from surviving the holidays) the calendar barrels on to the anniversary of that fateful day.

This will be the seventh time I’ve weathered that period where I mark all the “lasts” and try to honor Dominic’s life and not only focus on his death.

For someone who used to be able to draw up a game plan for any occasion, I am still out of my depth when it comes to commemorating the date of my son leaving for Heaven.

So I’m sharing this again-as much for me as for anyone else. It’s just plain hard. But I hope these ideas help another heart find a way through the minefield of remembering.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Marking the Milestones

You Are STILL A Parent. You Will ALWAYS Be A Parent.

There are all kinds of ways child loss plays with your head.

One of the most common and often repeated questions among bereaved parents (especially those who have lost their only child , all their children or a child before or at birth) is this: Am I still a mama (or daddy)?

Short answer: YES. Absolutely!

The fact that your child has taken up residence in Heaven and is no longer here to hold and love and parent on earth changes NOTHING about your status.

Being an almost mother isn’t a thing. 

Brittany C. Cherry

Read the rest here: You Will ALWAYS Be A Mama (or Daddy)!