Spring Forward

I wrote and first posted this last fall,  when we ended Daylight Savings Time.  It struck me then, and strikes me now, that we continue to think that time is in our hands.  We break days into hours and hours into minutes like they belong to us.

But no one knows the number of our days except God.

“Every spring and every fall we dutifully make the rounds to our clocks and digital devices, putting them first forward an hour and then back in an attempt to make the days “longer”.

As if time was in our hands.

The sun rises and sets according to the Creator’s schedule, we can neither speed the world’s turning, nor slow it down.

We can only choose whether to be present in the moments He grants us.”

Read the rest of this post here:  Time Change

You Existed, You Exist

Sometimes this thought is  what gets me through the day:

You existed, you exist.

Sometimes I say it to his photo on my phone:

You existed, you exist.

Sometimes I want to scream it out the window:


My son is not a number or a statistic or only a memory.

He is integral to my story, blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh–part of my life.

I rest assured he lives in heaven with Jesus but I miss him here with me. That’s selfish, I know.  But I can’t seem to help it.

I don’t know how to be glad that my young, healthy, brilliant child died-just like that-here one moment, gone the next.

The broken heart of every parent who has buried a child cries out:

My child existed..

He lived.

He mattered.

My child exists still.

He lives.

He matters.



“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,
    walk away from the baby she bore?” ~Isaiah 49:15 MSG


This picture was taken for a story in UAB Magazine featuring my husband and oldest son who graduated together in December 2009. You can read the original article here: Like Father, Like Son

It is one of my very favorites. I was surrounded by my family, filled with pride and promise.

This is how I like to think of us-together and strong. 

Our circle is broken now-it is a continuing struggle to figure out how to navigate life in the wake of our loss.

And some of the greatest challenges present themselves in unexpected ways.

Redefining how to think about and present my family to the world led me to the solution presented in this post:




Child Loss: The Question of Photographs

When I shared this post awhile back, it sparked quite a discussion among friends and an online community of bereaved parents to which I belong.

Pictures are a mixed blessing to those of us who have buried a child:

We love to see our dear one’s face beaming back at us but we also long to touch and hold the one represented by the two-dimensional image.  And when others share a photo on Facebook or Instagram, we are sometimes caught off-guard as our newsfeed scrolls by–There he is!  Our hearts stop for a moment.

I love to get pictures of my son through email or in notes and letters-many are ones I would otherwise never know about.  So if you have photos that a bereaved parent might like to see, think about sharing them.  And write a line or two about how our child is still part of your life.

We miss our children and welcome ways to connect with them through others.

“Pictures are everywhere today–much different than when I was a child and you had to go down to the local studio to get a decent family photo. Poloroids were fun and fast, but the number of shots you could take was limited to the film in the packet.

One of the challenges facing bereaved parents is what to do about photographs–both the ones that exist and the ones yet to be taken.”

Read the rest: Bereaved Parents and The Question of Photographs

Taking a Breather

The sun is shining in Alabama and I’m going to try to plant a garden again this year for the first time since losing Dominic.  I haven’t had the energy to invest in tending to growing things before this Spring. I pray it is good therapy and that seeing things sprout and bloom will encourage my heart.

So I’m going to share again a couple of posts that were popular. Some of you may have read them but there are a number of new followers that might have missed them.

I hope you are enjoying the warming weather too.  New posts coming soon!

One day a few weeks ago, I decided to simply make a list of the things grief is teaching me. I think I could add a few lines to this post, because I am learning something new every day…

To read more:

Things I’m Learning

What if Tomorrow Never Came?

I know, I know, we’ve all heard it–no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Depending on the setting, and depending on your age when (usually) an older person says it, this admonition is easier or harder to ignore.

But I am here to sound the trumpet:  There might not be a tomorrow for you or for someone you care about!

So if there is something you need to say, something you need to do, please, please, please–for the love of LOVE, say it or do it!

My family will tell you that I’ve always been one of those people who says things on the phone and writes things in cards that most folks just think about but never put into words.

And since Dominic’s death, I am even bolder.

Because we had NO CLUE that the last time each of us spoke with him, or texted him, or exchanged emails with him was going to be the LAST TIME. He wasn’t sick or going off to war, so there was no reminder of the brevity of life the day before he died.

Don’t get me wrong, we are not always roses and buttercups around here.

We have plenty of disagreements and misunderstandings.  And every one of us has strong opinions about almost everything.  But we refuse to stay angry for more than a few minutes.  Even when all that can be said or done is a text, “I’m sorry.  I love you.  Let’s talk about this later when we’re not so worked up.”

That’s what we do.  

That’s what we’ve always done.

And we are not shy about blessing one another either:  “Great job!”  “I knew you could do it!”  “Sorry you are having a bad day-praying.”

Who decided that smiley face stickers were only for kindergartners?  We all need encouragement every day.

I can’t bring Dominic back.  

I can’t get one more second, one more minute, one more day with my third born child to tell him I love him and that I am so very proud of him and that he was witty and a wonderful drummer and a good, good friend to so many people.

But I know he knows.

Because even though I can’t tell him now, I told him then.

I told him often and I told him in ways that were meaningful to him.

So, I carry the burden of missing him.  I carry the weight of sorrow that comes from burying a child.  But I am free from the awful cross that I might have been forced to bear if I didn’t know that I had loved him well.

And for that, I am grateful.



Another Confession

Emboldened by my confession of fearing the dark, I’m here to make another one:

I really want to finish well-and I’m afraid I might not.

Foolishly perhaps, I had imagined the years on the other side of the Great Divide of fifty to be ones in which I could coast a bit.  As one sweet lady I knew used to say, “It’s great to be over the hill-that means it’s all downhill from here!”

And in some ways I am coasting.

I no longer struggle with the angst of being comfortable in my own skin. Since I’m not in the market for cosmetic surgery I have made peace with the fact this body is the only one I’ll have (until that wonderful day when I get my glorified body!).

I’ve decided that as long as I am kind about it, I am entitled to express my own opinion, even if I’m the only one who holds it.  I don’t have to receive affirmation for my convictions to be true.

Doing the regular chores of life come naturally and I can accomplish them without toddlers or teenagers undoing my work in one room while I’m making progress in another.

But on the spiritual front…well, that’s another matter entirely.

Losing a child has forced me to re-engage questions I thought I had settled long ago.  It has made me less certain of some ideas I once held tightly with both hands.

And it has made plain that these last years are going to be just as hard as the early ones in which I dug deep in Scripture to sort through what I had heard or been taught and compare it with what the Word actually says.

I am learning that God is not as easy to comprehend as our Sunday School tag lines make Him seem.  I am coming to understand what Job declared:

“I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, But now my [spiritual] eye sees You.”

Job 42: 5 AMP

Knowing now, by experience, that the road ahead may be just as hard and just as bloody as the one I leave behind, it would be easy to give up.

In my family, quitting was never an option.  My dad used to say, “You can do anything you want to do if you want to do it badly enough.”

But in this battle to keep going, I am too weak to continue by myself-too beaten down to make it to the finish line in my own strength.

I want to be faithful until the end.

I am purposing to refuse simple explanations and easy answers that tickle my ears but may not reflect truth.  And I will admit that I often just don’t understand–that I am wholly dependent on the God Who made me to keep me.

I want to let God mold me and shape me until I am a prize He is pleased with.

I want to present Him to others as the One Who has upheld me and keeps upholding me, even in this struggle to finish well.

So I go directly to Him. I go straight to His Word.  I will lean on, rely in and place my full trust in Jehovah:

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
    made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.
    Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
    now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

Job 42:1-6 MSG


For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!  So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 AMP

Grieving a child is not light nor is it momentary.  It is a heavy weight that threatens to drag me into despair.

I feel like I’m struggling to walk up a mighty mountain with few footholds and steep cliffs. Sometimes I just want to give up.

What was Paul thinking????

“Light and momentary distress”–this from a man who had been left for dead, imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked and abandoned by his friends?

But Paul was a master of rhetoric and used words to invite his readers to thoughtfully consider the things he said.  You can’t read one of his letters like a paperback novel–you have to slow down, read carefully and think hard.

Paul depended on people’s experience that distress is in fact often heavy and lifelong to show, by contrast, how excellent and marvelous and exceedingly valuable our eternal inheritance is through Christ.

 If the awful burdens of this life seem light and momentary when we enter the fullness of God’s promises in heaven, then how very great those promises must be!

Only the grace of a mighty God can give me the strength to face each day with hope and the faith to believe that the things I see are not the things that truly last.

And only the faithful love of a Heavenly Father can give me the assurance that one day I will barely remember how hard it was to walk carrying this load.  

No Rush

Time, by itself, does not heal all wounds.  

But of all the factors that promote healing, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for time–not in the physical world of surgery and broken bones and deep wounds and not in the inner world of  emotional pain and brokenness and sorrow.

Our bodies are made to be amazingly resilient.  

Most people don’t really think of surgery as an assault on the body, but it is.

The surgeon knifes through layers of flesh and tissue that are designed to keep intruders out, mucks about inside, does what he or she came to do, and closes up–hopefully without introducing bacteria into the wound. Some medication may be prescribed to promote healing, control pain and reduce the risk of infection.

Then the patient goes home to recover.

But it is really TIME and the body’s own healing powers that do the lion’s share of the work.

Our hearts and minds can be resilient too.

Frequently, someone who suffers an assault on their emotions may not bear outward signs and symbols to mark what they’ve  been through.  And well-meaning friends and family can forget that healing has only begun and is far from complete.

Sometimes broken people feel pressured to put on a brave face and to stuff their feelings.

For the body, ignoring doctor’s orders to rest after surgery can mean another hospital stay due to complications that might have been avoided if the patient had been given sufficient time to recover.

Emotionally wounded people can end up with complications from pressure to rejoin regular activities and engage society in ways for which they are not yet ready.

It takes TIME to heal from burying a child or any other traumatic loss.

There is no way to rush the healing.  It takes HOURS AND HOURS to think about, respond to and process the feelings that overwhelm anyone who is grieving or trying to cope with emotional upheaval of any kind.

ok to just breathe

So be patient with yourself.

  • Understand that there will be good days and bad days.
  • There will be forward movement and steps backward.
  • Sometimes it will be easy to do something or go somewhere and the next time it might be really hard.

And don’t be afraid to let others know you are still healing.

Deep emotional wounds require great care and an extended period of time to heal if the healing is to be sound and free from unnecessary complications.

You are not selfish to draw boundaries around what you can and can’t do, what you will and won’t allow and where and when you engage with others-you are being wise.  

For those walking with the wounded:  extend grace and be patient.

Thank God you are not bearing this burden and be mindful of placing demands or pressure on the wounded to heal according to a predetermined timetable.

Then support them in their effort to give themselves the TIME they need to heal.

smiling through tears




Identity Crisis

Yeah, so one more thing that grief has made  harder: empty nesting.

While my nest is not technically empty, I have long since finished raising and schooling my children.  I had the great privilege of staying home with my kids and teaching them all the way through high school.  And even in college and graduate school, mom was still editor-in-chief and head of the crisis management center of our home.

I spent a lifetime pouring myself into my family and now they are grown. Sure, they need me now and then, but they are well-established, functioning adults and quite capable without my help.

This is good–I always intended to work myself out of a job.

But losing Dominic, and the burden of grief I carry as a result, has made this transition from “hands-on” to “standing by” that much more difficult.

We all have pictures in our mind of where life is headed–where we imagine ourselves in five years, ten years or even further.  In part, those visions are what make hard days bearable, what keep us going when obstacles seem insurmountable, and what beckon us down the road when we can’t see exactly where it is leading.

I had those.

Now I can’t manage a plan or vision for a single day, much less a year or the rest of my life. I feel as if I am cast adrift in a sea of possiblities but none look inviting. It’s like I have one oar in the water and all I can do is paddle in a circle.

I’m not idle-I keep moving.  I have things to do, but I’m not sure they are things that make a difference.

And I have to admit, it’s a little frightening to think about the future given my recent past experience.

So I’m trying to learn to rest in the arms of the Father.  

Trying to tune my heart to His.

Trying to be patient with myself and with my own impatience.

For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, to give you an end and patience.

Jeremiah 29:11 DRA


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