Holidays 2019: Surviving Siblings


I have never wanted to make my life journey with blinders on.
  I realized young that MY perspective is not the only one.  I understand that more clearly now. 

So I try hard to think about, acknowledge and accommodate the feelings and needs of others.

But it’s especially challenging since Dominic left us.  And doubly so this time of year when every sight, smell and song screams, “It’s the holidays and HE IS NOT HERE!

I may not be as thoughtful to some in my circle as want to be, but I will expend every ounce of energy and effort I can muster to make space for my living children’s needs during this season.  

Read the rest here:https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2017/11/10/holidays-and-grief-making-space-for-surviving-siblings-needs/

Holidays 2019: Blessing The Brokenhearted

The question is starting to pop up with greater frequency in our closed bereaved parent groups: How do you make it through the holidays after child loss?

So for the next few days I’m going to share again from the many posts I’ve written in the past four years addressing different aspects of holiday planning, celebration, family dynamics and just plain survival for grieving parents and those who love them.

❤ Melanie

Most parents feel a little stressed during the holidays.

We used to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving before our 24/7 supercharged and super-connected world thrust us into hyper-drive.  Now we zoom past the first day of school on a highway toward Christmas at breakneck speed.

For bereaved parents, the rush toward the “Season of Joy” is doubly frightening.

Constant reminders that this is the “most wonderful time of the year” make our broken hearts just that much more out of place. Who cares what you get for Christmas when the one thing your heart desires–your child, alive and whole–is unavailable…

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2015/11/19/season-of-joy-blessing-the-brokenhearted-during-the-holidays/

Blessing For The Brokenhearted

Sometimes I run across a poem that is absolutely perfect.  

This is one of those.  

Blessing for the Brokenhearted by Jan Richardson

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
—Henry David Thoreau

Let us agree
for now
that we will not say
the breaking
makes us stronger
or that it is better
to have this pain
than to have done
without this love.

Let us promise
we will not
tell ourselves
time will heal
the wound,
when every day
our waking
opens it anew.

Perhaps for now
it can be enough
to simply marvel
at the mystery
of how a heart
so broken
can go on beating,
as if it were made
for precisely this—

as if it knows
the only cure for love
is more of it,

as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy
for breaking
is to love still,

as if it trusts
that its own
persistent pulse
is the rhythm
of a blessing
we cannot
begin to fathom
but will save us
nonetheless.

—Jan Richardson

[Emphasis added]

Child Loss: When It’s Been YEARS-How To Bless a Grieving Parent

Please hear me. 

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.

There is no way you would know it’s 69 days until the fifth anniversary of Dominic’s sudden absence. 

There is no reason for you to be aware that as the southern landscape turns to spring, my heart and mind turn to death.  

But it’s the truth. 

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

Birthday Musings

Today I turn fifty-five. 

Not old (not yet!) but hardly young.  

My body sometimes tells me I’m older than dirt while my mind plays tricks and lures me into all kinds of childish pursuits.  

Mornings I creak down the stairs, holding tightly to the handrail lest I step wrong and end up in a tumble at the bottom

Midday I’m out in the woods picking up interesting bits of nature that I bring inside and set on a shelf-I still ooh and aah over empty cicada shells and help stranded earthworms back into moist soil.

Mostly I kind of plod through time taking it moment by moment except when forced to look ahead and plan for the big things like (yay!) a wedding (my daughter!) and a grandchild (my son!).

brandon and fiona engagement

 

But some days I stop and take stock of the years gone by, the things I’ve done or not done and the things I wish were different.  

Birthdays tend to make me do that.  And since my birthday always falls near Thanksgiving, I usually add a list of things for which I’m grateful.  

I will always be glad that I chose to pour my life into my family.  All grown, we still weave our lives together across the miles and in spite of crazy schedules. I have never regretted for a single moment that the one great achievement that will outlive me is my children.

desimones uab family

Except for the one I have outlived.  And that is my heart’s greatest burden.  

dominic at olive garden

I am so thankful for a husband who has graciously provided for our family.  I never wrangled a moment over grocery money or necessary homeschooling supplies.  That is a gift! (And for his unending support for my crazy livestock lifestyle-here’s this year’s birthday present.)

golf cart and roses

I have the great privilege of the ongoing companionship of my own parents.  We talk every. single. day.  even though we are miles apart.  These last months of health struggles and Hurricane Michael destruction have forged new links in the chain of love and compassion that bind us to one another.

I have a close circle of “I’ll come over in the middle of the night if you need me” friends.  I remember being on the outside looking in for most of my high school years wondering if I would ever have a really, truly best friend.  In these years since Dominic ran ahead, God has given me one of the desires of my heart and blessed me with just that kind of friendship.

friends pick us up

I have a broader circle of parents that understand what it’s like to send a child ahead to Heaven.  They are a safe place to offload comments and questions that the rest of the world would neither appreciate nor comprehend.  So many have touched my heart with the right word at the right time.  I am overwhelmed by the compassion, grace and kindness of this community.

I write.  It helps my heart.  And the truly amazing and surprising thing is it seems to help a few other hearts too.  I am so thankful that three years ago I followed a prompting to compose that first timid and intimidating post.  Now I can’t imagine a morning where I don’t get up in the wee hours to peck away at the keyboard.

Five years ago I celebrated my fiftieth birthday with all my children, my husband, parents and a crowd of friends.

Tonight the celebration will be a little quieter but very precious.  

My fiftieth year was to be a jubilee of sorts-a culmination of so many dreams in our family and in my own life.  

Instead it was the year we buried Dominic, in addition to the beautiful things we looked forward to.

I’ve stopped making predictions about what a year will bring.  But I haven’t stopped looking forward to the good things I know are on the horizon.  

ultrasound 1 jm lillie

This year our family will grow again and that is a great blessing.  

So I wake and watch and wait.  

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

 

Repost: Bridle Your Tongue

In this journey of loss I have been blessed and wounded by words.

I have been encouraged and disheartened by stray comments.  I’ve been thrown a lifeline and pushed under the raging waves of grief by friends, family and acquaintances who often had no clue they were doing either.

Our words matter. 

Our tongues have the power of life and death.

Read the rest here:  Bridle your Tongue

Funny Farm: Crazy Critters Keep Me Sane

Most of you know that I live and work on a small farm in rural Alabama.

And if you’ve read just a handful of posts, you’ve probably seen some photos of the silly critters that make up my menagerie.

I’ve written before about how vital animal therapy has been and continues to be to my own grief journey but today I just wanted to share some of the fun, funny and ridiculous sights that greet me nearly every day.

chickens morning light

They keep me smiling (sometimes in spite of myself) and they keep me going (because I know they depend on me for food, shelter and safety).

Truly, I am grateful to God for the love He instilled in my heart towards every living thing.  I’m grateful for a husband who indulges my crazy impulse to save, house and feed anything that wanders up our lane or is thrust upon us by others who just can’t care for a pet anymore.  I’m grateful for children who have built fences, tossed hay bales and put up with their mama’s eccentricities.

So here you go, I hope these make you smile too.

These two are Paco and Bob.  Paco came to us via a friend of a friend who thought that having a donkey was a great idea-until he got bigger.  We brought him home in a makeshift trailer and he’s been a ray of sunshine ever since.  He greets every visitor with a loud “Hee Haw” and loves, loves, loves to be petted.  I’ve had the opportunity to point out the cross on his back many times to the children that have come out to our farm for science classes or tours.

I never get tired of seeing his happy face.

bob and paco hayI’m rarely alone, usually lead or followed by someone or something.  Chores are better when you’ve got company.  

reepi and preciousHere’s Sugar.  She’s one of the first goats born on our place and an old friend.  Just last winter I would have sworn she wouldn’t live to see another summer but she did.  It took a lot of hard work, loving ministration and tender care, but here she is.  Spoiled rotten.  But I absolutely love watching her run out each morning to graze.

Shes a daily reminder of  how our Shepherd, Jesus, binds up our wounds and cares for us.

goat and mel on porch (2)

Natural and effective lawn mowers-most days I let my horses and goats out to browse and get whatever goodness they can find.  I love walking out among them.

I often think, “What a privilege to have this freedom and space!”

This is Barnabas-named after the Barnabas (son of encouragement) in the Bible because one year we had a number of goat kids rejected by their mamas and he was willing to lay next to them to keep them warm on cold nights.

He’s a good companion, always comes when I call and walks with me in high grass when I’m afraid of what might be lurking in the shadows.

barnabus on front port

Some days I encounter a non-resident who takes advantage of the goodies in the feed shed! 

possum

And then there are my inside pals.  Always cozying up to me (and getting in the way!)

fat cats on my bed

I tell everyone that these crazy critters keep me sane. 

They make me smile.  Most days, they make me laugh out loud!  

For that I am very, very thankful.

she who laughs lasts