We Always Have a Choice. I Choose Hope.

One of the most devastating aspects of child loss is the idea that we’ve lost agency-the ability to choose anything or impact the outcome of anything.

God invites us through Christ to reclaim that.

No, we cannot control every aspect of our lives. But we absolutely can control where we point our hearts.

I choose hope.

It’s hard and it isn’t always immediately helpful. Even still, it has meant the difference between giving up and going on. Jesus is here. He has conquered death and hell.

I may have to walk by faith for the rest of my days but I know that the One in whom I place my trust will not fail. ❤

Here’s a little manifesto I wrote regarding Christmas and the Lusko family. I encourage you to borrow the idea the next time you are scared. “We will celebrate the birth of the One who came to destroy death and bring life and immortality to light through the gospel. We will sing until our voices won’t let us. We will preach and celebrate seeing people come to know Jesus, just as we did days after Lenya died in my arms. We will party if we can muster the courage, cry when we miss her, and collapse if we have to. Even though He slays us, we will bless His name. We always have a choice, and we choose to rejoice.

Levi Lusko, Through the Eyes of a Lion, p. 165

Christmas and Surviving Siblings

How do I honor the child for whom memories are all I have and love well the children with whom I am still making memories?

That’s a question I ask myself often.

And it is especially difficult to answer for celebrations and holidays, special events and birthdays.

Read the rest here: Surviving Siblings and Christmas

Frail and Feeble: Surviving Christmas

February, 1992 I came home from the hospital with our fourth baby and woke up the next morning to a house full of children ages infant to six.  I thought that would be the most stressful and challenging season of my life.

kids cartoon

I was wrong.

This season of grief has required more strength, more endurance and more faith than all the sleepless nights, harried days and craziness of homeschooling and nursing babies and changing diapers ever did.

Read the rest here: Surviving Christmas

Christmas 2021: 25 Ways to Give Holiday Hope to the Grieving


This is the eighth Christmas without Dominic. There really are no words to describe the intersection of holiday cheer and another milestone in this journey of child loss.

I’m not sad all the time-far from it. Often I am very, very happy.

But I will never stop missing him, missing the family we used to be and missing our blissful ignorance of how quickly and utterly life can change in an instant.

And I will never outgrow the need to have others remember him as well, to encourage my heart and the hearts of my family members and to help us make it through another year, another Christmas.

Here are some great ways to do it:  25 Ways to Give Holiday Hope to the Grieving

Empty Hearts Can Be Filled

There is no shame in being hopeless and broken.

God loves the broken.  Christ came for the broken.  It’s the broken and breathless who long for the Spirit to blow life across their wounded hearts.

It’s the hopeless and fearful that run faster to the safety of their Shepherd.

It’s the worried and weary who are thankful for a Burden-bearer.

Christmas is the story of Hope entering the world, of Light shining forth in darkness, of Love overcoming death.

A heart has to be looking to find it.

A heart has to be desperate to believe it.

A heart has to be hungry to come to the table of everlasting bread.

Read the rest here: Qualified by Hopelessness: An Empty Heart Can Be Filled

Christmas 2021: What The Bereaved Need From Family and Friends

Dominic left us in April, 2014.

At the time all I could manage (barely!) was the twenty-four hours of each long, lonely and pain-wracked day.

After seven-plus years I’ve learned to look ahead, plan ahead and forge ahead to birthdays, holidays, special days and not-so-special days.

But it takes a great deal of effort and often uncomfortable conversations because no matter how long it’s been, I’m still dragging loss and its after affects behind me.

I wrote this in 2016 when I was desperate to communicate how hard it is to try to marry joy and sorrow, celebration and commemoration, light, love, life and darkness, grief and death.

It remains (I think) my most useful post: Grief and Holidays: What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

My Story is Not Tidy, But Neither is Christmas

It’s tempting to line up our friends and acquaintances in columns under headings of “perfect family”, “good christian”, “struggling addict” or “hopeless case”.  

When I label someone I justify my response-good or bad-and let myself off the hook for sharing the extravagant, unrestrained love God has shown to me.

The longer I live, the more people I meet, the more certain I am that the neat little categories we like to use are not very helpful.

If I decide they are “doing well” then they don’t need my help.

And if I decide they are “beyond hope” then why waste my time or effort?

Either way, I’m wrong.

Christmas is the story of God come down-Emmanuel-of Love reaching down into a dark and lonely world. It was hardly tidy, it was a Messy Christmas

Surviving December With a Broken Heart

It really doesn’t matter if it’s your first December after loss or it’s your tenth, the holidays bring unique challenges for those of us whose hearts are wounded.

I have to remind myself every year that I need to grant grace, set boundaries and take each day one breath at a time if I’m going to make it through.

It comes up again and again-and not just for the parents facing their year of “firsts”:  How do I survive December with a broken heart?

There’s no single answer or list of things to do that will suit every family.

But there are some general principles that can make even this awful reality a little easier.

Read the rest here: How To Survive December With a Broken Heart

We Were Made For Life, Not Death

My children grew up surrounded by life and by death.

On our small farm they got to see puppies, kittens, goats, sheep and horses take their first breath. We watched turkeys and chickens hatch-struggling in that last great effort to throw off the shell.

And we also witnessed life’s end.

Every. time. it feels wrong.  Every. time.  it feels like defeat.

And it iswe were not made to die.

Read the rest here: We Were Not Made to Die

Christmas 2021: Why I Still Put Up a Christmas Tree

Yesterday I confessed that I was already exhausted and we were barely into December!

But I managed to drag the tree down from the attic and adorned it with the faith fortifying ornaments I’ve acquired since Dominic left us seven plus years ago.

I didn’t finish making things sparkle but I did make a dent in it.

Tomorrow is another day but tonight I will sit and savor the twinkling lights that remind me darkness doesn’t win.

❤ Melanie

It’s a question every hurting heart has to answer if you celebrate a traditional western Christmas:  Will I put up a tree this year?

christmas-tree-melanie-edited

I had a few months of lonely travel through the Valley of the Shadow of Death before I had to answer that one.

Dominic left us at Easter, so by December I had learned that wishing didn’t make anything better nor did it make decisions disappear.

As Christmas drew near, I just could not bring down the usual decorations from the attic.

So I didn’t.

Read the rest here: Why I Still Put Up a Christmas Tree

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