I absolutely understand how it feels to be frozen between “I want to DO something” and “I have no idea WHAT to do”.
It’s where most of us find ourselves when we hear of a loved one compelled to walk the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
It seems pushy to force help on a fragile heart and yet it feels cowardly to stand by while that same heart struggles to complete all the tasks necessary surrounding death.
So what can a caring friend or family member do? Start by showing up. ❤
I remember the morning I got the news and as the sun was coming up, a truck pulled down our lane. It was Robbie-our “adopted” son. As soon as my oldest son (who was in WV at the time) got the call, he called Robbie. Because he knew I would be able to bear Robbie’s presence and accept Robbie’s help.
I cannot describe the relief I felt when he came to the door-another shoulder to help carry this burden until we could gather all our family together to lift it in unison.
And after him came a couple we had known since the kids were little.
Both rushed to our doorstep to offer companionship, practical aid, listening ears and simple reassurance that though this was NOT a dream-oh, how I wanted it to be a dream!–I was not going to walk this Valley alone.
They stayed until my husband, son and parents had made it here. I will never, ever, ever forget that gift of unconditional love and time offered just when I needed it most.
Read the rest here: What Can I DO? Start by Showing Up.
I’ve thought a great deal about friendship since losing Dominic. I’ve been blessed by those who have chosen to walk with me and dismayed by some who have walked away.
It takes great courage to sit in silence with those who suffer. We must fight the urge to ward off their pain with chatter.
Quiet companionship requires that we allow our hearts to suffer too.❤
For fifty years I was on the “other side”-the one where I looked on, sad and sometimes horror-stricken- at the pain and sorrow friends or family had to bear.
Read the rest here: Loving Well: Being a Friend
I firmly believe that our friends and extended family want to reach out, want to help, want to walk alongside as we grieve the death of our child
I am also convinced that many of them don’t because they don’t know how.
It may seem unfair that in addition to experiencing our loss, we also have to educate others on how to help us as we experience it, but that’s just how it is.
The alternative is to feel frustrated and abandoned or worse.
Read the rest here: Child Loss: Helpful Tips for Interacting With Bereaved Families
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
Before I lost Dominic, I know that I, like others who had never experienced the death of a child, undoubtedly said and did things that were hurtful instead of helpful.
Loss will enter everyone’s life at some point–there is no escape.
We educate ourselves (as we should) on so many issues–work hard not to offend, to understand, to reach out. Bereaved parents don’t want pity, they would like to be better understood.
We did not choose this journey, it was thrust upon us.
Read the rest here: Loving Well: Some Things Hurt
It may seem odd to try to catalog things I’ve learned and am still learning as a result of child loss.
But it’s one way to take stock of where I started and how far I’ve come.
It’s also a reminder that some things are only learned through lived experience no matter how well another heart might describe them or yearn to share them. ❤ Melanie
The way things are supposed to be isn’t always the way things are.
I can experience joy and sorrow in the same breath.
The capacity to love and extend grace is enlarged by suffering if I submit to it and don’t fight it.
Never, never, NEVER underestimate the power of presence or texts or the random, “thinking of you” card.
Read the rest here: Things I’m Learning
Sometimes I’m envious of folks hobbling along in those plastic boots designed to support an injured leg or ankle and aid healing.
Not because of the injury–I’m thankful I’ve never broken a bone-but because it’s an outward warning to anyone who might otherwise be impatient or insensitive that they just can’t go any faster.
I think there ought to be some kind of t-shirt, pin or banner that gives the same kind of warning for those of us walking around with broken hearts and broken lives.
But there isn’t.
Read the rest here: Broken Legs, Broken Hearts, Broken Lives
I was absolutely overwhelmed in those first days.
Cars, cars, cars filled my long driveway and front yard.
People spilling out like ants scrambling after the hill is disturbed.
Oh, our hill was disturbed-knocked wide open by that deputy’s visit. Phone calls to let others know. Phone calls from people who couldn’t get in touch with him and were just checking “in case something had happened”.
It had happened.
Read the rest here: Who Steps In? Who Walks Out?
There are days when my lamp burns so low it’s nearly extinguished.
Those are the days when I really need someone-anyone-to reach out and fan the flame.
I know, I know, for my fellow believers in Jesus we are admonished to “take it to the Lord in prayer”.
I absolutely DO that.
But it was no mere convention that the disciples were sent out two by two. God has made us for community and He has gifted those within the Body so one member may encourage another.
So here’s to the hearts that heed the still, small Voice that says, “Call, text, message, send a card, send flowers, drop by, or make a meal.”
You make a difference. ❤
It was a long time before I wanted to believe that I received any gifts worth keeping from this life I didn’t choose.
I knew I had tears, pain, agonizing sorrow, loss, heartache, dashed hopes, empty arms.
If I could give those back and regain my son, I would do it in less than a heartbeat.
I can’t, so I’m left here to ponder what else I’ve received from burying a child.
And I am learning that I have been given some gifts I truly cherish, although the price was higher than I would have willingly paid.
Read the rest here: Grace Gifts of Grief