Repost: Vocabulary Lesson: Learning the Language of Grief and Loss

How do you speak of the unspeakable?

How do you constrain the earth-shattering reality of child loss to a few syllables?

How do you SAY what must be said?

I remember the first hour after the news.  I had to make phone calls.  Had to confirm my son’s identity and let family know what had happened.

I used the only words I had at the time, “I have to tell you something terrible. Dominic is dead.”

Read the rest here:  Vocabulary Lesson: Learning the Language of Grief and Loss

Grief IS Love in Action

How can all the love and all the hopes and all the dreams of a mama’s heart be squeezed into days or weeks or months of tears and sorrow?

If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.
—James O’Barr

I grieve because I love.

My tears are a gift to the son I miss.  My sorrow honors his memory.  My broken heart gives evidence to the ones walking with me that my love is fierce and timeless.

Read the rest here:  Love: The Reason I Grieve

Love in Action: Some Things Hurt

Bereavement has not made me a perfectly compassionate person.  I still say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing and sometimes don’t do the right thing.

But it HAS made me more aware that what I do/don’t do/say/don’t say can either speak life or death to a struggling heart.

And I so want to speak life and courage to everyone I meet.

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.

I painfully remember sharing at a Thanksgiving women’s gathering and, meaning to encourage the ladies, said something like, “I think we are able to better face the big disappointments or trials in life, but find the daily drip, drip, drip of unfulfilled expectations to be a greater challenge.”  A bereaved mom in attendance set me straight (in a very kind and gracious manner!).

That exchange has come often to my mind in these months after burying my son. I wish I could go back and have a do-over.

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: Some Things Hurt

Beyond the Headlines: Weep with Those Who Weep (Again)

I wrote this on June 13, 2016 about the Orlando shooting but I could have written it this afternoon.

I had no idea that anything had happened until I got a message from a fellow bereaved mom that sent me scurrying for the facts.

So here we are again-more families have joined the ranks of those who mourn the too-soon death of children and loved ones.

There are not enough tears for this.

Let me begin by saying I purposely remove myself from the 24/7 news cycle that beats our ears and tries hard to hammer hearts into whatever shape a particular organization deems most meritorious.

So it is no surprise that I was unaware of the [Parkland, Florida] tragedy until well into the day on Wednesday.

And I don’t know what the pundits and politicians or social media gurus are saying.

I only know how it feels.  

I know how it feels to have an officer come to your door and tell you that your child is never coming home.

I know how it feels to receive the devastating news that whatever you said the last time you saw or spoke to your child is the LAST thing you will ever have the opportunity to say to them.

I know how it feels to stand, dumbstruck and reeling, with the instant realization that your world has been wrecked beyond repair-To have to whisper to your heart, “you’ve got to make calls, make connections, make arrangements”.

Oh! My!  

Why, why, why can we not as a nation simply step back and embrace those who have lost so much instead of standing on the ruins of their lives and posturing for ratings, rankings and political, social or moral agendas????

I wrote before, when commenting  here on the incident at the Cincinatti zoo:

If we covered the stories of families who have lost children with the same zeal and creative journalism as we do the lives and deaths of endangered animals, that would change.

If the despair, heartbreak, brokenness and utter horror of bereaved parents’ lives were on display like the sickening piles of poached elephants and rhinos then at least we could have a discussion that was more informed and even-tempered.

We are a death avoidant culture-we splatter gore across the screen in video games and movies-but we DO NOT discuss the ongoing impact loss has on the ones left behind.

These lives are not numbers, they are not just names or a sweet little synoptic bio plastered on Twitter, Facebook or an AP newswire.  

They are people-with families, friends and loved ones.

There is a single, appropriate response to this tragedydeep mourning for the lives lost to hatred and violent action and prayer for the ones left behind.

I refuse to entertain the musings and posturing of ANYONE who does not first-and for an appropriate length of time-acknowledge the loss of sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers-each a unique creation with an eternal soul.


TEARS are what should be filling the airwaves, the streets, our altars.

weep with those who weep

Repost: Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday: A Study in Contrasts

Twenty-four hours separate one of the most outlandish global parties and one of the most somber religious observances on the Christian calendar.

Many of the same folks show up for both.

Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday”, is the last hurrah for those who observe Lent-a time of reflection, self-denial and preparation before Resurrection Sunday.

It’s a giant party-food, fellowship and fun-a wonderful way to celebrate the blessings of this life.

Ash Wednesday, by contrast,  is an invitation to remember that “from dust you came and to dust you will return”.  None of us get out of here alive.

Read the rest here:  Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday: A Study in Contrasts

Practice Makes Permanent

The first time I heard him say it I thought I had misunderstood.

“Practice makes permanent.”  

Yep, that’s exactly what he said.

As I watched the Tae Kwon Do instructor work with the young boys striving to copy his perfect form I began to understand. Some students worked hard to make their movements precise and as close to perfect as possible.  Some were just going through the motions.

Kids on karate.

Either way, they were creating muscle memory and training their bodies to recall the moves just as they practiced them.

Practice makes permanent. 

Perfect practice makes perfect.  

It’s much the same with our thoughts.

In Romans Paul says:

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

Romans 12:2 PHILLIPS

What I think about, dwell on and mull over becomes permanent.

I have to guard the gates of my mind so that I don’t fill it with untruth.  

I have to practice recalling the goodness, faithfulness and lovingkindness of God so that I don’t feel abandoned.

I must saturate my thoughts with Scripture if I don’t want to drown in doubt.  

I’m thankful for the years and years of Bible study I had under my belt when Dominic ran ahead to heaven.  Otherwise, I’m not sure I would have been strong enough or willing to do the deep digging necessary to feed my soul if it was not already my practice to turn to Scripture in times of great trial.


Even when my heart was shattered and my faith strained,  my mind fell readily into the ruts that practice had put there.  

Practice makes permanent. 

Yes, yes it does.  

God’s comfort does not usually smooth the road we travel, nor does it make us jubilantly happy. But it does make us strong for our trials. God’s comfort is not good feelings but worthy deeds. The heart that exults in God’s comfort is like that of a champion who confidently runs his course, though with pain. It is not like the ease of one who indulges his appetite. ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength,’ not your ease (Nehemiah 8:10).

~James Means, A Tearful Celebration, p. 73






Repost: Grieving With Hope

The church at Thessalonica was confused about some fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.  They were frightened that they had missed Christ’s second coming and they were concerned about loved ones that had preceded them in death.  So Paul wrote this letter to remind them of truth and offer comfort in their emotional distress:

And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.  I Thessalonians 4:13-14 MSG

This verse is quoted often to believers who have lost a loved one.  At first, gently, sweetly–as an invitation to remember that God is in control, that He has a plan, that the grave is not victorious and that burying the body is not the end.

And, in the early days and weeks after the funeral, it IS comforting–I chanted it to myself like a mantra and it drew my heart from the brink of despair.

But at some point, this verse begins to feel like a rebuke–the well-meaning friend says, “Don’t you know, that Jesus followers don’t grieve like those who have no hope!”

And I turn, dumbfounded, to the person saying this, and wonder, “Have you buried a child?”

Read the rest here:  Grieving With Hope