There Ought to Be a T-Shirt

I think there ought to be a t-shirt, pin or banner that gives some kind of warning for those of us walking around with broken hearts and broken lives.

But there isn’t.

Except for the first shell-shocked days immediately following Dominic’s death, I look pretty much the same as I always have.

Most of us do.

Read the rest here: Broken Legs, Broken Hearts, Broken Lives

Good Answers to Awkward, Uncomfortable, Difficult Questions

I was utterly amazed at the questions people plied me with not long after Dominic’s accident.

They ranged from digging for details about what happened (when we ourselves were still unsure) to ridiculous requests for when I’d be returning to my previous responsibilities in a local ministry.

Since then, many of my bereaved parent friends have shared even more questions that have been lobbed at them across tables, across rooms and in the grocery store.

Recently there was a post in our group that generated so many excellent answers to these kinds of questions, I asked permission to reprint them here (without names, of course!).

So here they are, good answers to hard (or inappropriate or just plain ridiculous) questions:

Read the rest here: Good Answers to Hard (Insensitive,Inappropriate) Questions

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

Inviting Grief to the Table: Holiday Host Etiquette

Spending holidays with friends and family while grieving is hard. No one is really comfortable-neither the bereaved nor those hosting them.

But there are ways to welcome grief to your table, to pave the way for the broken and bruised to join you, if they are able.

Here’s something that’s been going around social media circles this holiday season and offers advice on hosting the bereaved this Christmas.

Holiday Host Etiquette by Sarah Nannen

(Emphasis and paragraphs added)

“If you’re inviting someone to your home and they’re grieving, be sure you’re inviting their grief to attend, too. It will be there, anyway.

Don’t invite someone with the goal of cheering them up for the holidays. Don’t expect them to put on a happy face in your home. Don’t demand they fake it til they make it or do something they don’t want to do, either.

Invite them with the loving intention of offering cheer and companionship and unconditional care during the holidays. To do this, you will need to honor and be responsive to their needs and emotions.

You can do this by privately acknowledging their grief when you make the invitation: ‘I know this season is extra hard and you’re heart is hurting. You and your grief are welcome in our home. Come as you are, we’d be honored to have you with us.’

It’s also incredibly loving to honor the reality that it’s often hard for grieving folks to know what they will want, need, be up for, or able to tolerate at the holidays.

Giving them an invite without the need for commitment and permission to change their mind is extra loving: ‘You don’t have to decide right now. If it feels good to be with us, we will have plenty of food and love for you-just show up! I’ll check in again the day before to see if you’re feeling up to coming over and if there’s anything you’d like me to know about how we can support you.’

Your grieving friends and fam need attentive care and responsiveness at the holidays, not plans to keep them busy, distracted, and happy. If they’re laughing, laugh with them. If they’re weeping, ask if they’d like your company or your help finding a quiet place to snuggle up alone for awhile.

If they’re laughing while weeping, and this is more common than you’d think, stay with them – this is a precious moment of the human experience that is truly sacred.

We don’t need to protect ourselves or each other from grief at the holidays. In fact, the more we embrace grief as an honored holiday guest, the more healthy, happy, and whole our holidays will be.”

In solidarity, Sarah Nannen

The truth is that loss and sorrow will visit every life eventually.

We do no one a favor by pretending it doesn’t exist, least of all ourselves.

I honestly believe that when we welcome the happy, the hope-filled AND the hopeless to our table we are most human.

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

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

Christmas 2021: I Already Need a Break

I’m writing this on the first of December although it won’t be published until tomorrow, the second. I’m already tired and I haven’t even taken down Thanksgiving much less put up Christmas.

This past week has been full of unexpected twists, turns and surprises. I’m just not very good at navigating those curves like I used to be. I can white knuckle through them but it takes a lot out of me.

Thankfully, none of the worst case scenarios played out and my family enjoyed some sweet times of fellowship and celebration.

But I’m pooped.

I’m often caught between what I wish I could be and what I actually am.

I want so much to be the mom that makes sparkling memories instead of the mom who muddles through. But I can’t quite bridge the gap.

I honestly don’t think it matters how long it’s been since your child has left this earth, it’s always hard and each year presents unique challenges. The one thing that remains the same is my need for grace-to extend it to others and to have them extend it to me.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

So for the next several days I’m going to repost some of what I’ve written in the past few years about surviving the holidays.

Here’s the first one: Grief and Post-Holiday Exhaustion

How Friends and Family Can Bless the Brokenhearted During the Holidays

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.

Read the rest here: Season of Joy: Blessing the Brokenhearted During the Holidays

Sometimes Thanksgiving is a Sacrifice

Rocking babies I never dreamed that one day my life would look like this. 

I never imagined that one of those tiny bodies I held close to my mama heart would not outlive me.

Now I sit in the same rocking chair in the dark, thinking about how so many things I wouldn’t have written into my story are now part of it.  

And if I’m honest,  it can easily overwhelm my heart.  It can carry me to a place of despair and desperation where there’s no room for thanksgiving-not the holiday OR the feeling.  

Here we are-the eighth year of holidays without Dominic-and I’m no better at it than I was at first. 

Read the rest here: Thanksgiving As Sacrifice

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