Grief: Friends and Family Can Anchor a Heart

Child loss rips through a life like a tornado-wild, unpredictable, viciously destructive.

It drops from the sky like a meteorite-no warning, no defense, just crushing weight.

It wrecks havoc in absolutely every corner of a bereaved parents’ heart and life.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Friends and Family Can Anchor a Heart

Thirty-Eight Years and Counting

Today is thirty-eight years since we said, “I do”, and had absolutely NO idea what that would look like.

I first shared this a few years ago on our anniversary because I wanted other bereaved parents to know that while it is hard (and isn’t marriage always hard?), it is not impossible for a marriage to survive child loss.

We are definitely not the perfect couple. We fuss and struggle. We sometimes retreat into our separate worlds as we process some new aspect of this earthly life without one of our children.

But we have learned that we are stronger together and that we are willing to do the work necessary to stay that way.

Today my husband and I celebrate 38 years of marriage.  

Our thirtieth anniversary was a mere two months after we buried our son.

Here’s the last “before” anniversary photo (2013)-unfeigned smiles, genuine joy, excitement to have made it that far:

hector and me 29 anniversary

Read the rest here: Dispelling Marriage Myths Surrounding Child Loss.

Fear of What You Know Is Impossible to Ignore (Lightning DOES Strike Twice!)

I was reminded today how close fear sits to the door of my heart and to the door of the hearts of many bereaved parents.

Once again a mom shared an experience of not being able to get in touch with a surviving child and how that quickly spiraled downward to a frenzy of fear.

To some it may seem like an overreaction. But to those of us for whom the one thing you think won’t happen, HAS happened, it made perfect sense.

Read the rest here: If It Happened Once, It Could Happen Again

Here Are Seven Ways to Support a Bereaved Dad on Father’s Day

Holidays are hard on bereaved parents’ hearts.

Even though our children are always on our minds, holidays act as megaphones, amplifying the missing, sorrow, grief and lost opportunity to build more memories.

So it’s particularly helpful when friends and family step up and step in, showing extra support on and around those extra hard days.

Here are seven ways you can bless a bereaved dad this Father’s Day:

Read the rest here: Seven Ways to Support a Bereaved Dad on Father’s Day

Rescued Memories

During the most isolating months of the pandemic, I spent a good deal of time down at my dad’s place.

Together with my youngest son, we dug through and sorted out generations of stuff and memories.

I’ve surrounded myself in my own home with bits and pieces from these treasures that speak courage and history to my heart. They tell a tale of lives lived, love passed down and hard work, endurance and faith.

It helps to know where you come from.

Most folks want antiques that can fetch a high price or at least an envious look from those who wish they were so fortunate to have them.

Not me.

I want the things that have passed through the hands and speak to the work of those I’ve loved-the worn down, worn out relics of lives well lived and hearts poured into the next generation.

Read the rest here: Rescuing Memories

Celebrations After Child Loss-Life at the Crossroads of Joy and Sorrow

I want to be everything my living children need me to be.  

I try hard to celebrate them, be available, listen closely and love them well.  

I never, ever want them to feel they are competing with their missing brother for my affection or my attention.  

But I’d be lying if I said it was always easy.  

Read the rest here: Crossroads: Celebrations After Child Loss

Seriously-Just SAY It.

I try not to pull the “life’s short” or “you never know” card on people very often.

But there are lots of times I want to.

When you’ve said a casual good-bye to a loved one thinking it’s not that big of a deal only to find out the last time was The LAST Time, you learn not to let things go unsaid or unmended.

It’s never too late to begin the habit of speaking love, blessing and encouragement to important people in your life.

Even if it makes them (or you!) uncomfortable.

Maybe especially then.

I’m not sure when I began practicing this but I make a habit of telling people I love them even if it makes them uncomfortable.

promise me something tell them you love them

Read the rest here: Just. Say. It.

Reminiscing

I’m at my dad’s place this weekend for a family funeral.

My great-aunt, the last of seven adult siblings in my grandmother’s family left for Heaven in April. So cousins from around the country are gathering to honor our family legacy and remember, remember, remember.

It’s hit my particularly vulnerable heart (Dominic’s birthday is May 28) hard, hard, hard.

I wake up each morning in the the home where my great-grandparents, my grandparents and my mama lived. My dad still lives here. So. much. life. has transpired within these walls.

Death has been here too.

Grandpapa Cox was laid out in the living room. I remember looking down on him lying there and asking what he was doing, stiff and still in that box.

When I sat in the pew next to more than two dozen folks with whom I share DNA I thought about the hymns and prayers lifted in the little country church we’d all attended at various times. I pictured my gray-haired greatgrandmother, Mama Eva, sitting in the corner by the window-her daughters next to her. I saw my own mama’s casket centered below the pulpit, her hands holding the white rose and Dominic’s photograph.

And here we all are writing new stories while carrying chapters from the old ones with us into the future.

People say, “Let’s not wait until the next funeral to get together” but we almost always do. The most complete family photos tend to be at sad events when folks are compelled to show up and don’t dare offer feeble excuses for not coming.

We have our share of photos from the past couple days. Cousins now lined up with gray hair and laugh lines just like our parents and grandparents before us.

One thing I’ve learned from death is this: you can’t stop time no matter how badly you might wish you could.

For those of us who have experienced child loss we not only mourn what we once had and knew but what we will never have and never know. We lost a future as well as a past.

I’m thankful that most of my folks tend to live long lives and leave for Heaven at a ripe old age.

I’m so sorry that Dominic wasn’t one of them.

Today I’ll breathe and rest and digest the old memories and the new ones.

I’m thankful these good-byes aren’t final.

I’m thankful I’ll see the ones I love sooner than I might imagine.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice (Well, You Know the Rest).

I’ll be the first to admit I’m sassy and sometimes salty.

Popping off a quick one-liner (sometimes at the expense of another) was a dinner table past time when our family included four teens.

But it’s one thing to have inside jokes with those I know well and quite another to blast a stranger or a social media only “friend” because they *dare* to post something that goes against my pet opinion or viewpoint.

One of the things I adore about the online bereaved parent community is how individuals overwhelmingly respond with grace, kindness, thoughtfulness and space for different experiences and opinions.

I wish the rest of the world operated the same way! Maybe we need to revive that old saying: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

There may be some mamas that don’t drill this into their children but if there are, they don’t live south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Every time there was back and forth in the back seat or on the front porch and Mama overheard, we were told, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

Read the rest here: If You Can’t Say Anything Nice….

Mother’s Day 2022: A Letter to My Living Children

I shared this for the first time five years ago.

Before my mother’s illness and death, before the frighteningly early arrival of our little Captain and the less-frightening and less early arrival of his brother, LT, before an overseas deployment, a destructive hurricane, Covid19, and too many other stressful events to list.

I have watched my kids meet every challenge-sometimes with grace, sometimes with grit, sometimes with both.

They are different people than they would have been if Dominic still walked beside us. They know things their peers can’t even guess.

We all lost so much when we lost Dom. But we still have each other.

And that’s a treasure.

I never thought it possible to love you more than I already did.

But I do.

Your brother’s untimely departure has opened my heart in a whole new way to the glory that is your presence.  It has made me drink you in like water in the desert.

Read the rest here:  A Letter To My Living Children*

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