Forest of Sorrow

There are so many ways to describe grief.

So many ways individual hearts walk this path.

For many of us there’s a sense of being locked in time, stuck in space, unable to leave the moment one received the news or the few days before and after.

It’s maddening that the earth still turns, the sun still rises and people go on with life when in so many ways our world is frozen in place.

Elizabeth Gilbert describes deep grief as a “coordinate on the map of time” and a “forest of sorrow”.

I like that.

Child loss is a place no parent wants to go. I found myself in territory so unfamiliar there was no way to get my bearings.

Left alone, I faltered, would have stayed lost, was doomed to walk in circles trying to find my way out.

I desperately needed a guide.

Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Thankfully some parents, further along in this awful journey, created safe spaces for broken hearts to gather and to share.

I am oh, so grateful to them for that!

Not everyone who finds the way to hope and light chooses to come back for those still wandering in the forest of sorrow.

But some do.

They retrace painful steps carrying a torch and say, “Come with me. I can show you the way to hope.”

In Case You Didn’t Know: Why It Hurts To Steal Someone Else’s Words

Over a year ago (maybe two now?) there was an incident in which a bereaved mom took my words and passed them off as her own.  

It was painful.  

Not because I’m pridefully invested in getting credit for the words but because I am emotionally invested in this blog as a record of my own grief journey and as a way to honor my son.  

It’s simply NOT OK to copy/paste and pass another’s words as your own.  

Just the other day a mom posted on a closed site that she had questioned another mom when the words she claimed as her own sounded too familiar.  Mom #1 googled the text and found that, sure enough, it was a direct quote from Angela Miller, a published author and fellow bereaved mother.

Mom # 1 challenged Mom # 2 but was shouted down by others because, after all, “everything is fair game on the Internet”.  

That’s untrue.    

Online publishing is subject to copyright laws as much as print publishing.  The fact that an author is willing to make the work freely available and easily shareable does not remove the obligation to give appropriate credit and use accurate citations.

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Grief is not a “free pass” to bad behavior.  

This blog is a record of my own grief journey and honors my son and my family.   

What grieving parent would want another person to steal (yes, steal!) his or her expression of the long, dark tunnel that is child loss?  What grieving parent would think that it’s alright to take a beautiful arrangement from the resting place of one child and put it on the resting place of another?

It’s out there, unprotected, in plain view, so what difference does it make?

The same common courtesy we expect to guide behavior in cemeteries should be the same common courtesy we can expect to guide behavior in online grief groups. 

I, and others. put our thoughts and emotions out there for parents to read in the hope that by reading them they will feel less alone.  

Most of us never make a dime from what we write.  

But we hope that whoever reads it, finds it helpful and then shares it, will honor our efforts by acknowledging the source.  We hope they will honor our child by using quotes and leaving his or her name in place.

It’s a beautiful thing to find words to express something deep in your heart.  

Just make sure to let folks know you found them and didn’t author them.  

Such a small act of gratitude for an amazing gift.  

me too sharing the path

Stick Around: Help Another Heart Hold Onto Hope

When grief was fresh, the pain was raw and my heart was oh, so tender, I desperately needed a safe space to talk about the nitty-gritty of child loss.

And I found it in online bereaved parents’ groups.  

I’m so thankful that they exist, that they are maintained by people who give time and energy to keeping them safe and that-for the most part-participants are kind, compassionate and encouraging.

There is something I’ve noticed now that I’ve been here awhile.  Many parents tend to drop out of active participation when they get a little further along in their journey. 

I understand completely that time, plus the work grief requires, often means a heart has less need for these groups.  It’s not that grief dissipates, it’s simply that we get stronger and learn to carry it a little better.

I also know that grief groups can become  Echo Chambers and wear on a heart after a time.

We all need a break.

But can I take a moment to encourage those among us who have learned a little, lived a little and walked longer in the path of child loss to stick around?

Newly bereaved parents need to know that they CAN survive.

Your presence-even if you don’t have wonderful words of wisdom-speaks volumes. 

When someone comments and shares that her loss was 5, 7, 10 years ago, it helps my heart hold onto hope. 

Because if YOU can make it, maybe I can too.  

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