You Are Absolutely Allowed To Mourn *Smaller* Losses

When your scale of awful is off the charts, there’s a tendency to dismiss anything less as merely inconvenient or inconsequential.

But that’s just not how our hearts work.

You can be shattered by child loss and still feel the slings and arrows of everyday losses, disappointments, discomfort and sadness.

It’s OK to mourn the things that don’t measure up to the pain and despair of burying a child.

It’s OK to admit that even ordinary things like an empty nest, changing circumstances, moving away from friends and family, ill health, family drama and dozens of other, smaller wounds prick your heart and make it bleed.

While child loss has helped me gain perspective on what’s truly important, irreplaceable and worth my time and energy, it has not created a protective and impenetrable barrier that guards my heart from further pain.

I am just as likely as anyone else to fall into a funk over a misunderstanding, a less-than-expected outcome, a disappointing phone call with a friend or some other everyday frustration. And, sometimes, there are truly hard and horrible things I’ve had to bear: my mother’s prolonged illness and death, my grandson’s premature birth, my son’s overseas deployment and other things I’m not at liberty to share because I’m not the main character in the story.

Child loss doesn’t mean there won’t be more pain in this life.

It doesn’t give me a pass on heartache.

And it is perfectly normal-actually perfectly and absolutely right-to be sad and mourn the smaller losses in life.

It means my heart’s still beating.

It means I’m still engaged with those around me.

It means I’m still present and invested in life.

And that’s a good thing.

I’m On Your Side. Whatever Side You Land On.

Maybe I’m just old and tired.

Maybe it’s grief brain or my autoimmune disease or some other biological issue of which I’m ignorant.

But I just don’t have the energy to be on guard, to defend my “territory”, to argue with everyone who might hold a different opinion or who might be experiencing life from a different perspective.

Oh, I still HAVE opinions. And I share them with family and close friends in places and spaces where we can see one another’s faces, expressions and hear the intonation in our voices.

But I refuse to debate the cause du jour on social media in hopes of raising a ruckus or getting “likes” or “shares” to feed my ego and feed the frenzy.

It seems to me the world needs more grace and less growling.

Give The Gift Of Grace Today | Nicki Schroeder

So let me just be plain: I’m on your side.

Whatever side you land on.

The Veronicas - On Your Side - UKMIX Forums

Masks or no masks. Sending your kids to school or keeping them home. Staying in as much as possible or going out among the people.

Each of us has our own concerns, convictions and must follow our own conscious. I’m not judging.

Be as careful as you can be and be willing to accept the consequences of your choices.

You’ll be my friend either way. 

Scripture Writing Challenge Revisited

Last year during the month of August I joined with others and participated in a Scripture Writing Challenge.

We committed together to read and write out short passages on grief every day.

I wrote companion posts and shared them.

Circumstances have prevented me from doing another in-depth study again this year but I thought it would be nice to collect the entries from last August in a weekly bundle and put them out there for anyone who might want to revisit them or try it for the first time.

So here’s the first week’s links (including how to set up a journal):

Setting up your journal and link to verses: August Scripture Journal Challenge: Verses on Grief

Day 1: Scripture Journal Challenge: Life Everlasting

Day 2: Scripture Journal Challenge: Unshaken and Unshakeable

Day 3: Scripture Journal Challenge: Sufficient Grace

Day 4: Scripture Journal Challenge: When My Heart Needs a Reminder

Day 5: Scripture Journal Challenge: Safe In My Daddy’s Arms

Day 6: Scripture Journal Challenge: Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Day 7: Scripture Journal Challenge: My Groom Is Coming To Get Me!

It takes a bit of work and commitment to do this so I understand some hearts may not be in a place where that is possible.

But if you’ve missed feeding your soul with the Word of God this is an easy way to get back into the habit.

What I’d Like You To Know About Grief

There are some things I’d like you to know about grief.

Things I didn’t know until I was the one walking the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Things that can help you companion me and others compassionately, wisely and graciously.

My grief is here-get used to it (please and thank you). Grief has entered my life and while it may be an unwelcome guest, it’s here to stay. I won’t be getting over it or moving on. Grief is the price you pay for love. I will love and miss my child as long as I live, so I will grieve him until my last breath.

The goal of grief isn’t to forget. In fact, the goal of grief work (facing and working through my feelings, my fears and finding a way forward) is to remember and remain connected. I no longer have a physical relationship with my child. I’m trying to figure out how to have one with him in his absence.

I have to do grief my own way. Grief is as individual as a fingerprint. Who I am, who my child is, what my family looks like, circumstances surrounding my loss, previous life experience all inform how I face this challenge. There is no “right way” to grieve. As long as I am not harming myself or others, there’s only “my way” to grieve.

I am the same person, but I’ve also changed. I know you are trying to figure me out post-child loss. I’m trying to figure me out too. I didn’t get a how-to manual when I buried my son. Even six years into this journey I’m still finding ways in which I am profoundly changed. But I’m also still the same person that needs your friendship and longs for compassionate connection. It’s work for both of us but I don’t want to be alone in my grief.

Even when I’m OK, I’m still grieving. It’s normal for friends and family to look for signs I’m “better”. The early days of sobbing and unceasing pain do (usually) morph into a more gentle, quiet and manageable burden. But even when I’m laughing, participating and gathering new, joy-filled memories I’m grieving. My son’s absence is background music to every moment. I’m never free from the feeling he should be here but isn’t.

I may stay connected to my loved one in ways you don’t understand, but trust me, they’re normal. There are SO many ways hearts work hard to stay connected to their missing child! Dominic’s jacket is hung on a peg in our mudroom right where he left it the last time he was home. I see it every day and touch it often. There are other little mementos here and there that keep his presence part of daily life. I have tokens I carry in a pocket that help me take him with me. Other parents sleep with a favorite stuffed toy or their child’s pillow. Some make blankets of old t-shirts or clothing. It’s all normal.

Grief will visit every heart eventually.

If it hasn’t come to rest in yours yet, consider yourself blessed.

I’m sure you have at least one friend carrying this burden.

When you take time to try to understand even a little how they feel, you help them bear the load.

Doctor Appointments And Anxiety: When My Body Insists On Its Own Way

I continue to be surprised by how my body betrays me in this post-child loss world.

A simple, relatively painless procedure brought me to my knees and there was nothing I could do about it.

I had a last minute appointment with a new specialist the other day because my rheumatologist wanted a dermatology consult.

So I hauled myself downtown (first time since all this pandemic stuff started!), parked, temperature checked and entered the brave new world of mostly empty waiting rooms populated by masked people looking at their phones.

New Britain Herald - Bristol Hospital deploys social distancing ...

Once I was called back into the room, the medical assistant took my vitals and I waited for the doctor. As I waited, I realized that this would be the first time I was seen by a health professional who didn’t know I had buried a child. But at six years into this journey, I dismissed it as inconsequential to the day’s business.

The exam went well and confirmed some suspicions. Just when I thought things were over the room suddenly morphed from “exam” to prepping for a “procedure”. They needed to take a small biopsy to rule out or rule in the diagnosis.

Now, I’ve had all kinds of uncomfortable and downright painful things done to me. I’m no whiner (although I do not like anyone to give me a play-by-play). I sit still, grit my teeth and put up with whatever comes my way.

But as I watched the nurses prep the tray I realized I was getting anxious. I applied all my little tricks-the 5-4-3-2-1 sensory tool, deep breathing, touching each finger to my thumb-and thought I was victorious.

When the doctor injected the lidocaine it really did feel just like tiny bee stings.

And then suddenly, unexpectedly and uncontrollably my world began to spin, my breath became ragged and I knew for certain I was headed toward passing out.

It was so embarrassing.

I apologized over and over and over.

But they were great.

The doctor said it was a vagal nerve response and I had no control over it. My body was reacting to stimuli and no amount of willpower could make it stop.

Overview of the Vasovagal Reflex

She finished up, the nurse brought me some cold water and I sat in the room for fifteen or twenty minutes to recover. I tried at one point to get up and realized I wasn’t quite ready.

I drove home but felt drained for the rest of the afternoon.

I don’t know why doctor’s offices seem to provoke my grief. Dominic didn’t enter Heaven from a hospital room.

But for some reason, they do.

And while I am so much more in control of when and how I let the grief roll down my cheeks NOW than I was even a year ago, there are times when my body acts against my will.

When that happens, I need to remember it isn’t a choice.

Every day I am holding in so very much. Choosing to spare the world from my inner turmoil and moments of weakness.

Sometimes willpower just isn’t enough.

Let The Morning Come In Our Hearts

I have written many times of my habit of greeting each new day watching the sun come up through my east facing living room window.

It never gets old.

I cherish the reminder that despite how difficult things may be or how dark my heart might feel, God is still on His throne.

Daily Bible Verse | Heaven | Psalm 103:19

As the shadows fade and light pours through the window and illuminates the world outside, I remember that no night lasts forever and death doesn’t win.

John 11:25-26 | Jesus quotes, John 11 25 26, Jesus

It’s not always easy to choose life, Lord

Because then we have to struggle with who we are

and why we are, and who you are,

and what to do with who we are,

and why we are,and who you are.

We have to let you make us new, and being made anything always hurts.

Father,

Let the morning come in our hearts,

So morning can come in our lives,

And the world that needs a word of hope can hear

‘Death has lost, and life has won.”

Verdell Davis, Riches Stored in Secret Places

It IS painful to be made into anything.

And sometimes I resist.

But then the morning comes and once again I choose to yield my heart to the One who loves me best and is molding and making me more like Jesus.

Bereaved Parents Month 2020: How Do You Breathe?


I’m ending Bereaved Parents Month by sharing this post because I still have moments when I marvel that I’ve survived.

It was the question I asked the bereaved mother that came to my son’s funeral.

It was the question a mother asked me as we stood by her granddaughter’s casket, surrounded by family and flowers.

And it is the right question.

Because when the breath leaves the body of your child, and you look down at the shell that used to be the home of a vibrant, living soul, you simply can. not. breathe.

Read the rest here: How Do You Breathe?

Can I Feel Joy Again?

In case you’re wondering if joy will ever return, I want to assure you that it most certainly can.

It will take a lot longer than you wish it might, but it is there, waiting for you to welcome it.

At first it just felt WRONG to have a moment of happiness because if the pain of missing Dominic somehow didn’t fill my heart I was afraid it meant my love for him was fading. If the broken pieces were knitted back together then maybe one day they’d mend so well I couldn’t find the spot where he fit in.

But I’ve learned no amount of present joy will squeeze out that space where Dominic lives.

I can love him, miss him, sorrow over his absence and still revel in the beautiful blessings the Lord brings into my life.

Just this week I had the privilege of watching my grandson while his mother and father had a little time away. It was so much fun (and hard work!). I had forgotten how exciting it is to view the world through a young child’s eyes. Everything is new, everything is wonderful, everything is worthy of exploration and comment.

The little fellow walked down the hall my great-grandmother walked, my grandmother walked and my mother walked pointing a finger and asking, “This?” as he passed photos and paintings, doo dads and doorways.

The sixth generation to hear the creaking hardwood and learn about life.

What joy!

We showed him family photos and talked about Uncle Dominic. It raised a lump in my throat each time but it also helped me place Dom in his story-helped me learn how to talk about the uncle he will never know except for what we share.

I’m not going to lie.

More than a few times tears threatened to make their way down my cheek as I held his little hand and remembered holding another one just like it decades ago. Nostalgia can be hard to swallow when it’s all you have left of someone you love.

But I reminded my heart that it is big enough for both.

I can miss what I once had AND delight in what I have now.

Both are gifts I cherish and hold dear.

joy and sorrow | Poetry Joy

Comfort Amid Strange Shadows

I’ve had the privilege of keeping my grandson this week.

It’s the first time he’s been away from his mom and dad since he was born early and stayed in NICU for over two months.

So it’s no wonder the first night he was here and sleeping in a different room with light coming through the windows from the moon and casting strange shadows his sleepy eyes told his little brain there was something to fear.

What started as a whimper grew to a full on desperate cry and I could tell it wasn’t just restless sleep-he was startled and afraid.

So I picked him up, held him close to my chest, nestled his head under my chin and whispered, “It’s alright. You’re not alone. I love you.” I rubbed his back, calmed him down and he was able to drift off to sleep once again sure he was safe.

When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, I felt like I’d been picked up from the world I knew and understood and thrust into one where everything was unfamiliar, frightening and potentially dangerous.

There were strange shadows everywhere.

I not only whimpered, I cried out in desperation for some solace, some confirmation that I was seen, heard and loved.

As my perfect, faithful, loving Father, God reminded my heart He was there in the dark when the shadows threatened to undo me.

One of my favorite verses is found in Zephaniah and is a picture of God gathering His people in His arms, comforting them with His love and singing peace and joy over their souls.

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. ~ Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

When I listen I can hear Him sing over me.

When I am still, He covers me with His grace.

When I lean into His arms and rest my head on His chest, I am filled with strength and peace.

Winds Across My Heart

I’m pretty far past what I call my “season of sorrow” so I don’t really know what came over me the other day.

But somehow the stars aligned or the slant of the sunshine or the smell in the air overwhelmed my heart.

Maybe it’s because Facebook faithfully reminds me of what happened on this date years ago. I know I can adjust the settings but I don’t because it’s both bitter AND sweet to be reminded.

Our family used these napkin rings for years and years. Facebook reminded me there are a thousand ways to miss Dominic.

Maybe it’s because summers in Alabama involve fervent activity before nine in the morning with a long, hot lull until more fervent activity after five in the evening.

I really don’t know.

But that’s one of the conundrums of child loss.

I hit a wall and I had a cry and took a short nap (something I only do about five times a year) and I was better.

I try to manage my days to avoid these things but sometimes a little bit of this and a little bit of that blow winds of nostalgia and regret and longing and missing across my soul.

And all I can do is weather the storm.