Down For the Count. Hopefully Back Soon.

I started feeling bad last evening and by this morning woke with a very high fever.

After all the months and years I managed to escape the dreaded virus it finally caught me.

I don’t remember ever feeling this sick. I see podcasts, books and binge watching tv in the near future.

I’m praying I’ll be in the majority of folks who get over most symptoms in a few days but until it stops hurting to sit up, I won’t be writing anything.

Grief Work: Elusive Sleep

It’s something I hear often from bereaved parents-sleep is elusive.

Falling asleep was nearly impossible in the first days and weeks after Dominic’s accident. I would lie down utterly exhausted but simply not be able to close my eyes because behind the lids scrolled the awful truth that my son was never coming home again.

Eventually my body overcame my mind and I would drift off for an hour or two but couldn’t stay asleep.

It was years before I finally developed something that resembled a “normal” sleep pattern. Even now I wake at four practically every morning-the time when the deputy’s knock sounded on my door.

Sleep is important. I can’t do the work grief requires if I go too long without it.

I have used (and still use!) various tips and tricks to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are a few of them.

❤ Melanie

Boy, do I envy my cats’ ability to fall asleep any place, any time.

I’ve lived with chronic physical pain for over a decade and there are nights when it is hard to go to sleep-when it is impossible to ignore the pain.  But I have never thought of myself as having trouble sleeping.

Until now.

Read the rest here: grief and sleep

I Won’t Make a Resolution, But I Will Try to Make Progress

Years before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I had a little magnet on my fridge of a sinking ship with the words, “Another Day, Another Disaster” printed below.

Our lives never did run according to plan (which was a source of serious irritation to this list making, schedule printing homeschool mama!).

But it was really just a joke-because we knew whatever “disaster” befell us, in the long run it wouldn’t be that hard to work around.

Now I know exactly what true disaster looks like and feels like.

I understand precisely how life altering here-one-minute-gone-the-next news shatters a heart, a family, a worldview and a future.

So my days of resolving this or promising to do (or not do) such and such each New Year are over, over, over.

All I can muster is taking time to assess what’s currently working, what definitely needs to change and then point my heart and mind in the direction of progress.

I try to arrange the day and physical surroundings to create space for the new habits I hope to acquire. I remove temptation, when possible, to make it harder to keep indulging the ones I want to be rid of.

Which leads me to a change I’d like to make in this space for the coming year.

Many of you have been faithful followers for months or years and your feedback, encouragement and support have been a huge blessing. I pray, in return, what I share helps your heart too.

I’ve had many requests to put the posts into a physical book or devotional but up to now I haven’t had the mental, emotional energy or time to do that.

There are almost 3,000 published posts and over 1,500 lurking in my draft folder. I have dozens more topics I long to cover but doing the research for and writing an original post usually takes two to three hours and I’ve been hard pressed to find that kind of time.

I’ve thought about the best way to work through what I’ve already written, discover gaps that need to be addressed, see what patterns emerge which might point toward the shape of a book or devotional and then get some help making it happen. I’ve decided that for at least a few months I’m going to group previous posts (and finish some draft posts!) on specific themes so it will be easier for me to accomplish this task and for others to give me feedback as I do.

The downside for readers is that if they want to read what I’ve written on a wider variety of subjects, they will have to either wait through a current theme or use the search feature to find it.

I can’t promise I’ll make it past the first month.

I’m no good at guessing what a day will bring much less a whole year!

But if you are willing to journey with me and help by commenting, I’m game to try.

Best Christmas Gift EVER

I’ve had plenty of beautiful Christmases.

I’ve had almost a decade of more somber ones.

But when our pastor recently asked, “What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?” I didn’t have to think hard at all.

It was my daughter, Fiona.

She wasn’t born ON Christmas but a week before-today is her birthday-and I was oh, so glad to finally hold that tiny bundle in my arms instead of in my belly.

My first successful pregnancy (I’d miscarried a year before) was a long, hard and difficult one. I never achieved that “glow” so many women enjoy while hormones guaranteeing baby’s health and safety surged through my system.

Instead I was desperately ill for the first four months as I wrapped up my college degree. (In hindsight, taking biology at six in the morning was a bad choice.) I spent many of those days in close communion with the toilet or a bowl when I couldn’t muster the energy to get to the bathroom.

I had a few short golden weeks before my body revolted once again and I developed a serious case of preeclampsia. Now my doctor visits were weekly and included fetal monitoring.

Back then there were few interventions for this condition so it was wait and see, wait and see all the while I counted days and weeks until I could reach the magic “thirty-four week” mark of likely viability.

Thankfully, we made it!

But then that little Miss decided to assert her personality and refuse to make an entrance.

So…finally…I was scheduled to deliver ten full days after her due date of December 8th.

It was a long day of pitocin, contractions, no progress and a swift trip to the OR for what ended up being an emergency C-section. Drama all the way!

She was here, safe and sound, in my arms at last.

There are lots of things I don’t remember in detail about that day or even the week that followed but I remember this: I knew in my bones that life would never be the same. This precious child made me a mama and my heart would forever be wrapped around hers.

I’m so very thankful I had the blessing of three more little ones after that.

I’m grateful for the lives they’ve lived and the ones they are living now.

I miss my third-born, Dominic. His birth story is woven just as firmly into the fabric of my being as Fiona’s and that of her other brothers.

I can’t pick out his threads without unraveling the whole cloth.

And I don’t want to.

I celebrate today the gift of motherhood and the gift of children.

Even when one of them leaves too soon.

Love is always costly, but love is always worth the price.

Christmas 2022: Nine Years. Sigh…

When I was a little girl I never thought about how the holidays impacted the adults around me. I figured it was all about ME. Or at most, me plus my brother and Santa Claus.

I was blissfully unaware of budgets and baggage.

Now I know better.

The holidays require us to wrap more than presents. They force us to wrap all the pain and expectation and hope and heartache in a giant package and serve it up hot and ripe for dissension and disappointment.

It’s relatively easy to figure out what to put under the tree (or give for the nights of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa). It’s much harder to figure out what to bring to the dinner table or the family gathering or the we’re-doing-something-different-this-year NON-gathering.

I’ve written a lot about the holidays in previous years and I will be sharing those posts again because there is always someone who hasn’t read them or who is just now in need of them. But I wanted to add something to the canon this year-on the ninth set of holidays with one child in Heaven.

It’s not easier just because I’ve had practice.

We have yet to settle into a system that makes space for all the feelings and changes that time brings to lives and loves and hearts and homes.

I’m just as jealous TODAY of whole families as I was the first Christmas without Dominic. I’m just as likely to sit for hours wondering what, exactly, I should cart down from the attic, what I should set up in the living room, how I should honor him without making him a “saint” and when tears are appropriate or distracting and indulgent.

I don’t want to discourage anyone.

I have developed many more coping skills and ways to make it through the season than I had that first awful Christmas when every song, every memory, every EVERYTHING stung like driving snow on frozen faces.

I’m just being honest which is the first and most important commitment I made when I started sharing in this space. And I don’t want any heart who still struggles to think he or she is unusual or defective or weak or “less than” the hearts that declare unmitigated victory over grief and sorrow.

Life is life.

It’s not less treacherous because I’ve developed bigger emotional biceps as a result of child loss.

There is, in fact, a greater gap between what I expect from myself and what I find I’m able to give.

But I keep trying.

I’ll buy the presents, deck the halls, make the meals and cherish every moment I’m with the ones I love.

Because I’m oh, so aware that this Christmas may be the LAST Christmas.

A beautiful and terrible burden to bear.

There’s A Lovely Moment When the Light Makes it Through Again

A few years ago, I had a grace-filled, heartwarming visit with another bereaved mama who came all the way from Maine just to hang out with me. And that was so, so good.

As she and I shared over coffee and tea, shopping and meals, lounging and walking we found so many ways in which our journeys have been similar even though the details are really very different.

One is this: There was a distinct moment along the way when each of us began to see light and color again in the midst of our darkness and pain and it was a turning point.

Read the rest here: There’s A Moment When The Light Makes It Through Again

Why it is SO Important to Make Space for Grief During Holidays!

We are days away from plunging headfirst into the rough and tumble holiday season.  

A week from today is Thanksgiving and I don’t know about you, but it seems that once I eat the turkey and dressing, the clock moves faster and the days crowd one another in a race to Christmas and the end of the year.

So I want to take a minute to think about how important it is to make and maintain space for grief during this busy season.

Read the rest here: The Importance of Making Space for Grief During Holidays

Don’t Let The Outside Fool You

What a blessed relief it was to drive up our winding lane and enter home after my husband’s surgery!

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the encouraging words and prayers lifted on our behalf. If you’ve raised your voice to Heaven, begging for relief, only to have your hopes dashed, then you understand how amazing it feels to have prayers answered.

I am happy, happy, happy to report that my husband is doing well.

A couple days ago he had a follow-up appointment to remove the staples from his incisions and there was no sign of infection. He was warned by the doctor not to mistake the lack of evidence declaring major surgery on the OUTSIDE with what they did to him on the INSIDE.

He was solemnly adjured to continue to take it easy for several more weeks so that deep and necessary healing could occur.

Because my mind is never all that far away from thinking about Dominic, loss, my own grief journey and the many who join me here walking the same broken road, I quickly found myself comparing Hector’s surgery to the experience of child loss.

From the outside-very soon after all the formal visiting, meal bringing and memorial service or funeral-most bereaved parents look “fine”.

We have to.

The world doesn’t stop turning because our world imploded.

Work, life, family duties, household chores, and all the ordinary things determined by hours and calendars keep rolling along.

But on the inside, every bit of who we are, how we feel, what we think has been devastatingly poked, prodded, ripped apart and rearranged.

And just like there is no substitute for TIME in physical healing, there is no substitute for TIME in emotional, mental or spiritual healing either.

So if you are fresh on this path, new to the rigors of trying to “do life” while mourning your precious child, recognize that there is oh, so much damage where people can’t see.

Even when (or if!) you are able to return to some semblance of normal, to carry on with duties and obligations and even muster a smile for special occasions, your wounded heart will require special care.

Don’t let others hurry you along or dismiss your very real need to maintain safe boundaries to protect it.

My husband’s body will bear scars from his surgery although the inner works will undoubtedly heal fine. I’m thankful for modern medicine that makes it possible.

It’s not so easy to heal a broken heart.

I’m convinced that while there is a measure of healing in this life it will never be complete until eternity.

But I’m certain that healing can only occur when we give ourselves the grace, space and time necessary to do the work grief requires.

How Are You Doing? I Don’t Really Know.

I first shared this post all the way back in 2016.

Most people I knew had experienced my son’s death as a moment in time, a single event, a date on the calendar but for me and my family it was an ongoing event.

His absence continued to shape our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined in the immediate aftermath of his accident.

Folks (meaning well but clueless) often began conversations with, “How are you doing?”.

What I really wanted to tell them was I had absolutely, positively NO IDEA but usually settled for, “As well as can be”.

Over eight years later I can say that most days are pretty good. I’ve learned to navigate the rocky territory of child loss and only rarely fall into a pit of despair.

But I’d still say that I don’t really know HOW I’m doing it-just that I AM doing it.

❤ Melanie

People see me, these years and months after Dominic left us and ask, “How are you doing?”

I come up with an answer because that’s the law of conversation-you ask something and I answer, then I ask something and you answer.

are-you-ok

Gotta keep that ball rolling.  

If it drops we are both forced to stand there wondering what to do with our bodies, our faces and our thoughts.

But right now, I don’t know HOW I’m doing.

Read the rest here: I Don’t Know How I’m Doing

It’s Still Kind of Tender Just There

I’m pretty sure most everyone older than five has suffered a bump, bruise or sprain that left them tender for more than a few minutes.

And if you have, then you know the slightest brush up against that sore spot can elicit quite the reaction.

There’s an emotional correlate to physical bruising. And when someone hits that nerve it hurts. Really, really hurts!

It’s impossible to know where all those places are on another person’s body, much less their heart. So we often cause accidental pain to one another.

Read the rest here: It’s Kind of Tender Just There

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