The Power of Presence When I am Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around

I’m not entirely sure this quote is an accurate one from the original Winnie the Pooh books but it is absolutely an accurate reflection of the characters.

And it’s a beautiful reminder to all of us how powerful presence can be.

May we all have Poohs and Piglets that come sit with us when we are Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around.

❤ Melanie

Read the rest here: Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore-The Power of Presence

Wondering If It Will Ever Get Better?

I know that when I first stumbled onto a bereaved parent group, it was one of the things I was looking for: evidence that the overwhelming pain of child loss would not last forever.  

Some days I was encouraged as those who had traveled farther down this path posted comments affirming that they could feel something other than sorrow.

Some days I was devastated to read comments from parents who buried a child decades ago asserting that “it never gets better”.

Who is right?  

What’s the difference?

Do I have any control over whether or not this burden gets lighter?

Read the rest here: Will It Ever Get Better?

If You Think You Can’t Hold On, Let Go

This has been an odd (to put it mildly) Christmas season. I haven’t done half of what I normally do and now there’s no time to catch up and do it.

I’ve been off balance since the first of November, hanging on by the seat of my pants and just barely managing the necessities.

Maybe last year’s pass made me soft and lazy. Whatever the reason I really, really, really needed to read what I wrote several years ago.

Back then there was no chance I’d produce a full-fledged, decked out spread for Christmas. But I’ve gotten better at it since.

Just not this year. So if you are falling behind or falling down, you’re not alone!

❤ Melanie

So many ways to be reminded of how hard it is to hold on in these days and weeks around Christmas.

If your heart is barely able to beat, the pressure to be “hap-hap-happy” can send you over the edge.

If your home is empty of cheerful voices, the constant barrage of commercials touting family togetherness can leave you feeling oh, so lonely.

Early sunsets and darker nights send feel-good hormones flying and leave a body aching for just a little relief from anxious and depressing thoughts.

SadGirlBeach

When you think you can’t hold on, let go.  

Read the rest here: When You Think You Can’t Hold On

We Always Have a Choice. I Choose Hope.

One of the most devastating aspects of child loss is the idea that we’ve lost agency-the ability to choose anything or impact the outcome of anything.

God invites us through Christ to reclaim that.

No, we cannot control every aspect of our lives. But we absolutely can control where we point our hearts.

I choose hope.

It’s hard and it isn’t always immediately helpful. Even still, it has meant the difference between giving up and going on. Jesus is here. He has conquered death and hell.

I may have to walk by faith for the rest of my days but I know that the One in whom I place my trust will not fail. ❤

Here’s a little manifesto I wrote regarding Christmas and the Lusko family. I encourage you to borrow the idea the next time you are scared. “We will celebrate the birth of the One who came to destroy death and bring life and immortality to light through the gospel. We will sing until our voices won’t let us. We will preach and celebrate seeing people come to know Jesus, just as we did days after Lenya died in my arms. We will party if we can muster the courage, cry when we miss her, and collapse if we have to. Even though He slays us, we will bless His name. We always have a choice, and we choose to rejoice.

Levi Lusko, Through the Eyes of a Lion, p. 165

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.

Empty Hearts Can Be Filled

There is no shame in being hopeless and broken.

God loves the broken.  Christ came for the broken.  It’s the broken and breathless who long for the Spirit to blow life across their wounded hearts.

It’s the hopeless and fearful that run faster to the safety of their Shepherd.

It’s the worried and weary who are thankful for a Burden-bearer.

Christmas is the story of Hope entering the world, of Light shining forth in darkness, of Love overcoming death.

A heart has to be looking to find it.

A heart has to be desperate to believe it.

A heart has to be hungry to come to the table of everlasting bread.

Read the rest here: Qualified by Hopelessness: An Empty Heart Can Be Filled

We Were Made For Life, Not Death

My children grew up surrounded by life and by death.

On our small farm they got to see puppies, kittens, goats, sheep and horses take their first breath. We watched turkeys and chickens hatch-struggling in that last great effort to throw off the shell.

And we also witnessed life’s end.

Every. time. it feels wrong.  Every. time.  it feels like defeat.

And it iswe were not made to die.

Read the rest here: We Were Not Made to Die

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

Grief and Gratitude: Appreciating What I Have, Acknowledging What I Miss

Gratitude does not undo grief.  

There, I said it.

Gratitude is important.  It is (in my opinion) a necessary ingredient for a healthy and hope-filled and useful life.  It is the key to any real happiness a heart might find on this broken road.

But it cannot fill up the empty place where Dominic used to be.  

Grief does not preclude gratitude.  

Although some broken hearts swear it does.  They have convinced themselves that if they cannot have the one thing they really want, then nothing else matters. 

That’s a lie as well.

Read the rest here: Gratitude and Grieving: Appreciating What I Have, Acknowledging What I Miss

I’m So Sorry

My son’s death is a point in time for people outside my immediate grief circle. It’s a date on a calendar. There is a period after his name.

But it is an ongoing experience for me and my family.

We don’t only remember on birthdays, holidays and anniversary days, we can never forget.

Yet often others do.

Read the rest here: I’m Sorry

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