Friends and Family Can Anchor a Heart

You’d think that seven YEARS would be time enough to adjust to missing my child, to the changes child loss and sibling loss have wrought in my family, to the awful, unavoidable giant HOLE left in every photo, every gathering, every holiday, every everything.

But it isn’t.

That’s largely why I’m still writing. It’s why I fill my social media profile with invitations to those who share my experience and reminders to those who do not (thankfully!!) that this continues to be the Life I Did Not Choose.

I’m not looking for sympathy, just raising awareness.

Because, really, isn’t the whole point of being human to try to make one another’s journey just a tad bit lighter?

❤ Melanie

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.

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

Why I’m Still Writing Seven Years After Loss?

I first shared this two years ago when I was reflecting on half a decade of living without one of my children beside me. I’ve now had another year to think about why or if I’ll continue to write.

Every so often I take a day or two to reflect on whether I want to keep posting. I have to admit sometimes I worry that if I bang the same drum it will sound too loud or obnoxious in some people’s ears.

But then I get a message or comment from someone fresh on this journey and they feel seen, heard, validated and safe. So I write on.

And I find that writing still brings clarity and comfort to my soul. I still have things to say and I hope what I say still brings some small measure of light, love, life and hope to other hearts.

❤ Melanie

If someone had said, “Pick any topic to write about”, child loss wouldn’t have been in the first million choices.

No one CHOOSES child loss (Thus the name of the blog:  The Life I Didn’t Choose).

But untold numbers of parents EXPERIENCE it every year.  This very day,  parents somewhere got a knock on the door or a phone call or sat next to a hospital bed as life slipped slowly from their child’s tired body.

Since I was already journaling and had walked this Valley for nearly a year and a half, it dawned on me that the ramblings I’d put down might be helpful to another heart.  So I started THIS blog in September, 2015.

And I’ve been here ever since.  

Read the rest here: Why Am I Still Writing About Loss Five Years Out?

“Anything Human Is Mentionable”-The Wisdom of Mr. Rogers

We wall off our world with words.

The ones we speak and the ones we swallow down so they don’t escape our lips.

But, as Mr. Rogers says, “Anything human is mentionable.”

Won't You Be My Neighbor?' the Mister Rogers Documentary, Comes to ...

Even death.

Read the rest here: Anything Human Is Mentionable

Grief Quotes That Help My Heart On Hard Days

I’m kind of selective in what memes I toss around.

I don’t usually share them unless I can agree wholeheartedly with them.

But sometimes a meme is the simplest and most effective way to communicate truth.  And sometimes I just need a quick lift on a hard day. 

So here are a few I like

Read the rest here: Eight Grief Quotes That Help My Heart On Hard Days

Challenge Accepted: Why Am I Still Here?

Recently I was challenged by someone close to me to examine the impact on my heart of spending so much time in community with those whose loss was fresher and more raw than my own.

They were being neither judgmental nor argumentative.

They were coming from a genuine place of concern, grace and love.

So I took the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate whether or not I need to continue writing in this space, spend time reading and responding to posts in bereaved parents’ groups and ruminating on how grief has changed over time (now seven plus years!).

It was an excellent exercise.

I looked back over social media posts and blog posts from the half-decade and more since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven. I could trace progress from breath-robbing, body-wracking, all-consuming sorrow to a gentler, muted and tender missing that made room for joy and beauty alongside the ever-present tangible absence of one of my children.

I also noted a transition from “spilling my guts” to “trail guide”.

I’m no longer primarily using this space to release feelings and thoughts I’m not comfortable tossing out in day-to-day conversation. Instead, I’m mostly thinking about and sharing what I’ve learned along the way-pointing out the pitfalls and (hopefully!) encouraging hearts to keep on keeping on.

I’ve given myself permission to repost earlier entries (please note dates when you click through) that represent more raw emotions without making apology for either the lack of time or energy to write something new or the angst I once felt.

I’m also choosing to limit my online interaction to an hour in the morning and maybe an hour in the evening.

I absolutely desire to speak encouragement, grace and hope to hearts that are struggling but still need to guard my own from overload.

And as for friends, family or strangers who think, “Goodness, gracious! She needs to MOVE ON!”.

I say, “How can I hide or hoard this hard-won wisdom and experience?”

This is my ministry.

I didn’t ask for it, but it’s mine.

I won’t run away.

So until the Lord tells me definitively He has another path for my life I’ll be here.

Every morning.

I Know My Child Is Gone, But…

Seven years and most days I accept that it’s real like I accept the Theory of Relativity-factually true but I don’t really understand how it fits in my life.

When I pause and focus on, ”Dominic is gone” it’s just as shocking today as the very first day.

Even therapists get it wrong sometimes.

Especially therapists that only know what child loss is supposed to look like from books and lectures.

I understand how logical it seems that a parent should be able to accept his or her child is no longer alive. After all, most of us saw our child’s lifeless body and performed whatever rituals our hearts find most comforting.

Read the rest here: Am I Refusing To Accept My Child Is Gone?

A Thousand Pieces

We buried the earthly remains of my son seven years ago today.

I still have no idea how I walked away from that deep pit where his body would be lowered never to see daylight again.

But I did.

Western society doesn’t like to acknowledge the horror of death. We don’t like to be too dramatic, cry too loudly, wail and weep throwing our bodies over a casket.

But maybe we should.

Why can’t we have a dramatic outburst at the edge of death that burns an unforgettable image in the hearts and minds of those who join us to say good-bye?

Read the rest here: Fragments

So What Can I DO? Show Up.

I absolutely understand how it feels to be frozen between “I want to DO something” and “I have no idea WHAT to do”.

It’s where most of us find ourselves when we hear of a loved one compelled to walk the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

It seems pushy to force help on a fragile heart and yet it feels cowardly to stand by while that same heart struggles to complete all the tasks necessary surrounding death.

So what can a caring friend or family member do? Start by showing up.

I remember the morning I got the news and as the sun was coming up, a truck pulled down our lane.  It was Robbie-our “adopted” son.  As soon as my oldest son (who was in WV at the time) got the call, he called Robbie.  Because he knew I would be able to bear Robbie’s presence and accept Robbie’s help.  

I cannot describe the relief I felt when he came to the door-another shoulder to help carry this burden until we could gather all our family together to lift it in unison.

And after him came a couple we had known since the kids were little. 

Both rushed to our doorstep to offer companionship, practical aid, listening ears and simple reassurance that though this was NOT a dream-oh, how I wanted it to be a dream!I was not going to walk this Valley alone. 

They stayed until my husband, son and parents had made it here.  I will never, ever, ever forget that gift of unconditional love and time offered just when I needed it most.

Read the rest here: What Can I DO? Start by Showing Up.

Seeking Peace/Battling Anxiety: A Stout Heart

So here we are a year later and the headlines still proclaim, “Just wait! It’s going to get better!”

In some ways things ARE better-there are vaccines, treatments and protocols that can chip away at the virus. Toilet paper is back on the shelves. Working from home is working out for a number of folks who love the flexibility.

In many ways we are still in a holding pattern. Waiting for life as we once knew it to once more be available.

Young people have lost important opportunities and are anxious to not lose more. Old people have lost precious time with children and grandchildren and are oh, so aware that every passing day is one less to spend with them and build memories.

So we’re still practicing this whole waiting thing. And it’s hard.

It’s hard to wait.

It’s harder to rest patiently for something you desperately want .

That’s why children shake the presents under the Christmas tree and grown-ups dip into their savings.

It’s also why we so often doubt that God has things under control.

When circumstances require sacrifice I want the Lord to step in and fix them. I want my omnipotent God to use a little of that power to make my life more bearable. And when He doesn’t, I’m more likely to call His character into question than to doubt my own motives.

Psalm 27 helps turn my heart back to truth.

Read the rest here: Battling Anxiety/Seeking Peace: A Stout Heart

Wrestling Back To Trust: Access The Truth

Have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “My goodness! I talked WAY too much!”?

I have.

I can become so wrapped up in sharing my own experience, spilling my own feelings, trying to communicate my own point of view that I don’t leave space for the other person to get a word in edgewise.

Sometimes I do the same thing when talking to God-I can’t stop chattering long enough to hear what He wants to speak into my pain.

When I choose to listen, He is faithful to remind me of truth. He is faithful to lead me the green pasture of His word where I can feast on His promises and be filled with hope.

“I wake before the morning light.  Every. single. morning.

I get my coffee, sit in my chair and wait for sunrise.

I never worry that today it might not happen.

I’m never concerned that after all these years of faithfulnessthis day may be the one where daylight fails to make an appearance.

There is no fear in this darkness because I know it will not last forever.

Morning is coming.

Morning. Is. Coming.

And that’s the hope I cling to in this longer darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death-no matter how many years it may bethe Valley has an end.

Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Access the Truth