Speaking From Experience…

If you’ve joined me here for more than a minute you know I am a fierce advocate for bereaved parents in particular and all grievers in general.

But you’ve probably also noticed that, at least in my own life, I recognize how traumatic and/or difficult circumstances can make it hard to see past the hurt and the shattered world a broken heart inhabits. I can judge others harshly without meaning to.

A couple of recent incidents have reminded me how easy it is to interpret every offhand comment or heartfelt opinion as targeted at ME when, in fact, they are simply a reflection of that person’s experience in the world.

I can’t insist that others see the world through MY eyes if I’m not equally prepared to try to see it through THEIRS.

Look, I know how painful it is to scroll through social media posts and feel the darts land square in the center of my heart. Parents bemoaning their children leaving home (all the while I’m thinking, “yeah-but you can call, visit and still hug your child”); folks complaining about how hard it is to manage schedules and meals or trying to figure out family vacations with teens or young adults (“gee, I wish I had the privilege of including ALL my kids for holidays“); and then there are the “miraculous deliverance from a wreck” posts (I’m wondering why Dom wasn’t delivered).

But NONE of those folks are posting or commenting with me in mind. They are simply sharing their thoughts and feelings just like I share my own.

I’ve learned to just scroll on past.

It’s neither healthy nor helpful for me to type some long (or short!) snarky comment trying to “correct” them. I’m not entirely sure they need correcting.

Before it was ME that sent a child to Heaven I had No. Idea.

They don’t either.

So save your energy for the work grief requires. Save it for the family you’ve got left. Save it for a rainy day when tears fall as fast as drops from the sky.

You’re gonna need it.

Face Toward the Son

One of the magical aspects of sunflowers is how they move through the day to always face the sun.

Like other plants, they depend on light to make their food but unlike others, they seem intent on thanking the source.

I am always encouraged when I pass a patch of sunflowers standing stalwart, saluting in unison the life-giving rays. They remind me that I am just as dependent as they are.

I can’t draw breath without the light and life of Christ in me.

Praise: The Secret to Living Above Circumstances - FaithGateway

But I forget that sometimes.

Clouds of sadness and despair obscure my vision and I’m tempted to turn away. Life gets hard and I wonder why it has to be like that. Responsibility grows heavy and I can’t lift my head.

So I lose sight of the Son-who He is, what He’s done and how He continues to sustain me even when I can neither see it or feel it.

It’s just then I need to turn toward Him.

It’s that very moment I require extra grace to look up (which He supplies) and extra faith (which He endows) to see clearly.

When I do, He always renews my strength.

“Don’t you know? Haven’t you been listening?
    Yahweh is the one and only everlasting God,
    the Creator of all you can see and imagine!
    He never gets weary or worn out.
    His intelligence is unlimited;
    he is never puzzled over what to do!
 He empowers the feeble
    and infuses the powerless with increasing strength.
 Even young people faint and get exhausted;
    athletic ones may stumble and fall.
But those who wait for Yahweh’s grace
    will experience divine strength.
    They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles,
    run their race without growing weary,
    and walk through life without giving up.”

Isaiah 40: 28-41 TPT

Hope Is Not Anesthesia

It is unhealthy to ignore pain.

heal and acknowledge

But when it comes to emotional pain, we sometimes shut people out or shut them down.

I submit that we diminish the power of the cross when we deny or minimize the presence of pain.

Believing that God is in control and Jesus lives does not undo grief’s storm-it is a lifeline that keeps my desperate and hurting heart from sinking under the waves.

Read the rest here: Heartache and Hope

Be Brave. Ask A Hurting Heart What It Needs.

I think Dominic’s death has made me brave in this one tiny place:  I say things I might not have said before.  I risk pain in relationships where I might not have been willing to risk before.  I assume that if I don’t speak important truths RIGHT NOW I might not get another chance.

I long to be a burden bearer for my friends and family because I know what it is to bear a burden.

So I ask and don’t assume.  

If someone wants to be left alone, then they are free to tell me.

But I will not stay silent or keep away simply for my own comfort.  

Read the rest here: Ask Me, Please.

Not The Last OR First To Ask, “Why Me?”

If you are new to this journey and still in the throes of asking, “Why ME?” I don’t want my words to feel like a rebuke.

I STILL have moments when I look around and bemoan the fact that it seems (from the outside looking in) other families are sailing through life with little more than tiny bumps in the road while mine is being asked to navigate around (and through!) giant craters with a barely functional vehicle.

But the Lord woke me up one day about eighteen months into this journey with some insight: I’m not the first nor the last mama to bury a child.

Truth is, few of us escape some sort of hardship in life and many of us face tragedy.

It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But you are not alone.

I cannot bring Dominic back-I cannot have my child once again in my arms.  I cannot undo the damage death has wrought and the great gash loss has made in my heart.  

And so I am left with my pain and my questions.

“Why?” is not a particularly fruitful question (although I ask it still).

 “Why not?” is probably more helpful.

Read the rest here: Why Not?

Is It ALWAYS Going To Feel Like This?

I belong to several bereaved parents online communities and this question comes up again and again-it was the first thing I asked a bereaved mom just after Dominic ran ahead to heaven:

“Will this suffocating pain remain sitting on my chest, smothering the breath and life right out of me?  Will I ever be able to stop crying? Will it ALWAYS feel like this?”

The short answer is, “No, it won’t.”

Read the rest here: Will It ALWAYS Feel Like This?

Just Twenty-Four Hours

It’s been just over seven years since Dominic left us suddenly, unexpectedly, and without warning.

Thankfully my heart has healed enough that every day is no longer filled with tears.

But there are still hard days, still challenging seasons.

And when they feel like they might last forever, I remind myself that even the worst day of my life was just twenty-four hours.

Night fell, the earth turned, and another sunrise showed up on cue.

I don’t know just when I figured it out, but somewhere in this Valley it dawned on me-NO day lasts forever.

Many feel like they do.  

The day I got the news stretched impossibly long in front of me as calls were made and people came to be wtih us.

But even THAT day ended.  Night fell, the earth turned, and another sunrise showed up on cue.

Read the rest here: Twenty-four Hours

Leave Nothing Unsaid

I happened to be traveling recently and saw that Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, has filmed a documentary about his mother titled Nothing Left Unsaid.  I don’t know much about him or the film, but the title immediately struck a chord in my heart.

I am learning so much through grieving my son.

I am learning by hard experience that we may not have tomorrow.

And I am learning that what weighs most heavily on my heart is not the things I said or did but the things I didn’t say or didn’t do.  

Read the rest here: Nothing Left Unsaid

Ask Me, Not My Kids, How I’m Doing. Please.

It may seem like the easiest way to get an inside scoop on how I’m REALLY doing-but don’t do it.

Please don’t ask my kids how I’m doing.

Respect the fact that they have their own grief burden.  Respect family privacy and understand you are putting them in an impossible position.

If you want to know-to REALLY know-how I’m doing, ask me.

Read the rest here: Please Don’t Ask My Kids How I Am Doing

It Almost Happened to You. It DID Happen to Me.

It came up in one of our closed support groups again: That friend who thinks because we have endured the worst, we are somehow uniquely equipped to listen to and bear up under their fear of the worst.

If your child survives a car crash or some other terrible accident, please, please, please know that NO ONE is happier than I am you are spared!

Allow me to “like/love/whatever” your post in support. But please do not PM me with a list of “what could have happened”.

I already know. I’m living it.

Dear Mom Whose Son Survived the Accident,

I want you to know that I am beyond thankful that you will be spared my pain.  I prayed for your son as you requested-begged God to spare him.

They say misery love company but I say misery loves comfort.

I do not want one more parent to know the heartache of child loss.

Read the rest here: An Open Letter to the Mom Who Was Almost Me

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