Until Then-Stories of Loss and Hope

I was asked awhile back to be part of a project shepherded by fellow parents-in-loss, Laura and Gary House (https://ourheartsarehome.org/).

They wanted to gather and publish stories from other child loss survivors in hopes of encouraging hearts and strengthening the faith of parents facing the unimaginable.

I don’t mind saying that in spite of all I’ve written in this space for the past seven (!) years, it was challenging to distill my thoughts about that night, the days that followed and my own faith journey since into a single chapter.

But I, and a dozen other parents, did just that.

In our own words we tell our stories. We share our struggles and our triumphs. We write honestly about how our faith was challenged and how it carried us through.

Every chapter was written by a parent who has a child (or children) in Heaven. Several chapters were written by dearly loved and greatly admired friends.

One chapter is mine in which I share Dominic’s story.

It was a long process but I’m happy to report that the book is now available on Amazon!

Eleven different chapters full of heartache, hope and help written BY bereaved parents FOR bereaved parents (and those who love them).

Until Then: Stories of Loss and Hope would be a blessing to any bereaved parent, to friends and family of bereaved parents (to help them understand the journey) and also to ministry leaders who will, at one time or another, be in a position to shepherd and counsel bereaved parents.

This is a labor of love.

All proceeds above production costs go to ministry to bereaved parents, not the authors.

Consider purchasing a copy or two for yourself or as a gift. ❤

Unashamed to Wait

Maybe what God has for me and others who suffer long is not a victorious tag line that can be slapped on a photo or shared on social media. 

Maybe it’s only in the continued press of suffering that God reveals Himself in ways the non-suffering never see.

Maybe a dash to declare victory is actually rushing past what God has for us in deep pain and ongoing struggle.

Maybe waiting in hopeful expectation for what God is doing and will do in me and through me IS the victory.

Read the rest here: Not Ashamed to Wait

The Power of Servanthood

Some people are natural servants.

Not the kind in Downtown Abbey but the kind who see something that needs doing and just do it.

They open doors, return shopping carts, wash dishes, pick up trash and bend down or stretch high to help children or senior citizens reach what otherwise would be unreachable.

Some of us aren’t naturals but we can learn.

Because when we open our eyes to those around us and choose to be helpful we make a change to our hearts and theirs. We build bridges of grace and kindness that help to connect individuals and communities.

When a person feels seen, heard and cared for, they are much more likely to drop the drawbridge to their heart.

It’s no good saying, “Well, he didn’t ask for help” or “She didn’t let me know she was struggling”.

If we are paying as much attention to our friends and family as we are to social media memes and funny TikTok videos, we can’t miss the signs of desperation and hopelessness.

If we take time to ask important questions there’s no way we won’t hear sadness or loneliness in the reply.

So let’s stop acting like doing good is something only a few select individuals can or should do. It’s a myth that bringing meals and checking in on those who are no longer able to make it to our fellowships or church services or bingo halls is a special skill.

Compassion isn’t a calling or a gift or a virtue.

Compassion is something we choose to practice.

And for those of us who call Christ “Lord” it is a command.

There Is Hope In Every Scar

I realize I’m venturing into fuzzy theological territory here but I truly believe that somehow, some way the hard things, the traumatic trials, the heartbreaking tragedies of our lives will be represented in Heaven.

But just like Jesus’ glorified but still scarred hands, they will no longer be ugly, misshapen reminders of pain and defeat; they will be beautiful, glorious testimonies to God’s amazing grace and enduring love.

They will shout “Victory!” over every single thing the enemy thought would defeat us and destroy our faith.

❤ Melanie

Sometimes people ask, “How can you cling to Jesus when He could have saved your son, but didn’t?”

I give the same answer Peter gave, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Read the rest here: There’s Hope in Every Scar

Can We Just Speak Honestly About Prayer?

I’m really thankful that more and more Christians are willing to shed false positivity and embrace lament.

Because the truth is lots of stories this side of eternity end in tragedy or at least unmet expectations and sorrow instead of glorious, victorious sunshine and roses.

Crops and marriages fail. Dreams come and go.

We hope for healing but don’t receive it.

Loved ones die.

Let’s just be honest about it-about ALL of it.

❤ Melanie

In the wake of burying Dominic, the most difficult spiritual discipline for me to recover has been prayer.

In part because my heart just doesn’t know what to ask for or how to talk to a God Who has allowed this pain in my life.  

In part because I don’t really have a framework for placing the prayers I want to pray inside my ongoing struggle to commit my future and the future of my family to the hands of a Father Who didn’t step in to prevent Dominic’s death.

I still struggle with this.  

Read the rest of this post here: The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer

I Wish I Could Give You a Magic Key, But I Cant…

I was looking for it too, at first.

There had to be a secret path, a magic word, a hidden key that would make this awful child loss journey more manageable.

But there is none.

Read the rest here: No Magic

A List of Ten Ways I Survive Hard Grief Days

One of the most devastating aspects of child loss is the overwhelming feeling that NOTHING makes sense anymore and that I have absolutely NO control.

Choosing helpful habits and actions gives me a way to regain dominion over a tiny corner of my world.

And that little bit of action strengthens my spirit and helps my heart hold on.

My hardest grief season begins in November and runs to the end of May.  Thanksgiving through Dominic’s birthday on (or near) Memorial Day are days full of triggers, memories and stark reminders that one of us is missing.

If I could fall asleep November first and wake up in June I’d do it.

But I can’t so I have to employ all the tricks I’ve learned in the over eight years since Dominic ran ahead to heaven to survive those particularly challenging months.

Here are ten ways I survive hard grief days

Read the rest here: Taking Care: Ten Ways to Survive Hard Grief Days

Lenten Reflections: Christ in Me, The Hope of Glory

We began this journey forty days ago with the idea “Decrease is only holy when its destination is love” (Alicia Britt Chole).

The aim of Lent or any other period of fasting or self-denial is not to thin our waists but to thin our self-reliance and our self-importance to make room for the power and sustaining grace of Jesus-to open our hearts and our souls to His love.

When I force myself to face my own helplessness to sweep away sin, sift through selfishness and sort out bad habits and unholy thoughts I realize how utterly dependent I am on the work Christ wrought on the cross.

Listen, I can’t explain my actions. Here’s why: I am not able to do the things I want; and at the same time, I do the things I despise. 16 If I am doing the things I have already decided not to do, I am agreeing with the law regarding what is good. 17 But now I am no longer the one acting—I’ve lost control—sin has taken up residence in me and is wreaking havoc. 18 I know that in me, that is, in my fallen human nature, there is nothing good. I can will myself to do something good, but that does not help me carry it out. 19 I can determine that I am going to do good, but I don’t do it; instead, I end up living out the evil that I decided not to do. 

Romans 7: 15-19 VOICE

So today I am celebrating the fact-the historical, spiritual and eternal FACT-that everything necessary for life and liberty and hope and eternal salvation has been accomplished.

Christ has died.

Christ has risen.

Christ will come again.

Dominic is dead. His body lies a mile down the road and six feet under the earth.

But that’s not the end of his story.

His spirit is alive with Christ and one day his body will be resurrected in glory.

And one day-one glorious Day-“every sad thing will come untrue” (Child’s Storybook Bible).

I can’t wait!

Eight Years, Sigh…

The calendar is relentless. There’s no respect for seasons of mourning or grief anniversaries or weeks of sickness or unexpected early births of grandchildren.

The sun rises, the sun sets and another day is crossed off into history.

So somehow-without my permission-I find I’ve woken to mark the eighth anniversary (do you call such a horrible thing an anniversary?) of Dominic’s death.

It’s humbling to realize I (and my family!) are not only still standing but flourishing. It’s horrifying to comprehend I’ve continued to live and breathe for 2922 days since Dominic left us.

Most days are pretty good.

Today is hard.

❤ Melanie

When the numbness wore off (maybe around six months) I remember vaguely wondering what years down the road would feel like.

I tried to project the “me” of that moment into the future and imagine how I might deal with life changes, new circumstances, an empty nest, grandchildren (if there were any) and growing older alongside the heartache of burying a child.

But just as it’s impossible to comprehend how the addition of a child utterly transforms a family, it’s impossible to understand how the subtraction of one changes everything just as much.

We are all so very different than we would have been if Dominic were still here.

Life most likely wouldn’t be any more perfect because we would each grow and change, find common ground and find points of conflict, make new memories and drag up old hurts.

Still, none of us would carry the deep wound and traumatic injury of sudden and out-of-order death.

THAT is impossible to ignore. Even eight years later it’s a red flag, a sticky note, an addendum to every family gathering and holiday.

So we carry on.

Like generations before us who have walked this world dragging loss behind them, we keep going. It shapes us but doesn’t limit us. It informs our views but isn’t the only thing that molds our opinions and frames our choices.

My faith in God’s larger and perfect plan helps me hold onto hope even as I continue to miss my son.

But today is a hard day and I don’t think that’s going to change as long as I live.

I’m getting better at remembering Dominic’s birthday in ways that honor who he is and the man he might have become. I can’t say I’ve figured out any good way to walk through the yearly unavoidable and unwelcome reminder of the day he left us.

I’m learning to allow the grief waves to simply wash over me without resisting them.

Eventually the hours tick away, the day is over and I find I’ve survived yet again. 

Still Flying the Plane

I first shared this a couple of years ago when the world seemed to be going crazy and there was nothing I could do about it.

This year has been a real humdoozy too for different reasons!

Our family has welcomed another little bundle of joy earlier than expected (he’s doing really well, thank the Lord) and transitions abound.

So when a friend of Papa’s reminded me of his wise words, I decided to share once more.

Maybe someone else needs to hear it again too.

I was talking to my dad the other morning as I do every morning.

We catch one another up on personal news and then turn to the world at large.

After another day of dismal and disconcerting headlines I asked my retired fighter pilot/flight instructor/still flying/recently bereaved dad, “So, how are you REALLY doing?”

He replied, “I’m flying the plane.”

He told me the first rule of flying was: NO MATTER WHAT– never, never, never stop flying the plane.

Read the rest here: Fly The Plane

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