Listening is love in action.
If you know someone whose heart carries great grief-and child loss is not the only hard journey hearts are making–offer to listen.
Give up a few minutes to hear how they are really doing, what is really hard, what they really need to say but may be afraid to speak aloud. Leave spaces in conversation so a heart can work up the courage to share. Don’t be quick to offer platitudes that shut down deep discussion.
It often takes many, many repetitions of traumatic events for a heart to begin to heal.
Read the rest here: Why I Have To Talk It Out
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.
Part of the reason I share my story is to provide insight for people who haven’t lost a child into the hearts and lives of those who have.
But mainly it is to be a voice for and to encourage other parents walking this valley by letting them know they aren’t alone, their feelings and experiences are perfectly normal and that just as welcoming a child into your family is a life-altering event, saying good-bye to a child is a life-altering event.
We do not expect a mom to “get over” the changes having a baby brings to her everyday experience, and we should not expect a bereaved mom to “get over” the changes burying one brings either.
Want to help? Read: Loving the Grieving Heart
If you’ve never been caught short in the midst of an unexpected downpour you might not know how important refuge under the boughs of a cedar or oak tree can be.
Living in the middle of woods, punctuated by open pastures, I’ve retreated more than once to the safety of thick boughs which limit the rain’s ability to soak me through.
I have memorized every safe haven between the road and the middle of my 34 acres.
Faithful friends are like those sheltering trees-offering respite to a weary heart, providing a safe space to take a breath, granting protection when we are pursued by the enemy of our souls.
Read the rest here: We All Need Sheltering Trees
I admit it: I’m a fixer.
It’s probably genetic (won’t mention any names!) but it has been reinforced by training and life experience.
When faced with a difficult or messy situation, my mind instantly rolls through an inventory of available resources and possible solutions.
And I tended to cut people off mid-sentence with my brilliant (?) plan to save the day.
But there are things you just can’t fix.
I knew that before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven but I mostly ignored it.
I can’t do that anymore.
Read the rest here: Lessons in Grief: Learning to Listen
I think the mama is often the first person others think about when they hear a child has run ahead to Heaven.
But child loss affects dads too.
And it’s often sibling loss as well.
Grief is truly a family affair-each member is changed by the experience and they ALL need support. ❤
I firmly believe that our friends and extended family want to reach out, want to help, want to walk alongside as we grieve the death of our child
I am also convinced that many of them don’t because they don’t know how.
It may seem unfair that in addition to experiencing our loss, we also have to educate others on how to help us as we experience it, but that’s just how it is.
The alternative is to feel frustrated and abandoned or worse.
Read the rest here: Child Loss: Helpful Tips for Interacting With Bereaved Families
I am well aware that not everyone is blessed by an outpouring of love and support in the wake of child loss. In fact, depending on the circumstances, some families are practically shunned.
It breaks my heart every time I hear of such an experience.
Because if there is one thing I’ve learned in this Valley, it’s this: when a heart is shattered, my ONLY job is to show up and do whatever is helpful-even if that means sitting silently and holding a hand. ❤
When I asked other bereaved parents to share the things people did that blessed them in the wake of losing a child, I didn’t expect so many stories of extravagant love–of acts surpassing anything I could have thought of or imagined.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.
When we lost Dominic, there were many who blessed us in ways that I can only describe as offerings poured into our lives from the bountiful love of Christ.
Read the rest here: Extravagant Love: Tales of Friendship and Encouragement After Losing a Child
It will be eight (!) years on April 12th.
And yet those first hours and days are some of the most vivid in my memory. Who showed up, what they did, what they said (or graciously and wisely DIDN’T say), how fragile and lost I felt as precious friends guided me through so. many. decisions.
I will never, ever forget the kindnesses shown to our family during that time. I will never, ever stop thanking God for the brave souls that entered into our world of pain and simply refused to be shooed or frightened away. ❤ Melanie
The death of any loved one opens a door and forces you to pass through.
You cannot procrastinate, cannot refuse, cannot ignore or pretend it away.
Suddenly, you find yourself where you absolutely do not want to be.
And there is no going back.
Many bereaved parents describe the first hours, the first days after losing a child as a fog–we feel both horrified (I can’t believe this is happening!) and numb (Is this real? Am I dreaming?).
Read the rest here: Loving Well in the First Days After Loss
I do NOT blame you that my son and my sorrow have drifted down your list of “things that need attention”. Your life is as busy as mine once was and your calendar full of commitments and celebrations that require your attendance.
But each year it feels lonelier and lonelier.
Because each year fewer and fewer people remember or if they do, they don’t know how to offer that up as a blessing because it feels awkward or stiff.
So may I suggest a few things that most bereaved parents would absolutely LOVE for friends and family to say or do-especially as the months roll into years or even decades?
Read the rest here: When It’s Been YEARS-How to Bless a Grieving Parent
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.❤
“It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.”
Read the rest here: Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore-The Power of Presence