Why I Need Grace From Friends And Family

I first shared this post four years ago when I was nearly two years into this journey and realized that for many of my friends and family Dominic’s death had faded into the background.

It was a date on the calendar for THEM but it was an ongoing experience for me and my family.

I was reminded of how time feels very different to the bereaved this weekend as I spent the first anniversary of my mother’s stepping into Heaven with my father.

So, so many things remind a grieving heart of the person we miss. So, so many everyday moments transport us back to THAT moment, THAT day.

You might not (I hope you don’t!) understand. It really costs little to extend grace to the grieving. But for those of us whose hearts are broken, it makes all the difference.

You cannot possibly know that scented soap takes me back to my son’s apartment in an instant.

You weren’t there when I cleaned it for the last time, boxed up the contents under the sink and wiped the beautiful, greasy hand prints off the shower wall.  He had worked on a friend’s car that night, jumped in to clean up and was off.

He never made it home.

Read the rest here:Grief and Grace:What I Need from Friends and Family

Compassionate Companionship Is A Gift

Walking beside a hurting heart is hard.

Especially for “fixers”.

We want to DO something, to effect change, to “solve the problem”, to make things better.

But there are circumstances in life that cannot be fixed, changed or solved.

Child loss is one of them.

Those suffering under the load of pain and sorrow, devastation, heartbreak and brokenness that enter a heart when a child leaves this earth need compassionate companionship, not advice.

Image may contain: text that says 'WHEN SOMEONE IS BROKEN, DON'T TRY TO FIX THEM. (You can't.) WHEN SOMEONE IS HURTING, DON'T @abeautfullyburdenedlife ATTEMPT TO TAKE AWAY THEIR PAIN. (You can't.) INSTEAD, LOVE THEM BY WALKING BESIDE THEM IN THE HURT. (You can.) BECAUSE SOMETIMES WHAT PEOPLE NEED IS SIMPLY TO KNOW THEY AREN'T ALONE. © A BEAUTIFULLY BURDENED LIFE'

That might mean you have to bite your tongue. It might mean you have to sit silent as tears roll down or sobs wrack your friend’s body. It might mean that you have to refrain from making comparisons between their grief and your own (whatever that might be).

It most certainly means that you should keep reaching out, reaching across the divide that separates the bereaved from the non-bereaved, and put your own ego aside when it seems like all the effort you are making isn’t making a difference.

It takes lots and lots of time and lots and lots of work for a heart to even begin to heal from deep grief.

EARL GROLLMAN QUOTE – Grief Poetry

Your constant and unwavering support can provide the space and grace that enables someone to do that.

Don’t give up on your brokenhearted friend.

Encouragement can make the difference between giving up or going on.

Your compassionate companionship can offer hope and light in a hopeless and very dark place.

Image may contain: text that says 'When you re carrying this huge load of sorrou and you look up, and you see someone who is shedding tears that they are so identifying with your loss that they are in a sense carrying some of the load of sorrow for you that's an incredible gift to give to someone who's grieving. NANCY GUTHRIE RAW GRIEF REAL HOPE'

Here Are Five Practical Ways to Support a Grieving Parent


It’s oh, so hard to know what to do when you are watching a heart break.

You want to reach out and make it better, make the pain go away, make a difference.  But it seems like nothing you can do will matter much in the face of such a huge loss.

While it’s true that you cannot “fix”  the brokenness in a bereaved parent’s life, there are some very important and practical ways you can support them in their grief.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2017/04/20/five-practical-ways-to-support-grieving-parent/

Start By Showing Up

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of Dominic running ahead to Heaven. I spent a portion of the day thinking about all the people who ministered to our family in those first days and weeks.

What a difference they made!

When our hearts were full of sorrow, they helped us bear the burden. When we couldn’t think straight and make important decisions they came alongside and guided us through. When the dark closed in around us, they held our hands and held a light.

If you want to know what to do when someone you love is thrust into a life they didn’t choose, show up.

You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be present.

This weekend another family joined the ranks of the bereaved. 

A beloved son left for heaven in a car accident.

The mama’s best friend messaged to ask what she could do to help this newly broken heart.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/04/05/what-can-i-do-show-up/

Offering Space Instead of “Fixing”

The world is upside down and inside out and hearts are hurting.

Suddenly everyone knows what it’s like to be stuck in an alternate reality, hoping, hoping, hoping that one morning they will wake up and find it untrue.

When the sun rises day after day after day and nothing changes, it’s oh, so easy to give up hope. And when unhelpful words are tossed at fragile hearts it adds to the burden.

What I say and how I say it (especially NOW) makes a difference. It can be the difference between going on or letting go.

❤ Melanie

I didn’t realize until I was the person who needed comforting how unhelpful and sometimes painful my own past comments were to my suffering friends and family.

There are many important and necessary conversations going on right now about how we talk to and talk about our fellow humans.  I’m thankful folks are learning that words are rarely (ever?) neutral.

They build up or tear down. 

And we are responsible for them.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/04/01/instead-of-fixing-offer-space-to-share/

Broken Legs, Broken Hearts, Broken Lives

Sometimes I’m envious of folks hobbling along in those plastic boots designed to support an injured leg or ankle and aid healing.

Not because of the injuryI’m thankful I’ve never broken a bone-but because it’s an outward warning to anyone who might otherwise be impatient or insensitive that they just can’t go any faster.

I think there ought to be some kind of t-shirt, pin or banner that gives the same kind of warning for those of us walking around with broken hearts and broken lives.

But there isn’t.

Except for the first shell-shocked days immediately following Dominic’s death, I look pretty much the same as I always have.

Most of us do.

If you lined up a hundred parents and scattered ten in the group who had suffered child loss, very few people would be able to single them out.

The giant heart wound we bear is barely noticeable to the uninitiated.

Yet even years later, we need extra support, extra care, extra grace to help us continue to heal.

There’s no plastic boot to fit around a broken heart. But there are things friends and family can do to create safe spaces that protect it.

  • Remember my heart is tender and easily bruised.
  • Speak about my child in Heaven. When I hear his name it is music to my ears.
  • Allow me to graciously bow out of activities or gatherings that are noisy, busy or filled with people I don’t know.
  • Don’t change the subject when I become emotional because you are uncomfortable-acknowledge my pain as a perfectly acceptable response to an unfathomable loss or just hug me.
  • Help me carry the light and life of my missing child by sharing memories, photographs or mementos. It’s a great gift to know that my child is spoken about, remembered and loved by others.
  • Recognize that while I am stronger, the absolute weight of my burden isn’t lighter. On some days it’s heavier than others so don’t be surprised by tears that seem out of place or out of time.
  • Remember important dates like my child’s birthday or memorial service day or even when he or she would have graduated high school or college if denied that opportunity. My heart mark all those silent grief anniversaries even when no one else recognizes them. It can be awfully lonely. Compassionate companionship expressed in a note, text or call helps so very much.
  • Please don’t give up on me! There may be seasons when i isolate in an effort to protect my heart. I know it’s hard to continue to reach out to someone who won’t reach back, but sometimes I just don’t have the strength to do it even when the distance is short. Try again in a little while.

If you know someone whose child has run ahead to Heaven, don’t ignore the wound.

Reach out.

Don’t insist that they walk as fast or as unencumbered as you might.

Be willing to slow down and walk with them awhile.

Five Minutes Or Less Is All It Takes To Encourage a Broken Heart

I have to admit that I’m not nearly in the fog as much with my mama’s death as I was with Dominic’s death.

I’ve found this time around I can kind of stand a little apart and be a little more objective.

It’s no less horrific or painful or sad, but it IS an orderly death (parents before children) and gives me space to take a step back and observe some things instead of having to filter every single interaction through my emotions.

So can I share a little secret?

It literally takes five minutes or less to encourage a broken heart.

I know people often think that if they don’t have the perfect words or lots of time it’s better to do or say nothing.

That’s just not true.

Send a text, a private message, an email, a card. Make a quick phone call (believe me, the bereaved will not keep you on the line!) or leave a voicemail.

What grieving hearts want to know is that someone sees their pain, someone has taken notice of the drastic and unwelcome change that’s been thrust upon them.

We don’t want to feel invisible. We don’t want to be overlooked because it makes you uncomfortable.

Be brave!

Face your own discomfort (which is microscopic compared to the heartache of the bereaved!) and make the call, send the message, write the email or card.

I promise you will waste more than five minutes today.

So take that tiny bit of time and focus your efforts on speaking courage to a hurting heart.

You don’t have to have the perfect words- “I’m so sorry” is just fine.

Then your head can hit the pillow tonight knowing you helped a heart hold onto hope.

You made a difference between someone giving up or going on.

Repost: Should I DO Something? Yes! Absolutely.

It’s possible to stand frozen at the corner of good intentions and helpful action.

I’ve done it dozens of times.

And every time I’ve allowed myself to swallow “but I don’t know what to do” and done nothing I’ve regretted it.

Every. Single. Time.

So I’m here to tell you that when you get that urge, feel that itch, hear that still, small voice that says, “DO something“, then do it.

You may already have a good idea of what it is you need to do, but in case you don’t know exactly how to make a difference in the life of a heart hanging on by a thread, here are some things to get you started:

Read the rest here:

Should I DO Something? Yes. Absolutely.

Repost: Ask Me. Please.

I have been guilty of this more times than I ‘d like to admit. 

I assume someone else’s feelings mirror my own and act on that assumption by withdrawing or not showing up or “giving them space”.

But the problem is, most times, on reflection, I realize my action (or inaction) was really all about sparing my own feelings  or staying within my own comfort zone.

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

~Jeremiah 17:9 NIV

So I’m learning to ask hard questions.

Read the rest here:  Ask Me, Please.

Real Love or a Paper Stand In?

My youngest son was born on Valentine’s Day.  

It wasn’t planned that way but escalating blood pressure meant that, ready or not, here he came!  

It’s been a lot of fun to have this day so often focused on romantic love (which, let’s be real rarely lives up to the hype!) focused instead on him and family love.  

julian in mountains

My habit the past few years has been to expand that focus even further and explore the edges of God’s love, my love for others and what love in action looks like.

Too often I SAY I love someone but refuse to DO the loving thing.

Truth is, love is hard.  It’s costly.  It can be uncomfortable. 

It almost always involves sacrifice.  

love in action

And if I’m not careful, I can let valentines and candy and flowers be a paltry stand in for the real thing. 

February is not the only month in the year that tempts me to give a token and walk away instead of giving myself and sticking around to help in meaningful ways.  

So I try to keep Jesus’ words before my eyes: 

For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.

~John 15:13 TPT

I try to focus on love in action instead of only love in words

Am I the Good Samaritan or am I one of those who toss a prayer from across the way and walk on, comfortable in my piety and clean clothes?  

Good-Samaritan-cropped

I want to be the Good Samaritan.  

Truly I do.