Birthdays Can Be…A Little Complicated

Today is my birthday.

And while I am truly grateful for another trip around the sun, since Dominic left us it’s not a simple celebration of life lived and the hope of years to come.

The last birthday I had with an unbroken family circle was a lovely surprise party for my fiftieth held in Dom’s apartment.

Nine years later and it seems a lifetime ago.

Read the rest here: Birthdays Are…Complicated

Here Are Ten Ways to Love a Mourning Heart at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only a little over a week away and I know many are making final plans and preparations to gather family and friends around the table.

In the rush toward celebration, please don’t forget those in your circle who have suffered loss.

The past years (!) have prevented or limited many of the ways we publicly gather and mourn so it’s easy to overlook that some families are facing their first set of holidays without a loved one.

Even the second or third Thanksgiving with an empty chair is unbelievably hard.

Here are some helpful ideas to get you started. 

❤ Melanie

We are all on a journey through life and each carry some sort of load.  Mine is child loss.  Yours may be something else.

We can help one another if we try.  

Love and grace grease the wheels and make the load lighter.  

Here are ten ways to love a mourning heart at Thanksgiving:

Read the rest here: Ten Ways to Love a Mourning Heart at Thanksgiving

Thank You For Your Service

I am the proud daughter of a military veteran.

I am the beaming mother of a son who served and the aunt of a nephew currently serving. 

james at pikes peak

And while others argue about why and where we send troops and fight wars, I  pray that wherever they go and whatever they do, they return home safely.

Read the rest here: The Value of Veterans

I Miss Your Voice…Silent Echoes Haunt My Heart

I try to limit the time I spend perusing old photos and old social media posts of my missing son.

I’ve learned that while they remind me of sweet memories and happy times they also prick my heart in ways nothing else can.

I was looking for something specific the other day and had to scroll through Dominic’s Facebook page to find it. As I did, I began reading some of the back and forth comments under the posts and pictures.

This time it wasn’t what was said or where the photos were taken that hurt my heart.

Instead it was the tiny little time stamp underneath the words that took my breath away.

Read the rest here: I Miss Your Voice: Silent Echoes Haunt My Heart

Striving to Remember in a World That Forgets

I’ve written before about how I choose to leave some things just as Dominic left them-even over eight years later.

It’s my way of maintaining physical space in our home that represents the space in my heart where only he can fit.

It’s also more than that.

As time progresses, nearly every other tangible evidence that Dominic existed is being worn away.

Read the rest here: And The Gap Grows: Trying To Remember In a World That Forgets

In The Rustling of the Leaves, We Remember Them

Since Dominic ran ahead I collect poems, sayings and quotes that help my heart put words to what it feels.  

I consider each one a gift.

Over the next few days I will share some of them with you-I hope you find them as beautiful and helpful as I do.

This is a beautiful, traditional Jewish blessing often shared with mourners.

Read the rest here: We Remember Them

Grieving in My Dreams

I first shared this years ago-a few months after my mother joined Dominic in Heaven.

There had been difficult dreams after Dom left but it had been a long while since one had interrupted my sleep…and then they began anew.

Night after night I woke in the dark with disturbing images lingering at the edge of consciousness.

They receded once again within about a year.

Now they are back.

I think that whenever anything particularly stressful or frightening or sad or just plain hard presses in, the grief I’ve learned to hide so well is squeezed out.

Lately I’ve been having unsettling dreams.

Even when I can’t recall the exact sequence of events, they all have a similar theme: Someone I love is in peril and I can’t save them or something I hold dear is lost and I can’t find it.

And that awful feeling of helplessness follows me when I open my eyes.

It doesn’t take a PhD to interpret these dreams.

Grief is leaking out in my sleep.

Read the rest here: Unsettling Dreams: Grieving In My Sleep

Dismantling The Past

I’ve spent the last two days rearranging our family room.

Since my husband has retired, we no longer use it as we once did and I realized a few weeks ago that it was ridiculous to have it set up the way it’s been for decades when our needs have drastically changed.

So we decided to tackle the job of sorting/moving/dismantling books, videos (yes, we still have a few!), DVDs, CDs and random other bits and pieces of a life long lived in the same place.

For those of you who have moved often you may have been spared the detritus of papers stuck in cracks and crevices on bookcases with the promise to yourself you’ll “put them where they go when I get a chance”.

Me, not so lucky.

I’ve found treasures-scribbles of younger days from my now (very!) grown children-and sad reminders of projects begun and left hanging because we got too busy to see them through.

The one thing I celebrated in taking apart, digging through and tearing down was this: totally destroying and trashing an old, old, old television stand from back in the day when TVs were far too heavy and far too thick to mount on walls or above fireplaces.

I’d always hated that thing.

We bought it as young marrieds when our budget was tight and floor space was precious in our first small home. It did the job but it was just not my style. And at the time, I wasn’t bold enough or strong enough to speak up and advocate for a different choice.

Oh, there are wonderful memories of my two oldest kids putting on shows dressed up in fun costumes and singing along to our cassette tape playlist. We have more than one photo of that delightful era.

But there were years and years of putting up with something that no longer served our needs (because it was here, bought and paid for, and convenient) instead of ditching it and buying something that would both serve and bring delight.

Closest picture I could find to what we had.

So other than a long march down memory lane, what does this have to do with child loss?

I’ve learned since Dom left us that I’ll no longer stay silent when a habit, a situation, a relationship or a piece of furniture doesn’t serve my current mental, physical, psychological, emotional or spiritual circumstances.

I won’t wait for someone else to notice I’m upset or sad or happy or delighted.

I’ve learned to speak up for myself and ask for things I need. I’m learning (haven’t made the progress I’d like!) to set boundaries and tell others that they may come thus far and no closer. I’m trying harder to rid my life of what is unhelpful and unhealthy.

I’m definitely a work in progress.

And most of the work won’t have such a satisfying and concise conclusion as when I cheerfully watch the pieces of that old TV stand go up in smoke.

But I’m committed to continue dismantling the parts of my past that no longer serve my present.

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: I Don’t Want to Remember My Son

I don’t want to remember my son. 

I want to make memories with him.  

I want him to watch me grow old, to watch him get married and have children and to hear his voice mingled with his siblings at my table.

Read the rest here: I Don’t Want To Remember My Son

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: Digging Up Memories, Laying Down Dreams

I first shared this last summer when I was actively working my way through several piles of boxed up memories.

I’d love to report that I whittled it down to a manageable few but I can’t.

I’m going to pretend it was lack of time that kept me from doing a better job but truth is it was mostly lack of heart.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only bereaved parent who has boxed up things post loss and left them untouched for years.

Life kept moving at a fast pace after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven and it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve had the time to even consider going through his stuff.

Time alone was not enough to push me toward doing the hard work of deciding what to keep, what to give away and (most painfully!) what to throw away. But various circumstances forced my hand and I’ve spent much of the last year digging through stuff and digging up memories.

To be sure, not everything has a direct connection to Dominic.

Read the rest here: Digging Up Memories, Laying Down Dreams

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