Remembering The Day Before It All Fell Apart

I fell asleep last night thinking about that Friday evening seven years ago when I closed my eyes on the world I knew only to open them to a world I wish I could forget.

It’s odd how these anniversaries play out-there’s the actual date (which, if I’m honest isn’t nearly as hard for me) plus the litany of days that lead up to the date and reconstruct the weekend that ended in tragedy.

The Friday night/Saturday morning combination bring me to my knees even seven years later. Only someone who has endured the doorbell or the phone call can truly understand how dozens of tiny prompts create a mental, physical and emotional response that can neither be ignored nor controlled.

It was raining last night and all I could think was, “Why wasn’t it raining THAT night? He wouldn’t have taken his motorcycle.”

Useless, futile and ill-advised pondering that simply made it harder to close my eyes and go back to sleep.

Friday, April 11, 2014:

Julian and I went to a college honors banquet and came back to the house to find Fiona home for the weekend.  I called Hector and texted with James Michael.

I turned out the light and went to sleep.  

No warning shots across the bow of life rang out to let me know what was coming.

But that Friday was the last day I spent misunderstanding the awfulness of death and the absolute uncertainty of life.

Read the rest here: The Day Before It All Fell Apart

Child Loss and Seasons

Most people are familiar with SAD-Seasonal Affective Disorder-a cluster of symptoms mimicking depression that develop in otherwise healthy folks when the shorter days and longer nights of winter limit sunshine exposure. 

Fewer folks know that nearly every bereaved parent has his or her own version of SAD which has nothing to do with daylight/darkness cycles and everything to do with the calendar. 

For me, it starts in February and runs through May. 

Read the rest here: Child Loss and SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Fainter and Fainter Still

Each year that passes brings new challenges. I’m never prepared for the period I call my “season of sorrow” regardless of how many times I’ve lived through it and survived.

We cleaned out our garage the other day and found traces of Dominic in so many random places. Each little thing had to be evaluated and put either in the “keep” pile or in the “toss” pile.

What hurt my mama heart almost more than the bits of Dom we found were the bits of my earthbound children tucked in long-forgotten corners. Because I found myself thinking, “What if something happens to THEM? What if I regret tossing that out?”

Things a nonbereaved parent never has to consider.

Yet something I ask myself every time I clean out a drawer or closet or even a random pile of old school papers.

It’s absolutely normal that the space Dominic once occupied in the hearts and minds of his peers gets smaller over time.

He was only a part of their lives-lives blooming and bursting in the spring of their years. 

They are moving and marrying and having children and building careers.  If he were still living it may very well be they would have lost touch by now anyway.

I know all this and yet it still hurts.

Read the rest here: Disappearing in the Distance

When You Are Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around: The Power of Presence

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

“He Wouldn’t Want You To Be Sad.” Oh, Yes. Yes He Would.

If I got ten grieving parents in a room we could write down fifty things we wish people would stop saying in about five minutes.

Most of the time folks do it out of ignorance or in a desperate attempt to sound compassionate or to change the subject (death is very uncomfortable) or simply because they can’t just shut their mouths and offer silent companionship.

And most of the time, I and other bereaved parents just smile and nod and add one more encounter to a long list of unhelpful moments when we have to be the bigger person and take the blow without wincing.

But there is one common phrase that I think needs attention

Read the rest here: “He Wouldn’t Want You to be Sad” and Other Myths

I’m Sorry

My son’s death is a point in time for people outside my immediate grief circle. It’s a date on a calendar. There is a period after his name.

But it is an ongoing experience for me and my family.

We don’t only remember on birthdays, holidays and anniversary days, we can never forget.

Yet often others do.

We are not the only ones living a life not of our own choosing. We are not the only ones that feel isolated in our grief.

You do too.

And I’m sorry that when you risk sharing your pain you are shut down by those who just don’t understand.

Please! Think Before You Speak, Post or Comment.

I wrote this post four years ago when we were in the midst of a divisive political cycle.

I was both saddened and wearied by all the rancor and hateful speech on social media platforms. I was horrified that people who had been spared the awful pain of losing a close loved one to death were willing to sacrifice that same relationship over differing political positions.

I really didn’t think it could get worse but it has. So I’m sharing again.

Please, please, please people!!! There is only one thing sadder than suddenly and unexpectedly losing someone and that is losing them while you are estranged. Death is not kind. It comes for us all.

You cannot reconcile with someone who’s no longer here.

❤ Melanie

Do not hurt people in your life because you’ve hitched your wagon to a particular cause or candidate or party.

Don’t play politics with your personal relationships.

Don’t call people names that can’t be taken back, hurt feelings that may never heal or draw lines that make division permanent.

Read the rest here: Think Before You Speak, or Post, or Comment…

Nothin’ Easy About Death

I wrote this post a year ago after my mother joined Dominic in Heaven. Her passing reminded me once again (as if my heart needed reminding!) that there ain’t nothing easy about death.

One year later and I’m no more willing to pretend it’s anything but awful even as I’m resigned to admit there’s nothing I can do about it.

I miss you both so very much.

I remember the moment I realized I was going to have to summarize my son’s life into a few, relatively short paragraphs to be read by friends, family and strangers.

It seemed impossible.

But as the designated author of our family I had to do it so I did.

Today I wrote my mama’s obituary and though her death was not as surprising as Dominic’s it was just as hard to swallow.

Read the rest here: Ain’t Nothing Easy About Death

Angry Is Just Sad’s Bodyguard

We live in an angry society.

Social media is full of rants about this and that.  Television blares raised voices shouting over one another in what passes for news coverage.  T-shirts are emblazoned with one-liners intended to provoke others.

We tolerate and even embrace anger as a legitimate emotion.

Yet we rarely make room for mourning.  We hide our tears.  We shame those who don’t hide theirs as “weak” and “soft” and “cowardly” or worse.

But many times what we think is anger, is really sadness.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2017/09/13/anger-or-sadness-or-both/

You Are Absolutely Allowed To Mourn *Smaller* Losses

When your scale of awful is off the charts, there’s a tendency to dismiss anything less as merely inconvenient or inconsequential.

But that’s just not how our hearts work.

You can be shattered by child loss and still feel the slings and arrows of everyday losses, disappointments, discomfort and sadness.

It’s OK to mourn the things that don’t measure up to the pain and despair of burying a child.

It’s OK to admit that even ordinary things like an empty nest, changing circumstances, moving away from friends and family, ill health, family drama and dozens of other, smaller wounds prick your heart and make it bleed.

While child loss has helped me gain perspective on what’s truly important, irreplaceable and worth my time and energy, it has not created a protective and impenetrable barrier that guards my heart from further pain.

I am just as likely as anyone else to fall into a funk over a misunderstanding, a less-than-expected outcome, a disappointing phone call with a friend or some other everyday frustration. And, sometimes, there are truly hard and horrible things I’ve had to bear: my mother’s prolonged illness and death, my grandson’s premature birth, my son’s overseas deployment and other things I’m not at liberty to share because I’m not the main character in the story.

Child loss doesn’t mean there won’t be more pain in this life.

It doesn’t give me a pass on heartache.

And it is perfectly normal-actually perfectly and absolutely right-to be sad and mourn the smaller losses in life.

It means my heart’s still beating.

It means I’m still engaged with those around me.

It means I’m still present and invested in life.

And that’s a good thing.