Secondary Losses And Child Loss

While I certainly had no real idea in the first hours or even weeks what losing a child entailed, I understood plainly that it meant I would not have Dominic to see, hold or talk to.

I wouldn’t be able to hug his neck or telephone him.  

He wouldn’t be sitting at my table any more.

But the death of a child or other loved one has a ripple effect.  It impacts parts of life you might not expect.  As time went on, I was introduced to a whole list of losses commonly called “secondary losses”.

Read the rest here: Child Loss and Secondary Losses

Unwelcome, Sudden Change

Imagine being used to the modern convenience of electricity at the flip of a switch and then being suddenly plunged into darkness and disconnection.

Unprepared-no matches, no alternative fuel sources, no extra warm clothes for winter days and nights-just plucked from the world you knew and dropped into a world you didn’t.

That’s what it felt like when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.  No warning, no chance to think through what life might be like, what changes I would have to accommodate, how I would need to face the days, weeks, months and years of his absence.  

Read the rest here: Sudden and Unwelcome Change

So, So Tired of the “Moral High Ground”

Y’all-I’m exhausted.

I’m so, so tired of navigating social media, regular media and personal conversations where one person claims to be morally superior because he or she is wearing/not wearing a mask, taking/not taking the vaccine, traveling to be with family for the holidays or staying home.

I’m worn out with memes and odd glances and offhand comments that make judgements about another human being without knowing one. single. thing. about the other person they claim to understand.

How masks have appeared in art - BBC Culture

Here’s a warning: I’m often honest and open in this space but not often raw. I’m about to be very, very raw.

I wear a mask and am cautious about social exposure for extremely personal reasons.

My son died alone.

I was not there to hold his hand as he took his last breath. I have no way to know if he was frightened, comforted by angels or the Lord’s holy Presence. I don’t know if he called out for me or was senseless.

But all those questions haunt me every night before I finally fall asleep if I let them.

So the idea of being unable to be with a loved one when he or she leaves this world is more than my heart can bear. If something I can do, or they can do (like wear a mask or limit exposure or take a vaccine) means I won’t have to face that, I’m all for it!

My mother died from pneumonia following a stroke.

I wasn’t there but my father was and I heard his frantic voice on the other end of the phone line when I picked up in the middle of the night. We rushed to the hospital but it was too late.

So the idea of another loved one struggling for life-giving oxygen while nothing more can be done to give it to them breaks my heart. If wearing a mask or staying away or managing the number of social contacts is what it takes to minimize that risk, it’s a no brainer for me.

Mask answers No. 3: My face is breaking out, now what? | Novant Health |  Healthy Headlines

I’m not afraid of Covid.

I’m not afraid of death.

I’m afraid of loss.

I realize I fall squarely on the side of caution and you might fall on the other side.

I respect that.

All I ask is that you not judge me any more than I am judging you. Make space in your heart for someone who may, for very personal and very reasonable, reasons have come to a different conclusion.

Each of us walks in the world according to our experience and our convictions.

I promise not to impose mine on you.

And I promise not to make assumptions about yours.

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…

Say What You Need To Say. You Might Not Get Another Chance.


Just a couple of days before Dominic left us, I and another one of my kids had a fuss.

He was frustrated and stressed and I was vulnerable and stressed and a few stray words ended up hurting my feelings.

I said, “I can’t talk anymore now”,  and hung up the phone in tears.

He was sorry and I was sorry and we immediately exchanged texts and let the feelings cool so we could resume our conversation the next day.

He sent me flowers.

flower-arrangement

They were still beautiful when he came home to bury his brother.

Read the rest here: Speak Your Peace-You May Not Get Another Chance

This Time Last Year

Oh the blessing of not knowing what’s coming!

This time last year much of my family had just wrapped up several days of boisterous togetherness forced upon us by Hurricane Dorian.

It was the first time Mama and Papa had seen their great-grandson and it was an unexpected blessing to ooh and aah over him, hold him and witness an infant milestone as he perfected the art of turning from his back to his stomach before our eyes.

Mama was energized and so much like her old self singing lullabyes and funny songs and absolutely delighting in him!

We had no way of knowing that in a few short weeks she would be gone.

I’m struggling a bit right now.

It seems that as the days grow shorter the light reflected in my windows mimics the springtime light that reminds my heart of when Dominic left us. The mirror image of his time of leaving and Mama’s time of leaving are not lost on this body.

He ran ahead in spring and she in fall. For those of us who live by the sun and length of day there is a corresponding physical reaction as the golden orb makes its journey through the sky.

I’ve fallen back into the pattern of going to sleep only to be awakened in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep. Every dream, every. single. night. has a theme of loss, impotence and deep sadness. I don’t know how to stop it.

Of course my dad has it harder.

I can’t help him any more than he could help me when Dom left us.

All I can do is listen, let him know I absolutely, positively understand and pray that each day he receives sufficient grace and strength to endure.

I know many in the child loss community express that nothing compares to burying a child. I would agree. Out of order death is uniquely traumatic. No parent births a child thinking he or she will outlive that baby brought home from the hospital.

But my mother’s death (the first significant loss since Dom died) has tossed me back on the rocks of grief.

It taps the wound and makes it fresh.

Places I thought were fairly healed are not nearly as scarred over as I thought.

So I’ll walk back through last year, remembering.

Feeling,

Crying,

Acknowledging that death is awful, whenever and however it visits us.

It Takes A Bit of Brave To Say What’s Important

Last year around this time I was hunkered down with my daughter-in-law, my grandson and her mama at my parents’ farm waiting on Hurricane Dorian to make landfall.

It was eight days with a full house, some craziness and lots and lots of sweet memories that I now treasure more than I could have ever imagined while we were making them.

My mama joined Dominic in Heaven just a few short weeks later.

Hurricanes and random shootings and sudden death can make a heart remember that relationships are really what matters.

One hard, hard lesson I’ve learned from waking up one morning to a never-coming-home son is this: You may not have another chance to make amends, say “I love you“, kiss a face or hug a neck.

I’m here to tell you:  don’t drown your important relationships in unsaid words, unshared feelings, unacknowledged wounds.  

All that does is guarantee distance grows between your hearts.  

If you let the distance become too vast, or the pile of unsaid truth get too high, you might just find you can’t reach that far or that high to reconnect.

It takes a bit of brave to say what’s important and uncomfortable. 

Read the rest here: Speaking Truth

Oh My! Anxiety Is Awful!

My world was rocked to its foundation the moment I heard the words, “He was killed in a motorcycle accident”.  

The worst thing I could imagine had come true.  

There was no protection from it happening again, no guarantee that THIS unbearable pain would be the ONLY unbearable pain I would have to carry.

I think my body chemistry was instantly transformed that morning to include rapid heartbeats, shallow breathing and a horrible creepy tension that climbs my spine and clenches its claws tightly at the base of my skull.

Read the rest here: Anxiety is Awful!

Father’s Day 2020: “Death Ends a Life, Not a Relationship”


“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ~ Tuesdays with Morrie

A parent’s love doesn’t end simply because a child leaves this earth.  

The relationship is not over as long as a  bereaved parent’s heart beats. 

Read the rest here: “Death Ends a Life, Not a Relationship”

If It Happened Once, It Could Happen Again

I was reminded today how close fear sits to the door of my heart and to the door of the hearts of many bereaved parents.

Once again a mom shared an experience of not being able to get in touch with a surviving child and how that quickly spiraled downward to a frenzy of fear.

To some it may seem like an overreaction. But to those of us for whom the one thing you think won’t happen, HAS happened, it made perfect sense.

Before Dominic was killed on his motorcycle I had the normal parental misgivings about my kids driving here, there and everywhere. I always prayed for them and tossed a, “Be safe!” as they walked out the door with keys in hand.

I shook my head sadly, teared up and felt awful when I saw an accident report on the news.

But I lived in the protective bubble of never having actually experienced sudden, tragic loss and I was blissfully unaware of how quickly and how completely life could change.

Now I know.

And fear creeps up my back and takes hold of my heart in an instant if anything unusual prevents a loved one from answering his or her phone when I think they should.

In the first couple of years I could not stop it. I was at the mercy of my feelings and my mind was quickly overwhelmed with all the “what ifs” and would imagine every possible awful outcome.

Knowing Fear. | Still Standing Magazine

So our family put some simple protocols in place to help everyone’s heart.

We text or call when we arrive safely somewhere; we offer alternative phone numbers if traveling with others so there’s a second means of contact; we know that if one of us calls another repeatedly it’s important and regardless of where we are or what we are doing, we need to pick up; and if we are on a longer trip with multiple stops we provide an itinerary.

Now I’ve learned a bit better how to push irrational thoughts away, to focus on the probable and to allow a little time and space for someone to get back in touch with me.

It’s hard and requires great effort.

But I was reminded just the other day that no matter how hard you try or how much you work to push those feelings away, they can threaten to overtake you regardless.

My dad and I talk every morning. He texts me when he’s up and I call him when I’m done with morning chores. On his end, two texts, one hour apart, had gone through to my phone with no response. He finally called me because he was afraid something was wrong.

The same day, I began a conversation with my daughter by saying, “Your brother called…” at which point she immediately asked what happened. I realized my mistake for starting with those words and quickly assured her everything was just fine.

You never forget making or receiving that phone call delivering the unchangeable and unbelievable awful news.

I am still prone to jump to conclusions.

If it happened once, it can happen again.

But I’m trying hard to learn to live in a less friendly, less safe world than I once depended upon. So I aim my heart and mind in the direction of the most likely instead of the most awful.

On the best days, it works.