There Ain’t Nothing Easy About Death

Three years ago today I sat in a back bedroom with my laptop trying to summarize a whole life into a few paragraphs.

It wasn’t any easier doing that for my mama who lived a long life than it was for my son who (by most standards) lived a short one.

❤ Melanie

Ain’t nothing easy about death.

Ain’t nothing easy about walking away from a hospital room or a morgue or an accident site knowing that whatever wasn’t said will never be said. Nothing easy about facing final arrangements, making phone calls, writing obituaries, finding photos for a slide show, wrapping up a life into a few words and a few songs and a few pictures.

My heart is used to the dull thumping pain of sorrow.

It’s grown accustomed to setting aside despair and doing what has to be done.

I know how to forge ahead and keep living and plan as if my world hasn’t imploded, making calendars and clocks and seasons and holidays irrelevant.

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

Eight Years, Sigh…

The calendar is relentless. There’s no respect for seasons of mourning or grief anniversaries or weeks of sickness or unexpected early births of grandchildren.

The sun rises, the sun sets and another day is crossed off into history.

So somehow-without my permission-I find I’ve woken to mark the eighth anniversary (do you call such a horrible thing an anniversary?) of Dominic’s death.

It’s humbling to realize I (and my family!) are not only still standing but flourishing. It’s horrifying to comprehend I’ve continued to live and breathe for 2922 days since Dominic left us.

Most days are pretty good.

Today is hard.

❤ Melanie

When the numbness wore off (maybe around six months) I remember vaguely wondering what years down the road would feel like.

I tried to project the “me” of that moment into the future and imagine how I might deal with life changes, new circumstances, an empty nest, grandchildren (if there were any) and growing older alongside the heartache of burying a child.

But just as it’s impossible to comprehend how the addition of a child utterly transforms a family, it’s impossible to understand how the subtraction of one changes everything just as much.

We are all so very different than we would have been if Dominic were still here.

Life most likely wouldn’t be any more perfect because we would each grow and change, find common ground and find points of conflict, make new memories and drag up old hurts.

Still, none of us would carry the deep wound and traumatic injury of sudden and out-of-order death.

THAT is impossible to ignore. Even eight years later it’s a red flag, a sticky note, an addendum to every family gathering and holiday.

So we carry on.

Like generations before us who have walked this world dragging loss behind them, we keep going. It shapes us but doesn’t limit us. It informs our views but isn’t the only thing that molds our opinions and frames our choices.

My faith in God’s larger and perfect plan helps me hold onto hope even as I continue to miss my son.

But today is a hard day and I don’t think that’s going to change as long as I live.

I’m getting better at remembering Dominic’s birthday in ways that honor who he is and the man he might have become. I can’t say I’ve figured out any good way to walk through the yearly unavoidable and unwelcome reminder of the day he left us.

I’m learning to allow the grief waves to simply wash over me without resisting them.

Eventually the hours tick away, the day is over and I find I’ve survived yet again. 

It’s a Moment For You, A Lifetime For Me

I used to look at tombstones in cemeteries and do the math between the dates. 

I was most focused on how long this person or that person walked the earth. 

I still do that sometimes.  But now I do something else as well. 

I look to the left and the right to see if the person who ran ahead left parents behind.  My eye is drawn to the solitary stones with the same last name next to a double monument clearly honoring a married pair.

grieving mother at grave

And then I do a different kind of math. 

I count the years between the last breath of the child and the last breath of his or her mama.

Because while that first date marked an end for everyone else, for the mama, it marked the beginning of the rest of her life- a life she never imagined nor would have chosen.  

Read the rest here: For You, a Moment; For Me, a Lifetime

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might, I Wish I Could Forget Tonight…

Driving home in the dark from several weeks of Mama D duty, I was listening to an old-fashioned, very tame (by today’s standards!) BBC Agatha Christie podcast.

Suddenly the previously entertaining and mindless fare took a turn that plunged me into over an hour of mental wrestling.

One of the characters commented on the face of the deceased and said something like he “looked frightened and astonished”, his last emotion etched forever on his countenance.

THAT was enough to send this mama’s thoughts down an unfruitful and completely horrifying rabbit trail.

I wish that at almost eight years I could reach for a switch to shut out unwelcome images but so far I haven’t found one. I wish I could just will myself to ignore questions about what Dom might have felt, thought or said in the last microseconds of his life. I wish I didn’t know as much as I do about what happened.

I wish I knew more about how Jesus takes His beloved to Heaven.

These intrusive thoughts don’t come as often as they once did and I am (usually) better at pinning them down, changing my thinking and forcing my heart and mind to focus on something else.

But sometimes,

in the dark

when I’m especially tired and vulnerable,

they take over once again.

Grief Brain: Still Real After Eight Years!

Traumatic loss rewires your brain as well as your body.

So here I am, nearly eight years into the journey of sudden child loss and I’m reminded once again I am not the same “me” I once was.

Our newest grandbaby made an early entrance into the world nearly two weeks ago and I’m doing Mama D duty with his big brother. It’s a delight to be with my three year old grandson but it’s also challenging for this aging/post trauma brain.

Trying to navigate (super simple) routes to and from the hospital, to and from preschool, and to and from the closest grocery store has led to more than one U-turn and long way around. Sure I could use my phone’s GPS but I keep thinking I’ll finally remember next time.

I should know better by now…

❤ Melanie

I’m looking right at her.

know her.  In fact, I’ve known her for years.  But please don’t ask me her name.

I have no idea.

It happens to all of us-meet someone in the store or at the Post Office and you just know you know them, but cannot-for the life of you-remember a name.

file-cabinet

Chatting on, you search mental files desperately trying to make a connection you can hold onto.  Five minutes after she walks away it pops up-oh, yes!  That’s so-and-so from such-and-such.

Imagine if instead of searching mental files without success you can’t even find the file cabinet and start to wonder if one ever existed.

That’s what “grief brain” does to you.

Here are a few more examples of things that actually happened:

Read the rest here: Grief Brain: It’s a Real Thing!

Sudden, Unwelcome 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

Leaves Fall

We think leaves fall when we turn the calendar page to Autumn months.

Piles of red, gold and orange land beneath trees that grow increasingly barren until one day they are truly naked.

But leaves begin to fall as early as July-hardly noticed because they drift down lonely, one by one.  

single-leaf

We think people live to the fullness of years.  They begin in spring and pass through all the seasons before the cold winter claims them.

old-lady

But some survive only one season, or twonever enjoying the fruitful harvest of the latter years the younger years of hard work are meant to produce.

Read the rest here: Falling Leaves

Walking Through Grief With My Children

Bereaved parents often have several tasks before them in the days and months and years following the death of a child.

One of them is to help their surviving children navigate loss.

I have three earthbound children.  And they are grieving.

Their world changed in the same instant mine did.  Their hearts are broken too.

Read the rest here: Helping My Children Walk Through Grief

You Don’t Lose Them All At Once

It would be easier, in a way, if it happened all at once.

If the vivid memories of his voice, his laugh, his body language, his sense of humor just disappeared-POOF!-now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t. Then I could make a single adjustment.

But that’s not how it is.  Instead, the living proof of his existence recedes like a wave from the shoreline, only there’s no returning surge to remind me of the force that was Dominic.

Read the rest here: Slow Fade

Leave Nothing Unsaid

I happened to be traveling recently and saw that Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, has filmed a documentary about his mother titled Nothing Left Unsaid.  I don’t know much about him or the film, but the title immediately struck a chord in my heart.

I am learning so much through grieving my son.

I am learning by hard experience that we may not have tomorrow.

And I am learning that what weighs most heavily on my heart is not the things I said or did but the things I didn’t say or didn’t do.  

Read the rest here: Nothing Left Unsaid

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