Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday.
I loved everything about it: the color scheme, the food (I love, love, love to cook-it was never a burden), family and friends gathered around the table, and the wonderful slowness of the day as it lingered into nightfall.
It was more flexible than Christmas for including all sorts of folks who otherwise didn’t have someplace to go. Living near colleges meant that we welcomed students from around the world-we might have two or three dozen laughing faces milling about.
It was wonderful.
And I loved going around the circle, tummies bursting, to share what people were thankful for and why.
When Dominic left us everything changed.
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2016/11/24/the-power-of-lament/
Gratitude does not undo grief.
There, I said it.
Gratitude is important. It is (in my opinion) a necessary ingredient for a healthy and hope-filled and useful life. It is the key to any real happiness a heart might find on this broken road.
But it cannot fill up the empty place where Dominic used to be.
Grief does not preclude gratitude.
Although some broken hearts swear it does. They have convinced themselves that if they cannot have the one thing they really want, then nothing else matters.
That’s a lie as well.
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2017/11/20/gratitude-and-grieving-appreciating-what-i-have-acknowledging-what-i-miss/
Rocking babies I never dreamed that one day my life would look like this.
I never imagined that one of those tiny bodies I held close to my mama heart would not outlive me.
Now I sit in the same rocking chair in the dark, thinking about how so many things I wouldn’t have written into my story are now part of it.
And if I’m honest, it can easily overwhelm my heart. It can carry me to a place of despair and desperation where there’s no room for thanksgiving-not the holiday OR the feeling.
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/11/22/thanksgiving-as-sacrifice/
We are days away from plunging headfirst into the rough and tumble holiday season.
Thursday is Thanksgiving and I don’t know about you, but it seems that once I eat the turkey and dressing, the clock moves faster and the days crowd one another in a race to Christmas and the end of the year.
So I want to take a minute to think about how important it is to make and maintain space for grief during this busy season.
You have to do it.
I know, I know-where to fit it in between family gatherings, social engagements, mandatory office parties and children’s pageants?
If you don’t, though, the grief will out itself one way or another.
So may I offer the following practical suggestions for this upcoming holiday season?
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/11/19/the-importance-of-making-space-for-grief-during-holidays/
I have never wanted to make my life journey with blinders on. I realized young that MY perspective is not the only one. I understand that more clearly now.
So I try hard to think about, acknowledge and accommodate the feelings and needs of others.
But it’s especially challenging since Dominic left us. And doubly so this time of year when every sight, smell and song screams, “It’s the holidays and HE IS NOT HERE!“
I may not be as thoughtful to some in my circle as want to be, but I will expend every ounce of energy and effort I can muster to make space for my living children’s needs during this season.
Read the rest here:https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2017/11/10/holidays-and-grief-making-space-for-surviving-siblings-needs/
It cannot be overstated: holidays are extremely hard after loss. Every family gathering highlights the hole where my son SHOULD be, but ISN’T.
There is no “right way” or “wrong way” to handle the holidays after losing a child.
For many, there is only survival-especially the very first year.
These days also stir great internal conflict: I want to enjoy and celebrate my living children and my family still here while missing my son that isn’t. Emotions run high and are, oh so difficult to manage.
So I’m including some ideas from other bereaved parents on how they’ve handled the holidays. Many of these suggestions could be adapted for any “special” day of the year.
Not all will appeal to everyone nor will they be appropriate for every family. But they are a place to start.
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2016/09/04/practical-ideas-for-dealing-with-the-holidays-after-child-loss/
This is the most shared post on the site.
When I wrote it, I was writing my personal feelings after a couple of years trying to fumble through holidays with friends and family. It was an honest expression of how hard it was and continues to be to navigate the stress-filled season of Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.
I’m not sure I’ve grown any more skillful in fitting all the pieces together-especially as our family grows and moves in different directions-but I continue striving to keep the lines of communication open and to try to acknowledge and accommodate everyone’s needs as best I can.
“I know it is hard. I know you don’t truly understand how I feel. You can’t. It wasn’t your child.
I know I may look and act like I’m “better”. I know that you would love for things to be like they were: BEFORE. But they aren’t.
I know my grief interferes with your plans. I know it is uncomfortable to make changes in traditions we have observed for years. But I can’t help it. I didn’t ask for this to be my life.
I know that every year I seem to need something different. I know that’s confusing and may be frustrating. But I’m working this out as I go. I didn’t get a “how to” manual when I buried my son. It’s new for me every year too.“
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2016/09/03/grief-and-holidayswhat-the-bereaved-need-from-friends-and-family/
One of the things I’m learning in this journey is that people are much more likely to listen and be willing to make accommodations for my tender heart if I approach them BEFORE the “big day”-whatever that may be.
And yes, it seems unfair that those of us carrying a load of grief are also the ones that have to alert others to the load we’re carrying, but that’s simply the way it is.
They don’t know what they don’t know.
So, if you need to change things around consider speaking up NOW instead of huffing off LATER.
Here are some tips on how to approach those hard conversations: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2016/09/02/grief-holidays-and-hard-conversations/
The question is starting to pop up with greater frequency in our closed bereaved parent groups: How do you make it through the holidays after child loss?
So for the next few days I’m going to share again from the many posts I’ve written in the past four years addressing different aspects of holiday planning, celebration, family dynamics and just plain survival for grieving parents and those who love them. ❤ Melanie
Most parents feel a little stressed during the holidays.
We used to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving before our 24/7 supercharged and super-connected world thrust us into hyper-drive. Now we zoom past the first day of school on a highway toward Christmas at breakneck speed.
For bereaved parents, the rush toward the “Season of Joy” is doubly frightening.
Constant reminders that this is the “most wonderful time of the year” make our broken hearts just that much more out of place. Who cares what you get for Christmas when the one thing your heart desires–your child, alive and whole–is unavailable…
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2015/11/19/season-of-joy-blessing-the-brokenhearted-during-the-holidays/
It’s all well and good when things are going just dandy to post a daily, “I’m thankful for [whatever]”.
It’s another thing entirely when the bottom has fallen out or your world is turned upside down or your heart is shattered and you can’t find even the tiniest spark of gratitude in your dark world.
Yet the Bible clearly states I am to “give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/11/12/when-you-just-dont-feel-thankful/