Mourning A Lost Future

I read A GRIEF OBSERVED in my 30’s as another in a long list of “Books You Should Read”.  I gleaned a bit here or there that I thought might be of use later on.

But when Dominic ran ahead to heaven, it was the first book on grief I bought for myself and I read it like a starving man set down to a full table.  

This passage, in particular, was helpful in understanding how my absolute trust in the FACT of ultimate redemption of my pain and sorrow did absolutely NOTHING to take away the pain and sorrow-it only made it bearable.

If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.

C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Read the rest here: Wisdom From C.S. Lewis

Eight Years Is a Long Time

Today marks eight years since we gathered with friends and family to say our final good-bye to Dominic.

It had been eleven long days since the deputy woke me up on April 12th. Days when I was both unbelieving and overwhelmed by the fact my son would never cross the threshold again.

I woke up that morning numb.

I’d cried every day but for some reason when faced with this final act I couldn’t muster tears.

We received folks for a couple of hours before the service began and during that time I reached behind my back and placed my fingers in Dominic’s cold right hand clinging to the few moments I had left with his earthly shell.

So, so many people I didn’t expect to come, came. So, so many hugs and whispered words and sad smiles marched past as we were forced to participate in a parent’s worst nightmare.

When the funeral director indicated it was “time” I didn’t want to let go. I turned, kissed his cheek and drank in the last glimpse of his face in this life.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Eight years have come and gone.

The first few were excruciating-I experienced every moment of every day through my pain. I spent hours upon hours thinking about and processing what had happened and what I’d lost.

Gradually, over time, and by doing the work grief requires, I have become stronger and life has grown around my loss. I’ve learned that joy and sadness can coexist. Color has returned to my grayscale world. Most of the shattered pieces of me have reassembled themselves into a kind of whole. My family has survived.

I’m so thankful for every person who helped that day when we laid Dominic to rest. I’m so thankful for every person who has helped since. I’m especially thankful to my family for not giving up on me or on one another.

But I’m still astonished that nearly a decade has passed and Dominic is not part of a single memory or photograph.

Grief anniversaries stop me in my tracks and require my full attention.

Today is sacred. It’s a line in the sand marking “before” and “after”.

It deserves to be remembered.

Dominic deserves to be remembered.

So today I will remember.

Lenten Reflections : Letting Go of Regret to Make Space For Growth

Today’s fast is regrets.

That means learning to let go of past mistakes, missed opportunities, woulda/coulda/shoulda.

Because the truth is no one lives backwards.

It’s helpful to reflect on how past actions might have influenced present conditions but it is crippling to hold those thoughts and feelings so close that there’s no room for new ones.

Every one of the disciples ended up being less brave than they had sworn to be. Each carried a heart wound that could have stopped them from fruitful ministry after Jesus rose.

They might have allowed regret to bind them to the past but they didn’t.

Regret empties anticipation, flattens dreams and suffocated hope, because regret is a form of self-punishment. Whereas hindsight lets us learn from the past, regret beats us up with the past.

Alicia Britt Chole

There is no more fertile ground for regrets to flourish than surviving the death of a child (or anyone you love).

It’s even more tempting when the person leaves suddenly, unexpectedly and without any opportunity to at least say, “goodbye”. When Dominic was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident I woke to a world where there would never be a chance to say anything that hadn’t already been said.

It was devastating.

But it’s not helpful to rehearse what I might have said or done if I knew the last time I saw him would be The. Last. Time.

Instead I have to live forward, embrace lessons learned from my past without allowing them to destroy me.

The Lord’s mercies are “new every morning”.

I want to embrace them every sunrise emptied of yesterday’s regrets.

I can face today confident that the Lord who made me will mold me and use me even when I haven’t always (or even often) made the best choices. ❤

*I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.*

I Grieve Because I STILL Love

I confess-until it was MY son who left for Heaven before me I had NO idea that grief was really just love.

But when the person you love more than the breath in your body leaves you, the love remains.

And you have to find something to do with it.

So you sigh and you moan and you find ways to keep that person relevant despite the days, weeks, months and years (!) of experiences that interpose themselves between the last time you were able to hug his neck and the date on the current calendar.

If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.” ~James O’Barr

I grieve because I love.

My tears are a gift to the son I miss.  My sorrow honors his memory.  My broken heart gives evidence to the ones walking with me that my love is fierce and timeless.

Read the rest here: Love: The Reason I Grieve

Seems Like Yesterday and Forever…

The human heart is a funny thing-always working hard to protect itself from grievous injury yet prone to exactly what it tries to prevent.

I honestly believe that one of the gifts of early grief is disbelief.  Because if I could have understood at once what it meant that Dominic was really, truly GONE, I would have never lasted the first 24 hours.

Even now, going on eight years, my head plays games with my heart.

Read the rest here: Just Yesterday and Forever

Time, Child Loss and Major Life Changes

I remember thinking in the first days and weeks after Dominic’s accident that the world really needed to just STOP!

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise again felt like an abomination when my son was never coming home again. Shouldn’t the universe take notice that something was terribly, terribly wrong?

But it didn’t.

So life (even for me and my family) carried on.

Some days lingered like that last bit of honey in the jar-slipping slowly, ever so slowly into nights when my brain betrayed me by replaying all the ifs, whys and should haves as I tried in vain to get some sleep.

Others flew by and I found myself months further into a new year unable to remember how I got there and what I’d done for all that time.

My adult children married, moved, graduated, changed careers, and had their own child (another on the way!).

My mother joined Dominic in Heaven.

I got older.

We’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Daily life isn’t as difficult (most days) as it was in the beginning but my husband’s retirement has forced me to figure things out once again.

I can’t blame it all on the fact we’ve buried a child. I’m pretty sure most couples struggle to find a new normal when one or both give up long term employment for staying home.

Suddenly my little house kingdom has been overtaken by my husband’s love of music in the background (I’m a work in silence kind of gal), his tendency to leave a trail of breadcrumbs (paper, gum wrappers, tools) wherever he goes and a completely different wake/sleep/work cycle than my own.

I have a plan for the next day the night before. He treats every morning as a blank slate and takes a few hours to decide what he will do. By the time he gets going, I’ve nearly finished my list.

Trying hard to accommodate these changes has laid bare one of the main ways I’ve managed my grief for almost eight years.

I can’t make time stop but I work hard to control it. I schedule and plan and execute the plan in an attempt to reorder life so I don’t feel as vulnerable to its vagaries.

It’s a vain attempt.

My husband’s sense of time is challenging my coping mechanism. Once again I need to figure out how to navigate a changing world, how to carry grief and carry on.

I’m working on it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m Definitely Stronger

There’s a common misconception about grief among those who have never experienced the loss of a close loved one.

It goes something like this:  The first few weeks, months and the first holidays celebrated without them are the hardest.  But once the bereaved make it through THOSE, things get EASIER.

I’m here to tell you that, at least for me, it’s just not true.

Read the rest here: Stronger

Birthdays Are…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.

Eight years later and it seems a lifetime ago.

Read the rest here: Birthdays Are…Complicated

As If Time Was in Our Hands

Every spring and every fall we dutifully make the rounds to our clocks and digital devices, putting them first forward an hour and then back in an attempt to make the days “longer”.

As if time was in our hands.

The sun rises and sets according to the Creator’s schedule, we can neither speed the world’s turning, nor slow it down.

We can only choose whether to be present in the moments He grants us.

Read the rest here: Time Change

Even So, I Would Absolutely Still Choose You.

Some of us only felt tiny hands and feet pressing against the inside of our body.  

Some of us saw first steps or first grade. 

Some of us watched our child drive away to college certain it was the beginning of an adventure, not the beginning of the end.

Read the rest here: I’d Still Choose You

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