Blaming is Just So Easy

Dominic’s death has made me angry at times.  

And I really don’t have anyone on whom to focus that anger. 

I can blame Dom, but what will that do for my heart?

I can be angry at God, but the truth is, I have too long a history with Him to think that He is punishing me or that He isn’t the loving Father I know Him to be.

So often I end up casting blame on those who don’t live up to my standards of how they SHOULD be walking alongside me in this Valley.

Because all that anger has to go somewhere, right?

Businessman points his finger at you

Sad thing is, right when I need friends most, if I’m spending my time picking them apart because they aren’t approaching me in the most helpful ways or, worse-avoiding me altogether-then I am guaranteeing I’ll be alone and lonely.

It does hurt when folks say the wrong thing, don’t say anything or let mention of my missing son fall like a lead ball between us.  

But most often it isn’t because they MEAN to hurt me, it’s because they don’t know what to say or how to act.

helpful advice what not to say to a bereaved parent

Child loss and its lifelong aftermath is largely a secret in Western society.  

Even many mental health professionals don’t recognize its ongoing impact on a heart and life.  

I’m beginning to suspect that most of the people I know have been and are doing the best they can to walk alongside me in this Valley.  And, well, if it looks a little awkward or is kind of an on again/off again thing-I’ll give grace.  

Blaming is easy.  

But it pushes hearts apart. 

Right when I need them to come closer.  

says something small but fits into the empty space in your heart

Repost: Being There-No Substitute for Showing Up

I totally get itwe are ALL so busy.

Calendars crammed weeks and months in advance and no white space left over to pencil in lunch with a friend even though we desperately NEED it.

It seems impossible to make that call, write that note or stop by and visit a few minutes.

How can I meet my obligations if I use precious time doing the optional?

But when the unexpected, unimaginable and awful happens, suddenly that calendar and all those appointments don’t matter.

Balls drop everywhere and I don’t care.

Read the rest here:  Being There: No Substitute For Showing Up

Leaky Grief

Even though I purpose to be authentic and open about how Dominic’s absence impacts my life, I find that I may go days or weeks without realizing I’m stuffing things again.

Most of the time I figure it out because the grief has found the path of least resistance and leaked onto other people or has made me sick, tired or both.

When I catch myself overreacting to the less than attentive store clerk or avoiding phone calls or snapping at family members I need to take a moment and search for what’s behind that.

When I dread another day, sit for too long in my chair instead of getting up and getting going, procrastinate over simple and easy tasks, have trouble sleeping or am achy all over I need to reexamine my week and see what grief triggers I overlooked or tried to ignore.  

At first I was very aware of carrying the load of grief and sorrow-tears made it obvious and impossible to ignore.

But as time has progressed (now 4 1/2 years) I find I can seem to breeze right past things that would have stopped me in my tracks during the first twelve months.

Still, they DO pluck at my heart even if I think they don’t.  

best way out is always through

And if I refuse to drag those feelings out into the light, they will find their own path.

Grief will not be denied forever.  

It leaks out somewhere.

Better for me to face up, own it and choose how it comes out.

re_set as many times as you need to

A Shepherd’s Heart

If you’ve read even a few of my posts you know that I have a small flock/herd of sheep and goats. 

I have learned firsthand why God called His most capable leaders from among shepherds.  It’s a tough job and often a thankless job.

But it molds a heart of love and compassion in ways no other work can do.  

The Twenty-third Psalm isn’t just words to me, it’s my life:

One  night, as I went to close the gate to the goat pen, I noticed an older doe was missing-I didn’t have to do a head count, I just looked at the herd and could tell someone wasn’t there.

Sure enough, Bella hadn’t made it back from afternoon foraging.

I hollered out to my son and, flashlights in hand, we went looking for her.  We were pretty certain she must have been knocked down and was unable to get up.  Goats can get kind of pushy if there is a particularly tasty bit of browse and often butt one another.

After exploring all the usual places, he going one way and me another, he found her.

Yep, down and helpless.

In the edge of the woods.

Where, if we left her, she would be dead come morning.

So he carried her back to the pen (not an easy task with a full-grown goat!).

Why? Because that’s what shepherds DO.

welcome home goats

They tend the herd and flock. They don’t rest until every one is accounted for.

And it’s what God calls HIS shepherds to do as well: know the flock, feed the flock, go out in the dark and the briers and find the missing one.

Not to rest satisfied that they will somehow find their own way home.

I am thankful for Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Perfect Shepherd.  

jesus the shepherd the i am

We who follow Him are called to be shepherds of our own flock-the persons He places under our watchcare, the ones He brings across our path that need love, compassion, a healing touch and a guiding hand.

It’s a tough job. 

Often a thankless job. 

But it’s our job.  

feed my shee[

Grace Like Rain: Why It’s So Darn Hard to Ask For Help

I would much rather be the one bringing the casserole than the one receiving it.  

Not because I’m ungrateful but because I’m uncomfortable.

It is humbling to have to depend on other people.  It’s hard to admit I can’t manage on my own.  It’s downright humiliating to need help with daily tasks that used to come easy.

But truth is, I cannot make it alone.

Not now and really, not before-although I had kept up a pretty good front for decades.  

While it is hard and humbling and sometimes humiliating, it’s healthy to admit when I’ve reached the end of my own reserves.

Because we were made for relationship. 

Helping one another is how human hearts connect and grow together. It’s how we experience grace.

And there’s more than enough grace to go around.  

Remember studying the water cycle in elementary school?  A great big circle-from the ocean to the sky raining down on the dry land and running back to the ocean.  Plenty of water to go around.

Never actually being used up, just rearranged and reapportioned.

Grace is like that.  It passes from one heart to the next to the next.  Rearranged and reapportioned but never used up.

When I give, that’s wonderful.  That’s easy (for me) because it makes me feel like I’m in control, on top, doing my part.

When I receive, that’s a little harder.  Because I feel like maybe I’m not trying hard enough, not working diligently enough, not contributing my share.

But that’s a lie. 

Because ultimately ALL grace flows from God through Christ. 

When I give, I’m giving out of the abundance He has showered on me.  When I receive, I am receiving out of the abundance He has showered on someone else.

In the end, it’s all God.  

If I refuse the grace He offers through others, I’m refusing HIM. 

Not them.  

I need to remember that.  

grace is a blanket of hope

 

 

Repost: Zero Points for Pretending-You Can’t Hide Your Heart

Oh, sometimes I think I’m clever enough to do it.

I edit my words, costume my body and fix my face so  I can act the part.  But truth is, I never manage to fool anyone who looks closer than my plastic smile.

I can’t hide my heart.

And I don’t know why I try-I don’t get points for pretending.

There’s no prize at the end of this long road for the one who makes it with fewest tears.

Read the rest here:  Zero Points for Pretending: You Can’t Hide Your Heart

Why It’s So Important to Model Grief For Our Children & Grandchildren

It’s tempting to try to hide our tears and fears from our living children and grandchildren.  

Who wants to overload a young heart and mind with grown-up problems?

There is definitely a place and time to shelter little people-it’s never appropriate to offload onto small shoulders what we just don’t want to carry ourselves.

But it is neither helpful nor healthy to pretend that sorrow and sadness don’t follow loss.  

im fine now read it upside down

When I stuff feelings and insist on keeping a “stiff upper lip” I’m telling my kids that it’s not OK to admit that they are struggling.

When I act like it’s no big deal to set up the Christmas tree and deck the halls without their brother here, I’m encouraging them to remain silent instead of speaking up if their hearts are heavy instead of happy.

When I never voice my discomfort with certain activities or social events I am modeling a false front and fake smiles.  

Of course, there are times we all have to suck it up and suck it in along this path.  But that shouldn’t be the norm.  As I’ve said over and over before-if we stuff our hearts full of unreleased feelings, we leave no room for the grace and mercy God wants to pour into them.

I can tell you that many, many folks have interviewed surviving siblings years and decades after their brother or sister left and have consistently discovered that most of them tried hard to live up to whatever standards their grieving parents set. 

If Mom and Dad refused to talk about the loss, then they refused to talk about it too.  If, on the other hand, the family observed open communication, they were able to process feelings in real time instead of stuffing and having to deal with them later.

family never gets over the death of a loved one

One of the greatest challenges in child loss (or any profound loss) is creating space within our closest grief circle to allow each person affected to express themselves whatever that looks like.  

But it’s so, so important!  

Don’t hide your tears.  

Don’t shut down the questions.  

Don’t lock away the uncertainty and anxiety child loss brings in a trunk and only bring it out when no one’s watching.  

Because the little people (and not so little people) in your house are ALWAYS watching.  

They need permission to grieve.  ❤

Capacity-to-grieve