You Are God’s Treasure

Grief tells lies.  

And one of the biggest lies grief whispers is, “You are worthless.”

That is simply not true.

Read the rest here: You are a Treasure

So, How Do I DO This?

This is still the question that comes up most often in bereaved parent groups: ‘How do I DO this?’

No one is prepared for the devastation of child loss. There are no manuals issued as you walk away from your son or daughter’s earthly shell.

And what makes it worse is that because child loss is every parent’s worst nightmare, no one wants to talk about what happens after everyone else goes back to their lives and families are left alone with grief, isolation, devastation and desperate pain.

❤ Melanie

After the flurry of activity surrounding the funeral, our house was so, so quiet. 

Even with the five of us still here, it felt empty.  

Because Dominic was gone, gone, gone and he was not coming back.

And the silence pounded into my head and heart until it became a scream: 

How do I DO this? 

Read the rest here: How Do I DO This? The Question Every Bereaved Parent Longs to Ask

Rescued Memories

During the most isolating months of the pandemic, I spent a good deal of time down at my dad’s place.

Together with my youngest son, we dug through and sorted out generations of stuff and memories.

I’ve surrounded myself in my own home with bits and pieces from these treasures that speak courage and history to my heart. They tell a tale of lives lived, love passed down and hard work, endurance and faith.

It helps to know where you come from.

Most folks want antiques that can fetch a high price or at least an envious look from those who wish they were so fortunate to have them.

Not me.

I want the things that have passed through the hands and speak to the work of those I’ve loved-the worn down, worn out relics of lives well lived and hearts poured into the next generation.

Read the rest here: Rescuing Memories

There Are No Stages of Grief

I first shared this several years ago and while it’s absolutely true that Kubler-Ross did not intend for her model to be applied to grieving parents it has been nonetheless.

And the damage that has been wrought in the name of interpreting the traumatic loss of out of order death through the lens of the “Stages of Grief” is undeniable and incalculable.

So, so many people have been judged or marginalized because the way they processed their loss didn’t follow a predetermined path. So, so many hearts have been hurt because they’ve been deemed “abnormal” or “pathological” or “maladaptive”.

I’m here to tell you that there are NO stages of grief-at least not the way they have entered common parlance or even common therapeutic practice.

Grief is a complex process that makes its own way through a person’s psyche. It’s unpredictable and untamable.

Grief after child loss is doubly so.

Don’t let anyone circumscribe your experience by outdated and disproved ideas about what you should or should not be feeling.

❤ Melanie

Ever since Elizabeth Kubler Ross published her best-sellling book, “On Death and Dying” both professionals and laypersons have embraced her explanation of the “five stages of grief”.  

The model has been used as a faulty standard to measure grievers’ “progress” for decades.

Trouble is, she got it wrong.  

And it is especially wrong for bereaved parents or anyone who suffers traumatic or sudden death.

Read the rest here: Stages of Grief ? Nope.

Always Minding the Gap: How Families are Changed in the Wake of Loss

I think often about the things my children know that others don’t have to know.

The fact that life is precious, short and never guaranteed no matter how young or healthy you may be.

The reality that doing everything right or keeping your nose clean or staying “prayed up” doesn’t guarantee you’ll be spared from death, destruction or devastation.

It’s true that several generations ago folks grew up knowing all these things as a matter of course. But we’ve forgotten so much of this with antibiotics, life extending interventions, emergency medicine and abundant food, water and other resources.

I never interact with my earthbound kids without thinking about all the ways we are changed because death has invaded our home and our lives.

❤ Melanie

My youngest son worked hard to retrieve some precious digital photos from an old laptop.

Being very kind, he didn’t tell me that we might have lost them until he was certain he had figured out a way to get them back.

So he and I had a trip down memory lane the other evening.

It was a bumpy ride.

Read the rest here: Mind the Gap

The Second Year Can Be Surprisingly Hard

It’s not true for everyone but it is true for enough of us. The second year after child loss can be especially hard.

Numbness and the rhythm of all the “firsts” in the twelve months following Dominic’s death kept me both anticipating the shock and protecting me from its full impact.

The second year was when it dawned on me that I was doomed to repeat this cycle as long as I lived.

I was absolutely overwhelmed.

Melanie

I remember very well the morning I woke on April 12, 2015-it was one year since I’d gotten the awful news; one year since the life I thought I was going to have turned into the life I didn’t choose.

I was horrified that my heart had continued to beat for 365 days when I was sure it wouldn’t make it through the first 24 hours. 

And I was terrified.

Read the rest here:  Why is the Second Year SO Hard?

Can We Just Speak Honestly About Prayer?

I’m really thankful that more and more Christians are willing to shed false positivity and embrace lament.

Because the truth is lots of stories this side of eternity end in tragedy or at least unmet expectations and sorrow instead of glorious, victorious sunshine and roses.

Crops and marriages fail. Dreams come and go.

We hope for healing but don’t receive it.

Loved ones die.

Let’s just be honest about it-about ALL of it.

❤ Melanie

In the wake of burying Dominic, the most difficult spiritual discipline for me to recover has been prayer.

In part because my heart just doesn’t know what to ask for or how to talk to a God Who has allowed this pain in my life.  

In part because I don’t really have a framework for placing the prayers I want to pray inside my ongoing struggle to commit my future and the future of my family to the hands of a Father Who didn’t step in to prevent Dominic’s death.

I still struggle with this.  

Read the rest of this post here: The Problem of [Un]Answered Prayer

Grief Journey Update: Eight Plus Years and Counting

In the years since I started sharing in this space I’ve had many challenges in addition to the ongoing burden of missing Dominic.

Our family has gained members, lost members, my health has declined, my husband has retired and all my earthbound children have experienced lots of important and sometimes uncomfortable or unwelcome life changes.

For some reason the past two and a half years have been more difficult to navigate in certain ways since the first two years after Dominic’s death. In fact, the past six months have been particularly hard but I can’t put my finger on exactly why.

Maybe it’s fatigue-emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational-or maybe it’s what marathoners know as “the wall”. That place when you’re fully committed to running the race but suddenly wondering what the heck you’ve gotten yourself into.

I don’t run marathons (just look at me and you’ll know that!) but I do tend to push through pain and discouragement and what others consider unbeatable odds to reach whatever goal I’ve set for myself. I haven’t been able to employ the usual pep talks or psychological tricks or external cues to do that of late.

People running in city marathon on street

I’m spending too much time thinking about what I need to get done and not enough time doing it.

I’ve got tons of half-written blog posts in my draft folder and too few finished ones lined up to publish.

I remember feeling a bit like this when I graduated from college three months pregnant with my daughter. One giant task was accomplished but one, largely unknown, task was staring me in the face.

That summer is a blur.

I know I did some practical and predictable things to get ready for Fiona’s arrival but I’m not sure I really had much of a plan.

I’ve been walking the road of child loss for more than eight years now. I’m committed to sharing the journey with whomever it might help. I have a basic daily routine that at least includes finding old posts to re-share if not carving out time to create new ones.

The other hours of my day are spent talking or messaging with family and friends, moderating an online bereaved parent community, trying to keep my house relatively clean (no white gloves allowed!), walking two miles each morning, doing research, cooking meals and handling five or six (typically) other random and/or pressing issues along with caring for our menagerie of pets and livestock.

And while my life is good, I’m definitely experiencing dissonance between what I thought it would be like at 58 and what it actually IS.

I thought I’d be writing books or making quilts or teaching craft or cooking classes in my local church.

I absolutely, positively didn’t think my story would include child loss! I couldn’t have imagined that fused bones in my hands and wrists would keep me from doing so many of the things I love to do.

I’m not complaining (well, I’d complain to anyone who’d listen about Dominic not being here) but I am just being honest.

I know the saying, “Grieve the life you thought you’d have and then move on with the life you actually have and be grateful for it”.

Trust me, I have and I am.

I am so, so grateful for each day’s beauty, blessings and the grace and strength to appreciate them.

I am beyond grateful for a loving family, my precious grandsons, the gift of modern medicine and compassionate companionship of friends who help make my burdens easier to carry!

I do wake every morning thankful for the breath in my body and the promise that this body is not the only one I’ll ever have.

I look forward to the final and complete redemption of every pain, every tear, every sad and awful thing, and the restoration of all that has been stolen.

This life continues to be one I didn’t choose but one I choose to make as joy-filled and as productive as possible.

A challenge?

Absolutely.

Child Loss Lasts a Lifetime

I’ve been reminded afresh in the past few days that loss changes everything.

We often wish it didn’t-that it would last only a season and then things would return to normal. But they don’t.

When one life is yanked violently from the fabric of a family the hole simply can’t be mended. You have to learn to live with the fragility and compromised strength that remains.

It’s hard and it keeps on being hard.

❤ Melanie

Read the rest here: Grief Lasts a Lifetime

Good Friends Are Shelters In Grief’s Storm

If you’ve never been caught short in the midst of an unexpected downpour you might not know how important refuge under the boughs of a cedar or oak tree can be.

Living in the middle of woods, punctuated by open pastures, I’ve retreated more than once to the safety of thick boughs which limit the rain’s ability to soak me through.

I have memorized every safe haven between the road and the middle of my 34 acres.

Faithful friends are like those sheltering trees-offering respite to a weary heart, providing a safe space to take a breath, granting protection when we are pursued by the enemy of our souls.

Read the rest here: We All Need Sheltering Trees

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