At Least?

“At least you had him for 23 years.”

Yes, but I thought I’d have him for my whole life!

“At least you still have three other children.”

Yes, but which one of yours would you choose to do without?

“At least  you know he’s in Heaven.”

Of course that brings me comfort and hope, but it doesn’t take away my pain.

A wise friend once said that any comment to a griever that begins with “at least” needs to remain unsaid.

It’s especially true for those of us grieving our child.

Because there is no “at least” in child loss.

NONE.

child-and-mama-heart-together

My Juggling Days Are Over

When I was a young mother, my brother used to love to sit back and wait to see how many things I could do at once.

I could hold a baby, iron a shirt and talk on the phone at the same time.  I could pick things up with my toes when I didn’t want to disturb the sleeping child in my lap and couldn’t reach the object with my hand.

Four children in six years, breastfeeding, homeschooling and taking care of all the household chores meant that I got pretty darn good at keeping multiple balls in the air at the same time.

juggling huff post

Those days are over.

Like so many things at this point in my life I don’t know how much of what I experience and feel is a function of getting older (definitely middle aged here!) and how much is attributable to grief following the death of Dominic.

But this I do know:  I am only able to focus on a single task, thought, desire or problem at a time. If I try to multi-task, I might as well cry, “Uncle!” from the start.

It’s a little discouraging.  

Often I feel like I’ve wasted an hour or a day or even a week. What exactly did I get done?

But it’s also a kind of freedom.  

My household isn’t nearly as busy as it once was so there’s really no need to rush from here to there or stack task on top of task.

I’m learning that taking time, talking to people for as long as they need me, doing something well even if I don’t do it quickly are all perfectly acceptable ways to spend a day.

And while I miss so much of who I was before Dominic ran ahead to heaven, I don’t miss the frantic craziness of trying to do too much in too little time.

I will receive THIS change as a gift.  

if you are always racing to the next moment

 

Bereaved Parents Month Post: What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know

I wrote this post December, 2015.  It hadn’t been long since I joined an online community of bereaved parents and began to see that I wasn’t the only one who had friends and family that misunderstood child loss.

I was spending a lot of time in my life trying to help others comprehend, just a little, what it felt like to bury a child.

Trying to give them a tiny taste of how this pain is so, so different than any other I had experienced.  Begging them to toss the popular ideas bandied around that grief followed “stages” and was “predictable”.

I re-share every so often because it seems to help, a little.  I’m re-sharing today in  honor of Bereaved Parents Month. ❤

People say“I can’t imagine.

But then they do.

They think that missing a dead child is like missing your kid at college or on the mission field but harder and longer.

That’s not it at all.

What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know

Bereaved Parents Month

Before Dominic ran ahead to heaven I knew only a handful of bereaved parents, all of whom I met after their bereavement.

I had never walked with anyone through this Valley.

Now I am friends with dozens of them and there are hundreds more I “know” online through private groups and blogs.

Until this was MY life, I would have dismissed “Bereaved Parents Month” as another random and narrowly applicable declaration by some group trying to muster support for their own agenda.

I’m ashamed to say that, but it’s true.  

Like most folks,  I assumed my life would follow the typical trajectory of marriage, children, their marriages and grandchildren in an unbroken chain of generations-the younger burying the older.

That’s how it is supposed to be. 

But that isn’t how it has turned out for me and so, so many others.  

Now, “Bereaved Parents Month” is near and dear to my heart.  I understand that we need to raise awareness of the ongoing challenges parents face in the wake of child loss.

I see clearly that those outside the child loss community really have no clue.  

How could they?

So my challenge to readers for the remainder of this month is twofold:  

  • If you are a bereaved parent, please use this time to share articles, blog posts and personal experiences on your social media platforms.  One of the easiest ways to raise awareness and to educate the public is simply to make the topic unavoidable. (That’s what book tours and movie trailers and press releases do.)  Be honest.  Be bold.  Be unapologetic for the fact that you continue to miss your child, that you continue to love your child and that the life you have NOW is very different than the life you had before loss.
  • If you are the friend or family member of a bereaved parent, please read what we post-even if your first response is “Oh, no!  Not again!”  However tired you are of hearing about our loss and ongoing struggle cannot compare to the exhaustion of living it.  Honor our child and us by listening.

Compassionate response is only possible when we begin to understand what another heart is facing.  

This month is an opportunity to do that.  

Let’s make the most of it.

juliy bereaved parents month

Repost: Grief is NOT Sin

Grief is not sin.  

It wasn’t until another grieving mom asked the question that I realized there are some (many?) in the community of believers that think grief is sin.

Not at first, mind you-everyone is “allowed” a certain amount of time to get over the loss of a dream, the loss of a job, the loss of health or the loss of a loved one.

But carry that sadness and wounded heart too publicly for too long and you better be ready for someone to question your faith.

Read the rest here:  Grief is Not Sin

Attitude Adjustment

This week has been challenging on multiple fronts and the challenges kept coming at the most inopportune moments.  None of the things I faced was truly awful but each wave of stress swept over me exactly when I thought my head would be above water and I could breathe easy for just a bit.

I admit that by Friday morning my attitude was pretty awful.

And I was feeling rather justified and satisfied in my bad attitude-some people had let me down, some people had lashed out against me, my hips hurt, my feet hurt and my “to do” list had lengthened every day instead of getting shorter as I worked through the items.  I was not looking forward to next week which is going to be filled with daily interaction with strangers and increased responsibility for children I don’t know.

But a conversation with my daughter (O Wise One!) helped turn that around.  

She didn’t do it by shaming me or tossing Bible verses at me or refusing to acknowledge the very real challenges, stress and pain I faced.

She did it by turning my heart and mind to the children I would have the opportunity to reach next week in our community through VBS.

She did it by reminding me of the many children she and our family have known through the years that may not need to hear the ABCs of how to receive Christ (because they have heard that before) but may need the undivided attention of a trusted adult for just five minutes out of a long summer.  

let the little children come to me

She helped me remember I love children and I love seeing their faces light up in the glow of genuine affirmation and encouragement.

She reminded me who I really am.  

Sometimes we all need an attitude adjustment and her wise words helped adjust mine.

I have a shepherd’s heart.

It’s why I go to extraordinary lengths to save a member of my flock.  It’s why I will drop everything to come to the aid of a broken heart.  It’s why there is no such thing in our house as being “too busy” when someone reaches out and needs a hug.

But for a few days I forgot that.

I had forgotten my true identity in the frenzy of trying to live up to others’ expectations and in allowing others’ remarks or actions to dictate my own.

I forgot that the only One Who matters is the One Who made me.

When I remember that I am the beloved child of a loving Father Who has promised to meet every need I have through the riches of His bounty in Christ Jesus, I am free to be the person He created me to be.

And that’s who I want to be.

Nothing-you-do-can-change-Gods-love

 

Repost: Memorial Day

Last year around this time, my eldest son received his captain’s bars and had just begun Officer Training School.

jm captain

This year, it’s even more real to me that one of my own children may be called upon to risk or give his life for the life and liberty of another.

And the number of mothers I know whose child has died in service or because of service related wounds or PTSD has grown ever larger.  

Memorial Day is not “just another holiday”.

It is a solemn occasion that merits our deepest reverence.

We must never forget:   Freedom isn’t free.

Read the rest here:  Memorial Day