Healthy Grieving: You Can’t Fake it Forever

There’s a common bit of advice in grief circles:  Fake it until you make it.

It’s not bad as far as it goes and can be pretty useful-especially just after the initial loss and activity surrounding it.

Like when I met the acquaintance in the grocery store a month after burying Dominic and she grabbed me with a giant smile on her face, “How ARE you?!!! It’s SO good to see you out!!!”

I just smiled and stood there as if I appreciated her interest, a deer caught in headlights, silently praying she’d live up to her talkative past and soon move on to another target.

Faked it.

Boom!

BUT there comes a time when faking it is not helpful.  In fact, it’s downright dangerous.

Read the rest here: Can’t Fake It Forever

Grieving My Missing Child is Not a 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

Growing Apart or Growing Stronger? Marriage, Grief and Child Loss.

It’s no secret that men and women are different.

It’s the subject of everything from romantic comedies to hundreds of books.

“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” and all that.

So it shouldn’t surprise those of us walking this Valley that our spouse may be grieving very differently than we do. But it often does. Because everything is amplified when it echoes off the high mountains on either side.

And just when we need it most-for ourselves and for extending to others-grace is often in short supply.

Read the rest here: Grieving Differently: Growing Apart or Growing Stronger?

Sharing Transparently-How Much is Too Much?

 For the most part, I’m pretty transparent.  Because secrets don’t serve anyone well.  

If I pretend to be stronger than I really am, I hide the truth that it is Christ in me that gives me strength.

If I don’t admit that certain words or actions hurt my heart, I enable thoughtless behavior.

If I only parrot “Sunday School” answers when someone asks about my faith in relation to my loss, then I silence other hearts wrestling with questions and pain in light of God’s sovereignty and love.

If I hide my tears, my pain, the missing then I minimize this great loss, And I will not make losing Dominic small.

Read the rest here: How Transparent Should I Be When Sharing?

Missing You-Post Holiday Blues

It’s a paradox really-that grieving hearts can be more anxious and more sorrowful BEFORE and AFTER a milestone day, birthday or holiday than on the day itself.

That’s not true for everyone, but it’s a frequent comment in our closed bereaved parent groups.

Fearful anticipation of how awful it MIGHT be can work me up into a frenzy.

Image result for grief anniversaries

Read the rest here: Post Holiday Blues: When The Grief Comes Crashing Down

If You Think You Can’t Hold On, Let Go

This has been an odd (to put it mildly) Christmas season. I haven’t done half of what I normally do and now there’s no time to catch up and do it.

I’ve been off balance since the first of November, hanging on by the seat of my pants and just barely managing the necessities.

Maybe last year’s pass made me soft and lazy. Whatever the reason I really, really, really needed to read what I wrote several years ago.

Back then there was no chance I’d produce a full-fledged, decked out spread for Christmas. But I’ve gotten better at it since.

Just not this year. So if you are falling behind or falling down, you’re not alone!

❤ Melanie

So many ways to be reminded of how hard it is to hold on in these days and weeks around Christmas.

If your heart is barely able to beat, the pressure to be “hap-hap-happy” can send you over the edge.

If your home is empty of cheerful voices, the constant barrage of commercials touting family togetherness can leave you feeling oh, so lonely.

Early sunsets and darker nights send feel-good hormones flying and leave a body aching for just a little relief from anxious and depressing thoughts.

SadGirlBeach

When you think you can’t hold on, let go.  

Read the rest here: When You Think You Can’t Hold On

Inviting Grief to the Table: Holiday Host Etiquette

Spending holidays with friends and family while grieving is hard. No one is really comfortable-neither the bereaved nor those hosting them.

But there are ways to welcome grief to your table, to pave the way for the broken and bruised to join you, if they are able.

Here’s something that’s been going around social media circles this holiday season and offers advice on hosting the bereaved this Christmas.

Holiday Host Etiquette by Sarah Nannen

(Emphasis and paragraphs added)

“If you’re inviting someone to your home and they’re grieving, be sure you’re inviting their grief to attend, too. It will be there, anyway.

Don’t invite someone with the goal of cheering them up for the holidays. Don’t expect them to put on a happy face in your home. Don’t demand they fake it til they make it or do something they don’t want to do, either.

Invite them with the loving intention of offering cheer and companionship and unconditional care during the holidays. To do this, you will need to honor and be responsive to their needs and emotions.

You can do this by privately acknowledging their grief when you make the invitation: ‘I know this season is extra hard and you’re heart is hurting. You and your grief are welcome in our home. Come as you are, we’d be honored to have you with us.’

It’s also incredibly loving to honor the reality that it’s often hard for grieving folks to know what they will want, need, be up for, or able to tolerate at the holidays.

Giving them an invite without the need for commitment and permission to change their mind is extra loving: ‘You don’t have to decide right now. If it feels good to be with us, we will have plenty of food and love for you-just show up! I’ll check in again the day before to see if you’re feeling up to coming over and if there’s anything you’d like me to know about how we can support you.’

Your grieving friends and fam need attentive care and responsiveness at the holidays, not plans to keep them busy, distracted, and happy. If they’re laughing, laugh with them. If they’re weeping, ask if they’d like your company or your help finding a quiet place to snuggle up alone for awhile.

If they’re laughing while weeping, and this is more common than you’d think, stay with them – this is a precious moment of the human experience that is truly sacred.

We don’t need to protect ourselves or each other from grief at the holidays. In fact, the more we embrace grief as an honored holiday guest, the more healthy, happy, and whole our holidays will be.”

In solidarity, Sarah Nannen

The truth is that loss and sorrow will visit every life eventually.

We do no one a favor by pretending it doesn’t exist, least of all ourselves.

I honestly believe that when we welcome the happy, the hope-filled AND the hopeless to our table we are most human.

Christmas 2021: What The Bereaved Need From Family and Friends

Dominic left us in April, 2014.

At the time all I could manage (barely!) was the twenty-four hours of each long, lonely and pain-wracked day.

After seven-plus years I’ve learned to look ahead, plan ahead and forge ahead to birthdays, holidays, special days and not-so-special days.

But it takes a great deal of effort and often uncomfortable conversations because no matter how long it’s been, I’m still dragging loss and its after affects behind me.

I wrote this in 2016 when I was desperate to communicate how hard it is to try to marry joy and sorrow, celebration and commemoration, light, love, life and darkness, grief and death.

It remains (I think) my most useful post: Grief and Holidays: What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

Christmas 2021: I Already Need a Break

I’m writing this on the first of December although it won’t be published until tomorrow, the second. I’m already tired and I haven’t even taken down Thanksgiving much less put up Christmas.

This past week has been full of unexpected twists, turns and surprises. I’m just not very good at navigating those curves like I used to be. I can white knuckle through them but it takes a lot out of me.

Thankfully, none of the worst case scenarios played out and my family enjoyed some sweet times of fellowship and celebration.

But I’m pooped.

I’m often caught between what I wish I could be and what I actually am.

I want so much to be the mom that makes sparkling memories instead of the mom who muddles through. But I can’t quite bridge the gap.

I honestly don’t think it matters how long it’s been since your child has left this earth, it’s always hard and each year presents unique challenges. The one thing that remains the same is my need for grace-to extend it to others and to have them extend it to me.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

So for the next several days I’m going to repost some of what I’ve written in the past few years about surviving the holidays.

Here’s the first one: Grief and Post-Holiday Exhaustion

Grief and Gratitude: Appreciating What I Have, Acknowledging What I Miss

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: Gratitude and Grieving: Appreciating What I Have, Acknowledging What I Miss

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