Amazing *FREE* Opportunity for Bereaved Parents

If you are a bereaved parent and can fly,

drive

or walk to Hot Springs, Arkansas October 6-7

you will want to make the journey.

April Wendland, a bereaved mama with a heart to reach others with hope and love has organized a conference just for us.  

And it’s *FREE* to bereaved parents.

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From the website:  

“THROUGH THIS VALLEY is a faith based conference designed BY bereaved parents, FOR bereaved parents.

We know the deep pain. We know the longing.

We know the questions. We know the heartache.

But we’ve also found some healing. We’ve found some peace for our hearts.

We’ve found some answers.

And we understand the Healer in new & grateful ways.

It is our desire to share what we’ve learned with other bereaved parents who are searching for answers. And being together with others who have gone through similar experiences somehow gives us all a little more strength & comfort too. You are not alone. There is hope. This conference will change the lives of those who have open hearts & ears to hear.

There is no charge to the bereaved parents for the THROUGH THIS VALLEY conference.

All speakers, attendees & most staff are bereaved parents.”

I’m going.

Wanna join me there?  

Click here for more information or to register:  Through This Valley

me too sharing the path

 

 

Surviving Grief Anniversaries

I know I’m not the only one who carries a calendar in my head that threatens to explode like a ticking timebomb.  Days that mean nothing to anyone else loom large as they approach.

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The date of his death.

The date of his funeral.

His birthday.

My birthday.

The day he should have graduated from law school

On and on and on.

How can I survive these oppressive reminders of what I thought my life would look like? How can I grab hold of something, anything that will keep my heart and mind from falling down the rabbit hole of grief into a topsy-turvy land where nothing makes sense and it’s full of unfriendly creatures that threaten to gobble me whole?

Every family,

every child that has run ahead and

every situation is unique.

What works for one person (even in the same family) won’t necessarily work for another. But there are some ways to make these days a little easier.

Here’s a list of what has helped my heart and the hearts of others walking this journey. Take what may help and toss the rest:

  • Invite friends and family to a special celebration featuring foods and/or activities that honor your missing child.  On the first anniversary of Dominic’s homegoing, his friends brought lunch and they shared stories and memories with me-many of which I hadn’t heard since he was living away from home when he left us.  I didn’t do a lot of talking, but just listening was a beautiful way to pass that day.
  • Ask folks to do a “random act of kindness” in your child’s name.  Some parents have printed out cards (like photo Christmas cards) and distributed them with a picture and brief information about their child and a way to post the RAK online (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • If you have a charitable organization or scholarship or other project that bears your child’s name, remind people of it and request donations (if appropriate). Many times friends and family long to do something tangible to show they have not forgotten either.
  • For birthdays and holidays, purchase a cake (at a local bakery) or toys/gifts for a child the same age as your own.  I went a couple of days before Dominic’s birthday and paid for a cake ordered for a little girl’s first birthday.  I left a note that said, “Children are a blessing from the Lord.  Enjoy your sweet blessing.  In honor of my son, Dominic.  Love, His Mama.”
  • Some people launch lanterns at the cemetary or another meaningful place.  Check with local regulations before you do this-you don’t want the occasion marred by a confrontation.  There are environmentally friendly lanterns available online for those concerned about that. (This is why I don’t recommend letting balloons go.)
  • Gather gift cards to give to a local Ronald McDonald House or other charitable group that provides support for families of pediatric patients.  I know one family that did this for a group that had ministered to them during their son’s illness. The response was overwhelming and it touched them as well as all the families that benefitted from the gift cards.
  • Create a quiet memorial space in your own yard honoring your child.  There are lots of ideas online to get you started.  Some parents plant a tree while others use smaller plants and stones along with a bench and special items that remind them of their missing child.
  • Some grieving parents spend the day at home, under the covers and waiting for it to pass.

Most importantly, no matter what you do or don’t do, be prepared to give yourself grace whatever the day holds.

Don’t do what you don’t feel like you can do-even if you made plans ahead of time.

Do whatever helps your heart.

Hug anyone who chooses to come alongside and bear witness to this awful anniversary.

And hold tight to the fact that even the worst day only lasts 24 hours.

track record for bad days is 100

 

I Get It-I Really DO Get It.

I write a lot about what bereaved parents (me!) wish others knew or understood about child loss and this Valley we are walking.  And I am thankful for every person outside the child loss community who chooses to read and heed what I write.

But I want to take a minute to tell those of you who are not part of this awful “club” that I get it-I really do get itwhen you need to put distance between yourself and me or other people walking a broken road.

We all love to think that life is a never-ending ascent toward bigger, better and more enjoyable moments.

Our children are born and we think only of their future, not their future deaths. We plan for retirement never imagining that some dreadful disease may keep us from enjoying that nest egg we so carefully set aside.

So when my son died-or your friend’s daughter died-it was an affront to the way you want to think about how the world works.  It’s an unavoidable reminder that we are not in control, no matter how many plans we make.

Trust me, if I could, I’d run away from it too.  

I’d turn down the other aisle in the grocery store to avoid coming face-to-face with tears. I’d take me out of my own Facebook newsfeed so that the sad posts of recycled photos didn’t upset my morning coffee.  I’d change my pew or enter the sanctuary from another door to make sure I didn’t run into me and have to say something when I had no idea what to say.

I’d let days, weeks, months slip by between phone calls and then convince myself that really, I wasn’t ignoring my friend, I was “giving her space”.

I really, really do get it.

I am a reminder that no one is immune to tragedy.  I am a walking, talking advertisement for the unpredictability of life.  

My life is your worst nightmare.

And who wants to face that?

losing a child is unimagineable every persons worst nightmare

 

Bereaved Parents Month Post: The Love of God

God is love.  ~I John 4:8

I don’t remember when I learned this verse.

It’s been part of my understanding of Who God is and how He works in the world as far back as my mind can travel.

But I freely admit:  He may BE love, but I don’t always FEEL loved.

Read the rest here:  Monday Musings: The Love of God

Bereaved Parents Month Post: Shake Off the Shame

Shame is a shackle as sure as any chains forged from iron.  

And it often finds its home in the hearts of those who bury a child.

Bereaved parents may feel shame for lots of reasons:

Read the rest here:  Shake Off the Shame

Bereaved Parents Month Post: It’s Complicated

One of the things I’ve been forced to embrace in the wake of child loss is that there are very few questions, experiences or feelings that are simple anymore.

“How many children do you have?”

A common, get-to-know-you question lobbed across tables, down pews and in the check-out line at the grocery store.  But for many bereaved parents, it can be a complex question that gets a different answer depending on who is asking and where we are.

Read the rest here:  It’s Complicated

Bereaved Parents Month Post: Bereaved Parent’s Wish List

This list is adapted from a friend’s Facebook post (with permission) and a list published by Children’s Hospital of Colorado.

BEREAVED PARENT’S WISH LIST:

1. I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had my child back.

2. I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that my child was important to you also.

Read the rest here:  Bereaved Parent’s Wish List