Repost: Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Almost anyone you ask anticipates that Thanksgiving and Christmas, two family-centered holidays, are difficult days and seasons  for bereaved parents.

And they are.  

Especially for families that enjoyed special times around the table, unhurried visits reminiscing about years past and traditions that reinforce the unique heritage of their shared history.

But this time of year is also challenging for me and many other parents who have lost a child.

Read the rest here:  Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

“Why Am I Robbed, And Who is Benefited?” Mark Twain on Child Loss

I only recently came across this quote by Mark Twain.   

It’s from a letter he wrote to a close friend after his favorite daughter, Susy, aged 24, died of meningitis while her parents were abroad. 

It is heartbreaking and utterly perfect.  

You have seen our whole voyage.  You have seen us go to sea, a cloud of sail-and the flag at the peak; and you see us now, chartless, adrift-derelicts; battered, water-logged, our sails a ruck of rags, our pride gone.  For it is gone.  And there is nothing in its place.

The vanity of life was all we had, and there is no more vanity left in us.  We are even ashamed of that we had; ashamed that we trusted the promises of life and builded high-to come to this!

I did know that Susy was part of us; I did not know that she could go away; I did not now that she could go away, and take our lives with her, yet leave our dull bodies behind.

And I did not know what she was.  To me she was but treasure in the bank; the amount known, the need to look at it daily, handle it, weigh it, count it, realize it, not necessary; and now that I would do it, it is to late; they tell me it is not there, has vanished away in a night, the bank is broken, my fortune is gone, I am a pauper.

How am I to comprehend this?  How am I to have it?  Why am I robbed, and who is benefited?mark

He and his wife never returned to the home where she died.

there is no at least in child loss

 

Bereaved Moms and Mother’s Day Celebrations

It was only last year that I found out there was such a thing as International Bereaved Mother’s Day celebrated on the first Sunday in May.

I hope that my fellow sisters-in-loss took advantage of that opportunity to think about and honor the child or children that won’t be here to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Even if you did, it’s not going to be much easier to face a day full of “Happy Mother’s Day!” greetings when your heart may feel anything BUT happy.

Thankful for the opportunity to be a mother-yes.  Thankful for children still here on earth with me-yes.  Thankful that God has given me the strength to carry on in the face of unimaginable pain and loss-yes.

But “happy”probably not.

So if your heart is a heavy looking toward tomorrow, I hope this post helps a little. 

It’s OK to not be OK.  

Read the rest here:  Mother’s Day as a Bereaved Mother

 

No, It’s Not Fair

I don’t know about you but I absolutely hated the word “fair” when I was raising four little humans.

What seemed like a good idea when training them to share toys was soon turned into a weapon whereby they would shout, “But Mama!  That’s not FAIR!!!”

Someone was going to get the last piece of cake or pizza or a tiny bit larger slice of pie.  Someone needed shoes this payday but not everyone needed shoes.  My daughter required certain items for her dance class, the boys didn’t need a thing.

To kids, “fair” meant even-exactly, precisely, even division of time, talent, money and attention.

Its-Not-Fair-608x419

But if I tried to turn the tables and suggest that it was one child’s turn to empty the bathroom garbage because another child did it last time, suddenly “fair” wasn’t such a great idea.

Because even young sinful hearts learn that making everything exactly even isn’t really what we want.

What we want is for the fates (and God! and Mama!) to favor US.

We want the bigger piece, we want to be excused from duty when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.  We want, above all, not to suffer-even if the suffering is really not very painful.

calvin and hobbes bigger piece of the pie

As hard as it was to explain that life is. not. fair. to my young children, it has been harder still to explain it to my own heart in the wake of burying Dominic.

Seriously. 

What IS fair? 

Is it fair that my son shouldn’t die when the laws of physics kicked in as he left the road in a curve?

What about when those same laws mean another son lives?

Is it fair that my children were born in a land not decimated by war or famine-every one born by C-section in clean hospitals with adequate staffing and appropriate facilities?

No, life isn’t fair.

We live in a world marred by sin.  It’s a broken world where sometimes people make foolish choices, sinful choices or simply reckless choices.

It’s a world in which disease ravages bodies-young and old-and hearts stop.

I will mourn what I’ve lost.  I will weep for what I will never have. 

But I will not whine about things not being fair. 

I had nearly 24 years with Dominic.  Not as many as I expected nor as many as I wanted.  His life ended too soon from my perspective regardless of whatever Bible verse someone uses to explain it differently.

He was a gift.  And though he is now gone from my sight, I will see him again. 

Until then, I will work hard at being thankful and not resentful.  One attitude brings life and the other only death.

I’ve had enough death. 

I choose life. 

thankful for what is given rather than what is withheld

Even The Worst Day Only Lasts 24 Hours

Thursday was the fourth anniversary of Dominic running ahead to heaven and I felt like I was doing pretty well.

Maybe 48 months of practice had paid off.

No ugly crying-just drip, drip, dripping tears leaking from the corner of my eyes that morning.

Lots of thoughts were going through my mind but none touched my heart so deeply that I was immobilized.  In fact, my youngest son and I went to work on a project together.

Busy hands and all that, you know.

It was a beautiful spring day.  Just like THAT day when my lawn filled with friends and family, shaking heads and sharing hugs.

Doing OK, making progress, making a difference.

So, so many sweet friends sent messages to let me know they were praying for our family.  My phone was making happy noise all morning.

It spoke courage to my heart.

Until thoughtless words and random comments broke through defenses I didn’t even know I had built.

And there I was, overwhelmed.  It was not at all how I expected to end the day and it got worse.

Not only did I fall asleep ugly crying, I fell asleep angry and discouraged.

I know this emotional roller coaster is absolutely normal.  It is absolutely unavoidable.  All I can do is hang on and ride it out.

Friday morning’s sunrise brought new hope, new strength and new resolve. 

Even the worst day only lasts 24 hours.  

I’m so, so thankful for that.

because of the lords great love we are not consumed

 

Heartache, Healing and Hope

I spent last weekend with eleven other bereaved mamas in a small Christian camp in Mississippi*

I’ll be honest-what sounded like a great idea a few months ago had begun to sound like an awful and intimidating idea about three days before I was supposed to go.

Even though I felt more prepared for this event than the  Through This Valley Conference in October, I was still filled with trepidation at facilitating five sessions over three days with women I had only “met” online.

 

melanie at hhh retreat 2018 last session (2)

I wanted to go.

I wanted to take this next step toward sharing and serving and healing for my own heart.  But I was still more than a little scared.

I am so, so glad I went!

Every single mama who came through the door brought one more measure of grace into that cabin.  Every heart that cracked open and shared spread the sweet aroma of brokenness and compassion rose up to meet it.

hhh retreat pics of kids (2)

Every tear was acknowledged, every sorrow counted, every story heard.

It was beautiful.

I was overwhelmed by the grace, mercy and love that flowed in, around and through the women there.  It was a perfect picture of how God intends the Body of Christ to work!

We were all poured out in service to one another.

No need for a kitchen committee or clean up crew because it was natural to reach out and pitch in.

I am oh, so sorry for the reason that brought us together.  But I am absolutely amazed at the blessing that ran like a river through that place.

hhh retreat hugging cristal (2)It was a river of healing and life.

No one left “healed”But we all left a little better equipped for this journey.

No one received “answers”But we all left with a few more truths tucked into our belts.

Our hearts are knit together because we chose to show up and be vulnerable.

It is a gift I will carry with me wherever I go.

healing power of exchange

 

*If you are looking for a lovely place to hold a children’s camp for your ministry, please consider  Abby Acres Christian Camp Facebook Page

Where Are All the Pieces?

If you’ve ever dropped a treasured china cup, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

broken china

Finding the bigger chunks is easy.  But as you begin to put them in place thinking, “Oh, I can glue this back good as new”, you realize that tiny slivers necessary to make it whole are missing.

And you can look as hard as you want to, but you’ll never, ever find them.

Hearts are like that.

shattered_glass_heart_by_piggilovex3-d4qmv2p

When a heart breaks, the pieces are scattered everywhere.

It’s pretty simple to locate the larger bits-although putting them back in place is much harder than gluing together a fractured cup.

But those tiny bits elude me.

At almost four years I’ve had lots and lots of time to sort through what happened-at least in an intellectual way.

But what surprises me every time, no matter how often I pick through the debris like an archaeologist, is that I cannot find all the pieces.  

I have hunted hardest for the pieces to the faith I knew before my world was torn asunder.

I can’t find even a vague semblance of that old feeling that used to be my bosom buddy-that the blessing and favor of the Lord was resting on my family’s shoulders.  I can’t reclaim the confidence that I had at least a rough idea of how God works in the world.

I don’t feel as if God has abandoned me-but I do feel as if He’s pushed me in a corner.

And what I have to do now (have had to do all along) is decide: 

Do I trust even when I cannot see how it all fits together or do I abandon my faith?

I have decided to hold on. 

I have decided that it was foolish for me to think I could comprehend God in the first place.  My experience hasn’t changed HIM, it’s changed ME.

lord to whom shall we go

It revealed a flaw in my logic.  It gave me a glimpse into the vast chasm between what I thought I knew and what I actually knew.

There are so many things that cannot be known.  I have no idea why I once thought that number small.

Is this frightening?  Yes. 

But it is also helpful. 

As long as I’m looking for answers to every question, I will remain unsatisfied and unsettled until I find them. Understanding that I CANNOT “know it all” frees me to lean into my faith.

When Jesus was about to leave His disciples, He gave them this assurance: 

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

John 16:33 MSG

Unshakable and assured. 

Wounded yet walking. 

Fearful but faith-filled.  

hard pressed but not destroyed