You’re Not Required To Pretend

There is SO much pressure on grievers to pretend they are “OK” once the socially acceptable amount of time has passed since their loss.

And that is more than unfortunate because not only does it place an undue burden on broken hearts, it inhibits the very necessary work grief requires.

Sharing honestly and openly with safe people, giving voice to our feelings, letting the tears and words flow freely is the only way forward on this treacherous journey.

It’s OK to not be OK.

If you are grievingyou are not responsible for making others feel better about YOUR pain.

You have suffered a great wound and you carry a heavy load.

You are allowed to express sorrow and longing.  It’s what people do.

Read the rest here: You Don’t Have to Pretend

We All Need Sheltering Trees

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.

When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I was a mess.

Most folks that brushed shoulders with me in public might not have guessed but those who knew me well saw me devolve from “got it together” to “don’t even know what I should be getting together”.

I was utterly devastated.

Some people were repulsed. They either couldn’t handle my ongoing neediness (a week or a month on the prayer list ought to be enough according to them) or they simply found my presence too uncomfortable a reminder that bad things happen regardless of how “good” you are.

But there were a few…a precious, precious few who refused to go away. They showed up and stayed.

It didn’t matter if they had any remarkable insight or help or “solutions” to my heartache.

What mattered is that they bent over my broken heart and provided shelter.

We all need sheltering trees in the storms of life.

And I am beyond thankful for every single person who is brave enough to bear the brunt of evil winds to provide that shelter.

A Thousand Pieces

We buried the earthly remains of my son seven years ago today.

I still have no idea how I walked away from that deep pit where his body would be lowered never to see daylight again.

But I did.

Western society doesn’t like to acknowledge the horror of death. We don’t like to be too dramatic, cry too loudly, wail and weep throwing our bodies over a casket.

But maybe we should.

Why can’t we have a dramatic outburst at the edge of death that burns an unforgettable image in the hearts and minds of those who join us to say good-bye?

Read the rest here: Fragments

So, So Tired of the “Moral High Ground”

Y’all-I’m exhausted.

I’m so, so tired of navigating social media, regular media and personal conversations where one person claims to be morally superior because he or she is wearing/not wearing a mask, taking/not taking the vaccine, traveling to be with family for the holidays or staying home.

I’m worn out with memes and odd glances and offhand comments that make judgements about another human being without knowing one. single. thing. about the other person they claim to understand.

How masks have appeared in art - BBC Culture

Here’s a warning: I’m often honest and open in this space but not often raw. I’m about to be very, very raw.

I wear a mask and am cautious about social exposure for extremely personal reasons.

My son died alone.

I was not there to hold his hand as he took his last breath. I have no way to know if he was frightened, comforted by angels or the Lord’s holy Presence. I don’t know if he called out for me or was senseless.

But all those questions haunt me every night before I finally fall asleep if I let them.

So the idea of being unable to be with a loved one when he or she leaves this world is more than my heart can bear. If something I can do, or they can do (like wear a mask or limit exposure or take a vaccine) means I won’t have to face that, I’m all for it!

My mother died from pneumonia following a stroke.

I wasn’t there but my father was and I heard his frantic voice on the other end of the phone line when I picked up in the middle of the night. We rushed to the hospital but it was too late.

So the idea of another loved one struggling for life-giving oxygen while nothing more can be done to give it to them breaks my heart. If wearing a mask or staying away or managing the number of social contacts is what it takes to minimize that risk, it’s a no brainer for me.

Mask answers No. 3: My face is breaking out, now what? | Novant Health |  Healthy Headlines

I’m not afraid of Covid.

I’m not afraid of death.

I’m afraid of loss.

I realize I fall squarely on the side of caution and you might fall on the other side.

I respect that.

All I ask is that you not judge me any more than I am judging you. Make space in your heart for someone who may, for very personal and very reasonable, reasons have come to a different conclusion.

Each of us walks in the world according to our experience and our convictions.

I promise not to impose mine on you.

And I promise not to make assumptions about yours.

Don’t Mock A Pain You Haven’t Endured

Hey- I love a joke as much as anyone.

But there’s a difference between a genuine joke and a mocking comment made at the expense of another.

So often we laugh off things other people endure because we are afraid-afraid of the pain and the broken heart bearing it.

Stop laughing. Start loving. ❤

Holidays 2019: Blessing The Brokenhearted

The question is starting to pop up with greater frequency in our closed bereaved parent groups: How do you make it through the holidays after child loss?

So for the next few days I’m going to share again from the many posts I’ve written in the past four years addressing different aspects of holiday planning, celebration, family dynamics and just plain survival for grieving parents and those who love them.

❤ Melanie

Most parents feel a little stressed during the holidays.

We used to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving before our 24/7 supercharged and super-connected world thrust us into hyper-drive.  Now we zoom past the first day of school on a highway toward Christmas at breakneck speed.

For bereaved parents, the rush toward the “Season of Joy” is doubly frightening.

Constant reminders that this is the “most wonderful time of the year” make our broken hearts just that much more out of place. Who cares what you get for Christmas when the one thing your heart desires–your child, alive and whole–is unavailable…

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2015/11/19/season-of-joy-blessing-the-brokenhearted-during-the-holidays/

Repost: Why Grievers Need Faithful Friends

My mama joined Jesus early Friday morning.

And I’m reminded once again how very important friends are along life’s journey.

So. many. people. have called, texted, messaged and expressed love and concern for our family.

It’s really encouraging!

But what I know, that others may not know (if they’ve been blessed to escape losing a close loved one so far) is that it’s not too long before all this attention fades away.

People usually don’t choose to stop connecting with broken hearts. It’s just that life gets busy and while grievers can’t ignore the palpable absence of their loved one, other folks have mostly filled in the space where they used to be.

Please don’t forget us.

Even years later, there are days when grief overwhelms a heart.

We NEED faithful friends to remind us that pain is not all that’s left in the world.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2017/09/29/help-wanted-why-grievers-need-friends/

Repost: How to Survive December With a Broken Heart

It comes up again and again-and not just for the parents facing their year of “firsts”:  How do I survive December with a broken heart?

There’s no single answer or list of things to do that will suit every family.

But there are some general principles that can make even this awful reality a little easier.

Read the rest here:  How To Survive December With a Broken Heart

We’ve Got To Do Better: Making Ministry the Heart of Church

I am not among those who have given up on the local church.

But I AM critical of the way we in the U.S. –and especially the Southern U.S. -do church.

Let’s be honest. 

Many of us go to church because it makes us feel good, refuels our spirits for the week ahead and is a safe spot to park our kids for a few hours respite from the demands of parenthood.

An added bonus is that sometimes we get to contribute to a cause, a mission or a personal need without having to get TOO involved.

So we come away feeling pretty good about who we are, what we believe and how much we “sacrifice” for others and the Kingdom.

But this is not what Christ came for folks.

He didn’t come so that we can have a weekly club meeting, soothe our souls and shut out the world.  He came so that desperate hearts on the fringe could draw near.

He rent the veil so that no one who trusts His finished work is excluded.

Not even the messy and imperfect.

Not even the poor or unlovely or slightly crazy.

We have got to do better.

We have got to make church a place where people who have no hope feel like they are welcome.  We have got to reach out and reach down and reach across and pull those hurting hearts inside.

I know (believe, me, I know!) that it takes more energy than you want to exert.  It takes more flexibility than a crammed-full schedule can allow.  It takes more time and more emotional investment than any of us really want to spend.

But this is what Christ came for.

He came to expose the barriers religious people had erected between God and man. 

He came to make a way where there was no way.

How welcome are the truly broken to our house of worship? Do we want to see their pain, entertain their questions and offer hope that includes walking the road alongside them and giving support for the long haul?

Jesus came to heal the broken.

Healing takes time and resources. It requires personal commitment to those God brings into our lives. It is messy and can’t be boiled down to a formula or pamphlet.

Jesus has invited is to be His hands and feet.

Will we accept the invitation?

christ has no body but yours teresa of avila

Bereaved Parents Month Post: A Broken Heart

I wrote this post in response to the deaths of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher in December, 2016.  Debbie died of a broken heart within a day of hearing of her daughter’s death.

It was an opportunity to educate others about the reality of child loss and a parent’s broken heart while the world’s attention was focused on the subject.  

Like so many other things competing for headlines and social media hits, it was only a hot topic for a brief while. 

But for those of us living with the daily reality of a missing child and a broken heart this still rings true. 

I think Bereaved Parents Month is an appropriate time to revisit it.  ❤

debbie-and-carrie

“The world is stunned by the  deaths of Carrie Fisher at 60 and her mother Debbie Reynolds just one day later.

And it should be.”

Read the rest here:  A Broken Heart