Changed For Life

I wrote this three years ago but it still speaks my heart.

I will not get used to the fact that my son is beyond my reach.  I have come to a certain acceptance of it as fact, and acknowledgement of the truth that I cannot change that fact.

The pain hasn’t become less painful, only more familiar.  It doesn’t surprise me as often when it pricks my heart anew.

The world goes on.

Read the rest here: True Truth

It’s The Weight of Death That Changes Us

Death will always be terrible.

Easter Weekend seems to be the only time we can we crawl out of this uncomfortable skin, call a dark and deadly Friday “Good” and skip to the joy of Resurrection Sunday.

Real life doesn’t let you do that.

Real life means you have to walk through the trauma of Friday and the uncertainty of Saturday, perhaps believing but not yet seeing the hope of Sunday.

Don’t crawl out.

Don’t confuse crucifixion’s pain with resurrection’s joy. It is the weight of death that changes us.

Fiona DeSimone, my daughter

Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal. The image of Mary at the foot of the cross is too hard to bear.

I trusted Jesus at an early age and I have lived my life beneath the shadow of the wings of the Almighty God.

But I never-not really-grasped the horror of the crucifixion until I watched as my own son’s body was lowered in the ground.

Death. is. awful.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2016/03/25/10006/

When Grief Sneaks Up On You

Dependable routine is one of my most important coping mechanisms.

I like slipping from one familiar chore to the next without thinking.

It keeps my mind busy in an effortless way that leaves little room for random thoughts, little space for grief-inducing memories to sneak in and trip me up.

Change Aversion And The Conflicted User - Usability Geek

Change is really not my friend.

Still, change is upon me (and millions of others!) because of this virus. So I’m doing the best I can to cope.

Instead of a house to myself, now my husband is working from home. Instead of quiet mornings alone, conference calls echo off the walls and follow me out open windows to the yard. Instead of before dark breakfast and early lunch with the kitchen closed by noon, I eat early, he eats later, I eat lunch and he eats supper. Kitchen open til eight.

None of those are things I can’t get used to.

After all, I’m blessed he’s here, has a job and we have not only enough to eat but a wide variety . I like cooking and love finding creative uses for leftovers.

Creative Ways to Use Leftovers - Bites for Foodies

What no one but me knows about all the change is this: I’m walking places I tend not to go-in the house, in the yard, down our paths-and every place I set my foot holds memories I’ve been avoiding.

When we moved an old pen a couple weeks ago for new chickens we found a rusty chain attached to its base. While my husband and son were digging it out to use again I was transported to the day Dominic moved the pen years ago with the tractor. It was just me and him and he was a little perturbed with me that I needed it moved. I saw him in my mind’s eye plain as day on the tractor. I could hear his baritone voice above the trusty thrum of the engine and picture him hopping down from the seat, unhooking the chain and driving off to park the tractor.

It was a flash. Here and gone in an instant. But the rest of the day I suffered from a grief hangover that I just couldn’t shake.

These are challenging days.

So much of the routine I depend on to guide me through has been shredded. So many of the habits I’ve developed over years are unavailable right now.

Image may contain: ocean, cloud, sky and water, possible text that says 'FACEBOOK.COM/ SILENTGRIEFSUPPORT THE GRIEF ATTACKS OF CHILD LOSS ARE so UNEXPECTED. THEY COME CRASHING LIKE A WAVE THAT TRIES TO SWEEP US AWAY CLARA HINTON'

So I’m doing the best I can.

One day and one memory at a time.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Repeat.

How To Find What You’re Looking For-Practical Search Tips & Tricks

I get emails and messages and texts pretty often from folks who either follow me here or who look for each day’s post on Facebook or Twitter trying to locate a specific post.

Even I sometimes can’t find the one they are looking for.

So I’ve done a couple things recently that might help and wanted to share how to use them.

There’s always been a “word cloud” on the sidebar (if using a computer) or when you scroll down (on a phone). Those words represent the most-often used tags and you can just click on one to find posts on that subject.

Image result for image of a word cloud + grief"

I added a “search” box about a year ago.

It can bring up more specific results if you remember a word or phrase that isn’t as common as those in the word cloud. Even part of the title of a post will almost always narrow it down to two or three choices. It won’t recognize dates, though, so for that I’ve done something different.

Now there is an “archive” section that links to each month’s posts since I started writing in this space. So if you are new to the blog and interested in a series of posts, you can click on the month and find them.

Image result for image of archive"

Two other ways to find what you are looking for is to simply Google “thelifeididntchoose.com and [whatever topic or part of a title you want]” OR do the same in Facebook search.

Image result for image of google search bar"

I even do that sometimes to get a more refined search since Google spends billions on their process and Facebook tends to prioritize friends’ posts and pages I look at most often. (Nope! Can’t remember all the posts myself. )

I am thinking about (when I have both the time and energy and mental space!) doing a series of posts that aggregate themes so that one post will automatically give readers five to ten options for exploring a topic. My goal is to have them done within a month or so.

I hope this helps folks find that one post (or two) that spoke to their heart but they didn’t save somewhere.

Please share your comments and experiences with me if you use any of these tools-I would love to know how well they work.

I want this space to be as user-friendly as possible.

~Melanie

Repost: Sudden and Unwelcome Change

Imagine being used to the modern convenience of electricity at the flip of a switch and then being suddenly plunged into darkness and disconnection.

Unprepared-no matches, no alternative fuel sources, no extra warm clothes for winter days and nights-just plucked from the world you knew and dropped into a world you didn’t recognize.

That’s what it felt like when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.  No warning, no chance to think through what life might be like, what changes I would have to accommodate, how I would need to face the days, weeks, months and years of his absence. 

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/01/21/sudden-and-unwelcome-change/

Sudden and Unwelcome Change

I woke up just past midnight to notice my bedside clock flashing off and on, indicating the power had gone out for at least a few minutes at some point after I fell asleep. 

“No worries, ” I thought as I rolled over and drifted off.  

An hour or so later and the cold woke me again.  No power.  This time for several hours.

I snuggled deeper under the warm covers and decided to go back to sleep.  Surely it’d be on by morning.

And it was.  

But it set my mind thinking as I got up, turned on the light in the kitchen and plugged up the coffee pot:  My morning routine would be utterly disrupted if electricity hadn’t begun flowing again.  

hands and coffee

No warm house, no warm shower, no hot coffee, no way to get online and post the blog (cell service is unavailable at my home), no handy portable phones to make necessary calls should the power also be out at our church just a mile down the road.

I could go on and on.

Of course each of these difficulties could be surmounted.

It would take extra effort and be frustrating, but I could manage to get by without coffee and plug up the old phone to make phone calls.  The blog could wait.  And it’s unlikely that the outage would last more than a few hours or a day and then things would be back to normal.

Imagine, though, being used to the modern convenience of electricity at the flip of a switch and then being suddenly plunged into darkness and disconnection.

Unprepared-no matches, no alternative fuel sources, no extra warm clothes for winter days and nights-just plucked from the world you knew and dropped into a world you didn’t.

That’s what it felt like when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.  No warning, no chance to think through what life might be like, what changes I would have to accommodate, how I would need to face the days, weeks, months and years of his absence.  

family never gets over the death of a loved one

I went to bed and expected to wake to the world I knew.  

Instead I woke to a world I could never have imagined.  

And just like I rarely consider the dozens and dozens of ways electricity impacts my life-makes it easier, brighter, better-until it’s unavailable;  I had NO IDEA how Dominic’s leaving would touch every corner of every moment of every day.

Last night I slept through the power outage.  Other than resetting my blinking clocks it will require no adjustments this morning.

I can’t sleep through child loss.  

When I wake, I face it anew each day.  

And it continues to require adjustments, even now.  

homesick huff post

Can’t Change Time

Every spring and every fall we dutifully make the rounds to our clocks and digital devices, putting them first forward an hour and then back in an attempt to make the days “longer”.

As if time was in our hands.

The sun rises and sets according to the Creator’s schedule, we can neither speed the world’s turning, nor slow it down.

We can only choose whether to be present in the moments He grants us.

Read the rest here:  Time Change

 

Little Ways Grief Changes Things

I accidentally dialed my son’s number the other night.  

All he heard amidst the noise of the baseball game he was attending was, “I’m sorry” which immediately put him in “oh no!” mode.  

A couple words later and he understood that what I was sorry for was interrupting him, not another tragedy that required a heart-wrenching, life-changing long distance phone call.

But that’s how it is now.  

The sheriff’s deputy came to my door and I had to make the awful phone calls.  

But so many of Dominic’s friends first suspected something was wrong when they couldn’t reach him by phone on that Saturday after he left us.  

I cannot abide the suspense of not being able to know for sure one of my precious family members is OK.

We carry our phones everywhere, silent to other calls when necessary but never to our “favorites” because we will not be unreachable.

If one of us calls another at an unexpected time, we begin with, “Nothing’s wrong!”

We have to or else hearts race, temples pound and it will be hours before we can come down from a state of heightened anxiety and near panic.  

We touch base every morning and most evenings. 

Like hands stretched out in the dark to comfort one another.

Just to be sure.  

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

 

It Changes Everything

Part of the reason I share my story is to provide insight for people who haven’t lost a child into the hearts and lives of those who have.

But mainly it is to be a voice for and to encourage other parents walking this valley by letting them know they aren’t alone, their feelings and experiences are perfectly normal and that just as welcoming a child into your family is a life-altering event, saying good-bye to a child is a life-altering event. 

We do not expect a mom to “get over” the changes having a baby brings to her everyday experience, and we should not expect a  bereaved mom to “get over” the changes burying one brings either.

Want to help?  Read:  Loving the Grieving Heart