Panic Is Always Only a Breath Away

This happened three years ago but when I read the account, my adrenaline rushes again.

When the worst thing you can imagine becomes reality, your heart is never far from panic.

I’m learning to take a breath, think logically and try hard to contain wild ideas when my phone rings in the dark but I’ve got to admit, it’s not easy.

Last night I woke to my youngest son’s ringtone at nearly midnight.

I missed the call but when I looked, realized it was the third time he’d tried.  

My heart skipped several beats as I dialed him back only to have it go directly to voicemail.  I tried again and a second later, he answered.

“What’s wrong??!!!”

Read the rest here: When Your First Thought Is, “Oh No, Not Again!”

Christmas and Surviving Siblings

How do I honor the child for whom memories are all I have and love well the children with whom I am still making memories?

That’s a question I ask myself often.

And it is especially difficult to answer for celebrations and holidays, special events and birthdays.

Read the rest here: Surviving Siblings and Christmas

The Gift of Celebration

If you’ve just joined this awful “club” the thought of celebrating anything may make your heart shrink and your eyes fill with tears.

I understand!

That’s precisely the way I felt for a very long time. Not because I didn’t think there were still oh, so many things and people worth celebrating, but because I couldn’t remember what joy felt like much less experience it.

My heart was filled to the brim with pain, sorrow, longing and fear-there just wasn’t room for anything else.

Still, I kept up the discipline of celebration even when I wasn’t feeling like celebrating.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, as I picked my way through memories and feelings and did the  work grief required, I made space in that broken heart for other things.

And now I can testify that celebration is once again a gift!

I not only mark the big things-like birthdays and holidays-but also the little things-like making muffins with my grandson.

Any and every excuse for a photo or a cupcake!

Today is my oldest son’s birthday and his dad and I are here to celebrate it with him for the first time in I don’t honestly know how many years. I am happy to make him a yummy meal (or take him to a favorite restaurant) and buy a special treat to mark the day he said “hello” to the world.

And I’m more than happy to spend time with him and watch as he pours into his own son some of the love and life we’ve poured into him.

So if you aren’t “feeling it” try faking it or at least showing up.

Eventually there will be a moment when your heart once again embraces joy.

Then hold on with both hands! ❤

Holidays: Every Year is Different

I admire those families that have holiday plans pinned down for next year by the time they box up this year’s Christmas decorations.

Somehow we’ve never perfected the art of predictable patterns and unchanging life circumstances that make such a thing even possible.

So while we try to observe some of the same traditions from year to year, they tend to be expressed a little differently each time.

Of course, the year Dominic left us EVERYTHING changed.

“Changed” isn’t even really the right word. It was more like everything just stopped. Holidays were out of place in a world where all the color had faded to gray. What heart can make merry when all it feels is sorrow and despair?

Even still, the calendar beckoned and we muddled through the first Thanksgiving and Christmas as best we could.

This will be the eighth (!) holiday season since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.

My children are all adults with established careers living away from home. We’ve added to the family circle through marriage and childbirth and we’ve had to say “see you later” to my mama who joined Dom with Jesus in 2019. Of course, like so many others, Covid interrupted last year’s celebration.

The past two years have been filled with travel (some planned, some unexpected) including a trip this week out to Texas to spend time with my son’s family.

So I find myself only days away from Thanksgiving without a concrete plan for when we will actually get together around the table and what, exactly, might be on it when we do.

(Please don’t ask me about Christmas yet!)

It’s more than a little uncomfortable for this gal who loves lists and planning and decorating to choose flexibility and flying by the seat of my pants. And it’s very uncomfortable to be the point of contact for various family members who are used to me having answers instead of more questions when they call to find out when they should show up and what they should bring.

But if there’s one thing I’m learning in this life after loss it’s this: Control is an illusion. All the planning in the world can’t account for random and unexpected.

I’m going to make some phone calls today to try to figure it out.

I’m pretty sure we will have plenty to eat, plenty to say and plenty of room for whoever shows up.

Hugs all around!

And pie for dessert.

Fear of What You Know is So Much Worse (Lightning DOES Strike Twice)

I was reminded today how close fear sits to the door of my heart and to the door of the hearts of many bereaved parents.

Once again a mom shared an experience of not being able to get in touch with a surviving child and how that quickly spiraled downward to a frenzy of fear.

To some it may seem like an overreaction. But to those of us for whom the one thing you think won’t happen, HAS happened, it made perfect sense.

Read the rest here: If It Happened Once, It Could Happen Again

EVERY Child Matters

Today I want to take a moment to provide a public forum for anyone who wishes to take advantage of it.

Your child matters.

His or her story matters.

Your pain matters.

If you are so inclined, please “speak” your child(ren)’s name in the comments section. 

Read the rest here: Your Child Matters

Holding The Door and Other Acts of Kindness

I’ve had a lot of people “hold the door” for me on this journey of child loss.

Most of them have not walked in my shoes but they could see my soul was worn and I needed encouragement.

For that I will be eternally grateful.

Read the rest here: Empathy: Let Me Hold The Door For You

Patience Appreciated

Thankfully for most parents graduation isn’t really an end.  It marks a transition and perhaps growing geographical distance, but the relationship will continue.

Your child may be harder to reachbut they are not utterly beyond your reach.

You might stand at the doorway of their empty room and wonder when they might come home for a visit and wake up under your roof again, but they WILL come home for a visit.

I’m not diminishing the very real sense of loss parents feel when the child they have nurtured begins a life apart.

But some of us face something harder.

My child is utterly unreachable.

Read the rest here: Please Be Patient With Me

Grief Doesn’t Stay The Same

The first time I shared this post was two years ago-before my mother’s death.

It had been five long years since Dominic left us and I was beginning to notice reliable, positive changes in the heaviness and quality of grief.

Our grandson was born very premature but his story has a happy, happy ending! He’s growing even more and is such a delight.

There have been other changes too-Covid19, social isolation and my husband’s retirement-all impacted daily life and how I experience Dom’s absence.

I want to offer this bit of hope for those who are just beginning the awful journey of child loss-the pain softens, I’ve grown stronger and better able to carry it, and life, in all its varied forms keeps going.

There ARE some beautiful things ahead.

Hold on.

❤ Melanie

This life is not all sadness and sorrow, death and darkness.  

It was.  For a very, very long time all I could see was distant flickers of light.  

They were just enough to keep me going but not enough to lift the utter blackness that surrounded me.  

Read the rest here: Grief Changes

My Eighth Mother’s Day as a Bereaved Mother

When it first happened all I could think about was getting through a minute, then a day and then all the decisions and days leading up to a funeral or memorial service.  

There’s no road map.  

Even when others come alongside (and many, many did!) there’s just no easy way to navigate that part of the journey.

And then I realized that in addition to all the “regular” days that absolutely, positively  break your heart, I had to forge a path through “special” days.

It was overwhelming!

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

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