Love Doesn’t Die

I’ve written many times about the fact that my heart still holds all the love it ever did for ALL my children-even the one who no longer walks beside me here on earth.

That’s one of the reasons I will never stop speaking of him-just as I never stop speaking of my living children. 

It’s also why I cling tenaciously to the lesson I am learning this side of child loss:  Love lives. 

It lives in me, through me and is waiting for me in Heaven.  

I ran across this lovely poem just recently.  

I hope you like it as much as I do.  
<3

Epitaph
By Merrit Malloy

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old me that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,
Give me away.

Why It’s So Important to Model Grief For Our Children & Grandchildren

It’s tempting to try to hide our tears and fears from our living children and grandchildren.  

Who wants to overload a young heart and mind with grown-up problems?

There is definitely a place and time to shelter little people-it’s never appropriate to offload onto small shoulders what we just don’t want to carry ourselves.

But it is neither helpful nor healthy to pretend that sorrow and sadness don’t follow loss.  

im fine now read it upside down

When I stuff feelings and insist on keeping a “stiff upper lip” I’m telling my kids that it’s not OK to admit that they are struggling.

When I act like it’s no big deal to set up the Christmas tree and deck the halls without their brother here, I’m encouraging them to remain silent instead of speaking up if their hearts are heavy instead of happy.

When I never voice my discomfort with certain activities or social events I am modeling a false front and fake smiles.  

Of course, there are times we all have to suck it up and suck it in along this path.  But that shouldn’t be the norm.  As I’ve said over and over before-if we stuff our hearts full of unreleased feelings, we leave no room for the grace and mercy God wants to pour into them.

I can tell you that many, many folks have interviewed surviving siblings years and decades after their brother or sister left and have consistently discovered that most of them tried hard to live up to whatever standards their grieving parents set. 

If Mom and Dad refused to talk about the loss, then they refused to talk about it too.  If, on the other hand, the family observed open communication, they were able to process feelings in real time instead of stuffing and having to deal with them later.

family never gets over the death of a loved one

One of the greatest challenges in child loss (or any profound loss) is creating space within our closest grief circle to allow each person affected to express themselves whatever that looks like.  

But it’s so, so important!  

Don’t hide your tears.  

Don’t shut down the questions.  

Don’t lock away the uncertainty and anxiety child loss brings in a trunk and only bring it out when no one’s watching.  

Because the little people (and not so little people) in your house are ALWAYS watching.  

They need permission to grieve.  ❤

Capacity-to-grieve

When You Feel Like You Can’t Breathe: Setting Living Children Free

A couple weeks ago I walked away from my son’s house, after kissing him goodbye and prayed under my breath that it won’t be the last time I see his bright eyes and lively smile.

Because when you’ve mistakenly waved a cheery “see you later” to your child, ignorant that it’s the LAST time, your heart never takes these moments for granted again.

I drink in the laugh lines around his 30 year old eyes, wondering if mine had laugh lines at that young age as well.

james 30 birthday

I make a mental record of the timbre of his voice, the set of his shoulders, the way he laughs.

I cannot get enough of him- like a parched woman in the desert-trying to quench a thirst that simply cannot be filled.

He’s off to an adventure and I refuse to squelch his enthusiasm.

james at pikes peak

I’ve buried one son and part of my heart begs me to set up barricades and safe zones around the rest of my children.

But the truth is, I can’t.  There is no way to guarantee safety in this world.  And if I try to circumscribe their lives, all I will gain is a false sense of control and a strained relationship.

So I open my hand.  

Open my heart.  

Take a deep breath.

Pray for grace and mercy.

And let go.  

james and me yellow shirt 2015

It’s a New Chapter, NOT the End of the Book

Here they come. 

It’s time for the First Day of School photo contests on social media. Shot after shot  of little ones and not-so-little ones posing with new book bags and new clothes holding a chalkboard sign that indicates their grade.

And then the pictures of college freshmen toting boxes into dorm rooms, waving good-bye to mom and dad, beginning their adult lives unfettered by curfews and parental oversight.

Then the laments, “I can’t believe they are growing up!”

I hear you, mama.  It IS a challenge to watch them grow up.  But you aren’t really saying,  “good-bye”.

I see it from an entirely different perspective.

Read the rest here:  It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

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 be be sure.  

Mother’s Day 2018: A Letter to My Living Children

I wanted to do a version 2.0 of this post but felt like I couldn’t really add much to what I’ve already written.

So here it is again-a letter to the children still walking planet Earth with me.

You are every bit as important and loved as your brother that is waiting for us in Heaven.

I love you.

You are my breath, my life, my heart walking outside my body.  ❤

I never thought it possible to love you more than I already did.

But I do.

photo (20)

Your brother’s untimely departure has opened my heart in a whole new way to the glory that is your presence.  It has made me drink you in like water in the desert.

Read the rest here:  A Letter To My Living Children*

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