Your Story Matters.

We all have one you know.

A story.

Many of us think ours isn’t important because it feels so small.  We can’t imagine our truth blazoned across a headline.

Your story matters.

Read the rest here: Tell Your Story

No Degree in Grief

I get comments from time to time that chastise me for presenting my child loss experience as universal or for stating things emphatically as if I’m an expert on grief.

That is never, ever, ever my intention.

I try to frame every post with personal details that make plain I’m talking about myself, my family or, sometimes, well-documented research I’ve found and want to share in hopes it helps someone else.

I’m no expert on anything other than my own experience.

I’m even hesitant to share things about my surviving children or my husband because I don’t want to assume that what I observe from the outside accurately reflects their inner world of missing and mourning Dominic.

That’s the nature of a personal blog-it’s personal.

And while I could couch every sentence with qualifiers like, “in my experience” or “for me” or “this is what I felt but might not be what you feel” that makes for tedious reading and clumsy writing.

So I don’t.

I assume anyone who chooses to read what I share wants to read it. I hope that he or she takes what is helpful and tosses the rest.

I do not have a degree in grief.

I am not a professional author.

I am a bereaved mama who has committed to tell my story of loss as honestly and openly as I am able and to share ideas and insights that have been helpful to my own heart.

If it helps yours, I’m thankful.

If you have a different perspective, please share it!

I have always wanted this space to spark a two-way conversation-a dialogue, not a monologue.

Why Bereaved Parents Month?

There are so many competing causes it’s a wonder anyone can keep up with them.

But when one or more of them become near and dear to your heart, it’s easy.

July is Bereaved Parents Month. A designation I knew nothing about until several years into my own journey as a bereaved parent.

And while I’m unsure about the necessity for declarations like National Trivia Day or National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day I am absolutely convinced of the need for Bereaved Parents Month.

This is why: Child loss is unlike any other loss a person may experience. It is out-of-order death, unnatural, unexpected and unfathomable.

Every day, bereaved parents are walking in the world, going to work , doing all that life requires and often caring for their other children while carrying a very heavy burden that mostly goes unnoticed.

Many parents desperately want to speak about their missing child but feel constrained by fear others will think they are vying for sympathy or attention. Sometimes they don’t say anything because they’ve been shamed or shushed by negative comments on their social media posts. Still others are longing to find a community where their uniquely painful experience is understood.

Bereaved Parents Month is an opportunity for these parents to share their child with the world without fear or condemnation.

It’s a chance to post articles, information and personal experience that can help those outside the circle of child loss understand the ongoing struggle of walking this path.

Hopefully it is also a season where newly bereaved parents can find resources so their own hearts feel heard, understood and encouraged.

So if you ARE a bereaved parent, please take advantage of this month set aside to raise awareness of our journey.

If you LOVE a bereaved parent, please acknowledge and affirm your friend or family member who may choose to share in person or online a little more freely this month.

Hearts hold on best when they are free to tell their story.

Bereaved Parents Month is set aside for us to tell ours.

Repost: What I’m Learning From Other Bereaved Parents

There’s a kind of relational magic that happens when people who have experienced the same or similar struggle get together.  

In an instant, their hearts are bound in mutual understanding as they look one to another and say, “Me too. I thought I was the only one.”

It was well into the second year after Dominic ran ahead to heaven that I found an online bereaved parent support group.  After bearing this burden alone for so many months, it took awhile before I could open my heart to strangers and share more than the outline of my story.

But, oh, when I did! What relief!  What beautiful support and affirmation that every. single. thing. that was happening to me and that I was feeling was normal!

Read the rest here:  What I’m Learning From Other Bereaved Parents

Trying to Keep Up

I love, love, love when people leave comments on the blog!  

Even though I wish we had come together over a common happy experience, I’m still thankful we have come together.

And I normally try hard to “like” and answer every comment in a timely way.

But this spring has been a real roller coaster ride and I’ve fallen dreadfully behind.

Please forgive me.  

I’m trying to keep up, but no matter how fast I pedal, I’m not quite able to make the miles I hope to make each day.

I appreciate every single heart that chooses to engage, chooses to encourage, chooses to turn back and hold out a hand to the next struggling soul behind them.  

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  

I love you all.  ❤

buckets to put out flames

United By Tears

I think broken hearts have a unique gift to offer the Body of Christ.  

When we choose to be open about our wounds, our tears, our fears and our struggles we invite others to do the same.  

Working through them together we are ALL stronger and better able to face the next battle.

Paul often wrote in his letters about  a particular hardship he faced or was facing. He shared so others could see not only that he struggled, but that the Lord stood with him and would do the same for them if they held on.

How encouraging for hurting hearts to know that they are not alone!  

Our tears unite us. They make us safe. They allow us to whisper, “The Lord helped me survive and He’ll help you too. I’ll hold your hand while you find your way to Him.” And when we make one other human simply see they aren’t alone, we make the world a better place.  ~Lysa Terkeurst (twitter)

 

heaven knows we need never be ashamed of tears

 

Bereaved Mom’s Retreat: Anchoring Our Hearts in Christ

Last February I did something I wasn’t sure I was ready for-I spent a weekend with a dozen other bereaved moms at a small Christian retreat.  

It was close quarters (a challenge for this introvert!) and we were together 24 hours a day for nearly three days.  (You can read about it here)

It was beautiful!  

hhh retreat pics of kids (2)

We began by sharing the story of our child-no pressure to make it short, no pressure not to cry, no pressure to tie the ragged ends up in tidy bows for the comfort of those listening.

And then we prayed.  

By the time we went to bed that night hearts were already being knit together in love.  Many of us have stayed in touch since then and some live close enough to get together often.  All of us left stronger than when we got there.  

What a gift!  

We are doing it again November 2-4 at Abby Acres Christian Camp .

Space is limited (18 as long as 6 don’t mind top bunks 🙂 )and the cost is minimal (75.00 including meals!), so make sure to call Hope Lee at the numbers listed below if you’re interested.  [662-256-5652 OR 662-574-8445]   The nearest large airport is Memphis, TN which puts you about a two hour drive from the camp.

Our theme for the weekend is “Anchoring Our Hearts in Christ”. 

DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS OCTOBER 15TH so call Hope soon!  ❤

hope the anchor for your soul

I’ll once again be facilitating interactive sessions centered around Scripture, filled with personal examples and overflowing with encouragement for battered and bruised hearts.

Please join us!  

I promise you won’t regret it.  ❤

mom retreat flyer edited

You are a Treasure

Grief has challenged every single thing I believed about God and about myself.

It made me doubt whether He is a loving Father, whether He keeps His promises, whether He even cares one whit about all us little humans running around on planet Earth.

And it made me wonder what in the world is wrong with me that MY child was killed?  What had I done to deserve this?

Grief tells lies.  

And one of the biggest lies grief whispers is, “You are worthless.”

That is simply not true.

Even if you weren’t treasured by your earthly parents, the God of the universe treasures you, and His thoughts about you are always good. He chose you when He planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12), and you are not a mistake (Psalm 71:6), and His thoughts toward you are countless – like the grains of sand on the shore (Psalm 139:17-18). You are really, truly, deeply loved by God.

~Esther Fleece, No More Faking Fine

I don’t know your story but I can promise you this: God isn’t finished with you yet.

IMG_5324

I believe that each one of us is celebrated as a unique creation of our Father.

That goes for our children, but also for us.

I have no idea why God’s plan includes me outliving my child but He has a purpose that is yet unfulfilled for my life.

What happens TO us doesn’t determine our worth-not even the awful and heart shattering experience of child loss.

You are loved by a Heavenly Father Who has a plan for your life.

He can bring beauty from ashes, even the ashes of child loss.

You are not alone-you have a community of bereaved parents who will listen, love and lift you.

Lean in and hold onto hope. Don’t let go.

I’m praying for you.

beauty from ashes clothespin

 

 

What I’m Learning From Other Bereaved Parents

There’s a kind of relational magic that happens when people who have experienced the same or similar struggle get together.  

In an instant, their hearts are bound in mutual understanding as they look one to another and say, “Me too. I thought I was the only one.”

It was well into the second year after Dominic ran ahead to heaven that I found an online bereaved parent support group.  After bearing this burden alone for so many months, it took awhile before I could open my heart to strangers and share more than the outline of my story.

But, oh, when I did! What relief!  What beautiful support and affirmation that every. single. thing. that was happening to me and that I was feeling was normal!

me too sharing the path

I have learned so much from these precious people.  

Here’s a few of the nuggets of wisdom I carry like treasure in my heart:  

Everyone has a story.  No one comes to tragedy a blank slate.  They have a life that informs how or if they are able to cope with this new and terrible burden.  Not everyone has the same resources I do-emotional, spiritual or otherwise.  Don’t put expectations on someone based on my own background.  Be gracious-always.  

Everyone deserves to be heard.  Some folks really only have one or two things that they insist on saying over and over and over again.  That’s OK.  If they are saying them, it’s because they need to be heard.  Lots of folks do not have a safe space to speak their heart.  But it’s only in speaking aloud the things inside that we can begin to deal with them.

Everyone (or almost everyone) is worried that they aren’t doing this “right”.  Society brings so much pressure to bear on the grieving.  “Get better”, “Get over it”, “Move on”.  And when we can’t, we think there is something dreadfully wrong with us.  But there isn’t.  Grief is hard and takes time no matter what the source.  But it is harder and takes a lifetime when it’s your child.  Out of order death is devastating.  “Normal” is anything that keeps a body going and a mind engaged in reality without being destructive to oneself or others.

Everyone can be nicer than they think they can.  Here’s the deal:  I THINK a lot of things.  I don’t have to SAY (or write!) them.  I’ll be honest, sometimes my first response to what someone shares is not very nice.  But when I take a breath and consider what might help a heart instead of hurt one, I can usually find a way to speak truth but also courage.  Snark is never helpful.  If I can’t say anything nice, then I just scroll on by.

Everyone has something to give.  I’ve learned that even the most broken, the most unlovely, the least well-spoken persons have something to offer.  It may take a little dusting off to find the beauty underneath, but my heart is stretched when I take time and put forth effort to truly listen to what’s being said instead of just ignoring it because of how it’s said.

Everyone deserves grace.  Because I am the recipient of grace, it is mine to give-without fear of running out-to every other heart I meet.  Sometimes I forget this.  I want to apply a different measure to others than I want applied to me.  But grace is the oil that greases human relationships.  Freely given and freely received, it provides a safe space for hearts to experience healing.

Everyone is standing on level ground when we gather at the foot of the cross.  There’s no hierarchy in God’s kingdom.  We are all servants.  I am responsible to my Master for walking in love and doing the good works He has prepared beforehand for me to do.  My works are not your works and your works are not my works.  I need to keep my eyes on Jesus, not on others always trying to see if I(or they!) “measure up”.  The standard is our Shepherd and only grace and mercy can help me strive for that goal.

Everyone needs courage.  When Jesus gave His charge to the disciples He told them it was “better for you that I go”What??? How could that be better?  But it WAS.  Because when Jesus returned to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit as the personal, indwelt connection to Himself.  He knew they would need courage to make it through. The Spirit calls courage to our hearts.  And we are given the privilege of calling courage to one another.  The bravest among us quivers sometimes.  You’d be surprised how often one word is the difference between letting go and holding on.

There are dozens more things I could share.

I have met some of the kindest, wisest and most grace-filled people this side of child loss.

They have been the purest example of the Body of Christ I’ve ever known.  

I am thankful for what they are teaching me.

heart hands and sunset

Repost: Help! I Need Somebody!

So, almost twenty years on a farm and I can NOT back a trailer.  Nope.  Can’t do it.

One day I spent hours trying to teach myself how to do it.  Never was able to do anything other than manage to jackknife the trailer, go unhook it and start over.

So when I go somewhere with a trailer I do one of two things:  (1) I find a space where I can drive in and be able to just make a loop or (2) I find the nearest person who CAN back a trailer, hand them my keys and ask them to do it.

I feel NO shame.

But that’s not the case with other things I can’t do.

Read the rest here:  Help! I Need Somebody!