Grief Work: Will It Ever Get Better?

I know that when I first stumbled onto a bereaved parent group, it was one of the things I was looking for: evidence that the overwhelming pain of child loss would not last forever.  

Some days I was encouraged as those who had traveled farther down this path posted comments affirming that they could feel something other than sorrow.

Some days I was devastated to read comments from parents who buried a child decades ago asserting that “it never gets better”.

Who is right?  

What’s the difference?

Do I have any control over whether or not this burden gets lighter?

Read the rest here: Will It Ever Get Better?

I Won’t Make a Resolution, But I Will Try to Make Progress

Years before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I had a little magnet on my fridge of a sinking ship with the words, “Another Day, Another Disaster” printed below.

Our lives never did run according to plan (which was a source of serious irritation to this list making, schedule printing homeschool mama!).

But it was really just a joke-because we knew whatever “disaster” befell us, in the long run it wouldn’t be that hard to work around.

Now I know exactly what true disaster looks like and feels like.

I understand precisely how life altering here-one-minute-gone-the-next news shatters a heart, a family, a worldview and a future.

So my days of resolving this or promising to do (or not do) such and such each New Year are over, over, over.

All I can muster is taking time to assess what’s currently working, what definitely needs to change and then point my heart and mind in the direction of progress.

I try to arrange the day and physical surroundings to create space for the new habits I hope to acquire. I remove temptation, when possible, to make it harder to keep indulging the ones I want to be rid of.

Which leads me to a change I’d like to make in this space for the coming year.

Many of you have been faithful followers for months or years and your feedback, encouragement and support have been a huge blessing. I pray, in return, what I share helps your heart too.

I’ve had many requests to put the posts into a physical book or devotional but up to now I haven’t had the mental, emotional energy or time to do that.

There are almost 3,000 published posts and over 1,500 lurking in my draft folder. I have dozens more topics I long to cover but doing the research for and writing an original post usually takes two to three hours and I’ve been hard pressed to find that kind of time.

I’ve thought about the best way to work through what I’ve already written, discover gaps that need to be addressed, see what patterns emerge which might point toward the shape of a book or devotional and then get some help making it happen. I’ve decided that for at least a few months I’m going to group previous posts (and finish some draft posts!) on specific themes so it will be easier for me to accomplish this task and for others to give me feedback as I do.

The downside for readers is that if they want to read what I’ve written on a wider variety of subjects, they will have to either wait through a current theme or use the search feature to find it.

I can’t promise I’ll make it past the first month.

I’m no good at guessing what a day will bring much less a whole year!

But if you are willing to journey with me and help by commenting, I’m game to try.

I Would Love to Just Be Me

I first shared this post in 2018 when I was approaching the four year milestone of Dominic’s leaving for Heaven.

By that time most folks who knew me when he died had relegated that part of my story to some ancient past that surely I was over by now. I’d met others who had no clue my heart skipped a beat on a regular basis because one of my children was buried in the churchyard down the road.

And even the closest ones-the ones I thought would understand forever-were sometimes impatient with my ongoing refusal to leave Dominic behind and be “healed” of my grief.

I was reminded of it recently when several bereaved parents shared some painful grief attacks suffered around the holidays even though it has been years or even decades since their child ran ahead to Heaven.

Truth is, I will never be fully healed on earth from the awful wound of child loss. I continue to be subject to the sharp stab of missing and longing that drags my heart back to the first devastating moment.

And when that happens, I can’t fake it.

What I long for more than anything as the ninth anniversary of his departure draws near is simply this: Let me be me, whatever that looks like.

So please don’t try to fit my journey into your mold. 

❤ Melanie

Even in the very first hours after the news, my brain began instructing my heart, “Now, try to be brave.  Try not to disappoint people.  Try to say the right thing, do the right thing and be the example you should be.”

Whatever that meant.

Read the rest here: Can I Just Be Me?

I’ve Learned SO Much 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

Lenten Reflections: Fasting Isolation, Choosing Community

It’s particularly unfortunate that the term chosen for physically distancing ourselves during the recent pandemic was “social distancing”. Because we are not created to remain socially distant/isolated from other human beings.

The toll shows. Elderly folks stuck behind doors, unable to talk freely and often with others withered away from isolation as often as the virus. It’s become obvious that children have suffered as well.

ALL of us need connection.

It doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a crowd. It doesn’t even have to be in person anymore (although that’s preferable).

As long as we can see one another, read body language, hear tone and bounce conversation back and forth, life-giving connection can happen.

Today, then, fast isolation. Meet a friend for coffee, call a cousin, visit a neighbor, or connect with a colleague. Purpose to link and be linked, to need and be needed, to see and be seen. Refuse to discount your influence, especially in small acts, and intentionally nurture your God-given web of relationships.

Alicia Britt Chole

Those of us who belong to Christ are connected ultimately by His grace, His blood and His Spirit.

We only have to reach out and embrace that connection to be refreshed and renewed. (Even if reaching out is virtual!)

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Stay-Help Another Heart Hold Onto Hope

When grief was fresh, the pain was raw and my heart was oh, so tender, I desperately needed a safe space to talk about the nitty-gritty of child loss.

And I found it in online bereaved parents’ groups.  

I’m so thankful that they exist, that they are maintained by people who give time and energy to keeping them safe and that-for the most part-participants are kind, compassionate and encouraging.

There is something I’ve noticed now that I’ve been here awhile.  Many parents tend to drop out of active participation when they get a little further along in their journey. 

Read the rest here: Stick Around: Help Another Heart Hold Onto Hope

How Do You Mark Milestones After Child Loss? Here Are Sixteen Ideas.

I’ve found myself in a bit of a writing funk these past weeks. Once January draws to a close (a short reprieve from surviving the holidays) the calendar barrels on to the anniversary of that fateful day.

This will be the seventh time I’ve weathered that period where I mark all the “lasts” and try to honor Dominic’s life and not only focus on his death.

For someone who used to be able to draw up a game plan for any occasion, I am still out of my depth when it comes to commemorating the date of my son leaving for Heaven.

So I’m sharing this again-as much for me as for anyone else. It’s just plain hard. But I hope these ideas help another heart find a way through the minefield of remembering.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Marking the Milestones

Please Accept My Apologies

I used to be a lot better at answering every single comment on the blog, on Facebook pages and in closed groups.

I’m not keeping up at all these days.

And I am very sorry for that!

A recent private message reminded me that some folks may think a lack of response is disapproval or rejection. That made me very sad so I want to set the record straight.

These past few months have been…different.

And challenging.

And topsy-turvy.

My husband retired-which is a good thing. But for the past several years he was working out of town so not only am I adjusting to his being home every day, I’m adjusting to his being home at all.

We’ve worked out a schedule that accommodates his night owl habits and my farm girl hours so that’s going well.

The pandemic, wintry weather and the holidays have dampened my spirits a bit so motivation is a factor.

My recent hospital stay, wrist pain and realization that my hands are simply not going to get better make typing more difficult.

All that to say this: I’m really sorry for not being more attentive, more timely and more responsive to comments. I read every. single. one.

I’m going to try hard to catch up.

If you feel overlooked or are ever concerned there’s something else going on besides my own preoccupation, lack of diligence or oversight, PLEASE message me!

I never, ever want a single heart to feel sad or abandoned because of something I do or don’t do.

I promise you are important to me.

Solitude, Isolation? How Can I Tell The Difference?

I know these days so many of us are spending more time at home, more time alone.

For introverts or wounded hearts not having to turn down invitations can seem like a gift.

But it’s easy to slide from solitude (healthy, restorative alone time) into isolation (unhealthy, depleting separation). So I ask myself a few questions to help sort it out.

If you are feeling increasingly alone and forgotten, full of despair and abandoned, you might want to use this checklist too.

Even in this era of social (physical) distancing a heart can and absolutely should seek out community.

It’s what we were made for.

I’ve always loved my alone time.

As an introvert (who can, if pressed pretend not to be!) my energy is restored when I interact with one or two folks or no one at all.  A dream afternoon is writing while listening to nothing louder than the wind chimes outside my door.

I treasure solitude.

Since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, I find I need even more alone time than before.

That quiet place is where I do my most effective grief work, undisturbed by interruptions and distractions.

But I need to be careful that solitude doesn’t shift into isolation. 

Read the rest here: Solitude or Isolation? Which is it?

Why I’m Not Going Anywhere

I want to make perfectly clear that this is NOT a political post.

I don’t do that here.

It is, instead, a PSA for anyone who follows the blog and might feel the need to leave any or all social media platforms in light of recent events.

I don’t want folks who depend on these daily posts to be left out in the cold.

I have friends from across the political, socioeconomic, religious and ethnic spectrum. For most of us the uniting factor is a broken heart.

We have learned to walk graciously in our wounded condition and (generally) assume the best about others.

So I’m not going anywhere.

I will continue to post the blog on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to make it as widely available to those who want to read it and share it as possible.

If you’ve been depending on those avenues for access and are deleting or deactivating your account, you can follow via email (look for the invitation on any post that says, “Follow Blog via Email” and put in your email address).

Each day’s post will be delivered to your inbox.

I appreciate every heart that gathers around this space.

I often feel like we are keeping company in my living room next to the fire.

I hope that if you find any good or any help in these posts you will choose to remain part of our community.

❤ Melanie

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