Be Brave. Ask A Hurting Heart What It Needs.

I think Dominic’s death has made me brave in this one tiny place:  I say things I might not have said before.  I risk pain in relationships where I might not have been willing to risk before.  I assume that if I don’t speak important truths RIGHT NOW I might not get another chance.

I long to be a burden bearer for my friends and family because I know what it is to bear a burden.

So I ask and don’t assume.  

If someone wants to be left alone, then they are free to tell me.

But I will not stay silent or keep away simply for my own comfort.  

Read the rest here: Ask Me, Please.

Don’t Forget Dads!

Like it or not the stereotype often rings true: women emote and men clam up.

I see it play out every day in the online support groups to which I belong. If you check the member list there are quite a number of dads in the mix but it’s exceedingly rare that one of them posts or comments.

I get it. I’m a wife and mother to three boys (now men). All of them are better at compartmentalizing difficult situations and pushing down emotions than I am.

When I have something heavy on my heart it almost always spills out and splashes across everything else.

They, on the other hand, will sit on sadness or anxiety or the never-ending missing that makes up child loss/sibling loss until it finally becomes more than even their iron-clad emotional chests can hold.

Even then they often weep in private, mourn in secret.

That’s unfortunate because it means they are frequently forgotten in society’s rush to comfort parents whose children make it first to Heaven.

Much is made over bereaved moms and Mother’s Day. There is even an International Bereaved Mother’s Day on the Sunday before Mother’s Day (U.S.). I (and others) take that opportunity to have a separate day to think about, mourn and celebrate the life of my child gone too soon.

But dads kind of get short shrift.

While there IS an International Bereaved Father’s Day ( August 29, 2021), it’s nowhere near as well-recognized as that for moms.

I’ve written often about how important friends are to our grief journey. They can encourage, provide practical help and simply by their presence remind a heart that darkness and despair is not all there is.

Men need friends who will step up and step in. They need masculine examples of sharing and caring.

Men Can Have Better Friendships. Here's How : NPR

They need grace and space to unlock the chest of emotions that they sometimes keep tucked away and hidden from their family because they think it’s their job to “be strong”.

So if you know a dad whose child has left for Heaven, reach out in the next couple of weeks before Father’s Day.

Take him fishing. Go for a ride. Tackle a project together.

Be a safe place for them to let their guard down, to open up, to release pent up emotions and (possibly) frustration.

Dads grieve too.

Don’t forget them.

We All Need Sheltering Trees

If you’ve never been caught short in the midst of an unexpected downpour you might not know how important refuge under the boughs of a cedar or oak tree can be.

Living in the middle of woods, punctuated by open pastures, I’ve retreated more than once to the safety of thick boughs which limit the rain’s ability to soak me through.

I have memorized every safe haven between the road and the middle of my 34 acres.

Faithful friends are like those sheltering trees-offering respite to a weary heart, providing a safe space to take a breath, granting protection when we are pursued by the enemy of our souls.

When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I was a mess.

Most folks that brushed shoulders with me in public might not have guessed but those who knew me well saw me devolve from “got it together” to “don’t even know what I should be getting together”.

I was utterly devastated.

Some people were repulsed. They either couldn’t handle my ongoing neediness (a week or a month on the prayer list ought to be enough according to them) or they simply found my presence too uncomfortable a reminder that bad things happen regardless of how “good” you are.

But there were a few…a precious, precious few who refused to go away. They showed up and stayed.

It didn’t matter if they had any remarkable insight or help or “solutions” to my heartache.

What mattered is that they bent over my broken heart and provided shelter.

We all need sheltering trees in the storms of life.

And I am beyond thankful for every single person who is brave enough to bear the brunt of evil winds to provide that shelter.

Ten Ways I Survive Hard Grief Days

My hardest grief season begins in November and runs to the end of May.  Thanksgiving through Dominic’s birthday on (or near) Memorial Day are days full of triggers, memories and stark reminders that one of us is missing.

If I could fall asleep November first and wake up in June I’d do it.

But I can’t so I have to employ all the tricks I’ve learned in the over seven years since Dominic ran ahead to heaven to survive those particularly challenging months.

Here are ten ways I survive hard grief days

Read the rest here: Taking Care: Ten Ways to Survive Hard Grief Days

Sometimes People Just Don’t Listen!

This incident happened awhile ago but it still rankles me.

I’m not one to insist we need to self-censor everything we say or share because it *might* offend someone else. That’s just exhausting!

But…BUT…when someone makes me aware that I’m adding to their burden with my words I’m quick to shut up.

Laying down idle conversation is a small price to pay to love a friend well.

I had a very uncomfortable exchange with someone at church Wednesday night.  

We have a light potluck dinner each Wednesday before Bible Study and I’m on kitchen duty.  So I was uncovering dishes, adding spoons and getting things ready when conversation erupted around me about a “horrible wreck just up the road.”

I kept silent and tried to focus on the plastic wrap and aluminum foil but couldn’t help hearing the animated relaying of detail after detail until it reached a crescendo ending in someone declaring that, “Well, those people just drive too fast.  They don’t even care about themselves.”  

You might guess where this is going.  

Read the rest here: When People Just Don’t Listen

It’s YOUR Story-Don’t Hold It In

We all have a story.

So often we try to hold it in lest someone think less of us for sharing. But that’s not helpful-for us or for them.

Everyone needs validation. Everyone needs to know they are not the only person on the planet that hurts in this particular way or thinks this specific thought.

Whenever I choose openness I nearly always find that another heart comes alongside to say, “me too”.

And isn’t that really what we all hope for? Compassionate companionship?

We CAN hold some of it in.

For awhile.

In certain circumstances.

Read the rest here: You Can’t Hold It In, So Let It Out

Five Helpful Ways To Support A Grieving Parent

It’s oh, so hard to know what to do when you are watching a heart break.

You want to reach out and make it better, make the pain go away, make a difference.  But it seems like nothing you can do will matter much in the face of such a huge loss.

While it’s true that you cannot “fix”  the brokenness in a bereaved parent’s life, there are some very important and practical ways you can support them in their grief-especially as the weeks turn into months and then to years.

Read the rest here: Five Practical Ways to Support a Grieving Parent

It Almost Happened to You. It DID Happen to Me.

It came up in one of our closed support groups again: That friend who thinks because we have endured the worst, we are somehow uniquely equipped to listen to and bear up under their fear of the worst.

If your child survives a car crash or some other terrible accident, please, please, please know that NO ONE is happier than I am you are spared!

Allow me to “like/love/whatever” your post in support. But please do not PM me with a list of “what could have happened”.

I already know. I’m living it.

Dear Mom Whose Son Survived the Accident,

I want you to know that I am beyond thankful that you will be spared my pain.  I prayed for your son as you requested-begged God to spare him.

They say misery love company but I say misery loves comfort.

I do not want one more parent to know the heartache of child loss.

Read the rest here: An Open Letter to the Mom Who Was Almost Me

So What Can I DO? Show Up.

I absolutely understand how it feels to be frozen between “I want to DO something” and “I have no idea WHAT to do”.

It’s where most of us find ourselves when we hear of a loved one compelled to walk the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

It seems pushy to force help on a fragile heart and yet it feels cowardly to stand by while that same heart struggles to complete all the tasks necessary surrounding death.

So what can a caring friend or family member do? Start by showing up.

I remember the morning I got the news and as the sun was coming up, a truck pulled down our lane.  It was Robbie-our “adopted” son.  As soon as my oldest son (who was in WV at the time) got the call, he called Robbie.  Because he knew I would be able to bear Robbie’s presence and accept Robbie’s help.  

I cannot describe the relief I felt when he came to the door-another shoulder to help carry this burden until we could gather all our family together to lift it in unison.

And after him came a couple we had known since the kids were little. 

Both rushed to our doorstep to offer companionship, practical aid, listening ears and simple reassurance that though this was NOT a dream-oh, how I wanted it to be a dream!I was not going to walk this Valley alone. 

They stayed until my husband, son and parents had made it here.  I will never, ever, ever forget that gift of unconditional love and time offered just when I needed it most.

Read the rest here: What Can I DO? Start by Showing Up.

Why We Turn Away


The news goes out over Facebook, over phone lines, over prayer chains and everyone shows up.

Crowds in the kitchen, in the living room, spilling onto the lawn.

It’s what you do.

And it’s actually the easiest part.  Lots of people, lots of talking, lots of activity keep the atmosphere focused on the deceased and the family.  The conversation rarely dips to deeper waters or digs into harder ground:  “Where was God?”;  “Why him?”;  “Why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people?”

But eventually the busyness and noise gives way to stillness and silence.

That’s when the harder part starts.

Read the rest here: Why Do We Turn Away?