Friends: Shelters In Grief’s Storm

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.

Read the rest here: We All Need Sheltering Trees

I Have Learned So Very 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

Help! I Need Somebody! (And You Do Too)

So many times I try to avoid admitting that I am unable to meet certain people’s expectations or do certain things that I either used to be able to do or feel I SHOULD be able to do.

I think the reason I don’t mind outing myself on trailers is because that confession usually gets a laugh or a knowing look from the person who helps me or an admission from someone standing near at the feed store that they also have trouble backing up a trailer.

But when I say, “I just don’t think I’m up to teaching VBS” or “I’d love to come to that event but I’ve reached my social quota this week” or “I’m still struggling with driving by that spot or eating at that restaurant” it’s often met with (at best) a quizzical look or (at worst) a comment about how I should be “better” by now.

Read the rest here: Help! I Need Somebody!

I’m SO Thankful For Support

I was reminded yet again when I spent a few days with other bereaved parents two weeks ago how very, very, VERY helpful it has been to do just that.

In the earliest days after Dominic ran ahead, a couple of local moms whose children were also in Heaven came to see me. How I hung on every word! How I longed for a glimmer of hope that I, too, could somehow survive this devastation!

It was much later that I discovered online support groups. And it opened a whole new world of experience, understanding and freedom to ask the questions that had been burning in my heart: “Is what I’m feeling normal?” “Did you still cry every day after months?” “Why can’t I remember anything anymore?”

Almost eight years ago I started writing here and found another level of compassion and companionship when y’all joined me and practically shouted, “Keep sharing!”.

At every turn I have been amazed that so many whose hearts are broken choose to reach out when I know from bitter experience it would be oh, so easy to withdraw.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, my precious wounded healers.

❤ Melanie

There have been many well-meaning but woefully uninformed people who offered advice.  Some of it was helpful but most of it was predicated on misinformation and lack of real-life experience.

The MOST helpful advice has come from fellow bereaved parents.

They share their hearts and their hopes, their failures and their victories, their fears and their faith.  They don’t have to-they could simply focus on their own pain and refuse to offer aid.  

Read the rest here: Thankful for Support

Bereaved Mother’s Day 2023: An Open Letter to My Fellow Bereaved Moms

Dear Mama,

I know that you never-in your wildest imagination-thought you would need a day set aside for your broken heart and your empty arms.  

Who thinks when they learn a new life is growing inside that this same life might be cut short?  What heart is brave enough to consider the possibility? 

Yet here you are.  

I’m so, so sorry.  

But there are a few things I want you to know. 

Read the rest here: International Bereaved Mother’s Day: An Open Letter to my Fellow Sisters in Loss

Trying Hard to Be a Better Listener!

I admit it:  I’m a fixer.

It’s probably genetic (won’t mention any names!) but it has been reinforced by training and life experience.

When faced with a difficult or messy situation, my mind instantly rolls through an inventory of available resources and possible solutions.

And I tended to cut people off mid-sentence with my brilliant (?) plan to save the day.

But there are things you just can’t fix.

I knew that before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven but I mostly ignored it.

I can’t do that anymore.

Read the rest here: Lessons in Grief: Learning to Listen

Beauty in Community

It’s hard to explain to anyone who is not part of the child loss community that even though we would NEVER have chosen to join their ranks, these folks are some of the most amazing, compassionate and ENCOURAGING people in the world.

I just got home from Tulsa, exhausted and definitely looking forward to rest, but also encouraged and excited to keep company in person and online with some of these brave souls.

It was an amazing two days sharing hearts and stories, getting to hug necks and spending time listening to parents speak about their precious children. 

I am always encouraged when I look around a room and see real conversations taking place between two earnest faces who are clearly experiencing “me too” moments. 

So, so much grace, comfort, love and compassion flowed!

Oh, there were tears but there was also lots and lots of laughter.

We were free to speak aloud many of the words we are so often forced to swallow in daily life. No one was shocked anyone was *still* missing his or her child or slept with her daughter’s pillow, a toddler’s stuffie or in their son’s old t-shirt.

We rehearsed THAT MOMENT and how it divided time into before and after.

Knowing glances passed when one mama shared how painful it is to have family never mention her boy. And again when a dad asked about what to do with all the anger he felt.

NO explanation necessary.

We understand.

What a joy to help other parents hold onto the hope I have in Jesus and His promises to redeem and restore what the enemy has stolen and destroyed.

I witnessed hearts knit together in sorrow and love.

It was beautiful.

It Might Have Happened to You, It DID Happen to Me: An Open Letter

This came up in one of our closed groups again: That friend who things that 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, some other terrible accident or illness-please, please know that NO ONE is happier than I am you are spared. Let me “like/love/whatever” your post in support.

But don’t DM me with a list of “what could have happened”.

I already know. I’m living it.

❤ Melanie

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.

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

Lent 2023: Fasting Spectatorship-Choosing to Participate

How many of you enjoy looking at Pinterest or other idea generating Internet sites? How many of the ideas you’ve saved have ever resulted in actual projects?

I think spectatorship has been elevated to an entirely new level with social media.

It’s easy to do in real life too! I can stand by and watch others getting involved and making a difference and convince my heart that’s the same thing as doing something.

Read the rest here: Lenten Reflections: Fasting Spectatorship-Choosing to Participate

Compassion: Understanding “Acceptance”

In all fairness, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had no idea her research would be taken out of context and plastered across professional literature and media outlets as a definitive explanation for the grief experience.

But she didn’t mind the notoriety.

And ever since, counselors, pastors, laypersons and the general public have come to expect folks to politely follow the five (sometimes described as six) stages of grief up and out of brokenness like a ladder to success.

It doesn’t work that way.

❤ Melanie

Sometimes those that walk alongside the bereaved are biding time, waiting for that “final” stage of grief: Acceptance.

And some therapists, counselors and armchair psychiatrists are certain that if the grieving mother can simply accept the death of her child, she can move on–that she can get back to a more “normal” life.

But this notion is as ridiculous as imagining that welcoming a new baby into a household doesn’t change everything.

And new parents have months to prepare.

Read the rest here: Loving well: Understanding “Acceptance”

%d bloggers like this: