Christmas 2022: What the Bereaved Need From Family and Friends

Dominic left us in April, 2014.

At the time all I could manage (barely!) was the twenty-four hours of each long, lonely and pain-wracked day.

After seven-plus years I’ve learned to look ahead, plan ahead and forge ahead to birthdays, holidays, special days and not-so-special days.

But it takes a great deal of effort and often uncomfortable conversations because no matter how long it’s been, I’m still dragging loss and its after affects behind me.

I wrote this in 2016 when I was desperate to communicate how hard it is to try to marry joy and sorrow, celebration and commemoration, light, love, life and darkness, grief and death.

It remains (I think) my most useful postGrief and Holidays: What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

Self Talk and Grief-It Matters A Lot!

What you tell yourself matters.

What you rehearse becomes what you believe.

What you believe becomes what you do.

When Dominic first ran ahead to Heaven, I was determined to hold onto truth with both hands.  I would not allow my mind to wander the winding path of “Why? or “What if?” or Where now?”

I was able to keep that up until the funeral.

Then the bottom fell out.

Read the rest here: Why Self Talk Matters

Grief Brain-Eight Years and Counting

When I first became aware that Grief Brain was a real thing, it was a blessed relief!

I had long known that physical, mental or emotional stress could alter thinking and make it hard to remember things but I had never experienced such inability to hold even the most basic information in my head or found it nearly impossible to complete simple daily tasks.

It was truly frightening.

And it made life extremely hard.

I think the really, truly awful period of confusion, memory loss and difficulty lasted a good couple of years-not every day as bad as the next or the one before-but it was fairly consistent. I had to use lists, alarms and strict habits (like where I put my keys, the route I took somewhere, etc.) to make it through.

Now, eight years later, it’s not nearly as bad.

That’s partly because I’ve become so good at relying on aids and helps like alarms and calendars and partly because I’ve gotten better at keeping the constant hum of loss compartmentalized in my brain so I can actually think of something else.

But if there is any added stress in the system I regress.

I forget words, names, places, why I’ve walked into a room, where I’m going, what I’m doing and (much to my horror) food in the oven or on the stove.

So if you are in the early days of loss and wonder, wonder, wonder if you are losing your mind, odds are-you aren’t.

It’s just Grief Brain.

It WILL get better.

In the meantime, use whatever helps you do what you have to do.

And be kind to yourself.

Struggling With Others’ Expectations in Grief

I hate microwaves that have the “quick minute” presets! 

It takes MORE time for me to undo that feature and tap in how long I want to nuke my food than it would if it weren’t set up that way.

And sometimes I feel as if “undoing” is a great deal of what I do as a griever.

I have to dispel others’ expectations of what I should be feeling, doing or thinking.

I have to help them understand that unless you have been here, you CAN’T understand.

I pray they never understand.

Read the rest here: The Problem With Microwave Presets: Struggling with Others’ Expectations in Grief

Fault Lines: Social Anxiety and Bereaved Parents

I’m no geologist, but from what I understand, earthquakes are nearly always “about to happen”.  Fault lines guarantee it.  Pressure is building underneath the surface of the earth and when it reaches a level that can no longer be contained, it spews.

Can I just let you in on a secret?

Bereaved parents are full of fault lines.

Read the rest here: Fault Lines: Bereaved Parents and Social Anxiety

Tiny Flickers of Light Help Guide My Heart Home

A fellow bereaved mom commented on my recent holiday post with this question: How do you make joy, when your heart has no joy?

It was a good and honest query. One that stopped me in my tracks.

Read the rest here: Flickers Of Light, Guiding My Heart Home

THIS is Why I’m Exhausted! Spoon Theory and Bereavement

We like to think we are invincible, full of infinite energy and able to handle anything life may throw at us. It’s understandable considering Western society places a premium on heroic endurance in the face of adversity or challenge.

Truth is, though, our emotional, physical and mental energy are not infinite. We ALL have an absolute rock bottom where we simply cannot do one. more. thing.

And living with child loss means I exhaust my resources sooner than many.

I love this concrete representation of my limitations. It has helped me understand that it’s OK to say, “no” and it’s human to have to.

I hope it gives you courage to do the same. Melanie

The basic idea is that everyone starts with a finite number of “spoons” representing the energy, attention and stamina that can be accessed for any given day. When you do something, you remove a spoon (or two or three) based on the effort required.  When you have used up all your spoons, you are operating at a deficit. 

Like a budget, you can only do that so long before you are in big trouble.

Read the rest here: Spoon Theory Applied to Bereavement

Self Care Isn’t Selfish

Every family is different. Every loss experience is unique.

Some of us have busy households when one of our children leave for Heaven and some of us are long past full tables and messy teen bedrooms.

Wherever we find ourselves when the unthinkable overtakes us, it’s always hard to continue doing daily tasks bearing a burden of sorrow. So often we settle into a pattern of striving and straining through the deep mire of grief without making time for rest.

I know I did.

Goodness! I still experience seasons when grief waves steal what little breath is left from a breathless and busy life and I can barely function.

It’s then I remind my heart that self care isn’t selfish. It’s necessary.

Absolutely, positively necessary.

Looking back I’m shocked at how much I allowed societal norms and expectations to determine how I grieved Dominic’s death.

I withheld grace from myself that I would have gladly and freely given to another heart who just buried a child. Somehow I thought I had to soldier on in spite of the unbearable sorrow, pain, horror and worldview shattering loss I was enduring.

And the further I got from the date of his accident, the more I expected from myself.

Read the rest here: Self Care in Grief

Season of Unfeeling. Sometimes Grief =Numb.

I’ve thought long and hard about that season of “un-feeling”.

Why did my heart shut down? Why the long silence when no emotion pierced my soul?

I think it was necessary.

I think a body and mind and heart can’t operate for too long at warp speed. I think that just like fainting is a response to the brain needing oxygen, numbness is a response to the soul’s need for respite and time to heal.

So if you are in the season of numb, you’re neither crazy nor alone.

Read the rest here: Why Don’t I Feel A Thing? Sometimes Grief = Numb.

Grief and Holidays 2022: What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

I wrote this six years ago when I realized how hard it was for wounded hearts to tell friends and family what they needed around the holidays.

It’s been shared more than 145,000 times which might reflect that it hits the mark for at least a few folks. My prayer is it makes a difficult season a little less so.

If it speaks for you, feel free to share and let the ones you love know how they can make a hard season slightly easier on your heart. 


“I know it is hard.
  I know you don’t truly understand how I feel.  You can’t.  It wasn’t your child.

I know I may look and act like I’m “better”.  I know that you would love for things to be like they were:  BEFORE.  But they aren’t.

I know my grief interferes with your plans.  I know it is uncomfortable to make changes in traditions we have observed for years.  But I can’t help it I didn’t ask for this to be my life.

Read the rest here: Grief and Holidays:What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

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