Repost: Trying to Hold Off the Holidays

Here they come round the bend like a pack of dogs chasing that rabbit on a racetrack.

No way to slow them down, no way to step to the side and ward off the relentless message that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon-so, so soon.

Stores scream, “You’ve got to buy it NOW!  You’re running out of time!”

Billboards, radio and television ads, and calendars count down the days.

Decorations assault my eyes and ears and nose (thank you pumpkin everything!).  I cannot get away.  There’s no where to hide

Read the rest here:  Trying to Hold off the Holidays

Blaming is Just So Easy

Dominic’s death has made me angry at times.  

And I really don’t have anyone on whom to focus that anger. 

I can blame Dom, but what will that do for my heart?

I can be angry at God, but the truth is, I have too long a history with Him to think that He is punishing me or that He isn’t the loving Father I know Him to be.

So often I end up casting blame on those who don’t live up to my standards of how they SHOULD be walking alongside me in this Valley.

Because all that anger has to go somewhere, right?

Businessman points his finger at you

Sad thing is, right when I need friends most, if I’m spending my time picking them apart because they aren’t approaching me in the most helpful ways or, worse-avoiding me altogether-then I am guaranteeing I’ll be alone and lonely.

It does hurt when folks say the wrong thing, don’t say anything or let mention of my missing son fall like a lead ball between us.  

But most often it isn’t because they MEAN to hurt me, it’s because they don’t know what to say or how to act.

helpful advice what not to say to a bereaved parent

Child loss and its lifelong aftermath is largely a secret in Western society.  

Even many mental health professionals don’t recognize its ongoing impact on a heart and life.  

I’m beginning to suspect that most of the people I know have been and are doing the best they can to walk alongside me in this Valley.  And, well, if it looks a little awkward or is kind of an on again/off again thing-I’ll give grace.  

Blaming is easy.  

But it pushes hearts apart. 

Right when I need them to come closer.  

says something small but fits into the empty space in your heart

Leaky Grief

Even though I purpose to be authentic and open about how Dominic’s absence impacts my life, I find that I may go days or weeks without realizing I’m stuffing things again.

Most of the time I figure it out because the grief has found the path of least resistance and leaked onto other people or has made me sick, tired or both.

When I catch myself overreacting to the less than attentive store clerk or avoiding phone calls or snapping at family members I need to take a moment and search for what’s behind that.

When I dread another day, sit for too long in my chair instead of getting up and getting going, procrastinate over simple and easy tasks, have trouble sleeping or am achy all over I need to reexamine my week and see what grief triggers I overlooked or tried to ignore.  

At first I was very aware of carrying the load of grief and sorrow-tears made it obvious and impossible to ignore.

But as time has progressed (now 4 1/2 years) I find I can seem to breeze right past things that would have stopped me in my tracks during the first twelve months.

Still, they DO pluck at my heart even if I think they don’t.  

best way out is always through

And if I refuse to drag those feelings out into the light, they will find their own path.

Grief will not be denied forever.  

It leaks out somewhere.

Better for me to face up, own it and choose how it comes out.

re_set as many times as you need to

Repost: Zero Points for Pretending-You Can’t Hide Your Heart

Oh, sometimes I think I’m clever enough to do it.

I edit my words, costume my body and fix my face so  I can act the part.  But truth is, I never manage to fool anyone who looks closer than my plastic smile.

I can’t hide my heart.

And I don’t know why I try-I don’t get points for pretending.

There’s no prize at the end of this long road for the one who makes it with fewest tears.

Read the rest here:  Zero Points for Pretending: You Can’t Hide Your Heart

Why It’s So Important to Model Grief For Our Children & Grandchildren

It’s tempting to try to hide our tears and fears from our living children and grandchildren.  

Who wants to overload a young heart and mind with grown-up problems?

There is definitely a place and time to shelter little people-it’s never appropriate to offload onto small shoulders what we just don’t want to carry ourselves.

But it is neither helpful nor healthy to pretend that sorrow and sadness don’t follow loss.  

im fine now read it upside down

When I stuff feelings and insist on keeping a “stiff upper lip” I’m telling my kids that it’s not OK to admit that they are struggling.

When I act like it’s no big deal to set up the Christmas tree and deck the halls without their brother here, I’m encouraging them to remain silent instead of speaking up if their hearts are heavy instead of happy.

When I never voice my discomfort with certain activities or social events I am modeling a false front and fake smiles.  

Of course, there are times we all have to suck it up and suck it in along this path.  But that shouldn’t be the norm.  As I’ve said over and over before-if we stuff our hearts full of unreleased feelings, we leave no room for the grace and mercy God wants to pour into them.

I can tell you that many, many folks have interviewed surviving siblings years and decades after their brother or sister left and have consistently discovered that most of them tried hard to live up to whatever standards their grieving parents set. 

If Mom and Dad refused to talk about the loss, then they refused to talk about it too.  If, on the other hand, the family observed open communication, they were able to process feelings in real time instead of stuffing and having to deal with them later.

family never gets over the death of a loved one

One of the greatest challenges in child loss (or any profound loss) is creating space within our closest grief circle to allow each person affected to express themselves whatever that looks like.  

But it’s so, so important!  

Don’t hide your tears.  

Don’t shut down the questions.  

Don’t lock away the uncertainty and anxiety child loss brings in a trunk and only bring it out when no one’s watching.  

Because the little people (and not so little people) in your house are ALWAYS watching.  

They need permission to grieve.  ❤

Capacity-to-grieve

Free Seminar: Grief and Holidays

I’m hosting a seminar for bereaved moms October 18th.  I’ve got it set up as an event  on Facebook but I wanted to share it here to make sure no one misses out.  ❤

It’s not going to be anything fancy but I hope it will help some of us gird our loins for the last two months of the year that prove challenging to all of us whose child has run ahead to Heaven.

A precious friend who is an amazing baker and caterer will be furnishing the food.

I will be sharing from some things I’ve written in the past and some new things I’ve learned about this year.  

We’ll open things up so others who want to can share what has/hasn’t worked for them in the past and we’ll allow for questions and brainstorming.

So bring your appetite, bring a notebook and join us!

We *may* try to Facebook live my talk but don’t depend on that since internet connections out here in the woods aren’t always reliable or strong enough to stream anything.

It’s listed publicly as an event on my own Facebook page and on my public Heartache and Hope page so please go THERE  and RSVP if interested.

grief and the holidays broken bulb

Here are the important details:

Grief and Holidays Seminar and Supper for Bereaved Moms

Thursday, October 18

6:30-9:30 pm (don’t be thrown off by the length-we will stay and share up to that time, but if you need to leave sooner you certainly can)

Johntown Baptist Church

5201 Vance Road

West Blocton, AL 35184  (About 30/35 minutes from Tuscaloosa, AL and about 45-65 minutes from most Birmingham, AL locations)

There is plenty of space but we need a head count for food and handouts, so RSVP by Sunday, October 14th.

bereaved parents have one job during the holidays to survive

Grief: Why I Still Need Grace From Friends and Family

There have been a number of television shows lately centered around families and personal tragedy that simultaneously draws them closer and tears them apart.  

Some of the writers and actors are doing a good job showing what it looks like to live through a nightmare. 

Some, not so much.  

But none of them will take it out to years and decades-the audience would lose interest, decide that story line needed refreshing or simply needed to GO. 

For those living with child loss, it’s no story line.  We don’t get to walk away, change the channel, find some new and more interesting or more comfortable screen to watch.  

It’s our life.

And we need folks who will hang in and hang on while we live it out.  ❤

You cannot possibly know that scented soap takes me back to my son’s apartment in an instant.

You weren’t there when I cleaned it for the last time, boxed up the contents under the sink and wiped the beautiful, greasy hand prints off the shower wall.  He had worked on a friend’s car that night, jumped in to clean up and was off.

He never made it home.

So when I come out of the room red-eyed, teary and quiet, please don’t look at me like I’m a freak.

Please don’t corner me and ask, “What’s wrong?” Or worse-please, please, please don’t suggest I should be “over it by now”. 

Read the rest here:  Grief and Grace:What I Need from Friends and Family