Grief Work: Access the Truth

Have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “My goodness! I talked WAY too much”?

I have.

I can become so wrapped up in sharing my own experience, spilling my own feelings, trying to communicate my own point of view that I don’t leave space for the other person to get a word in edgewise.

Sometimes I do the same thing when talking to God-I can’t stop chattering long enough to hear what He wants to speak into my pain.

When I choose to listen, He is faithful to remind me of truth. He is faithful to lead me to the green pastures of His word where I can feast on His promises and be filled with hope.

❤ Melanie

“I wake before the morning light.  Every. single. morning.

I get my coffee, sit in my chair and wait for sunrise.

I never worry that today it might not happen.

I’m never concerned that after all these years of faithfulnessthis day may be the one where daylight fails to make an appearance.

There is no fear in this darkness because I know it will not last forever.

Morning is coming.

Morning. Is. Coming.

And that’s the hope I cling to in this longer darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death-no matter how many years it may bethe Valley has an end.

Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Access the Truth

Grief Work: Acknowledge Doubt

Some of us have grown up in faith communities where doubt is treated as disbelief.

I’m so sorry.

Doubt is, in my opinion, a precursor to deeper faith, stronger commitment, informed and more solid trust in God and in His goodness and sovereignty.

If devastating loss has brought you to knees or face down on the floor begging God to make sense of it all, you are in good company. So many of His saints have cried out in despair.

If you are frightened you are losing faith, remember this: the simple fact you know where and to Whom to bring your pain means your heart is still turned toward your Savior.

❤ Melanie

Grief forces me to walk Relentlessly Forward  even when I long to go back.

I can’t stop the clock or the sun or the days rolling by.

Those of us who are more than a couple months along in this journey (or any journey that involves tragedy and loss) know that it is ABSOLUTELY POSSIBLE to feel worse than in the first few days.

Because as the edges of the fog lift and the reality of an entire lifetime looms before you the questions form and the doubt sinks in.

Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Acknowledge Doubt and Ask Questions

Grief Work: Trusting God After Child Loss

For those of us who follow Jesus, perhaps the most difficult and important grief work we must do is deciding how our faith fits into the new and awful reality of child loss.

I’ve encountered so many hurting hearts struggling to square their experience of devastating loss with their faith in a loving and all-powerful God.

I write about my own struggle over and over in this space but this series of posts is an orderly exploration of doubt, pain, faith and the hope I’ve found in Christ Jesus.

I pray it helps another heart hold on.

❤ Melanie

Child loss is Unnatural-no way around it.

Out of order death is devastating.

When my perfectly healthy, strong and gifted son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on April 12. 2014 my world fell apart.  My heart shattered into a million pieces.  And after almost eight years, I’ve yet to even FIND all of those pieces much less put them back together.

So what does a heart do when that happens?  Because, try as I might, I cannot stop time. 

Even THAT awful day only lasted 24 hours.

When the sun rose again, the pain was still there.  And behind that pain and mixed with it was something else-disappointment, disaffectiondistrust.

Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Admit the Pain

Grief Work: Learning to Manage Stress

It would be so helpful if there was an app to track stress like there is to track spending.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous to get an alert that said, “Low Balance”, for mental, physical and psychological reserves like the one you can get for your bank account right before you are heading to overdraft territory?

But there isn’t.

And few of us are very good at gauging just how much is left in our mental wellness accounts which means we often keep giving when the well is more than dry.

Read the rest here: How Stress Impacts Grief

Grief Work: Find Just One Thing to Do

Before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I was a human dynamo!

Got a project? Count me in! Need a meal or a hand? Let’s go!

But since he left I find there are days when I can’t even remember what I’ve spent the hours doing. I’ve sat silent or otherwise frittered away so. much. time. in these nearly nine years.

Part of the reason is simple: When you wake up one morning and realize that really, truly, you have no control over the things that matter most, it’s easy to give up on trying to have control over anything.

That’s neither healthy nor helpful, though.

❤ Melanie

Traumatic loss can make a heart give up on everything-not just the one or two things that are truly outside our control.

It’s why so many of us bereaved parents find ourselves staring off into space, sitting in a chair, unable to move and do even the simplest tasks.

Read the rest here: The Importance of Agency in Grief

Grief Work: Learning the Language of Loss

Child loss is lonely.

But you don’t have to be alone.

An isolated heart is especially vulnerable to discouragement and despair.

When I first found myself on this path, I only knew a handful of moms who were walking it too. They were kind and helpful but they weren’t close enough (by relationship or physical distance) to make sharing my daily ups and downs easy or comfortable. I had so many questions. I had so many fears.

And I really didn’t have anyone to ask.

Someone suggested I look for a grief group meeting in my area. But I live in a rural county and there were none. Someone else suggested I start one. But I was in no position to shepherd other hearts or facilitate discussion when I could barely form words around my own feelings.

So I turned to social media. I searched Facebook for bereaved parent groups.

And it’s there I learned the language of loss and experienced the blessing of community.

❤ Melanie

How do you speak of the unspeakable?

How do you constrain the earth-shattering reality of child loss to a few syllables?

How do you SAY what must be said?

Read the rest here: Vocabulary Lesson: Learning the Language of Grief and Loss

Griefwork: I Must Feel ALL the Feels In Order to Begin Healing

It’s so tempting to try to run or numb the pain of child loss!

Who willingly submits to 24/7 excruciating pain?

But the truth is, unless I face my feelings, give my heart and mind time to experience them and work toward processing them, I cannot even begin to heal.

One of the most difficult and time consuming aspects of grief work is setting aside space and giving myself grace to do just this. In the first couple of years I would venture to say that the majority of my waking hours-intentionally or unintentionally-were spent on this very thing.

Even almost nine years later, I still spend some portion of every day (although now it may be fleeting) feeling, dealing and trying to work on healing part of my broken heart.

❤ Melanie

If I touch a hot stove my hand jerks away almost before my mind registers the searing pain.  It’s reflex.  Our bodies were designed to react to and protect us from things that cause pain.

Run away.  Don’t go back.  Set up barricades and warning signs so that others can be protected.

Most of the time, this reaction serves us well.

But sometimes those reflexes keep us from healing.

Read the rest here: Feel and Deal to Heal

Grief Work: Developing a Thicker Skin

I remember clearly walking around like a giant nerve for the first days, weeks and months after Dominic left us.

It didn’t take much for me to burst into tears.

Everywhere I went I was forced to endure words and actions that pierced my heart.

It was hard not to take it personally. It was impossible not to react. Surely people should know better, be better, do better!

But the truth is, they don’t know. And if I’m honest I have to admit that before it was ME, I didn’t know either.

So part of the work grief required was for me to develop thicker skin.

I had to learn to scroll past social media posts, overlook careless comments and not expect those outside my immediate grief circle to understand how Dominic’s death continues to impact me and my family.

❤ Melanie

If you’ve joined me here for more than a minute you know I am a fierce advocate for bereaved parents in particular and all grievers in general.

But you’ve probably also noticed that, at least in my own life, I recognize how traumatic and/or difficult circumstances can make it hard to see past the hurt and the shattered world a broken heart inhabits. I can judge others harshly without meaning to.

Read the rest here: Speaking From Experience…

Grief Work: Elusive Sleep

It’s something I hear often from bereaved parents-sleep is elusive.

Falling asleep was nearly impossible in the first days and weeks after Dominic’s accident. I would lie down utterly exhausted but simply not be able to close my eyes because behind the lids scrolled the awful truth that my son was never coming home again.

Eventually my body overcame my mind and I would drift off for an hour or two but couldn’t stay asleep.

It was years before I finally developed something that resembled a “normal” sleep pattern. Even now I wake at four practically every morning-the time when the deputy’s knock sounded on my door.

Sleep is important. I can’t do the work grief requires if I go too long without it.

I have used (and still use!) various tips and tricks to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are a few of them.

❤ Melanie

Boy, do I envy my cats’ ability to fall asleep any place, any time.

I’ve lived with chronic physical pain for over a decade and there are nights when it is hard to go to sleep-when it is impossible to ignore the pain.  But I have never thought of myself as having trouble sleeping.

Until now.

Read the rest here: grief and sleep

Griefwork: It Helps to Set Aside Time to Grieve

One of the trickiest parts of life as a bereaved parent is navigating the space between our surviving children and the giant hole left by the one (or more) who have run ahead to Heaven.

There are so many ways I might cling too hard to what’s lost and not lean hard enough into what continues to bring blessing and beauty to everyday life.

I’ve learned it’s best to find quiet moments in which I can journal the feelings that might be unhelpful or downright hurtful to express to others.

❤ Melanie

One of the commitments I made out loud and in my heart the day Dominic left us was this:  I was not going to let his death tear my family apart.  

I was not going to let him become the sainted brother that stood apart and above his siblings.  

I was going to continue to give as much of my time, effort, love and presence to each of the three I had left as I had done when there were four on earth beside me.

I’ve been more or less successful in keeping this promise.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Setting Aside Time To Grieve Helps My Heart Hold On

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