Bereaved Parents Month 2020: Ten Ways To Survive Hard Grief Days

Even six years into this journey I have hard grief days.

I had one just this week and needed to remind my heart that while I can’t stop the waves from rolling in, I have ways to hang on and ride them out.

There are many, many ways to survive such days but here are ten that have proven helpful to me over and over again.

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 nearly six 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

Sighing Is My Second Language

Pale.  Flat. Tasteless. 

Yes.

They’d crossed over to that continent where grieving parents lived. It looked the same as the rest of the world, but wasn’t. Colors bled pale. Music was just notes. Books no longer transported or comforted, not fully. Never again. Food was nutrition, little more. Breaths were sighs. And they knew something the rest didn’t. They knew how lucky the rest of the world was.

― Louise Penny

It was absolutely this way for more than the first three years. 

Read the rest here: All The Color Gone

Why Bereaved Parents Month?

There are so many competing causes it’s a wonder anyone can keep up with them.

But when one or more of them become near and dear to your heart, it’s easy.

July is Bereaved Parents Month. A designation I knew nothing about until several years into my own journey as a bereaved parent.

And while I’m unsure about the necessity for declarations like National Trivia Day or National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day I am absolutely convinced of the need for Bereaved Parents Month.

This is why: Child loss is unlike any other loss a person may experience. It is out-of-order death, unnatural, unexpected and unfathomable.

Every day, bereaved parents are walking in the world, going to work , doing all that life requires and often caring for their other children while carrying a very heavy burden that mostly goes unnoticed.

Many parents desperately want to speak about their missing child but feel constrained by fear others will think they are vying for sympathy or attention. Sometimes they don’t say anything because they’ve been shamed or shushed by negative comments on their social media posts. Still others are longing to find a community where their uniquely painful experience is understood.

Bereaved Parents Month is an opportunity for these parents to share their child with the world without fear or condemnation.

It’s a chance to post articles, information and personal experience that can help those outside the circle of child loss understand the ongoing struggle of walking this path.

Hopefully it is also a season where newly bereaved parents can find resources so their own hearts feel heard, understood and encouraged.

So if you ARE a bereaved parent, please take advantage of this month set aside to raise awareness of our journey.

If you LOVE a bereaved parent, please acknowledge and affirm your friend or family member who may choose to share in person or online a little more freely this month.

Hearts hold on best when they are free to tell their story.

Bereaved Parents Month is set aside for us to tell ours.

Why Am I Still Writing Six Years After Loss?

I first shared this last year when I was reflecting on half a decade of living without one of my children beside me. I’ve now had another year to think about why or if I’ll continue to write.

And this year has, in many ways, been one of the most difficult since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven. Today marks nine months since my mother joined him. Fresh grief has once again visited my heart.

The whole pandemic thing has wrecked havoc around the world and death fills the airwaves. My family has faced several unexpected changes and we are still trying to sort those.

But I find that writing still brings clarity and comfort to my soul. I still have things to say and I hope what I say still brings some small measure of light, love, life and hope to other hearts.

❤ Melanie

If someone had said, “Pick any topic to write about”, child loss wouldn’t have been in the first million choices.

No one CHOOSES child loss (Thus the name of the blog:  The Life I Didn’t Choose).

But untold numbers of parents EXPERIENCE it every year.  This very day,  parents somewhere got a knock on the door or a phone call or sat next to a hospital bed as life slipped slowly from their child’s tired body.

Since I was already journaling and had walked this Valley for nearly a year and a half, it dawned on me that the ramblings I’d put down might be helpful to another heart.  So I started THIS blog in September, 2015.

And I’ve been here ever since.  

Read the rest here: Why Am I Still Writing About Loss Five Years Out?

Finding Courage To Face The Future After Child Loss


I think it was somewhere around two months from Dominic’s departure when my heart realized life was moving forward whether I granted permission or not.  

Not only folks on the fringes and the “bigger world out there” but close by-in my own family, my own circle of intimate friends-people were making plans, having birthdays, going places and doing things.  

I wanted to scream.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Finding Courage to Face the Future

Child Loss: How Do I DO This?


After the flurry of activity surrounding the funeral, our house was so, so quiet. 

Even with the five of us still here, it felt empty.  

Because Dominic was gone, gone, gone and he was not coming back.

And the silence pounded into my head and heart until it became a scream: 

How do I DO this? 

Read the rest here: How Do I DO This? The Question Every Bereaved Parent Longs to Ask

Picking My Path Through Sun And Shade


I walk the half-mile stretch down and back on my driveway at least four or five times a day.

In the winter I follow the sun.

In the summer I follow the shade.

The path I choose to take either adds to or subtracts from my ability to make the trek in relative comfort.

Read the rest here: Sun & Shade: Picking My Path

The Good Stuff

I am not sticking my head in the sand.

My family has regular discussions about current events and while I don’t watch televised news, I read widely each day about what’s going on in the world.

Even still, a steady diet of nothing but dire reports is anything but good for a heart.

So each day I try to focus on some happy moments as well.

Let me share a few with you.

This past week I’ve gotten a good bit of outdoor work done, sweated tons and walked farther and longer than usual.

Our weather turned from rainy and excessively humid to sunny and actually pretty dry (for Alabama!).

My chickens are laying well and our little local produce man had watermelons and peaches.

This afternoon I’ll hop in my not-very-big above ground pool and cool off between chores while Frodo the goat watches me.

Frodo the goat who loves to be where he shouldn’t be and my pool.

Black-eyed Susans are blooming by my mailbox.

I had lunch with a friend.

Easy Grilled Burger Recipe | Kingsford®
Burgers with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and peaches for dessert.

And I had a video chat with four other amazing bereaved mamas.

Finding at least one thing each day for which to be thankful helps my heart hold onto hope.

I make a conscious effort to breathe in beauty and enjoy those moments.

When I was fresh on this journey it was hard to receive anything as “good”. Everything was filtered through the lens of loss. So I understand if you think this is a futile exercise.

But eventually I was able to see more than my son’s absence and feel more than pain and sorrow.

What we have enjoyed, we can never lose... all that we 
love deeply becomes a part of us. - Helen Keller

Life is still life and there are still beautiful moments. Sunlight through the trees, a baby’s laugh, friends and family around the table, flowers, furry friends, a favorite meal, or the perfect cup of coffee are all things I enjoy. They don’t take away the sorrow of missing my son but they are worth celebrating.

I’m learning to hang onto them with both hands and to cherish them as a gift.

Think about it.

What made you smile this week?

Wanna share?

The Sweetest Words: “I’m sorry for your pain. I’m listening. I’m not going anywhere.”

I first shared this post several years ago when I realized that the best thing anyone could say to me was: “I’m sorry for your pain. I’m listening. I’m not going anywhere.”

At the time it was mainly about my experience with child loss.

Now I know it’s really the best thing for any heart whenever its hurting or afraid or feeling alone.

Watching someone you love in pain is very, very hard.

And it’s natural that people want to say something or do something to try to ease the burden.

They might offer a story illustrating that it “could be worse” or rush past an expression of sorrow by changing the subject or even compliment me on “how well I am doing”.

But none of those things makes me feel better.

Read the rest here: Sweet Words

Feel Like You Don’t Measure Up? Be Gentle On Yourself.

It’s been years (decades?) since I watched much, if any, commercial television.

I do get those annoying pop-up ads from time to time when I visit websites and, of course, Facebook loves to “suggest” products I “need” in my timeline.

But I’m really not exposed to a lot of advertising or images that scream, “You are not enough!”.

When You Don't Feel Like You Measure Up - Beyond Sunday Mornings

Even so, that’s often the way I feel.

Somehow I’ve swallowed the lie that the only way I can be worthy of love and even breath is to be “all that I can be”-whatever THAT means. I need to have the right exercise regimen, the cleanest home, the healthiest food, a morning quiet time with my Bible and praise music, the perfect filing system for all the random papers I have stuffed in boxes, a tidy closet, and a day filled with meaningful activity that produces either income or social change.

All this time stuck at home has served to point out the many ways I fall short of those standards.

Steve Furtick Quote (With images) | Steve furtick quotes, Lovely ...

We’ve lived in this house for twenty-two years which is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. It’s filled to the brim with memories and stuff and dusty corners where the furniture hasn’t been moved since we got here.

The kids were six through twelve the day we bought the place.

There’s been a lot of activity and growing within these walls and frankly, you can tell.

I need to paint but the idea of wiping off the last little marks of Dominic and his siblings made when they were all here and happy is overwhelming. I need to rearrange the things in what was once his room and make it more useful for when the kids come home to visit but that means I have to go through some drawers and stuff that haven’t been touched since he touched them and I’m not ready.

That’s just two of probably one hundred (literally!) things I could or should do.

What I’ve been doing instead is living through what I call my Season of Sorrow which runs from March through the end of May every year-all the “lasts” (last time I saw him, last time I hugged him) and all the “firsts” (the day he left for Heaven, his funeral) and ends with his birthday on May twenty-eighth.

I’ve learned that I’m no good at starting projects this time of year.

I’m doomed to leave them unfinished which becomes its own kind of condemnation.

But I still feel like I SHOULD be doing them.

Cloud Performance: Some Cloud Platforms Simply Don't Measure Up

I need to be gentle on myself.

That list of things to do is always going to be long. If I worked every day, all day for the rest of my life there would be things left unfinished.

I need to remember that how I loved and who I loved is the measure that really counts.

The most important things in life are not things" Quote