Do The Next Right Thing

I’m not a fan of catch phrases that enter the popular lexicon and then take off into all directions.

Too often they reduce complex emotions or situations into a few words that folks find convenient to banter around in the hopes of sounding wise or “in the know” without any genuine attempt to understand what’s really going on.

But sometimes there IS a phrase that accurately summarizes choices or circumstances and is helpful in guiding a heart in the right direction.

“Do the next right thing” is one of those.

As far as I can tell, it was coined by someone (or many someones) who participated in twelve step programs (think AA) and meant that you don’t give in to the temptation to feed your addiction but instead head to a meeting or rendezvous with a sponsor or other safe person who will help you avoid falling back down the rabbit hole.

Grief is definitely a rabbit hole.

And there are lots of times I need someone or something to distract me from the siren call of despair that would lead me right back down to darkness-even eight and half years later.

So how do I manage to shake it off and move forward? It’s really pretty simple: I do the next right thing.

One day it might be getting up, making coffee and going for my morning walk. Another day it might be taking a shower, getting dressed and heading to a doctor’s appointment.

Most days it’s some form of the regular chores that have outlined my life on this piece of property for the past quarter century-feeding horses, cooking meals, tidying the house, sweeping porches, making necessary phone calls or tracking down some important piece of information we all store in the one location that will most likely be here long after I’m gone.

I’ve written before that just changing my physical position when I feel anxiety creeping up my back and taking hold of my brain can help ward off a full blown panic attack. If I’m sitting, I stand; if standing, I walk; if walking, I sit down. We are complex creatures and the body keeps the score (also a title of an excellent book!).

Feelings aren’t JUST feelings. They are neurotransmitters, muscular contraction, heart rate and blood pressure wrapped up in thoughts.

So when faced with a wall of overwhelming and cascading feelings, I do the next right thing-whatever that may be-and often find it breaks through that wall so I can see a sliver of light.

I follow that light like a candle in a cave until it leads me to a way out of the darkness.

Little by little, decision by decision, I move forward.

Some days it’s easy and some days it’s hard.

But it’s always possible.

Lenten Reflections: Making Space For the TRULY Holy

If you’ve ever spent even a minute in an museum of art you’ve probably run across some old paintings where saints are signified with round rings of light over their heads.

Halos were meant to be a shorthand for identifying the truly righteous from ordinary folk.

Problem is, more often than not the standards applied by those making the distinction are not the true standards God reveals in His word and by the example of Jesus, His Son.

So today we are fasting halos-false definitions of holy-and making room for the TRULY holy which often makes us uncomfortable.

Jesus’ emotions and actions in the days following the Triumphal Entry were something less (far less) than placid. He wept over Jerusalem, forcefully cleared the temple, cursed a fig tree, confounded religious leaders, told pointed parables, and experienced emotional distress.

Alicia Britt Chole

It is so hard for those of us who grew up listening to simplified Bible stories to embrace the fact (the marvelous and very critical FACT) that Jesus was fully human and fully God.

He didn’t only come to sacrifice Himself as a propitiation for sin, He came to live an authentic yet perfect human life in fulfillment of the Law’s every requirement.

So when we see Him angry, sad, dismayed, lonely, agonized, grieved-those are not unholy emotions.

I can’t stand the images of Jesus that portray Him as a soft, ephemeral, other-worldly cardboard cutout of a man. I don’t know what He looked like but I’m certain it wasn’t like that.

My Shepherd King is a real Person who experienced real life and real emotions. He understands loss and love and betrayal and passion.

So I don’t have to pretend that I don’t.

I’ve always told my kids that some folks try hard to be holier than God.

And it’s true-trying to circumscribe the human experience so that it fits inside some kind of false holiness is futile.

We can bring all our emotions and experiences to the Throne of Grace where our Great High Priest can sanctify and modify them for His purposes and glory.

Today, fast the halos of false definitions of holy. Ask God where He is weeping in your life and in the world and join Him there. It is never weakness to grieve where God is grieving.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

The Battle For My Mind: Thoughts Matter

So much of this battle has been fought in my mind.

Really, even more than in my heart.

Because you can’t argue with sad or shock or missing or disappointment.

But you can absolutely argue with hopelessness (there is nothing to live for), apathy (there is nothing to do) and distrust (there is no one who can help me).

Read the rest here: Thoughts Matter

Grief, Emotional Overload and Relationships

There are so many ways child loss impacts relationships!

Some of the people you think will stand beside you for the long haul either never show up or disappear right after the funeral.

Some people you never expected to hang around not only come running but choose to stay.

And every. single. relationship. gets more complicated.  

When your heart is shattered, there are lots of sharp edges that end up cutting you and everyone around you.  It’s pretty much inevitable that one or more relationships will need mending at some point.

Read the rest here: Emotional Overload and T.M.I.

Honesty Doesn’t Have to Be Rude

Like I’ve said before, my emotions will leak out somewhere. I can’t keep them bottled inside forever.

When I choose to be honest AT THE TIME it’s so much better.

When I let folks know that what they say, do, expect from and thrust upon me is unhelpful or overwhelming or even painful, they usually respond with gratitude.

They almost always accept my boundaries.

Those of us walking the Valley often say that those who aren’t just can’t understand. They don’t know what they don’t know.

That’s true.

But they can be educated about some of what we know.

Read the rest here: Hey Fellow Griever-Being Honest Is NOT Being Rude

Sometimes Running Away Sounds Like The Perfect Thing to Do

You know that scene in Forrest Gump where he starts running and just can’t stop?

I thought that was a funny way to deal with grief when I first saw the movie.

But now I understand it perfectly.  

run forrest run

If I could have started running, walking or even crawling away from the heartache in those first days and weeks I would have.  

Truth is, though, you can’t.  

Read the rest here: Can’t Run Away

Bereaved Parents Month 2021: Physical Manifestations of Grief

Grief is not *just* feelings. It is so much more.

I shared this last year around this time in response to many, many comments and questions from bereaved parents about what felt like random or unusual physical manifestations of their own grief.

I hope it helps another heart navigate this life none of us would choose.

❤ Melani e

It’s a well known fact that stress plays a role in many health conditions.  

And I think most of us would agree that child loss is one of (if not THE) most stressful events a heart might endure.  

So it’s unsurprising that bereaved parents find themselves battling a variety of physical problems in the wake of burying a child.  

Read the rest here: Bereaved Parents Month Post: Physical Manifestations of Grief

You’re Not Required To Pretend

There is SO much pressure on grievers to pretend they are “OK” once the socially acceptable amount of time has passed since their loss.

And that is more than unfortunate because not only does it place an undue burden on broken hearts, it inhibits the very necessary work grief requires.

Sharing honestly and openly with safe people, giving voice to our feelings, letting the tears and words flow freely is the only way forward on this treacherous journey.

It’s OK to not be OK.

If you are grievingyou are not responsible for making others feel better about YOUR pain.

You have suffered a great wound and you carry a heavy load.

You are allowed to express sorrow and longing.  It’s what people do.

Read the rest here: You Don’t Have to Pretend

“Anything Human Is Mentionable”-The Wisdom of Mr. Rogers

We wall off our world with words.

The ones we speak and the ones we swallow down so they don’t escape our lips.

But, as Mr. Rogers says, “Anything human is mentionable.”

Won't You Be My Neighbor?' the Mister Rogers Documentary, Comes to ...

Even death.

Read the rest here: Anything Human Is Mentionable

Say What You Need To Say. You Might Not Get Another Chance.


Just a couple of days before Dominic left us, I and another one of my kids had a fuss.

He was frustrated and stressed and I was vulnerable and stressed and a few stray words ended up hurting my feelings.

I said, “I can’t talk anymore now”,  and hung up the phone in tears.

He was sorry and I was sorry and we immediately exchanged texts and let the feelings cool so we could resume our conversation the next day.

He sent me flowers.

flower-arrangement

They were still beautiful when he came home to bury his brother.

Read the rest here: Speak Your Peace-You May Not Get Another Chance

%d bloggers like this: