What SHOULD I Say or Do for My Grieving Friends or Family?

I have learned so much since that day when Dominic left us suddenly for Heaven.

Some of the things I know now are things I wish I didn’t know at all.

Many serve me well-not only in how I respond to my own pain and loss-but also how I respond to the pain and loss in the lives of those I love.

Read the rest here: So What SHOULD I Say or Do For My Grieving Friends or Family?

A Wish List For Bereaved Parents

I remember when my wish list could be filled from the Sears Roebuck Toy Catalog.

Sure I couldn’t have EVERYTHING but I was pretty well guaranteed to find at least one or two of my coveted items in our living room or under the tree on Christmas morning.

Now the things I wish for are not so easy to come by.

This list is adapted from a friend’s Facebook post (with permission) and a list published by Children’s Hospital of Colorado.

BEREAVED PARENT’S WISH LIST:

1. I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had my child back.

Read the rest here: Bereaved Parent’s Wish List

The Power of Servanthood

Some people are natural servants.

Not the kind in Downtown Abbey but the kind who see something that needs doing and just do it.

They open doors, return shopping carts, wash dishes, pick up trash and bend down or stretch high to help children or senior citizens reach what otherwise would be unreachable.

Some of us aren’t naturals but we can learn.

Because when we open our eyes to those around us and choose to be helpful we make a change to our hearts and theirs. We build bridges of grace and kindness that help to connect individuals and communities.

When a person feels seen, heard and cared for, they are much more likely to drop the drawbridge to their heart.

It’s no good saying, “Well, he didn’t ask for help” or “She didn’t let me know she was struggling”.

If we are paying as much attention to our friends and family as we are to social media memes and funny TikTok videos, we can’t miss the signs of desperation and hopelessness.

If we take time to ask important questions there’s no way we won’t hear sadness or loneliness in the reply.

So let’s stop acting like doing good is something only a few select individuals can or should do. It’s a myth that bringing meals and checking in on those who are no longer able to make it to our fellowships or church services or bingo halls is a special skill.

Compassion isn’t a calling or a gift or a virtue.

Compassion is something we choose to practice.

And for those of us who call Christ “Lord” it is a command.

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

Griefwork: Is It OK To Put Some Friendships on “Hold”?

A few years ago I spent the weekend with a small group of bereaved moms.

For our last session together, I solicited anonymous questions from the group that I promised to try to answer and discuss further.

There were lots of good ones but one of the most poignant was this:

Is it OK to put some friendships on hold because the interaction is no longer encouraging to me? I leave lunches together sad because their lives are going fine and I’m in such pain.

A Grieving Mom

My heart went out to this mama for so many reasons!

First, even in her grief she was concerned about doing the right thing, about being a good friend and about rightly interpreting the situation. She knew her friend wasn’t actively harming her. In fact, the friend was most likely trying hard to come alongside and encourage her heart.

But it still hurt.

And so she wanted to know if she was obligated to “grin and bear it” or if she could graciously and authentically set a boundary that meant a little (or a lot!) of distance between this friend and herself-hopefully for only a season.

This is one of the hard truths and difficult conundrums that inform the lives of many grievers. It certainly was part of mine for a long time.

I craved compassionate companionship from concerned friends and family while, at the exact same moment, longed for solitude and seclusion from “ordinary” life.

How in the world could the world just go on? How in Heaven’s name did the entire universe not take note of my great and irreplaceable loss?

For months (probably, honestly, for a couple of years!) there was always a subscript to every conversation and face-to-face interaction that read like Subtitles for a foreign film. And some folks lives were just too beautiful, too happy, too much like the one I wished I still had to endure the emotional burden that gap produced for my wounded heart.

So I had to limit my interaction with them (for their sake AND mine).

I unfollowed (NOT unfriended!) people on social media. They were none the wiser that the hap-hap-happy posts they splashed everywhere weren’t appearing in my newsfeed and I wasn’t constantly confronted by my own envy and sorrow.

I sent cards for occasions instead of showing up at certain celebrations. I chose them thoughtfully and wrote meaningful and sincere messages. I didn’t have a single person react badly that their wish was on paper instead of in person.

I withdrew from some of the groups where this kind of “humble bragging” was encouraged and promoted. It was a long, long time before I went to a women’s event that wasn’t focused on child loss.

No one really noticed.

And for those few relationships that were so close I couldn’t graciously or subtly move away, I told my friend that while I valued them, wanted very much to stay in touch and support them and didn’t want everything to be about ME, I needed to let them know certain topics might make me uncomfortable or sad.

So we tried to get together around activities that lent themselves to “in the moment” conversation. We didn’t linger long over lunch or on the phone. We walked in a park or went to a movie.

In time, as I did the work grief requires and as I grew stronger and better able to carry this burden called “child loss”, I was able to ease some of the boundaries I had put in place to protect my heart.

I never, ever want child loss (or any other hard life event or trauma) to become an excuse for my bad or unkind behavior.

But grief is work and requires so much time, energy and effort!

If I hadn’t made space and given myself the necessary grace to do that work I would not have found the measure of healing I now enjoy.

So, yes, dear heart-it’s OK to set boundaries.

It’s OK to pull back from some relationships to foster healing.

And it’s OK to reach out and let people back in, too, when your heart feels more whole again.

What Can I Do? My Family Won’t Talk About My Missing Child!

At first everyone talked about him.

It’s what people do just after a person leaves this world and leaves behind only memories.

It comes natural before the unnatural fact of child loss settles in and begins to make everyone uncomfortable.

But at some point after the funeral and way before the tears dried up, people stopped feeling easy mentioning his name.

Read the rest here: Help! My Family Won’t Talk About My Missing Child.

Grief and Holidays: Best To Start Planning NOW

If your family is like mine, once school starts (even if we no longer have anyone IN school) and Labor Day rolls around they begin to ask that dreaded question: “What do you want to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas?”

It used to be a relatively simple matter of sorting people’s work schedules, ability to travel and possible weather related issues into a workable solution for gathering all of us in one spot to celebrate the holiday and each other.

Now I have to overcome the twin hurdles of reluctance and procrastination to do the work necessary to set the dates and times in stone on the calendar. It’s not that I don’t WANT to get together, it’s just that it’s nearly impossible to gauge this far out how my heart may feel come November or December.

But one thing I’ve learned in the nearly nine years since Dom left us-it does not good to stick my head in the sand and hope the season passes unnoticed.

So here are some things I’ve found helpful. Hope they are helpful for you too.

❤ Melanie

We’ve reached the peak of Hallowthankmas in the stores.

I‘ve never liked smashing one holiday on top of another which seems, in my mind, to rob each of their respective unique characteristics.

I’m also particularly frustrated that Halloween-a “holiday” mocking death and focused on fear (for many)-occupies way more space in mass retailers’ aisles than Thanksgiving.

But I can no more hold back the onslaught of merchandising than I can the days marching resolutely toward end of year holidays even if I choose not to join the commercial bandwagon.

So here we are.

Only a short time left to figure out how to honor the missing and love the living through some of the most difficult days of the year for bereaved hearts.

Read the rest here: Holidays are Coming, Ready or Not!

Child Loss: It Changes Everything

Part of the reason I share my story is to provide insight for people who haven’t lost a child into the hearts and lives of those who have.

But mainly it is to be a voice for and to encourage other parents walking this valley by letting them know they aren’t alone, their feelings and experiences are perfectly normal and that just as welcoming a child into your family is a life-altering event, saying good-bye to a child is a life-altering event. 

We do not expect a mom to “get over” the changes having a baby brings to her everyday experience, and we should not expect a  bereaved mom to “get over” the changes burying one brings either.

Want to help?  Read:  Loving the Grieving Heart

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: Hardly the Time for Being Taught

I’ve done it myself.

Jumped right in with all kinds of suggestions designed to “fix” someone else’s problem.

Or worse, heaped my own experience with something more or less (often less) similar onto an already overburdened heart.

Read the rest here: Hardly The Time For Being Taught

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: It’s Been YEARS. When Should I Mention My Missing Child?

This came up in a bereaved parents’ support group and I thought it was a great question:  When you meet someone for the first time, do you tell them about your missing child?”

It’s one of those practical life skills bereaved parents have to figure out.

I remember when it dawned on me a few months after Dominic left us that I would meet people who wouldn’t know he was part of my story unless I told them.

It was a devastating thought.  

Read the rest here: It’s Been YEARS, When Should I Mention My Missing Child?

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