I think it was second grade when I started a notebook dedicated to them-carefully copying out the words of others that spoke the truths of my own heart. Although the topics which draw me are different now, I’m still collecting them.
So here are fifteen quotes on grief that I hope will help another heart:
I hid this post in my draft folder for months before I published it the first time.
It seemed too raw, too full of all the pain inside my mama heart to put out in the wide world for everyone to see.
And then it was time (like now) to change the flowers on the place where my son’s body rests and I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS OF MY BOY!”I wanted to stop people on the street and make them listen to his story, to give away a piece of him for others to carry in their hearts.
My son is not a number or a statistic or only a memory.
He is integral to my story, blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh–part of my life.
I rest assured he lives in heaven with Jesus but I miss him here with me. That’s selfish, I know. But I can’t seem to help it.
So I collect quotes, copying them down in my journal and sometimes hanging them where I can see them throughout the day.
Here are a few that speak to my heart. I hope they speak to yours. ❤
I wish there WERE a secret to surviving this journey. But there isn’t. There is just one moment, one breath, one step at a time. I do the best I can each day.
Over time I’ve grown stronger and better able to carry the load. Over time I’ve learned how to shift my focus from my son’s death to his life.
Death ends so many things.
But it does not end the influence of my son’s life on my heart and it can’t steal the moments I shared with him.
As long as I hum the tune of his unique song I can still hear him.
Before I was the one in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I didn’t realize it’s a lifelong journey. I acknowledged that loss changed a person but I didn’t know that it keeps changing you. Grief influences how I experience the present not just how I view the past.
When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven it instantly changed the landscape of my life. The future I thought I’d have was shattered and I was thrust into unfamiliar and often frightening territory with no road map. It has taken a long time to learn how to walk in this uncertain world and I still stumble.
There are no set standards for how or how long a heart grieves. Everyone brings his or her own personality and experience to the process.
It’s tempting to look for a structured guide to measure my progress.
Others can share how they are walking this road but ultimately I have to forge my own trail through the wilderness.
This is one of my very favorite quotes. Great love, great grief. How could it be any different?
When a child is born into a family, no one finds it strange that the addition changes everything. When that child leaves too soon they shouldn’t find it strange that it changes everything once again.
I didn’t just lose my son, I lost the family I used to have.
The place he should be but isn’t looms large every time we sit at the table, gather for celebrations or just line up for a group photo.
Part of the work grief requires is learning to hold onto the love and influence my son poured into my own life. I have had to redefine my relationship with Dominic-figuring out how I to mother a child I can no longer see or hold.
There’s a lot of pressure on grieving hearts to “get better” based on the medical model of illness, treatment, recovery. But grief is not a disease. It truly is the price you pay for love. I have experienced healing in the six years since Dominic left for Heaven but I won’t be fully healed until I join him in eternity.
Every single child is a unique gift to the world.
When death steals their presence, the light and love they shared with others lives on.
As long as we remember, as long as we speak their names, they continue to be a gift to those who love them . ❤
This time last year much of my family had just wrapped up several days of boisterous togetherness forced upon us by Hurricane Dorian.
It was the first time Mama and Papa had seen their great-grandson and it was an unexpected blessing to ooh and aah over him, hold him and witness an infant milestone as he perfected the art of turning from his back to his stomach before our eyes.
Mama was energized and so much like her old self singing lullabyes and funny songs and absolutely delighting in him!
We had no way of knowing that in a few short weeks she would be gone.
I’m struggling a bit right now.
It seems that as the days grow shorter the light reflected in my windows mimics the springtime light that reminds my heart of when Dominic left us. The mirror image of his time of leaving and Mama’s time of leaving are not lost on this body.
He ran ahead in spring and she in fall. For those of us who live by the sun and length of day there is a corresponding physical reaction as the golden orb makes its journey through the sky.
I’ve fallen back into the pattern of going to sleep only to be awakened in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep. Every dream, every. single. night. has a theme of loss, impotence and deep sadness. I don’t know how to stop it.
Of course my dad has it harder.
I can’t help him any more than he could help me when Dom left us.
All I can do is listen, let him know I absolutely, positively understand and pray that each day he receives sufficient grace and strength to endure.
I know many in the child loss community express that nothing compares to burying a child. I would agree. Out of order death is uniquely traumatic. No parent births a child thinking he or she will outlive that baby brought home from the hospital.
But my mother’s death (the first significant loss since Dom died) has tossed me back on the rocks of grief.
It taps the wound and makes it fresh.
Places I thought were fairly healed are not nearly as scarred over as I thought.
So I’ll walk back through last year, remembering.
Acknowledging that death is awful, whenever and however it visits us.
It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t walked this path.
Deep pain and unfathomable sorrow stripped me of any reserve, any defense, any padding between the wider world and my oh-so-fragile heart.
I was a walking nerve.
Every awkward and less-than-thoughtful word or deed by friends, family and acquaintances rubbed me raw. I was utterly incapable of extending grace even as I knew I should and understood that most often their intentions were kind.
I had suffered a grievous wound and spent most of my energy just trying to protect what was left of my heart.
All I wanted to do was retreat to the safe cocoon of my own home. I unfollowed people on social media, I screened telephone calls, I rarely ventured out for anything but the most necessary supplies. It was the only way I could provide the space and time needed for my heart to heal enough to bear even the slightest brush with folks who might say or do the wrong thing.
Eventually I found the strength to venture beyond the safety of home, family and the few friends with whom I felt comfortable and secure.
I could scroll through Facebook once again without reacting to every single post.
I went back to church and even showed up for covered dish socials where I couldn’t be certain which way the conversation would flow or who might get me blocked into a corner and ply me with questions.
I attended a few large gatherings: graduations, weddings and a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert.
So if you are in the early days of this hard, hard journey, do what you have to and find the safe circle that gives you time, space and grace to help your heart toward healing.
It may take longer than you’d like, but resting from the constant pressure of trying to protect yourself from the hustle and bustle in a world where child loss is misunderstood and frequently ignored will make a difference.
And one day, like me, you might well wake up and realize that what once felt like personal attacks are simply folks saying and doing foolish things because they haven’t been forced to learn the wisdom of compassion through unfathomable loss.
I’m still more sensitive than I used to be.
There are times I just can’t take crowds, unpredictable settings, offhand comments about death, dying, grief and heartache.
But I’m finally able to walk in the world without feeling I have to protect my heart at every turn.