Healing Is Not Linear

I remember thinking in the early days, weeks and months of this journey that healing was impossible.

The wound was too great, too deep and too devastating to allow for that.

No amount of work or help or wishful thinking could undo the damage.

But I was wrong.

Little by little the shattered pieces of my heart began to reassemble themselves into a very fragile, not-quite-the-same, semblance of the old shape.

When life knocks me around (as it still does quite often) a bit falls off here and there and I have to begin again to put my heart back together.

It’s not simple.

It’s not a straight line.

It’s not a once and done thing.

But it’s possible.

It Has Been Years-What Is Wrong With You?


If you think that time makes a difference to a mama’s heart that’s missing a child who ran ahead to Heaven without her, you don’t know as much as you think you know.

Time does not heal all wounds-especially the kind that shatter a heart into a million pieces.

It takes time for the wound to scar over, but it doesn’t undo the damage.

So if you are wondering why your coworker still takes the day off on his child’s birthday or the anniversary of her child’s homegoing, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Years disappear when those milestones loom large.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2019/09/14/its-been-years-whats-wrong-with-you/

This Time Last Year

Oh the blessing of not knowing what’s coming!

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.

Feeling,

Crying,

Acknowledging that death is awful, whenever and however it visits us.

Holidays 2020: What The Bereaved Need From Friends And Family

I wrote this four 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 130,000 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

Don’t Mock A Pain You Haven’t Endured

Hey- I love a joke as much as anyone.

But there’s a difference between a genuine joke and a mocking comment made at the expense of another.

So often we laugh off things other people endure because we are afraid-afraid of the pain and the broken heart bearing it.

Stop laughing. Start loving. ❤

A Walking Nerve

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.

It helped.

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.

It’s liberating and I’m thankful.

The Keepers

Those of you who have followed the blog for a bit know that I’ve said over and over and over: there is no limit to the heartache you may have to endure in this life.

The past three years have been the most difficult since the very first year after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven in 2014.

But this memory popped up in my Facebook timeline the other day and reminded me that along with all the hard, there have been some beautiful blessings.

Two years ago around this time I was listening to day after day after day of witnesses giving first one account and then another of events that happened three years prior trying to frame facts so that the twelve jurors would vote a certain way.

Only my friends and family from miles away helped me hold onto the thin thread of hope that truth would prevail.

It was brutal and not something I ever want to repeat.

If you ever wonder if a phone call, text, card or message make a difference, just ask me.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would not have made it without them. 

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You Are Absolutely Allowed To Mourn *Smaller* Losses

When your scale of awful is off the charts, there’s a tendency to dismiss anything less as merely inconvenient or inconsequential.

But that’s just not how our hearts work.

You can be shattered by child loss and still feel the slings and arrows of everyday losses, disappointments, discomfort and sadness.

It’s OK to mourn the things that don’t measure up to the pain and despair of burying a child.

It’s OK to admit that even ordinary things like an empty nest, changing circumstances, moving away from friends and family, ill health, family drama and dozens of other, smaller wounds prick your heart and make it bleed.

While child loss has helped me gain perspective on what’s truly important, irreplaceable and worth my time and energy, it has not created a protective and impenetrable barrier that guards my heart from further pain.

I am just as likely as anyone else to fall into a funk over a misunderstanding, a less-than-expected outcome, a disappointing phone call with a friend or some other everyday frustration. And, sometimes, there are truly hard and horrible things I’ve had to bear: my mother’s prolonged illness and death, my grandson’s premature birth, my son’s overseas deployment and other things I’m not at liberty to share because I’m not the main character in the story.

Child loss doesn’t mean there won’t be more pain in this life.

It doesn’t give me a pass on heartache.

And it is perfectly normal-actually perfectly and absolutely right-to be sad and mourn the smaller losses in life.

It means my heart’s still beating.

It means I’m still engaged with those around me.

It means I’m still present and invested in life.

And that’s a good thing.

Winds Across My Heart

I’m pretty far past what I call my “season of sorrow” so I don’t really know what came over me the other day.

But somehow the stars aligned or the slant of the sunshine or the smell in the air overwhelmed my heart.

Maybe it’s because Facebook faithfully reminds me of what happened on this date years ago. I know I can adjust the settings but I don’t because it’s both bitter AND sweet to be reminded.

Our family used these napkin rings for years and years. Facebook reminded me there are a thousand ways to miss Dominic.

Maybe it’s because summers in Alabama involve fervent activity before nine in the morning with a long, hot lull until more fervent activity after five in the evening.

I really don’t know.

But that’s one of the conundrums of child loss.

I hit a wall and I had a cry and took a short nap (something I only do about five times a year) and I was better.

I try to manage my days to avoid these things but sometimes a little bit of this and a little bit of that blow winds of nostalgia and regret and longing and missing across my soul.

And all I can do is weather the storm.

Sorry I Haven’t Texted Back

I remember the early days after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven when people were still checking in often on our family.

Some days there were a dozen or more messages that really, really needed an answer.

But I just couldn’t.

“How are you?” is often a more difficult question than you might think when your world is falling apart.

I wanted to tell the truth about how hard the days were and harder still the long dark nights but it felt too personal, too frightening and too likely to be misunderstood by a heart with no frame of reference.

So most of my responses looked something like this:

Eventually I found out who the safe people were and began to share more openly.

The others-the ones who weren’t safe or who were only asking out of a sense of curiosity or obligation-simply stopped asking when they didn’t get the answers they were looking for.

I Hate Nosey People (@IHateNoseyPeeps) | Twitter

I’ve learned to give hurting hearts space.

I give them permission NOT to answer.

I want them to know I care but I don’t ask penetrating questions that might require answers they aren’t prepared to give.

Because I remember how that felt. ❤