Instead Of Fixing, Offer Space To Share

I didn’t realize until I was the person who needed comforting how unhelpful and sometimes painful my own past comments were to my suffering friends and family.

There are many important and necessary conversations going on right now about how we talk to and talk about our fellow humans.  I’m thankful folks are learning that words are rarely (ever?) neutral.

They build up or tear down. 

And we are responsible for them.

I wish that along with other areas, we would consider how we discuss and address those who experience painful life circumstances.  But we rarely do.

This is one place where the right words can make such a difference.

Instead of shutting down the broken heart or lamenting soul, we can choose to invite them to share and then stick around to listen.

We can create safe spaces instead of closing the door to further conversation.

We can participate in healing instead of perpetuating the pain.

 

instead offering compassion.png

Only Natural

Whether surrounded by friends or strangers, I sift through the words threatening to fly out of my mouth very carefully.

Like most of us, there’s a script in my head that doesn’t always bear sharing.

But unlike many, part of my script involves a child that lives in Heaven.

And I’m constantly weighing whether or not I should mention him even though the conversation leads my heart to a memory I very much want to speak aloud.  It often makes others uncomfortable, awkward and upset when I do.  So sometimes I just don’t.

I hate that I edit myself like that.

I hate that another person’s response or lack of response makes me cautious.

If Dominic were still walking among us, I’d be sharing away.  His life, his work, his challenges, his accomplishments would all be fair game as I sat with fellow mothers and grandmothers talking about our families.  No one would bat an eye if I mentioned his name, said I missed him since he moved away for that job, admitted that I counted the days until the next family get-together or holiday and I could host a full table.

But because he moved to Heaven, I’m supposed to be “over him”.  I’m supposed to bow to convention and quietly stop talking about the son that’s missing from all the photos we’ve taken since 2014.  I should shush my heart and silence my lips because it makes other people uncomfortable.

I’m not doing it.

talk about them better image

Our family just welcomed the first grandchild.

Little Ryker will never see Uncle Dominic, hear his amazing drum skills or be the brunt of his snarky jokes.  But Ryker will know about Dom.  I will tell him stories and show him pictures and let him know that the chair at the end of the table is where Uncle Dom used to sit.

ryker smiling

I’ll help Ryker learn something everyone needs to know:  It’s perfectly natural to include and talk about ALL our family-the ones that are here AND the ones in Heaven.

Even when we no longer enjoy their earthly companionship, we love them and they are still very much part of our lives.

So when I’m reciting all the exciting news, be prepared.

I am mom to four, grandmama to one.

Always and forever.

Amen.

desimones uab family

 

Repost: Courage is a Heart Word

A conspiracy of silence forces those who are suffering to hide.  It creates huge gaps between what goes on behind closed doors and public image.

And it causes those who are wounded to question the authenticity of their own experience.

I will tell my story because even though it is hardit matters.  And even though it hurts, it can help heal another.  And even though it isn’t finished, it can blaze a trail for others to follow.

Read the rest here:  Courage is a Heart Word

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Have to Tell Our Stories & Why We Need Someone to Listen

We’ve all been at the family dinner table when an elder launches into THAT story-the one that gets dragged out every holiday and several times in between.

Often our eyes roll and we exchange knowing glances with the younger set as if to say, “Here we go again!”

But we point our faces toward the speaker, lean in and lap it up.  

Because we know this story is important to her or else she wouldn’t be sharing it again.

You learn a lot about your parents and grandparents, older aunts and uncles by listening carefully to the stories that have stuck around in a head that finds it hard to remember what the body had for breakfast.

Some of the stories are wonderful.  Sweet, sweet memories of special times and special friends; of younger years and youthful dreams. 

Some of the stories are tragic.  The baby brother or sister who only lived a few days or months.  The mother that died too soon because there were no drugs to treat a common condition.  The friend that never came home from the war.

The stories are windows into souls.

our lives are stories take time to listen

Some of us have stories that need telling NOW.  We can’t wait until our age guarantees us a captive audience.

Because telling the stories helps our hearts.  

A fellow bereaved mom who has a gift for finding exquisite quotes found this one:

Sometimes I think that if it were possible to tell a story often enough to make the hurt ease up, to make the words slide down my arms and away from me like water, I would tell that story a thousand times.

~Anita Shreve, The Weight of Water

Every time I tell the story of Dominic, it helps to keep him real. 

It reminds my heart that he lived, that he mattered, that he matters still.

And in the telling, I am giving away a little bit of him for another heart to carry.  His light is passed to another soul that can pass it to another and another.

It doesn’t really take away the hurt and sorrow, but it does help me bear it.

So if I launch into the same old rendition of my favorite memories of my missing son, bear with me.

Be a witness.

Help me carry the burden.  

we all need people who will listen to our stories

 

Repost: Don’t Want to Miss a Post? Here’s How.

I’m reposting this one just to help those of you that either want to catch every blog post and/or want an easy way to share them with friends and other bereaved parents.  ❤

I’m no tech expert.  I kind of blunder about like a blind mouse searching for cheese most of the time. So I feel you if you haven’t figured out how to make sure you get each day’s blog post.

For those that do want it each morning here are several ways to get it:

Read the rest here:  Don’t Want to Miss a Post? Here’s How.

Bone Deep Grief

My fellow bereaved mother and blogger, Kathleen Duncan, recently wrote that she felt she was done writing about grief.

It’s been  a little over four years since her son Andrew ran ahead to heaven and, as she explains:

I think I’m done.

I think I’m done writing about death. Writing and thinking about death, grief, and pain doesn’t help me anymore. And it may be detrimental for me to spend time writing about those topics. ~ Kathleen B. Duncan

Both our sons were killed instantly in an accident (although the details are different) and both were vibrant young men pursuing what they loved when they left this life.

That got me to thinking since I’m only a few months behind her in my own grief journey.

Because my experience seems to be very different from hers.  

I still find writing not only helpful, but healing.  And while I think of many things in addition to grief, I still think about grief often-not only my own, but that of others.  Not only the grief of bereaved parents, but of all the suffering, broken people I meet or hear about each day.

The feeling is different, but it remains.  

At first my grief was so overwhelming and the sorrow loomed so large that it was constantly before my eyes.  Everything I saw, heard, experienced or felt was filtered through tears.  The world was a blurry place and life was unbearably hard.  Every day I labored to lift my head from the pillow and roll my body from the bed.  Every morning I remembered afresh that Dominic was not here, that my family circle was broken, that another 24 hours loomed large and lonely before me.

It’s definitely not like that anymore.

But, for me, what’s changed is the location of my sorrow and sadness, not the FACT of it.

Now, instead of being in front of me, my sorrow has bored its way into my bones.  It rests deep inside the core of who I am, woven into the fabric of me.

I think of it like I think of being a mother.  

My “baby” is 25 years old.  But if I hear a plaintive “Mama!” in a store, I instinctively turn to see where the desperate or needy child may be.  I can’t resist even when my head tells me that whoever it is, isn’t MY responsibility.

My heart responds because “Mama” is an unchangeable part of my identity.

I don’t cry every day.  I don’t only see, feel or hear things through a veil of tears anymore. But bereavement has changed me forever.  It remains part of the way I experience the world.

I appreciate Kathleen.  I hate that we are part of the same “club” where the dues are higher than anyone would willingly pay but I love the precious community of loving parents who are willing to share their journeys through blogs, closed groups and published books.

And I am blessed by honesty, transparency and authenticity-whatever that looks like.

For me, that’s to continue writing about my grief journey.  For someone else, maybe not. 

There’s room for everyone because what calls courage to MY heart might not call courage to yours. 

I suspect that just as our children are unique, the circumstances surrounding their deaths unique and we are unique, so will be our grief experience. 

grief-is-as-individual-as-a-snowflake

 

Choosing to Be a Lighthouse

There are two ways to deal with the scars pain leaves behind: try to cover them up or display them boldly.

Hiding seems the easier way so many times-because the scars are tender and the last thing I want is to invite more pain.  But it takes great effort and is rarely successful.

The edges peek out here and there and then I’m left awkwardly trying to explain how I got them and what they mean.

If I refuse to hide my scars and instead lay them open to the world, I am vulnerable, true. But I am also in a position to help others who are suffering the same pain that etched those scars in my heart.

business-authenticity

 

 

So I choose not to hide.  

I choose to be a lighthouse.  

 

 

Not because I think I can steer others clear of the rocks of loss and sorrow, but because I want them to know they are not alone.

the scars you share become lighthouses