Grief Work: It’s a Family Affair

Child loss is also often sibling loss.  

In addition to their own heartache, bereaved parents carry the heartache of their surviving children.  

The family everyone once knew is now a family no one recognizes.  Hurting hearts huddle together-or run and hide-and it is so, so hard to find a way to talk about that pain. 

Read the rest here: Grief is a Family Affair

Griefwork: It Helps to Set Aside Time to Grieve

One of the trickiest parts of life as a bereaved parent is navigating the space between our surviving children and the giant hole left by the one (or more) who have run ahead to Heaven.

There are so many ways I might cling too hard to what’s lost and not lean hard enough into what continues to bring blessing and beauty to everyday life.

I’ve learned it’s best to find quiet moments in which I can journal the feelings that might be unhelpful or downright hurtful to express to others.

❤ Melanie

One of the commitments I made out loud and in my heart the day Dominic left us was this:  I was not going to let his death tear my family apart.  

I was not going to let him become the sainted brother that stood apart and above his siblings.  

I was going to continue to give as much of my time, effort, love and presence to each of the three I had left as I had done when there were four on earth beside me.

I’ve been more or less successful in keeping this promise.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Setting Aside Time To Grieve Helps My Heart Hold On

Christmas 2022: Surviving Siblings and the Holidays

I first shared this post in 2016 when we had muddled through the first two holiday seasons after Dominic left us and were headed for a third.

Now facing our ninth, there are some things that have changed a lot (adding grandchildren and losing my mama) and some things that remain the same (the ongoing struggle to balance everyone’s needs and expectations with the reality of sorrow).

I still find the principles I outlined years ago to be the best way to approach the season. We certainly don’t always get it right but we continue to strive to honor one another, to honor the true meaning of Christmas and to honor Dominic.

❤ Melanie

How do I honor the child for whom memories are all I have and love well the children with whom I am still making memories?

That’s a question I ask myself often.

And it is especially difficult to answer for celebrations and holidays, special events and birthdays.

Read the rest here: Surviving Siblings and Christmas

Christmas and Grief: Surviving Siblings

Life is complicated, isn’t it?

Even if I could erase loss from our family’s story, we’d still be muddling through the holidays trying to meet needs, expectations and holiday hopes all while juggling schedules and unwanted surprises.

Add child loss and sibling loss to the mix and there’s potential for a real mess!

So one of the things I’ve learned on this journey is I have to ask-and ask again-what my surviving children want and need for the holidays.

And then I have to LISTEN well.

We certainly haven’t managed holidays since Dom left us with grace and aplomb. In fact, some have been downright awful.

But we are still trying to make space and give grace so they are less stressful and more joy-filled.

❤ Melanie

I have never wanted to make my life journey with blinders on.  I realized young that MY perspective is not the only one.  I understand that more clearly now. 

So I try hard to think about, acknowledge and accommodate the feelings and needs of others.

But it’s especially challenging since Dominic left us.  And doubly so this time of year when every sight, smell and song screams, “It’s the holidays and HE IS NOT HERE!

I may not be as thoughtful to some in my circle as want to be, but I will expend every ounce of energy and effort I can muster to make space for my living children’s needs during this season.  

Read the rest here: Holidays and Grief: Surviving Siblings

 

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: Surviving Siblings-Age Makes a Difference

Grieving parents often face the additional challenge of trying to help their surviving children process the death of a sibling.

While there are many factors that influence how a particular child understands and works through his or her grief, age at time of bereavement plays a significant role.

Children’s grief can look very different than that of the adults around them.

And that grief may resurface later on as the child grows and matures, even long after the death of a loved one.

Read the rest here: Sibling Grief Reactions By Age Group

Always Minding the Gap: How Families are Changed in the Wake of Loss

I think often about the things my children know that others don’t have to know.

The fact that life is precious, short and never guaranteed no matter how young or healthy you may be.

The reality that doing everything right or keeping your nose clean or staying “prayed up” doesn’t guarantee you’ll be spared from death, destruction or devastation.

It’s true that several generations ago folks grew up knowing all these things as a matter of course. But we’ve forgotten so much of this with antibiotics, life extending interventions, emergency medicine and abundant food, water and other resources.

I never interact with my earthbound kids without thinking about all the ways we are changed because death has invaded our home and our lives.

❤ Melanie

My youngest son worked hard to retrieve some precious digital photos from an old laptop.

Being very kind, he didn’t tell me that we might have lost them until he was certain he had figured out a way to get them back.

So he and I had a trip down memory lane the other evening.

It was a bumpy ride.

Read the rest here: Mind the Gap

Celebrations After Child Loss-Life at the Crossroads of Joy and Sorrow

I want to be everything my living children need me to be.  

I try hard to celebrate them, be available, listen closely and love them well.  

I never, ever want them to feel they are competing with their missing brother for my affection or my attention.  

But I’d be lying if I said it was always easy.  

Read the rest here: Crossroads: Celebrations After Child Loss

Walking With My Surviving Children Through Grief

One of the most challenging things I’ve had to do is walk alongside my surviving children in this Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Not only have they been forced to face and deal with death earlier than many people, they’ve also been forced to face and deal with the fallout for themselves and their family.

Sometimes I feel like an ineffectual first aid worker just trying to minimize damage and hopefully pass them off to a professional who can actually work on repairs and healing.

Other times I’m a young mama once again kissing boo-boos, applying bandages and invoking magical thinking to distract them from their oh, so very real wounds.

I’ve not done it perfectly or even adequately sometimes. But I’m trying.

Bereaved parents often have several tasks before them in the days and months and years following the death of a child.

One of them is to help their surviving children navigate loss.

I have three earthbound children.  And they are grieving.

Their world changed in the same instant mine did.  Their hearts are broken too.

I found it hard to watch the pain I saw written on the faces of my kids.

Read the rest here: Helping My Children Walk Through Grief 

Please, Please, Please! Ask Me, Not My Kids How I’m Doing.

It may seem like the easiest way to get an inside scoop on how I’m REALLY doing-but don’t do it.

Please don’t ask my kids how I’m doing.

Respect the fact that they have their own grief burden.  Respect family privacy and understand you are putting them in an impossible position.

Read the rest here: Please Don’t Ask My Kids How I Am Doing

Child Loss: The Power of [Context]

This is how I like to think of us-together and strong.

Our circle is broken now and it is a continuing struggle to figure out how to navigate life in the wake of our loss.

This time of year is especially challenging as all the lasts leading up the final last come flooding back.

This picture was taken for a story in UAB Magazine featuring my husband and oldest son who graduated together in December 2009. You can read the original article here: Like Father, Like Son

It is one of my very favorites. I was surrounded by my family, filled with pride and promise.

This is how I like to think of us-together and strong.

Our circle is broken now-it is a continuing struggle to figure out how to navigate life in the wake of our loss.

And some of the greatest challenges present themselves in unexpected ways.

Read the rest here: [Context]

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