Child loss is lonely.
But you don’t have to be alone.
An isolated heart is especially vulnerable to discouragement and despair.
When I first found myself on this path, I only knew a handful of moms who were walking it too. They were kind and helpful but they weren’t close enough (by relationship or physical distance) to make sharing my daily ups and downs easy or comfortable. I had so many questions. I had so many fears.
And I really didn’t have anyone to ask.
Someone suggested I look for a grief group meeting in my area. But I live in a rural county and there were none. Someone else suggested I start one. But I was in no position to shepherd other hearts or facilitate discussion when I could barely form words around my own feelings.
So I turned to social media. I searched Facebook for bereaved parent groups.
And it’s there I learned the language of loss and experienced the blessing of community.
How do you speak of the unspeakable?
How do you constrain the earth-shattering reality of child loss to a few syllables?
How do you SAY what must be said?
Read the rest here: Vocabulary Lesson: Learning the Language of Grief and Loss
It’s so tempting to try to run or numb the pain of child loss!
Who willingly submits to 24/7 excruciating pain?
But the truth is, unless I face my feelings, give my heart and mind time to experience them and work toward processing them, I cannot even begin to heal.
One of the most difficult and time consuming aspects of grief work is setting aside space and giving myself grace to do just this. In the first couple of years I would venture to say that the majority of my waking hours-intentionally or unintentionally-were spent on this very thing.
Even almost nine years later, I still spend some portion of every day (although now it may be fleeting) feeling, dealing and trying to work on healing part of my broken heart.
If I touch a hot stove my hand jerks away almost before my mind registers the searing pain. It’s reflex. Our bodies were designed to react to and protect us from things that cause pain.
Run away. Don’t go back. Set up barricades and warning signs so that others can be protected.
Most of the time, this reaction serves us well.
But sometimes those reflexes keep us from healing.
Read the rest here: Feel and Deal to Heal
I remember clearly walking around like a giant nerve for the first days, weeks and months after Dominic left us.
It didn’t take much for me to burst into tears.
Everywhere I went I was forced to endure words and actions that pierced my heart.
It was hard not to take it personally. It was impossible not to react. Surely people should know better, be better, do better!
But the truth is, they don’t know. And if I’m honest I have to admit that before it was ME, I didn’t know either.
So part of the work grief required was for me to develop thicker skin.
I had to learn to scroll past social media posts, overlook careless comments and not expect those outside my immediate grief circle to understand how Dominic’s death continues to impact me and my family.
If you’ve joined me here for more than a minute you know I am a fierce advocate for bereaved parents in particular and all grievers in general.
But you’ve probably also noticed that, at least in my own life, I recognize how traumatic and/or difficult circumstances can make it hard to see past the hurt and the shattered world a broken heart inhabits. I can judge others harshly without meaning to.
Read the rest here: Speaking From Experience…
It’s something I hear often from bereaved parents-sleep is elusive.
Falling asleep was nearly impossible in the first days and weeks after Dominic’s accident. I would lie down utterly exhausted but simply not be able to close my eyes because behind the lids scrolled the awful truth that my son was never coming home again.
Eventually my body overcame my mind and I would drift off for an hour or two but couldn’t stay asleep.
It was years before I finally developed something that resembled a “normal” sleep pattern. Even now I wake at four practically every morning-the time when the deputy’s knock sounded on my door.
Sleep is important. I can’t do the work grief requires if I go too long without it.
I have used (and still use!) various tips and tricks to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are a few of them.
Boy, do I envy my cats’ ability to fall asleep any place, any time.
I’ve lived with chronic physical pain for over a decade and there are nights when it is hard to go to sleep-when it is impossible to ignore the pain. But I have never thought of myself as having trouble sleeping.
Read the rest here: grief and sleep
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.
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
Grief is not *just* feelings. It is so much more.
Often there are random or unusual physical symptoms that show up days, weeks or even years after a child has gone to Heaven.
An important and necessary part of grief work is learning to recognize the physical manifestations of grief and advocating for care from professionals who may not be able to make the connection unless the bereaved speak up and speak out.
It’s a well known fact that stress plays a role in many health conditions.
And I think most of us would agree that child loss is one of (if not THE) most stressful events a heart might endure.
So it’s unsurprising that bereaved parents find themselves battling a variety of physical problems in the wake of burying a child.
Read the rest here: Physical Manifestations of Grief
Just yesterday a fellow bereaved mom asked the question: What, exactly IS grief work?
We hear the term bandied around and while it means different things to different people, I use the phrase to encompass the mental, physical, psychological, emotional and relational work (and it is work!) a grieving heart must do in order to process and learn to carry sorrow and missing.
And while I won’t pretend to be an expert (except on my own experience) I do have a lot to say about what has helped, what has hurt and what I’ve learned over the nearly nine years since Dominic left us.
So the first topic I’m going to mine from old posts, from unfinished drafts and (hopefully!!) from hearing back from some of YOU is “Grief Work”.
I think it’s a good way to start a new year when our hearts are particularly tender from the holiday hoopla and all the internal discipline necessary to dwell among the uninitiated.
I have used the term for years and only recently has someone asked me to define it.
I guess I never realized that in all the writing about it, I’d never really explained what it meant.
So here goes.
Read the rest here: What, Exactly, IS “Grief Work”?