Learning to swim again!

A new year has begun and the world keeps moving along even though I feel stuck in a horrible nightmare. Life goes on without my precious son and I hate every second of it! Time can be both my worst enemy & best friend. As days, months, and years go by, it’s that much longer since I’ve heard Andrew’s voice or saw his precious smile. One of my biggest fears is to ever forget what my son’s hugs feel  like or his  laughter sounds like. But on the other hand, I have somehow survived one year and five months without my child and each day I get through is one less day to feel this emptiness and allow my deep wounds to heal. The scars are there forever but I pray one day to be able to breathe normally again.

Every morning I wake up and dread beginning another day. It’s like I put on my armour and trudge through another day even though what I really want to do is stay in bed and hide from the world! People see me out with my make up on and hair done and functioning through my day to day routine. I can smile and look like I’m doing okay, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. I’ve been told how strong I am but I am no stronger than anyone else. I do what I have to do to survive because I don’t have a choice. No parent asks for this, it’s just handed to you!

When my younger son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I witnessed many mothers & fathers losing their children. I thought how I couldn’t imagine their pain and prayed I would never have to know. I thank God each day that my baby, Michael is a heathy 19 year old  and thriving in college. However, I still got to experience the pain I prayed I would never know when my middle son died in a car accident and it’s worse than I could have ever imagined.

We unfortunate bereaved parents just do what we have to do and are no stronger than anyone else. Nobody thinks they could handle losing their child, I know I certainly didn’t! We do what we have to do to continue to live for our other children, spouses and the memory of our deceased child. It’s our job to honor their short lives and keep their memories alive. We need to live the life they didn’t get to. So we wake up and face each day the best we can. We even have moments of joy and laughter….that’s not always pretend. But it isn’t the same joy we once felt because the pain and emptiness never leave us.

This was our second Christmas & New Year without Andrew. We took family vacations both years and that was what has worked for our family. My other 2 children are now 19 & 26 so we don’t need to decorate and Santa doesn’t come to our house anymore. Going to a tropical warm island over Christmas is what helped us survive the holidays without Andrew. Feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin and putting  our toes in the soft white sand and the teal blue ocean is very healing. Most of all, just being together is the best gift we could receive.  It’s a nice escape from our sorrowful reality and a much needed distraction.

But then it’s back to cold, grey and dreary Pennsylvania for a long depressing winter! Now it’s a new year and time to continue facing  each day with courage & grace! UGH! I don’t want to!!!!!! I am feeling very sad, alone and unmotivated to get back to life and time is not helping….not st all!!!!!!  So I decided to write and share my truth!

It’s 2:30 on a Thursday (I think) and I’m still in my pajamas! I need a push and to hold myself accountable to keep living a meaningful life which is why I’m  writing this blog! I am hoping this will help me to get the strength I need to get back to my goals for this upcoming year. I have much to accomplish, for not only myself, but for my son Andrew who I miss more than words could ever explain! I am not strong! I am not an inspiration! I am a struggling mother in pain who is just barely holding her head above water! I read a quote today that said “you drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.” I don’t want to drown in the river, I want to keep paddling and fighting my way out even though it hurts!

So here I go….starting back to life in 2019!  I want my family complete and I can’t have that! My son is in heaven and I’m here and there’s nothing I can do to change that, so I will just keep trying to face each day the best I can! I refuse to drown so I’m learning to swim again, one day at a time!




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My name is Melissa Shelly and I am a 46 year old mom who lives in Newtown Square, PA. I never thought of myself as mighty but when my 14 year old son, Michael was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on August 18, 2014, everyone kept telling me how strong I was. Three years later on August 12, 2017, my 20 year old son, Andrew died instantly in a car accident. Again, people kept saying I was so strong and I actually hated when people would say that to me! I have heard 100 times “I could never do what you’re doing....if my child died I wouldn’t be able to function!”. That’s what I thought about myself until it was me! I didn’t ask to be handed these tragedies & painful traumatic events and I never felt I had a choice....I had to be a mighty leader!! I am a mother of three children and a wife to a wonderful man. We needed to survive and keep hope alive in our hearts! I wish I never had to be strong....but unfortunately we don’t control many things in our lives; however, we can control how we deal with them. It isn’t easy and I have some really bad days but I continue to work on healing and living my life with meaning and purpose. I want to share my pain and my successes with anyone who wants to walk beside me!

12 thoughts on “Learning to swim again!”

  1. Melissa allow yourself to grieve. It’s only been a little over a year. Some day it will be easier…just not now. People will understand. If they don’t then maybe you need to re-evaluate your friendship. I’m sure that no matter what anyone says the bottom line is if they haven’t experienced the loss of a child then they don’t know. I wish you peace as time tries to heal your wounded heart. Keep blogging! It appears to be a good outlet for you. 😘


  2. Melissa, it to early to feel better. It was the hardest thing a mother has to go through a death of a child. No matter at what age your child is . It will take a long time. Prayers, family and friends will help. Accept the help from friends and family. They all mean well! And are prayers are with you every day!🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿💕💕💕💕 Keep the faith ! God is with you all the time. He knows you are strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The trauma of losing a beloved son cannot be walked, talked or written away as you know, Mighty Melissa, though you have articulated the back-and-forth inner articulation so beautifully and so well. Your words touch the heart and rip it apart.

    “Where is the consolation to soothe the aching despair?” we bereaved moms ask. Where? Well, as you manage this sea, this ocean of sorrow, may you hold onto the rafts nearby – as I know you do and by example teach us to do – your spouse, your young and funny son and your pretty daughter and your hundreds of friends. And, let us not forget your own self, that walks without knowing the future but only the moment now.

    Andrew, your angel, never to be forgotten, gone from this world with all its pain and sorrows to guard and protect you and everyone you love and who loves you back as you swim the rough currents, breath stroke, day after day after day until you cross the great divide where someday we shall all be together again where there is no pain and only peace.


  4. Thank you for continuing to write and please know that there are so many of us who understand and appreciate every single word because we’re living through loss. It doesn’t matter how many days, months or years that go by, there will never be a day that you’re not living through it. Your voice reminds us that we’re not alone and that it’s okay to not be okay. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Continue to be kind to yourself and if you stay in your pajamas all day, so be it. Some days, it’s good for the soul to just not expect anything of ourselves. You are so emotionally intelligent that you know when you start slipping down that slope towards what I call “the bottomless pit”….and you pull yourself up and do something healing. That is strength. I think I told you before about how I didn’t feel strong at all. I didn’t have a choice, so how was that being strong? I purposely started smoking again, not because I craved it, or wanted to smoke…..because I wanted people to see I wasn’t as strong as I seemed. Looking back it seems so ridiculous that I did that, but at the time it made perfect sense. Your writing is so powerful and therapeutic and I’m so thankful that you have this platform to share your feelings. You are mighty. You are fierce. You are broken. You are a phenomenal mom, to all 3 of your children. You are a survivor of the worst pain imaginable. You will persevere, because you are choosing to live. That is strength.

    Liked by 1 person

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