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My daughter Nichole phoned me last week to tell me the bare bones details of a story that defied belief. The past 24 hours, I talked to several people about the concept of having basic premises about Life, and what happens when Life shatters our beliefs.

“So often I hear people say, ‘ I was in an accident and could have been killed. But I walked away in perfect condition’ followed by a pause, then a statement similar to one of these,” I told the last woman I discussed this with: ‘God must really love me because I survived.’”

A wind passes through my home. I didn’t know what my e-mail inbox had waiting for me.

There’s this tunnel many of us walk through whether we want to or not.  Life shoves us into it.  We don’t get a choice. We enter the tunnel with our basic beliefs about Life intact: If we do good things, good things happen to us. What comes around goes around. God really loves me, so I won’t be put in harm’s way.  My loved ones and I will be protected by God. We’re Safe.

Having faith came easy before the tunnel.  Until that moment that irrevocably changes our life.  The moment that thing happens we know only one thing:  The person who comes out of the tunnel won’t be the same person who entered it.   Life will never be the same again.

Neither will we.

We no longer know what we believe.  Who can say this:  My child died in my arms so God must really love me? The words don’t fit. Yet they describe what we’re learning, at our own pace – and what we’ll come to not just believe but know as truth.  It’s only part of the new set of beliefs that call us to radical faith, not nearly as easy or natural as the faith we had before, before that thing happened.  Before the tunnel appeared and Someone pushed us into it.

We emerge knowing what we do doesn’t really affect what happens to us.  We can do as much good as we possibly can and still sometimes tragically bad — horrible — things happen to us, seemingly in return.

It may take decades to understand that Grief isn’t wasted time or life. It’s not the same as depression, either.  It hurts like hell, feels like it won’t ever end, and we can’t make it go away.  We can’t therapize grief. It’s all we can do to get out of bed each day.

When it happened to me, I felt like a deboned fish fillet – no spine, no structure.  Just skin holding Jell-O.

“I learned to stop living a day at a time.  Too often I used that phrase to hide behind waiting for tomorrow to come. I began to practice surrendering to and being fully present for each moment instead as a means to survive.

I didn’t know this would become my new way of life. I stopped trusting what I knew and began trusting what I hadn’t learned yet.  Living in the Mystery started as a survival tool when I didn’t want to survive. Then it became a Way of Life.

Two paradoxes emerged.  “It’s what you do with it, not what happens to you, that counts,” emerged as a guiding light instead of a platitude. I had to learn to let the realization that I could pretend I had some control over my life, but in the end what I got to choose was whether I wanted pancakes or eggs for breakfast, and did I want my eggs poached, hard-boiled, or fried.

“You can love someone so deeply, with all your heart, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get to keep him or her by your side,” a friend taught me.  What a mean and brutal truth to digest.

I really didn’t have a choice about the things that matter most.

I came out of the tunnel transformed.

After I finished talked to my daughter on the phone, I filed our conversation under “Things I Want to Forget.”   This morning, I found the details of our conversation in my e-mail inbox in the form of a blog.  No matter how alone, hurt, forgotten, or abandoned you feel, I challenge you to read this story and not be changed.

Thank you, Nichole. You share so much and for so many continue to be a guiding warm light.  Thank you, Madonna and Matt.  We’ve never met, but the generosity you’ve shown by sharing your story with the world makes the word gift sound trite.

You don’t know all the people who won’t ever forget you and the tunnel you entered Christmas Day.

The story that follows is from the Art, Meet Commerce – Blog.  Share it freely.  Be of service. Let Madonna and Matt’s experience count for good in this often cold, dark, and brutal world.

Lessons of Lily, Sarah and Grace

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 9:45AM

You should not be reading this.

And I should not have written it.

Because we should not be here.

In fact, we should not exist.

And the odds that we do exist are so impossibly small that we can not conceive of a number that finite.

Smaller than a step in a walk to the far side of the universe. Smaller than a single grain in a world full of sand.

It would take the change of but one mundane act since the beginning of time for either you or I to have never been born. Any one. A chance introduction. A door left open. A letter lost in the mail. A train that left on time. Or didn’t. A sliding door. A moment’s hesitation. A glance, a nod, a wink.

But we are here. And by any definition, mathematical or mystical, that makes us miracles. Whether we exist for a day, or a hundred years, or less than ten, we are miracles.

Which suddenly makes what we do today a decision of some consequence.

I have known Madonna Badger since 2008. First as a client, and then as a friend. And I have met her husband Matt briefly a few times.

Yesterday, Chris and I attended the funeral of their three daughters: Lily, Sarah and Grace.

For those of you who haven’t heard this unspeakably tragic story, Madonna lost her daughters and her parents in a house fire on Christmas morning. As the fire fighters pulled her away she said to them, “my whole life is in there.”

I can say I have never heard anything of which I was more certain that that. Those five people were her life. She was limitlessly committed to them, her life revolved around them. She would have died for them. For any one of them.

We went to the funeral yesterday, pre-judging her by the expectations we would have of ourselves in those same circumstances. That simply to breathe would no longer be possible. That existence itself would be more than we could bear. We expected to find a broken woman.

Instead we found a woman whose strength filled a church of well over a thousand people, and who left me with a personal reference point that is unshakeable.

That life is an opportunity. A chance. An unimaginable gift.

And we should treat it that way. Every day.

In the way that little girls do. Exploring, trying, learning, loving, playing, living.

Because when the last of these is suddenly taken from us, what will be left is what we did.

Not what we meant to do. Not what we intended to do. Not what we thought about doing.

But what we did.

Lily, Sarah and Grace were prevented from doing more.

But what they did was life-changing.

For their mother, who will be their mother forever, and will use their power to change the world.

And for any of us who use their memory as fuel to fight against assumption.

That tomorrow is the same as today.

That we are in control.

That it will work out in the end.

We should not be here. We should not exist. It is impossible that we do.

After all that, living life with the wonder of a little girl should be a piece of cake


I have included the text of Madonna’s eulogy below. That she was able to give it in person, is the bravest act I have ever seen.

January 5th, 2012

Thank you all for being here today.

I want talk to you about my girls, my three little girls Lily, Sarah, and Grace Badger, and this is going to be really hard.

Lily Grace and Sarah are not here with us today and they won’t be here tomorrow and I am trying to come to terms with this and I know that Matthew is and I know that all of us are. But I feel very strongly and the reason why I wanted to speak to you today is to let you know who my girls were and that our girls, my little girls are not gone from us entirely because my girls are in my heart they’re right here and this is where they live now and they live in Matthew’s heart and they live in the heart’s of all of you who knew them and even those who didn’t know them. And I want you to remember my girls out loud to fight for them to never be forgotten. This is why I can stand before you today because they were my little girls and they were my little girl tribe and I want you to hear about them from me.

So I’m going to tell you just the tiniest of snippets, little stories that are the smallest of drops in a ocean of memories, because there were Christmases and Easters and Thanksgivings and so many days of just being a girl tribe together, and dancing and singing and playing and loving one another.

My Lily. Lily was my angel and my life and she was my first baby, and when Lily was first born I would put her in my baby Bjorn and we would walk around New York City for hours, with diapers in my pocket and my breasts full of milk and it was all we needed. And we’d walk the city.

Lily sang before she spoke and she made-up songs constantly. She made-up elaborate games with her Nana and all of the little animals that she loved to play with, and these animals all had names, and they all lived in very special kingdoms. Lily loved her Ricky and her Mister Wiggles and Lily loved her Jessica so very much.

And most of all Lily loved her sisters. They were her best friends and she celebrated all of their unique qualities, and she never changed them and she never harmed them and she always gave them love. Lily was naturally shy and her smile was sometimes hidden, but when she let her smile show it glowed completely.

And Lily was a dancer, a natural born dancer and when Lily danced it was with moves that far outdid Michael Jackson. Lily was calm and confident and full of who Lily was. When she was first met you she wasn’t sure about you, but once she determined that you were okay, you were one hundred percent in with Lily forever.

When Lily and I went to the Met and we saw all the Pietàs because apparently I had made a wrong turn and all the Pietàs were right there, but anyway when she saw the Pietàs at the Met when she was only 5, Lily broke down on the floor and she begged me to tell her when she was going to die. And I told her after a lot of not knowing what to say, that life is a mystery, it’s a total mystery, and we will never know when we will die. And she accepted that. And I did too.

My darling, Sarah. Sarah is spirited love and her greatest joy in this life was to make you feel good and at ease and loved. As many of you know, my parents – their Nana and Papa – were true givers. And one Christmas my dad as his alter-ego Santa, in full regalia, went to the village nursing home, and my mother had made sugar cookies and put them in little bags and everybody walked into the nursing home and it was scary. And Lily was there, and Sarah and Gracie and Matthew, and it was Sarah who grabbed the little cookies and started handing them out to the very sick and very old people, and the entire room changed and it was full of ease and full of light. Sarah later said to my mom, “Nana, now somebody better tell the tooth fairy that this is where she needs to bring all the teeth, cause these people really need them.”

I had a fever once and Sarah came and she sprayed my face with magic mist and she put a toy dog in my hand and she said, “don’t worry Mama these things are going to help you sleep and make you well.”

Sarah had a very, very fragile heart and it was hidden behind a lot of love and lot of smiles and the smallest slight would cost such deep deep damage that I swear you could see the tear right there in her heart.

Sarah liked to lie with me at bed time and hold my hand and tell me how much she loved me. And she was my whipper snapper. One night I asked Sarah to do something, and it was silly – I can’t remember what it was – and she put her hands firmly on her hips and she said, “no can do, Mommy.”

Once her Nana said, “Sarah Badgers can you hear me?” And Sarah said “Nana I can hear you. I’m just not listening to you.”

And Doctor Solar said that Sarah was the mayor of Windward, their school. And she knew the names of all of their brothers and all of their sisters, and recently they had to call a special meeting at Windward, Dr. Schwab had to call a meeting with the second grade girls so they could figure out a way of how they were going to take turns being close to Sarah. This was my Sarah, my little Sarah, my little whipper snapper, love and lovable and totally loved.

My Gracie. My best friend Jenny once said that Grace was light in a previous life and I think she was right. Grace was fearless, she was the first one to pick up the most creepiest most grossest bug you could possible find and try to give it to me because I hate creepy crawly things. Gracie was fearless. She was the first one on the trapeze in our last spring vacation and she begged and begged to go on it again and again. Gracie was in love with her sisters and in awe of Lily. And Gracie always used to say, “right Lily, right, isn’t that right?”

Sarah and Grace had a special language and a special bond. For instance they called one another ‘RaRa’ when they were little toddlers and it was the name that they had given one another because it was the ‘Ra’ in both of their names that was only thing that was the same. And it took us a long time to really know if they knew the difference between which one was Grace and which was Sarah.

Grace loved math and she would do problems that were like 10 numbers long and she would add them and subtract them. And then she would make us all check her work, and she was so proud of what she could accomplish with her numbers.

Grace was a fisherman, an adventure and an inventor and her imagination was boundless. And there was nothing Grace Badger couldn’t make with a Band Aid. Band Aids were balls and they were wrapping paper and they were everything. Nobody loved Band Aids more than Grace Badger.

And Gracie wanted to know everything. She wanted a microscope and a telescope and I think she wanted to see the seen and the unseen. And she could have cared less if you liked her or approved of her, she found her own way always and when she loved you she loved you completely. And Grace’s tender kisses were always given when she wanted to give them and her hugs were so full and so loving.

Grace asked me a thousand times, if she was going to die before me and I said, “No Gracie, no, that is never going to happen.”

But it happened. And people, everyone, including me, wonder ”Why? Why did this happen, and why my children, and why my parents and why now?”

But nothing will bring my babies back, or my parents, or the life I had or Matthew’s. And here’s the one thing that I know is not a mystery. That there is no power greater on this Earth than love. And that is what is going to keep Lily and Sarah and Grace with us forever.

In this, in all this incomprehensible loss and chaos, all I can hang on to is that love is everything. And God, as I choose to call my higher power, is love. And so, God is love and God is everything.

I have been asked a million times, ”how can you do this, how are you talking, how are you surviving?” Because when I used to hear about people losing a child, or if a child got very, very sick, I would say, “I could never survive that. I could never live through that, I could never, ever, ever live through losing my babies.”

But here I am. Here all of us are. Because Lily and Sarah and Grace live in my heart now, as do my parents, Lomer and Pauline. I was a daughter and a mother, and I still intend to be both, so I can make my girls proud and carry them forward in love. This love, I am realizing, is to be my children’s legacies because they left the world at such tender ages that all they left behind was love.

And I think and I pray and I hope that it is all of our great responsibility to spread that love. And for me, God does not call on us just to love because that is too easy. He also calls on us to be of service. Service to our friends, our families to those we know and those we don’t.

So the message I want to share today, on behalf of Lily and Sarah and Grace, is that we can talk all day long about love, but love without service is not enough.

Please keep our little girls in your hearts by showing your love with acts of pure kindness, by loving each other and finding a way to help each other every day for Lily, for Sarah, and for Grace. This is what will keep them alive forever.

Thank you all for coming today and for all of your words and prayers and support. They have meant the world to me, they have meant the world to my family and to Matthew.

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  1. Cyndi

    January 9, 2012

    I am humbled and speechless… God always finds a way to speak to the deepest part of my heart. There are simply no words to express my gratitude to you for sharing this message….Thank you ….

    • Melody

      January 10, 2012

      I am equally grateful for the message being shared with me. It touched the deepest parts of my heart. I was really way too busy to write a blog, even though half of it was written, but couldn’t help myself. My heart goes out to this woman. Apparently, her boyfriend had two of the girls safe, but they were so scared they ran away and back into the fire. Then Madonna, their mother, had to stand outside and watch the house burn with her parents and daughter inside. It’s things like this that make people wish to God they could change people, take away their pain, do anything to help them from the journey they have to make. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Melody

      • Frances

        February 24, 2012

        I as well have experienced loss, not to this degree, however a true loss. A girlfriend had loss her son at a tender age of 8. I remember looking at her at the funeral and asking myself, “How is she upright, right now” “How is she not completely out of her mind and beside herself” I remember at the funeral the pastor said “WHY is heaven only for the old and sick??? I will always remember that and know that when we get to heaven we will know many things that were soooo unimaginable to us here. My heart goes out to this woman but I am in total awww of her and her strength that the Lord has given her and the term you have given “The oil of grieving drips very slow and is painful” BUT if we hold tight to God’s promisses and LOVE it does heal and you are left with your memories and most of all, the graditude of the LOVE that you still carry daily for the ones we have lost. God Bless you and your families.

        • Melody

          February 26, 2012

          The best I can say is that when asked, would you rather have not had this love in your life – and the pain that accomnpanied it — or would you have chosen this love anyway, even if you knew the price you had to pay, I would gladly pay the price — although I would still prefer the presence of those I love. Melody

  2. Lisa O

    January 10, 2012

    My heart breaks. My eyes cry. My children sleep. I will hug them so tightly when they awaken. I will love them, beginning today, more than ever before.

    For whatever His reasons, God brought Lily and Sarah and Grace home. They are safe. They have their Nana and Grandpa with them, too. It will be but a blink-of-the-eye in time for them before their mother is with them again. Now Madonna must hear what God is asking of her; I know she’s listening.

    • Melody

      January 10, 2012

      I can’t speak for God, and I’ve not experienced the loss as profound as she has, but when my son died what God asked of me was to grieve. The oil of joy for mourning drips very slowly sometimes; it’s a rocky but well-trod path. Best, Melody. This loss is so profound I don’t even want to say anything about it. I cannot even begin to imagine what this woman feels.

      • Janette

        January 17, 2012

        I read this thinking how overwelming the grief would be and how angry I would be.. I can’t even think about the way the mother of these 3 little girls must feel. I have 3 daughters, all grown, and a son. I cannot imagine anything happening to them. God bless the mother and father of these little girls..

  3. Meredith P

    January 10, 2012

    My greatest fear came true, my struggle with daily living continues, when things are going faith is restored, when I feel lost, fearful, hopeless..all my faith is gone..God is or isn’ does one find the strength to go on?
    Thank you for your blog, I will continue to think of others today.

    • Melody

      January 10, 2012

      Hi Meredith. There’s not much more painful than our greatest fear manifsting itself. Some people (and I’m not fond of this) say, “Oh your fear manifested that.” I don’t agree. I think many of us have a sense or intuition about losses we’re going to endure. I know God was real. My biggest question was best expressed by another writer (and right now I can’t think of his name — and don’t have time to look it up) but paraphrasing his quote, he said, “Oh… so this is how God is.” That’s been the struggle for me — the age-old debate about why things like this happen. If I ran the world (which I don’t) I would outlaw those horrible tragedies. On the other hand, it’s through our pain and experiences that we become instruments able to help others heal. And sometimes it’s just plain a part of many people’s lives. (That’s why this site is called “Living in the Myster.). Best, Melody

  4. Liz

    January 10, 2012

    Horrible things happen to so many good people. It’s frightening to see how life can be so unfair. But to have this horrific experience and act in the manner she has is a miracle in itself. Thanks for sharing as this situation and grief deserves to be shared.

    • Melody

      January 10, 2012

      Thanks Liz. I like it when readers comment; it helps me know the blog is being read. I have the same response as many people to this story — I realize what an absolute gift every moment of my life and the lives of the people I love really is. Best, Melody

  5. Lisa O

    January 11, 2012

    I know that I’m afraid to even try to imagine what that mother is feeling. Is a person able to manage their grief? Allowing themselves to feel it in manageable increments? And if so, how do you know where or how much to start with; especially when something as devastating as that family is experiencing happens?

  6. Melody Beattie

    January 11, 2012

    I wish I had all the answers to your questions. I know this much — at least in the beginning we don’t manage our grief, it manages us. After time (three or four years), I learned to distract myself when the pain was too much — sometimes just taking a shower or watching a tv show. I couldn’t read — my rational mind was destroyed and my heart was blown up — torn up, and broken. I watched so many movies; listened to so many songs I wore cd’s out. In retrospect (but not at the time) I can see that Life brought me what I needed and the minor lessons I needed to learn. What happened incrementally was gradually beginning to have good feelings again. A few minutes a day eventualy turned into an hour. Then as time passed, an hour feeling good turned into an hour and one-half. Then, in a heartbeat, it could be yesterday again — the day Shane died. It’s important to know though, that we each have our own process and men seem to process grief differently than women. Sorry for my answer, but again, that’s why this blog is called Living in the mystery. Another lesson was trusting what I didn’t know yet instead of trying to figure things out or trust what I thought I new about Life. Melody Beattie

  7. Lisa O

    January 12, 2012

    Thank you for your time to reply.

  8. Lauren

    January 12, 2012

    The closest I have come to this tragedy is loosing a baby at 5 months pregnancy. It’s been 3 years, and it still is very painful to think about it (to say the least). So I can’t imagine the pain these parents are going through.

    The other day I was talking to a father who lost a baby from sudden death syndrome, and went on to have another baby just after that. He was telling me “it’s about life winning in the end, about death not having the last word.” I agree with him.

    We all think that we would not survive the loss of our kids, but we would (some of us did), and it is the way it should be. It’s about having life winning in the end, our own lives, the lives of people around us, and sometimes a new life we give birth to. I’m don’t believe in God, but fighting for life – and a valuable life – is what I believe in.

    Sometimes doing everything in our power is not enough to prevent a tragedy. But I also discovered there is tremendous satisfaction, and peace, in doing everything in our power to favor life and love.

    • Melody

      January 12, 2012

      Hi Lauren. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I appreciate your thoughts — and those of your friend. I don’t think it matters what age we’re talking about — whether our baby is still in our womb, or is a day old or 50 years old, it is extraordinarily painful when the child passes before we do. While we can have all the beliefs that are positive and good in the world, going through the pain is still an experiential process though, and the only way out is through.

      It really brings home how little control we do have in life, and how important exercising that control is, i.e., the idea of choosing Life. I do not believe in suicide, but I had a tremendous amount of death ideation (thinking about being on the other side and wishing I was there) after my son passed. When a friend stopped by one day and said that my wish was about to come true unless I reversed my thinking, I got scared. I didn’t want to leave my daughter alone. I didn’t want to leave a quitter. And I wanted to stick around until I could find some meaning, or at least make something this awful count (Shane’s death at age 12). I didn’t know what to do, so I typed up an “Unconditional Agreement With Llife.” Ir read the way any contract would, only it was me agreeing to Life on Life’s conditions, that I wanted to stick it out, and stay around until it was truly my time to go.

      It may sound nuts, but I believe in the power of both the written and spoken word. That was 20 some years ago that I wrote out and signed that agreement. Sometimes we need to do whatever it takes. There is no one way, is what I believe — but instead it’s “whatever works that doesn’t hurt anyone else or ourselves.”


  9. Eileen

    January 14, 2012

    ohhh…sometimes i get sooo pissed that it is not possible to understand God…i find peace sometimes in letting Him be as BIG as he is and in letting me be as small as i am…

  10. Eileen

    January 14, 2012

    ohhhh…sometimes i get soooo pissed that it is not possible to understand God…i do find peace, sometimes, when i let Him be as Big as He is and when i let myself be as small as i am…

    • Melody

      January 15, 2012

      When my son first died — I mean literally a few seconds after the machines were shut down as he was already brain dead and the only reason they had him on support was to preserve his organs for the organ donation people — I slammed my foot, kicked, a metal door. I was so furious with God. I was unlucky enough that day to be with a “you shouldn’t and you should” person, who told me oh, no no no, you can’t be angry at God. The guilt I absorbed from that one statement == and yes — my feelings are my responsibility but we’re so damn vulnerable when we’re raw with grief — kept me stuck for a long time. This is only one woman’s belief, but I have a passionate relationship with my Higher Power. In any vital, passionate relationship, someone will get and be angry from time to time. For myself, I think it’s okay. The danger is when we think it’s wrong, get numb, and go away. Thanks for writing in. Melody

  11. Jane Henson

    January 15, 2012

    Melody, you have been a part of my life for years, I am new to your web site and this is the first blog I have read- wow! Because I am sitting in a CCU by my daughter’s bedside – she just had 6 blood clots flow through her heart into her lungs -she has been having trouble breathing since before Christmas. One lung is collapsed, the clots have cut off blood supply to her alveoli. She has 2 1/2 year daughter, and her amazing loving husband. When I read Madona,s story I am reminded how thankful we are to have her with us still. We can never take our time with loved ones for granted and to live life with the eyes and heart of these 3 little girls is a beautiful reminder. We are hopeful for Kristen’s recovery and to be back home with her family! Thank you for sharing this story.

    • Melody

      January 15, 2012

      So sorry to hear about your daughter. It’s just awful when something goes wrong with our kids; we have no control. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as I”m sure others who read your post will, too. Please return and let us know how things work out. Best, Melody

  12. Lauren

    January 15, 2012

    That’s a good idea (the contract), a creative one, and it does not sound nuts to me. I’ll think about it.
    The truth of the matter is: right now deep down I don’t agree to live under life’s conditions. I want MY conditions !
    But obviously that’s the whole point 😉

    • Melody Beattie

      January 15, 2012

      I scared myself. I got right up to and almost crossed the point of no return. I had a daughter, and I was absolutely not willing to leave her alone. I wrote about that contract somewhere, it was just an unconditional agreement to live, despite whether I got what I gave, or got what I felt I deserved — and regardless of who was in my live and who wasn’t. It really helped me get past — and I hate calling it “suicidal ideation” — because I didn’t contemplate killing myself. I just didn’t want to be here, and if we have strong enough wills, we can will ourselves literally to death. I was interesting because today (early) I saw for the first time the media writing articles on the validity of a “broken heart” from loss of a loved one, and all the effects that can cause. I’ve never seen that written about by anyone but me before; now the Mayo clinic is calling it an actuall illness.

      • Lisa O

        January 16, 2012

        Been there. Wishing God would just take me home when my prayers that my alcoholic husband would just dry up and blow away if he wasn’t going to get help weren’t being answered. Thoughts of my two children brought me back to my unfortunate reality and had me worried that my body had started the decline on its own already. I’m hoping the 15 pound weight loss together with half of my hair is just the stress of trying to decide when to end a 23 year relationship and 16 year marriage to a verbal abuser and a mean drunk. I filed. Workin’ on makin’ my own miracles now – Day 11!. Thank you for all the help and direction I receive from your books, Melody Beattie. I’m still trying to know that I can trust my own mind and my gut and my heart again after all those years of being told I was wrong and everything was all my fault. He’s still telling me, but I’m learning not to believe him anymore.

  13. Melody Beattie

    January 16, 2012

    Hi Lisa. Wow! WTG. You so do not deserve to be abused. You don’t deserve to have to live with a protective shell around you, so you won’t be hurt. You don’t have to take in all the crap he’s trying to feed you. That’s not who you are; it’s not who you’ve ever been. I need to ask you — have you been to a doctor for a physical checkup? So often physical ailments accompany deep grief. For the FIRST TIME TODAY, I READ IN NEWS ARTICLES THAT THE MAYO CLINIC IS RECOGNIZING A BROKEN HEART AS A TRUE PHYSICAL AFFLICTION. Up until now, I’m the only person I know who’s talked about it — but the pain was so intense I knew it was real. It debilitates us. Please take some time out to see a doctor, just to play on the safe side? Please? Yes, stress can cause all this, but you need to give your body a message that you’re not going to let anyone be mean to you (or it — your mind, soul, emotions and body) anymore. Do you have a good doctor — someone understanding, who will listen to you with a caring ear and not look at you like you’re crazy (doctors do that — I’ve been to some of them.) Would you just do htat one thing for me? You are like a rose in fast-action growth — pushing through the earth, growing a bud, and opening up in a matter of days into the most fragrant, beautiful flower of love. Now, give some to yourself for awhile and do not ever let anyone be “reckless with your heart again.” And please stay in close touch.

    • Lisa O

      January 16, 2012

      Wow! back atcha. You really feel strongly about this, don’t you, Melody. Yes, I know I am not that person, never have been. I am soooo angry and sooo sad that I, me, Lisa, got sucked in to a verbally abusive relationship with a mean drunk for 23 years and it took me this long to realize it. He never deserved me, EVER. I’m a really great gal and he’s tried to crush and grind that right out of me, and nearly succeeded. I’ve told him, “living with you is turning me into a sour old bitch, and I don’t want to be a sour old bitch!” Well, I’m on my road back to happy-healthy. He supposedly is now, too. Three weeks after a whole, entire week-long stay in rehab after three days in detox and he’s already up to “Step 9”. Checkin’ ’em off with lightening speed, he is. Think the judge will believe it?
      Yes, I have a fabulous doctor. In fact, she gave me my first inkling that something was wrong here nearly 10 years ago. My husband wanted me to medicate my PMS, because that’s our problem, you know. I asked my doctor for something and she said, “oh, so it’s all your fault.” Apparently my husband had expected this response as he made me promise to then respond, “well, my husband thinks that perhaps I’m giving off hormones that are causing him and our young son to behave badly at that time of the month.” “Oh, so it’s still all your fault,” she replied. Ahhh, Grasshoppah, I thought. When I reported back to him he called her a man-hating dyke. And again recently when he and his attorney decided that I am now going through menopause so it can be all my fault all the time and she wouldn’t give me anything for that either. For God’s sake, I just stopped breast-feeding our second child not that long ago (after three miscarriages – you don’t say no to sex either or there’s hell to pay for that, too.)
      Her PA is a dream, also a woman, and has listened to my story. So has the emergency room doctor when I ended up there with my little one one day recently, being checked over for stroke and heart attack after ringing in my head, not just my right ear, broken blood vessels in my right eye, learning of my sudden weight loss, living with a constant headache for months, pain in my right collarbone/breastbone area for a week and then suddenly radiating down my arm to my hand making it feel all fat and tingly, and then a strange sensation and dull ache down my right leg. I thought I was going to die at 46 years old with my three-year-old in the truck as I tried to get myself to an ER 20 miles away from where I was at the time. That really, really, really sucked and I thought, ‘and while I’m going through all this he’s staying medicated, oblivious to reality, up in his stinking man-cave clubhouse/office.’ I learned from the ER that it’s “just” all the stresses of my unfortunate reality. I thought so, I know stress can do great things to a body and I mean that in the “large” sense of the word. I thought I was a tough cookie until I discovered the weight loss. That’s when I got scared. Then I got really scared when I discovered this was all and had always been verbal abuse and abusers can do terrible things when pushed. Especially mean drunk ones with guns. I couldn’t bring myself to stand up to him anymore now. I was terrified. Oh, man, I could go on…but I won’t. Maybe I’ll write a book someday, too.
      Could you explain further what you mean by the beautifully written rose metaphor? I don’t feel like it’s been mere days, I feel like I’ve been struggling to push up through hardpan for nearly an eternity.
      And, Melody? Thank you.

      • Melody

        January 17, 2012

        You so quickly went from sounding beaten down to blooming like a flower (what a corny metaphor) but it’s the truth. I know from your perspective, it took years of preparation. I also know that no change happens overnight — even overnight change. Life has been preparing us for this for quite some time. But it’s a miracle that I truly appreciate when someone shares it with me, a miracle of self-love and self-respect. You’re going to do great at whatever you decide to do, especially being you. And you’re welcome, but you did all the hard work and don’t you ever forget it. If you can do what you did, you can do anything. And I believe you will. Melody Beattie

  14. kirsta

    January 16, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this. I cry out of my own heartache when I read this story. I lost my precious baby this past June. He was 8 1/2 months and died of accidental asphyxiation. Immediately following our decision to take him off life support, I felt his love STRONGLY as well as the love of our community. Madonna’s words give me strength and inspiration because they remind me (as I do forget sometimes) that this Love is why I can survive the death of my child. Though he is gone, the LOVE that he was/is/will be, still IS! That Love doesn’t go away except in my own mind when I THINK that because he is “gone” so is my connection to him. Love is a tangible thing that can grow in us when we allow it. When the person is “gone” this flower of the love still grows!!!!

    I can feel excitement building when I think of being the vessel of Silas’ essence here on earth. He did so much in such a short time and continues to do so much when I keep him alive in people’s hearts and minds. His message is so strong and yet so simple…LOVE IT ALL.

    Silas’ Mom

    • Melody

      January 17, 2012

      Hi Silas and Mom: Mother, I am so, so sorry about your loss. If you get to a place where you want or need support or more understanding of the process, check out the grief club site at It has different forums and groups and content for all different forms of losses, but I will always think of losing a child as the worst — and I’ve been through many different kinds (of losses). There’s no fee to join that site as everyone on it has already paid a high-enough price to belong. Many blessings, much comfort and connections, and may you feel the oil of joy for mourning. Melody Beattie

      • kirsta

        January 17, 2012

        Melody, thank you! I found the griefclub only this morning. Perfect timing as always, for as “high” as I felt yesterday I am in the grave yard of lost things. Such is he nature of grief I am learning. Thank you for all you do.I am going to sign up for the griefclub. Thank you.

        • Melody

          January 17, 2012

          Welcome. Not glad you need to be there, but glad it’s there for you. You’re going to be okay — and you’re okay right now. You just don’t feel like you’d like to — but for true change to happen we have to be willing to feel uncomfortable for a while, and to find joy and peace we need to slog through our pain. Melody Beattie

  15. Lillian

    February 12, 2012

    I read this story and can’t imagine loosing any of my four children. I am currently going through a divorce and sometimes I feel like the pain is unbearable. I don’t know what life will bring for me, but this is the second big loss in my life next to loosing my father when I was 19. I need to find strength and forgiveness, and letting go of my anger and don’t know where to begin. After reading this story, I see the love of God from this woman, and that is all we need to pull through. Thanks for sharing.


    • Melody

      February 12, 2012

      Hi Lillian. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your loss is still your loss. Some people in our world have become so cavalier they act as though divorce isn’t a loss and doesn’t hurt. It is and it does. Although sometimes we can quiet or neutralize our pain by saying “It could have been worse” — and that’s something I often do — we can’t intellectualize away our pain. You sound like you’re looking for answers. All I can tell you — and you’re not asking me for anything — is that we all need to find our own pathway through grief, and soon yours and the next part of your life will appear. We’re funny creatures, us human beings. I know I measure my life more by my losses than I do by my gains. What I mean is, my losses become turning points, or milestones in my life. “Before this” or “after this” becomes how I measure change. Best wishes — and I do know that you’ll find all the strength you need. MB

  16. Lisa O

    February 12, 2012

    For Lillian: Please consider coming to The Grief Club website/forum ( and click on “loss of a relationship” and then “newly separated/divorced”) and join the few of us there who are sharing what we are experiencing while going through divorce, and all its accompanying emotions. It has helped me to understand my feelings; to learn they are valid is a powerful healing force, for myself, anyway. Blessings ~ Lisa

  17. Eileen

    February 12, 2012

    Went through a divorce…the pain was devastating…..felt like I was picked up and dropped into a different world…into someone else’s life…they say what doesnt kill you makes you stronger…one day i realized I wasnt i began to make the best of it one day at a time…sat in my chair a lot …took long walks…wore out some shoes…meditated…sought guidance and direction from the big guy… worked through a lot of anger at myself and at my ex-husband…took what it took…had supportive friends…i found melody’s books extremely helpful…also did therapy…never ever thought i’d say it, but i believe we both did the best we could at the time…..the pain will decrease…your life will get better…you will get through will be okay…you really will

    • Melody Beattie

      February 13, 2012

      Hi Eileen. I appreciate your comoment to, and support of, Lillian. When the visitors to the forum begin reaching out to each other — to give and receive support — is when the site works at its best. Than you for sharing yourself — and welcome to the site. Melody Beattie

  18. Lisa O

    February 13, 2012

    I have another question about grief. Is it okay to take a break from it for awhile? To want to try to find some joy in life for awhile again; to do things that make you happy. This divorce process and all its accompanying emotions, especially the grief that comes from having to give up all the hopes and dreams and visions (that’s a song, isn’t it?) you had for yourself and your family’s future as a family…that’s really tough. It’s odd, but the very biggest one for me is the peace and joy that comes to me when I am hanging out my laundry on the clothesline and enjoying the spectacular view from that spot in our yard, that, and leaving all of nature that is here on our farm, I keep telling myself that it will still be part of our planet, our home, just not the particular spot I’m at on it. I’m telling myself that others are having to leave places and homes they love and built memories in, for different reasons, all over the world right now, and that helps, a little. I feel that I need to recoup and regroup; forget about the sadness and the pain and anger for awhile; focus on something else. Gather my strength and energies for the final push of this divorce process. Is it okay to do that, or is it best to see the grief through to the end? Man, I don’t know if I can do that right now.
    Thank you, for taking the time to consider my question, and for any insight you may choose to give. ~ Lisa O.

    • Melody

      February 13, 2012

      Hi Lisa O. It’s not only okay to take a break from grief — it’s essential. To walk around in pain all the time, for an extended period of time, is just too much. Absolutely too much. At first, when the loss occurs, the grief is overwhelming. We don’t have much control. But as the days pass, we begin to get a little — or some — control over our process. We can swtich gears sometimes by doing something as simple as going to a store that comforts us; by taking a shower; by working out; by doing something that engages our rational mind — like Suduko (as goofy as that sounds); or by doing crossword puzzles. Anything that helps us switch gears for awhile. We don’t have to worry — the grief we need to feel will be thre when it’s time, but we need to ease up on ourselves. One woman I know did scrapbooking about her lost relationship. She would use the time scrapbooking — including favorite things, things she hated about him, things that annoyed her, favorite places they went — all the parts that make up the life of a relationship — and would use that time to grieve. Then, she could (for the most part) shut off the grief when she finished working on her scrapbook. Again, that’s not always possible in the beginning, when we’re overwhelmed with the loss we’re facing. But as we get more comfortable being uncomfortable, we gain more power, and control, over the pain. Find something that helps you switch gears. Give yourself a break. Don’t forget about it forever — it’s your lifework, to heal your heart. Actually, the medical community recently identified “broken heart syndrome’ as a physical condition that’s real. That includes the famous Mayo clinic in Minnesota. It (grief) isn’t just in our head; it’s in our heart. You have the right to do your grief however and whenever you need to, (or need not to). So — the answer is an absolute yes. Please be good to yourself. Give yourself the breaks you need from the pain — as long as the way you take breaks doesn’t cause harm to yourself or others. Best, and please feel like you can ask any questions, or ask for any support you need here. It’s your safe haven. Melody Beattie

  19. Eileen

    February 14, 2012

    it was gut wrenchingly tough to leave my home after the divorce….truly thought it would be the very end of me….taking things one day at time was vital to living through it…and live through it i did…i experience it now in my heart as a source of comfort…with gratitude that i didn’t take it for granted at the time…and with a growing understanding that my spirit and my world ought not be limited to one place…i recently was granted Irish citizenship…no immediate plans …it’s wonderful to know i have choices— and the power and ability to act on them…who knows where my path will lead…or who i will meet along the way…or what i will some day see out a new window… …. at home…

    • Melody Beattie

      February 17, 2012

      Hi Eileen. The name of this Blog is, “Living in the Mystery.” I’m there right now — not knowing what’s next — and so are many of my friends (both online and in the physical world.) We’re called upon to trust what we don’t know, more than we trust what we do know — and that’s a tough spot. We’re used to knowing our path (or thinking we do). It’s just plain scary, and we want to know (the unknowable). Relaxing into our life, and trusting the steps that are given to us each day, is our only way through this void. I’m writing this just to let you know that you’re not alone; you’re part of a club. We can’t walk each other’s path for our friends, but we can know that we’re all in a simialr place — we don’t know what’s next and we want to; we’re coming through or out of an amazingly painful loss; we’re wondering if there even is a path for us. All I can do is tell you “Yes. There is a path for you.” Likely, it will creep up on you so slowly that you’ll barely notice it taking shape and form. Things you believe are insignificant will take on a greater role in your life (in all our lives). The pattern of a new life taking shape and form is similar. In retrospect, it’s an awesome one and I use the word “awesome” sparingly and with great reverence). All I can do is say — for right now, breathe. Your new life will take on its shape or form and when you look back, you’ll say, “Wow. Why didn’t i see that one coming! This is cool.” Your faith will be renewed, and so will you. Best Melody PS — Right now, I’m having a “discussion” with a friend who’s also in the void. He desperately wants to “get a macheti and carve out a path.” When I suggest that’s all about control and it won’t work, he argues with me about that too. Likely, there will be times we try to control what’s coming next. Like I tell him, “Good luck with that.” (It’s an agreeable disagreement.)

  20. Lisa O

    February 15, 2012

    Hello, Eileen, Thank you for sharing your experiences and discoveries. I am looking forward to the day my understanding arrives at the place that brings me comfort when I think of this little piece of our planet after I am gone from it. For now, I cannot bear the thought of leaving forever the land and the trees and all else that thrives here. I am somewhat confused as to why I am feeling this so deeply, though I am sure I will know it someday. Perhaps if I think of it as the coyotes here do: they go where their needs can be met. Perhaps if I think of the benefits I might find for myself and my children in another place. But that is the unknown. Talk about feeling uncomfortable…
    My son and I love, love, loved Ireland when we visited when he was five years old. Of course, we did a lot of children’s things, and only a few pub visits…but we made some friends and have always talked of returning. I believe we missed our chance at dual citizenship for our children as my father-in-law just passed to his next great adventure as my son put it, a month ago; doesn’t mean we can still visit. Thank you, again, for sharing here. Your words have helped me to grow through this experience a little bit easier; reminding me I will be okay when it is all finished. Perhaps that’s how we should think of things: we are not going through something, we are growing through it. Here’s to growing through YOUR next great adventure, Eileen! ~ Lisa O

  21. Tonya Lee Wise

    February 26, 2012

    I am humbled and heartbroken by this unrealistic yet real life tragedy.

    As a hairstylist, I listen to (and sometimes share) heartbreaks and struggles of life. But, anything exchanged in the confidence of ‘my chair’ shrinks into a spec of dust compared to this. I am breathless with grief for a family I never knew. And, yet I sense the love and strength of God in a mother’s fight to bring her children’s light into a world they no longer inhabit. The strength and determination to fight against her own angst and speak about those she loved, when most of us might not be able to form audible words, is an amazing testiment to the power of love. God’s love for us and a mother’s love for her children.

    Our children wake us to acceptance, patience, and unconditional love. This gift should be kept alive, and demonstrated through service to others, I agree. God Bless Ms. Badger and her family.

    • Melody

      February 26, 2012

      When loss is that big, there is a compulsion to make it count. It’s too important to waste. Best, Melody

  22. Eileen

    March 31, 2012

    Miss your blogging here…hope to hear from you again soon…hope you’re well..

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    The commercial on the radio sang to me as I drove across the Southern California desert: “Don’t just go with the flow. Go with what you know.” Sometimes answers come from outside us. The universe is abundant in its supply of guidance for us. It can’t wait to share its...


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