I keep seeing her face.
I met her only briefly at a family event at school just a scant 24 hours before the accident, and I picture her in my mind's eye - frozen in that lighthearted moment. Like the calm before the storm, in that minute when not one of us knew what trial was about to blow into her life like the Great Wind that left Job fatherless in a moment.
A week of sleepless nights in a hospital room, then her precious boy slips into eternity.
I think of the mother in the movie Steel Magnolias shouting "I don't understand" as she leaves her daughter's grave sight. No matter how many times you see that movie, you cannot stop the tears from flowing. Death is so heard to deal with, anyway. But the death of your own child...?
There are no words.
What can you say to a parent who just put their child into the ground. As irrational as it sounds to me now, I remember thinking that I just wanted to go and dig up my son's body and bring him home - as though it had never happened. Leaving your child in the ground goes against every parental intuition. It is the worst feeling.
As odd as it may seem, grief is God's gift for coping with loss.
Death has never been God's ideal for us - His plan is for abundant life (John 10:10). But because death came hand in hand with sin (Romans 5:12), God gave us this tool to give us relief from the emotional pain.
Grief is characterized by a series of emotions including anger, sadness, denial, and even second-guessing (if only...). Unfortunately, we often try to suppress these feelings as though they are not good. Many of us who are Christians feel that it is sinful to be angry at God for allowing the loss, or believe that if you are really a Christian, you should never have any reason to feel depressed.
God is a able to handle all of our feelings. He created them!
Most people are familiar with the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept." but often do not realize that he was grieving the loss of a dear friend with the man's family - even though He knew that he was going to raise him from the dead in a few minutes!
Not only does Jesus condone grief, He felt it!
Looking back, I can recall several times when friends and loved ones, filled with compassion, said, “I wish I could take away your pain.” Yet even at that time, I had an understanding that I could not go around it.
I had to go through it.
I had to feel the loss and sadness. I had to wonder if there was something I could have done to prevent it. I had to listen to the stories of others in their pain…
…So that I would understand that bitterness is a choice and choose not to become bitter and frozen in my misery. (Job 21:25, Ephesians 4:31)
…So that I would accept that all of my child’s days were written in God’s book before the first one even started. (Psalm 139:16)
…So that I would remember that God would be able to use even something this terrible for good in my life. (Romans 8:28-29)
…So that I would heal from my pain and be able to empathize with and comfort others in their pain. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
What would I say to a parent who has just placed their child in the ground and had to turn their back and walk away?
I would say:
Welcome those emotions.
Cry all of your tears.
Write out all of your thoughts.
Voice all of your complaints to God (He can handle it and won't even hold you at arms length as other friends might feel the need to do at this time).
Remember that your child lived ALL of his days - and God was there for each one of them. He did not turn His back on that fateful day.
Choose not to become bitter and close yourself off to others and to God. Bitterness is toxic. No amount of time can heal that infected wound.
I would say, Give yourself permission to grieve.