The Death of a Child

Tuesday a teenage girl who lives on our street was killed in a car accident while leaving school. It has been a difficult week in our community. School will close for the funeral because it is the largest place to accommodate all of the people who plan to attend.

I choked up as I drove past their house yesterday and saw that the lawn was a parking lot of cars, and the front porch was filled with quiet well-wishers. I did not stop because the family had asked the school to try to limit the number of people stopping by. I put my name on the list of those who could provide meals for the family. I offered to cover her daycare families if needed. Little things. What can you do?

I thought about a phone conversation that I'd had with a friend who had lost a child to drowning the first year of my marriage. I had called her a few years later because that week another friend's baby had died of SIDS, and I wanted to know what to do... what to say... how to help. I thought that that conversation was to help me help my friend. Little did I know that God had that phone call in mind for ME. 

Later that week, my son Caleb was stillborn.

Close friends came to help, to love, to mourn. People kept telling me that they wished that they could take away the pain. I understand the sentiment.

It is hard to watch someone suffer and know that there is nothing that can be done about it. Grief is something that must be walked through - there is no way around it.

...Of course it did make it easier to know that I had friends who loved me enough to walk with me... Cry with me... To make my son's extremely short life seem as valuable to them as it was to me.

After the funeral, when real life set in, everything that my friend had said in that two hour conversation became real to me. Grieving parents have to choose not to become bitter, she said. Bitterness is a choice. She had pointed out the passage of scripture that says,

"All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

I had to accept the fact that my child had lived all of his days.

I've been thinking about all of this again. I wonder about the spiritual condition of this neighborhood family since I do not know them well. I wonder if they would be able to see it this way - that she had simply lived all of her days. In those murky days of grief that are coming in their future, will they blame the teenage driver? Will they become bitter toward God for taking away their precious child? Will this tear their family apart? These are all things that happen so commonly in these circumstances.

I attended a grieving parents support group that was recommended by the hospital, but I could only stomach it a few times. I was shocked to listen to one mother after another angrily describe how she could not attend family baby showers, how she felt that her husband was not grieving properly and she hated him for it, how a friend or relative who had smoked throughout her pregnancy had delivered a living child yet she had not... I was horrified to discover that some of these parents had been attending this group for YEARS and were still wallowing in their grief.

I had always thought that time put distance between you and your pain (You know, "time heals all wounds") so I was surprised to discover that that is not true!

What is it, then, that heals those wounds?


It is Grace that helps us to accept the days allotted for our child. Days that we want more of... Days that we feel were cut short, and don't understand why they were limited to so few.

It's Grace that helps us to choose not to become bitter, but to trust God, and know that His ways are higher than our ways - that He can see the big picture of our lives, though we do not now know the purpose for this indescribable pain.

It is Grace that helps us to continue living and not curl up into the fetal position and wish to die, too. To see that there are others worth living for, and to choose to bless their future - however long that it may be.

It is Grace that reminds us that God is Good. That He Loves your child, and He Loves YOU. That He knows your pain, and grieves your loss along with you. He 's "...a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief..." Isaiah 53:3

It is Grace that helps you to remember that God has a plan for your life. " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, ' plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " Jeremiah 29:11

And it is Grace that keeps you from locking the other children in the house, keeping them close, protecting them too fiercely - knowing that there is no greater protection than God's, and remembering that their days have already been counted (and there is nothing you can do about that).

- Choose to accept this Grace and walk in it - it is the only way to heal from your grief.

- Watch for opportunities to pass this grace on to your children and be ready to secure their eternal future as soon as God draws their hearts toward Him. "The Lord has appeared of old to me saying, 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you [to Me].' " Jeremiah 31:3

...And if you have never received your initial dose of Grace, ask God for it NOW - He has been waiting for you to ask!

P.S. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to continue the conversation of grieving the loss of a child or if you would like to know how to receive the Grace of God.
photo credit


Nicole said...

Thank you for writing this. I think your insights are right on. I too have seen people who have become bitter through grief. I am so thankful that I had God's grace to get me through when I lost a baby. I will be praying for that family that they would know God's grace and lean on Him through the journey of grief.

Randee Donovan said...

I lost my son Gabe almost three and a half years ago. He was diagnosed with leukemia at 18 months and passed away unexpectedly four days before his second birthday. I have to be honest, sometimes I still get so angry. But I do try to accept God's plan for myself, my husband, our sweet son Gabe, his older brother Jack, AND his little sister who was born two months after he would have turned three. Her name? Grace! Thank you for sharing!

Candace Miller said...

Latisha-This is excellent. I'm so glad you accepted the Lord's will in Caleb's alotted days. That Scripture is such a life preserver for the Believer in the sea of grief. I was so angry at God after my fifth miscarriage and thought certainly He could have allowed me to have one of those babies. I took matters into my hands and had a tubal ligation. I had accessed God's grace instead, God would not have resisted my proud heart. It took me the better part of ten years to overcome my anger and bitterness. Thank you for another stepping stone closer to God's heart for many of us.

joyfully2b4u said...

This was a good read tonight as I'd just had a short conversation with someone about grace needed for a hard situation . . . it was a good reminder of what grace is and what it does in our lives. Thank you =)

Kate said...

I have had 3 miscarriages. One if them nearly took my life, too. We have also experienced some great trials in our lives. Through keeping our eyes on God, even through the anger and "WHY!!!!!" My husband and I grow closer. Family grows closer. Our faith grows. But what saddens me are the vast number if peers who see it completely differently. Much like the women in the grief counseling, they find no puzzlement in begrudging, holding on to anger, never seeking God, and even tearing apart their own homes. They see nothing amiss about a married couple divorcing after the death or handicap of their child. It is so sad. To them, I direct to your post and the emphasis on GRACE!

Holly said...

Amazing post- so well written and backed up by TRUTH. You have dealt with your loss with grace and beauty. I have been blessed by reading it.

Brandy said...

Hi! I'm one of your newest followers. I have really enjoyed the posts that I have read so far. I too am so guilty of being a "Martha". I stuggle many times finding the correct balance between family, housework, regular work, church ministry, etc.

On a side note regarding this blog post, I really enjoyed reading your prespective on death. Thankfully I have never had to experience the death of a child. I admire those who can accept God's plan during difficult situations and remain faithful and not become bitter. It is a true reflection of Jesus' heart.

Confessions of a Martha said...

Wow. Some of your comments have brought a tear to my eye. I pray that you will each recieve the grace that you need. Thank you for sharing this article. I felt that God wanted me to write it and I knew that He was guiding my words. I pray that this story will continue to bless and encourage people. Thank you all for your comments.

Crystal @ Serving Joyfully said...

What a beautiful post, full of truth. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Blessings to you and your family!

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