The Death of a ChildGrieving Parents
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!
photo credit Grieving Parents Matters of the Heart Motherhood My Journey