The Death of Child
Driving to church one morning, Diana and I commented on the beautiful day. Sunshine poured down. It was a breathtaking morning, and not to drink it in seemed a shame.
Then that text arrived. “My son has died.” Just that. So brief in its structure, yet so powerful in its impact. My wife and I had to pull over for a few minutes. Instead of a breathtaking morning, we had our breath stolen by the tragic news of a close family member. We will never forget this memory. The feeling was sharp and bitter. Our hearts sank low when, only a few moments prior, their rhythmic pulse had quickened at the sight of beauty from above. Now there was only hollowness, and an ache that seemed to penetrate our bones.
We prayed out loud. It was a simple prayer. “God help Tom and Sheila,” calling the parent’s names in strained tones. Then we silently drove on, realizing that in another home further west, time stood still with a sorrow unmatched by our heartache. Losing a child must be a grief like no other.
I say “must” because we have never lost a child. The future is cut off. There will be no grandchildren to cuddle and hold. There will be a stark absence at family reunions, an almost unmentionable wound, that will loom large around the dinner table, like a grey elephant sitting in a corner. Everyone will feel its presence, but no one will wish to speak of it.
Depressing, isn’t it? Yet, we have seen hope amidst the sorrow, a gradual knitting of the gaping wound. Faith arises from the parents and calls out the name of the deceased, “Matthew, Matthew,” as if he were still alive. Indeed, within the faith of his parents resides this hope. It is a hope in the resurrection of the dead, and a God who holds Matthew safe in His bosom until such day that death will be defeated.
This iw what we can do with grieving parents. We can sit in sorrow and silence and hold gently that pain which cannot be cavalierly dispelled. We can journey with those who mourn the loss of health, independence, and even family members.
I Thessalonians 4: 13, 14 - “…dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died[a] so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.”