I’m sharing this post again because based on response, it continues to speak to grieving parents and to their family and friends.
If you know someone who has lost a child, I hope these words give you insight into how very hard it is to keep going while carrying that burden.
If you are a bereaved parent, you might find sharing this post helps your circle of friends and family get a glimpse inside your own heart.
People say, “I can’t imagine.“
But then they do.
They think that missing a dead child is like missing your kid at college or on the mission field but harder and longer.
That’s not it at all.
It isn’t nostalgia for a time when things were different or better or you talked more: it’s a gut-wrenching, breath-robbing, knee-buckling, aching groan that lives inside you begging to be released.
There is no smooth transition up the ladder of grief recovery so that you emerge at the top, better for the experience and able to put it behind you.
We’ve all heard the much touted theory that grief proceeds in the following stages:
And people (who haven’t experienced grief) tend to think it’s a straight line from one stage to another, gradually going from bottom to top and then on with life.
But it just isn’t true.
Reality is, these “stages” coexist and fluctuate back and forth from day to day and even hour to hour.
Grief remakes you from the inside out.
Losing a child has made me rethink everything I believe and everything I am. It has changed and is changing my relationship with myself and with others in ways I couldn’t imagine and often don’t anticipate.
And it is hard, hard work.
Life around us doesn’t stop. Grieving parents return to work, continue to nurture their surviving children, keep getting up in the morning and taking care of daily details.
We are doing all the things others do, but we are doing them with an added weight of sorrow and pain that makes each step feel like wading through quicksand.
We want you to know we are doing the best we can.
Life without my child is like having a leg amputated–I am forced to learn to manage without it, but everything will always be harder and different. And it will be this way for the rest of my life.
The one thing a grieving parent DOESN’T want you to know is how it feels to bury your child.
I don’t want anyone else to know what it means to leave part of your heart and a chunk of your life beneath the ground.
“But please: Don’t say it’s not really so bad. Because it is. Death is awful, demonic. If you think your task as a comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, it’s not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief but place yourself off in the distance away from me. Over there, you are of no help. What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is. I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.”
Nicholas Wolterstorff LAMENT FOR A SON