When I asked other bereaved parents to share the things people did that blessed them in the wake of losing a child, I didn’t expect so many stories of extravagant love–of acts surpassing anything I could have thought of or imagined.
“After my daughter passed, which was minutes before Mother’s Day 2012, outside the hospital room, my son gave me a handmade Mother’s Day card that he somehow found time to make in all of the chaos. The card spoke of my daughter, me being her mother, and included a beautiful poem he had written that tugged so strongly at the heartstrings. Oh my heart!”
“A couple who had lost their son years earlier, drove two hours just to come and sit with us. A dear friend took over my life for the next couple of weeks.”
“On my son’s first anniversary date of his passing, a friend of mine organized a candle light vigil outside our house that night. We didn’t know anything about it. When we walked outside our front door that night, there were people on our lawn with candles”.
“One phone call by the Abbott to our church and everyone who needed to know, knew. We didn’t have to make the calls. And the youth pastor, children’s pastor, and each child’s best friend made it to our house within moments of our kids getting the news. Held them while they screamed. Stayed for hours.”
“I was most grateful to the hospice worker who offered to pack up the hospital room for us and deliver our belongings back to us at home.”
“My pastors wife said ‘lean into your grief, and onto the Lord’–these words carry me to this day, almost 7 years later. My sister came over, and never left my side until after the funeral.”
“My daughter was in a car accident. The owner of the house where the accident was came out held her hand and prayed with her. I am so grateful to him for giving her peace at that moment.”
“A coworker came and she did not come empty-handed, she brought two things: a box of tissues and a bottle of wine. I was grateful for both. She sat and cried with me and I didn’t feel like I had to be brave or consider other people’s feelings if I was breaking down. She didn’t try to hug me or shush me when I would cry– she’d just cried with me, handed me tissues, and she would pour glasses of wine and we would talk and laugh and cry. There was another young lady who came looking for my youngest son who has just lost his only brother and he had locked himself away in his room she pulled us all together and taught us how to play a card game none of us knew how to play. But it was such a good distraction and it pulled my son out of his self-imposed isolation.”
“To give you some background: it was the summer before my son’s freshman year and we lived in a tourist town on the coast. We were coming back from the bigger hospital he had been transported to. When we crossed the bridge to our hometown, we came up on a group of teenagers. Hundreds of kids and some adults had begun a candlelight walk on the sidewalk that runs pretty much the whole town of Emerald Isle, NC. People just kept coming. It was amazing. Even the tourists were moved by this impromptu event. The kids sent out the message through social media.”
“I have a long distance friend who has written a psalm a day. It’s been 3 months and she’s still sending them.”
“We also had a lady at the church quietly give us random care packages over the months. No words, just thought. It is very sweet.”
“My son was an avid reader and a friend of mine had bookmarks made with his picture and the footsteps poem on the back to distribute at the viewing. I will cherish that gift forever.”
“One of our son’s best friends somehow managed to have HUNDREDS of rubber bracelets made up that had his name and life verse embossed on them, and he gave them to people at the reception following the memorial. At the time, I thought, ‘That’s nice, but what are we going to do with them?’ I still see people wearing them, and when anyone asks me about mine, I tell his story and give it away.”
“At the cemetery after the graveside service I was having a very difficult time leaving. I knew I could not stand to watch the casket being lowered into the ground yet I could not bring myself to leave. A dear friend and a fellow pediatric cancer mother offered to stay at the cemetery until our son was buried. Long after everyone left she offered to stay until the end. As crazy as this sounds I knew my son would not be alone and I was able to leave knowing that someone was with him.”
“Our family has had a “secret angel” who every month on the 20th which is the day of our son’s passing has brought a red bag and left it on our porch. Inside the red bag has been something small for our family or something for the foundation that we started in our son’s name. It’s never been about the gift received but about someone remembering our son…every month for 5 years and 5 months we have received one of these bags. It has meant a lot to our family and truly has helped us to heal.”
“A hairdresser friend cut a lock of my daughter’s hair (with our permission). She placed some in heart shaped lockets along with meaningful small charms (think Origami Owl). We treasure these pieces.”
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. When we lost Dominic, there were many who blessed us in ways that I can only describe as offerings poured into our lives from the bountiful love of Christ:
It was important to me that we held the funeral in a church and not a funeral home. Even though it meant making accomodations in a busy Easter weekend service schedule, we were made to feel welcome–we had visitation for four hours on Easter Sunday evening.
Three churches participated in making food and hosting a meal after the burial. The Body of Christ worked in unity to bless us.
Like many parents, I had never considered where I would bury my child. But local pastors graciously guided our family through procurring a burial plot just a mile from our house. Even though I firmly believe that Dominic is not there–just the empty shell that once housed his essence–it comforts me to know he’s not far from home.
Dominic’s friends from The University of Alabama School of Law quietly arranged for me to receive his diploma posthumously. Dominic was honored during the ceremony and his name was called along with his classmates at graduation. I will cherish their kindness as long as I live.
I believe that God honors these offerings.
I believe He smiles when His children love one another in sacrificial and extravagant ways.
I believe it is a fragrant aroma, wafting to heaven and drawing others near to the foot of the cross.
[Jesus said] “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”
John 13:34-35 AMP