Death Is Awful

I have friends who have not only buried a child (some have buried more than one) but have also buried parents, siblings, in-laws and other people close to their hearts in a very short span of time.

And I am appalled when they recite the trite comments doled out by others meant to patch broken hearts and sweep the leftover pieces under the rug of social propriety.

Let me just say this:  Death.  Is.  Awful.

Full stop.  No easy change of subject or laughter allowed to make the hearing of it softer.

It should be hard.

It should make us pause.

We should stop in our tracks to acknowledge the passing of the breath of God from a person’s body.

Death is an unavoidable reminder that the world is not as God intended it to be.  It’s a reminder of the cost of sin.  It’s a reminder that our time is short.  And it’s a reminder that we are NOT in control.

Those are very uncomfortable truths.

My hope in Christ makes those truths bearable but it does not make facing the death of those I love hurt less.

A broken heart is a perfectly natural and reasonable response to the awfulness of death and to the absence of the presence of one I love. Great grief is the price of great love.  

There’s a scene in The Magician’s Nephew where a little boy named Digory meets Aslan. His mother is sick, and he wants to ask for Aslan’s help, but he’s afraid. Lewis writes:

Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. “My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.”

For those outside this great grief, it seems helpful to toss words like bandaids but it’s not.

I’m sure you mean well when you try to circumscribe my grief-to give limits to its expression and duration.

But unrealistic expectations make it more difficult to bear the burden I’m already carrying. Your words add to this weight of sorrow and pain that I cannot untie from my bent back.

carrying-a-heavy-load

Presence-often SILENT presence-is the balm for my wounded soul.

But please: Don’t say it’s not really so bad. Because it is. Death is awful, demonic. If you think your task as 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

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

10 thoughts on “Death Is Awful”

  1. Unfortunately I too have experienced this pain. My son passed away on May 3,3018. I had a stroke on May 16th after his death. My brother lost his battle to cancer on June 12th and my brother in law passed on June 28th. I’m immersed in my own pain barely having any time to grieve the loss of my son then I have to make the arrangements for my brother because my 72year old mother can’t Then I can’t grieve for my son or brother because my brother in law passed and once again I have to make all the arrangements for him of course my husband is next to me but I just want to run away from all this mayhem and responsibilities of making final arrangements for not not just my son but my brother and brother in law. It’s been a year since my sons death and it’s just as difficult as the day he passed away. I can’t bring myself to go back to work. I barely want to leave the house. I want to be there for my mother but I’m having a hard time with my grief that I can’t offer her as much support as I would like too. I can only hope no parent ever has to feel the pain of losing a child. Thanks for letting me share

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    1. You are experiencing something called “compound grief”. When there are multiple losses in a short span of time our hearts can’t begin to process the first one before we are knocked down again. Praying that the Lord wraps His loving arms around you and that He overwhelms your heart with His grace and mercy. ❤️

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  2. Thank you so much, Melanie. I just lost my daughter, Jessy, on January 29 of this year. Don’t feel much of anything for the Holidays. She was my youngest, only 25 and always the life of the party. Feels like the party’s over. I know that I will make it through as I have 3 children on Earth and 4 grandchildren. My daughter, Laura named my granddaughter, Jessy ,which is a wonderful tribute. Thank you again and may we all make it through. Love from Janet ❤

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  3. Why do we have to be members of this club? The emotional rollercoaster is maddening. Its so hard to comprehend that my son is really gone, dead, with us no more. Its so hard to put into words, I just tell people, “It’s a trip.”

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    1. Oh Shanen! I don’t know why we have to bear this pain. I am so very sorry. I was the one who made the phone calls to family after we got the news so I had to say, over and over, “I have something terrible to tell you. Dominic is dead.” I can’t even type it without my heart racing and tears close to three years later. I’m still learning to understand what it means for him to be “gone”. Sometimes it seems he’s just “not here” but not really “gone”. And then I remind myself that’s not true. I know he’s safe in heaven with Jesus and I will join him. But I miss him very much. Hugs and love dear one. So, so sorry for your loss and your pain.

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  4. Please keep writing- your words are a balm for my wounded soul.
    Thank you, Melanie, for pouring out your grief, it makes me feel so understood. Know that you are heard and appreciated. I offer back my mostly silent presence, as comfort, as we sit on this awful mourning bench.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I wish no one had to bear this pain of child loss. It is helpful to know we are not alone. Somehow that makes me brave, even as it saddens me to know others carry the same load. May the Lord give you strength for each new day and may you feel His loving arms around you and upholding you.

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    2. I have suffered 2 losses 23 years apart. My husband died back in 2005 and my grandson just died last July 2018. Even tho I miss my husband losing my 21 year old grandson devastated me. He had been suffering from a mental illness(bi-polar) and had a hard time taking his medication as prescribed and accidentally took too much. Three of his meds were found in his system and he overtook one of them that led to his falling asleep and never waking up. He was my daughter’s only child and they were very close. She was a single mother with shared custody with his father. Unfortunately he had inherited the mental illness from her and it was hard for her to deal with. She was a great mom and he was her whole world. Because it was so sudden it was a shock for our whole family and our grief is overwhelming. She came to live with my son and I and we are giving her all the time she needs to grieve.

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      1. I am so very sorry for your pain and your loss. What a precious gift you are giving your daughter-a safe space and all the time she needs! I pray that the Lord wraps His loving arms around you all and that He helps your hearts hold onto hope in this Valley. ❤

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