Trust After Loss: Admit the Pain

Child loss is Unnatural-no way around it.

Out of order death is devastating.

When my perfectly healthy, strong and gifted son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on April 12. 2014 my world fell apart.  My heart shattered into a million pieces.  And after three and a half years, I’ve yet to even FIND all of those pieces much less put them back together.

So what does a heart do when that happens?  Because, try as I might, I cannot stop time. 

Even THAT awful day only lasted 24 hours.

When the sun rose again, the pain was still there.  And behind that pain and mixed with it was something else-disappointment, disaffection, distrust.

Where were You, God???

God is sovereign-He rules.

God is good-He loves.

How do those two truths live together in a universe that includes child loss? How can I trust the rest of my life and my eternal future to a God who lets this happen?

It’s a process.  And it takes time.  It involves purposeful choices by me to place my heart where it can hear truth even when it doesn’t want to hear and doubts every word.

The first step toward trusting again is to ADMIT THE PAIN.

You may be thinking, “Are you crazy?”.   

“Of course I know I’m hurting-my child is no longer here!”

But that’s the easy pain to recognize and own up to.  For those of us who have swallowed the western church model of “Sunshine Christianity”*, we will have a much harder time admitting our dismay that as victors in Jesus we feel discouraged, defeated and disgusted.

And should we dare to whisper it aloud we may well be shouted down by voices afraid to hear what they themselves sometimes secretly think but never speak.  So we convince our hearts these are phantom pains like those of a lost limb and try to ignore them.

But they will not be ignored.

The Bible is full of broken people bringing their hearts and their hurts to God.

  • He doesn’t despise my pain.
  • He doesn’t turn away from my tears.
  • He doesn’t hurry me through hearbreak.

Death is awful!  We dare not make it small!

It was the penalty for sin and the price of salvation.  To deny the presence of pain is to diminish the power of the cross.

I must admit my pain:

  • Own it.
  • Feel it.
  • Name it.
  • Speak it.

I’m not the first nor will I be the last to wonder about where God is and what He is doing.  Nicolas Wolterstorff’s adult son was killed in a climbing accident and his little book, Lament for a Son, was one of the best I have read in grief.

It struck a chord with me both because of the similarity of our loss and his honesty in exploring the edges of pain and doubt.

He writes:

Will my eyes adjust to this darkness?  Will I find you in the dark-not in the streaks of light which remain, but in the darkness?  Has anyone ever found you there?  Did they love what they saw?  Did they see love?  And are there songs for singing when the light has gone dim?  Or in the dark, is it best to wait in silence?

Noon has darkened.  As fast as they could say, “He’s dead”, the light dimmed.  And where are you in the darkness?  I learned to spy you in the light.  Here in this darkness, I cannot find you.  If I had never looked for you, or looked but never found, I would not feel this pain of your absence.  Or is it not your absence in which I dwell, but your elusive troubling presence?

Nicholas Wolterstorff, LAMENT FOR A SON

C.S. Lewis wrote A Grief Observed after the loss of his wife, Joy.  And he also is honest and raw-asking aloud the questions that hide in our hearts, admitting the fear that the God we serve may not be the God we thought we knew.  

Giants in faith-both men. 

Yet they, like us, had to bring the shattered pieces of their broken hearts to the foot of the cross and beg God to put them back together. 

Admit the pain. 

God already knows.  

god shouts in pain cs lewis

*Sunshine Christianity is the notion that once one belongs to Jesus the road is smooth (God can make a way), the path clear of obstacles (if you have enough faith), and if I simply claim the promises of Scripture I have victory over every circumstance.  It does not square with either Jesus’ own experience nor that of the 12 apostles.

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.

15 thoughts on “Trust After Loss: Admit the Pain”

  1. Thank you, Melanie. It’s with your help that I’ve been learning to listen and trust after the death of my son. You are right on when you say, “the God we serve may not be the God we thought we knew.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a hard time believing psalms :16 where it says God knows the days numbered for us. I’ve been told the literal meaning is he knows the day we will die. So He basically lets a baby go full term them die. Or a child is murdered or killed & he knew He would only live so long. Or a small child would only live to be a certain age. How is one to understand or explain that – just say it was their time for God?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will try to explain my understanding and interpretation of that verse in as short a space as I can. I personally do not believe that God has predetermined our days. I believe that God, Who is outside time and able to see the end from the beginning, KNOWS when our lives will end. Could He intervene at any moment and change that? Yes! But does He? I don’t know-we can never know how many times death was close to us and yet did not touch us. A walk in the woods and a snake nearby, a deadly bacteria that doesn’t enter our body, a genetic mutation that never results in disease….the list is endless. But there is a day when each of us will die (unless the Lord returns). And that day is known in advance to God. So from my perspective my son’s death was an accident. But not from God’s. It’s hard to accept and hard to understand but that’s how I interpret it. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie, I’ve been following you for a couple of months now and I love your blog. So much of what you say rings true for me, however, I’m finding it difficult to trust – especially in God because my son, age 33, was murdered for no other reason but an attempted robbery gone wrong. He was ambushed by two teenagers on crime spree. I ask myself (and God) every day why bad things happen to innocent people. Not only in my case but around the world. Will I ever understand God’s will?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hello girl was murdered by serial killer +dumped + was
      5 weeks before she was of course i didnt get 2 say goodbye,
      identified by dental records. perhap im on the wrong bereavement site
      as i want to make it clear ive always been an ATHEIST ,will never change my
      views reg that but i respect others reg their faiths so please respect mine.
      with a terminally illness 1 is prepared +can say goodbye,a sudden
      accident or sudden health problem or even worse the way it happened
      with our children,MURDER on purpose,delibarate at the hands of some
      evil being,well it dosent make sense. ive always been kind good to people
      +perhaps too trusting +have had so many other bad things happen to
      me since age 10.but this MURDER just makes me feel like ending my
      life,i dont no how much longer il go on.yet ive met many evil people
      +heard reg evil others ,how they have long healthy lives that they dont
      deserve to have,etc, +yet nothing bad happens to them.wheres the sense
      in that. please DONT mention religion if u reply.THANKS


      1. I respect your beliefs but do not share them. My blog is written from a Christian perspective because those are my beliefs. I am so very sorry for the way your child was taken from you- horrible and heartbreaking! I won’t try to gloss over the difficulty of squaring God’s sovereignty, love and goodness with the evil of this world. If you are so inclined you are welcome to read other posts I’ve written about this subject by putting words in the “ search” bar of the blog. I do hope that you will allow the Lord to touch your heart and draw you to Himself. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I am so sorry that I didn’t reply to you when you wrote this comment! Sometimes they slip by me. I’m not sure any of us will ever fully comprehend God’s will this side of eternity when His Presence will fill us to overflowing and the answers will either be provided or won’t matter. I am so sorry for the way your child left this world. It’s heartbreaking and I don’t understand either. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. After Jacob’s death I struggled with my version of “sunshine christianity”. Initially I was too shattered to do anything but cling to the hope found in Christ …. but after the numbness wore off I began to question God and my beliefs. Somehow I knew it was “me” and not God. I did not walk away…. but I so struggled. One of my main misinterpretations was Jeremiah 29:11. Somehow or another I had deluded myself to embrace that my children were all guaranteed a “hope and a future”. Jacob (my baby) dying in a single car collision at the age of 22 did not jive with “my” promises. Not sure if others out there struggled with this or not but I found a wonderful message online that dealt with my “twisted thinking” and I’m including a link here.
    One of my regrets is that I had not “dug my well before I got thirsty” , but God is able to carry us through if we just lean into him. Thank you for your willingness to write for those of us who grieve along with you.
    The link did not work… here is the name of the series “Twisted” at Life.Church.

    Liked by 2 people

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