I first shared this some years ago as I was beginning to work through the theological implications of a God who did not intervene to save my son.
I thought I understood who God was and how He worked in the world because nothing that had happened to me challenged those assumptions. Things were neat and tidy with clear edges that demarcated “those who love God” and “those who refuse Him”.
But God is not confined to a box I or any other human can construct. He is GOD.
That’s a hard, hard truth to digest but it is truth.
It’s possible that you haven’t thought of it this way, but if you are a believer in Christ and have yet to walk through faith-shattering trials, you may have placed God in a box.
I know I had.
I thought that after decades of walking with Jesus, reading and studying Scripture and wading through some fairly significant trials I had God pretty well figured out.
I could quote verses for every occasion, open my Bible to any book without looking in the Table of Contents, and had something sprirtual to say about everything.
I think it was somewhere around two months from Dominic’s departure when my heart realized life was moving forward whether I granted permission or not.
Not only folks on the fringes and the “bigger world out there” but close by-in my own family, my own circle of intimate friends-people were making plans, having birthdays, going places and doing things.
I read A GRIEF OBSERVED in my 30’s as another in a long list of “Books You Should Read”. I gleaned a bit here or there that I thought might be of use later on.
But when Dominic ran ahead to heaven, it was the first book on grief I bought for myself and I read it like a starving man set down to a full table.
This passage, in particular, was helpful in understanding how my absolute trust in theFACTof ultimate redemption of my pain and sorrow did absolutely NOTHING to take away the pain and sorrow-it only made it bearable.
If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.
I think it was second grade when I started a notebook dedicated to them-carefully copying out the words of others that spoke the truths of my own heart. Although the topics which draw me are different now, I’m still collecting them.
So here are fifteen quotes on grief that I hope will help another heart:
I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache and about lying awake.’
That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer.
I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.
C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.
Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son
You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.
They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite
Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince
What an awful thing then, being there in our house together with our daughter gone, trying to be equal to so many sudden orders of sorrow, any one of which alone would have wrenched us from our fragile orbits around each other.
Paul Harding, Enon
This was how to help a family who has just lost their child. Wash the clothes, make soup. Don’t ask them what they need, bring them what they need. Keep them warm. Listen to them rant, and cry, and tell their story over and over.
Ann Hood, The Obituary Writer
I guess I always thought it would be bigger, when a terrible thing happened. Didn’t you think so? Doesn’t it seem like houses ought to be caving in, and lightning and thunder, and people tearing their hair in the street? I never – I never thought it would be this small, did you?
Dan Chaon, Stay Awake
There are no words, not in English, Spanish, Arabic, or Hebrew, that have been invented to explain what it’s like to lose a child. The nightmarish heartache of it. The unexplainable trepidation that follows. No mother loses a child without believing she failed as a parent. No father loses a child without believing he failed to protect his family from pain. The child may be gone, but the years the child were meant to live remain behind, solid in the mind like an aging ghost. The birthdays, the holidays, the last days of school—they all remain, circled in red lipstick on a calendar nailed to the wall. A constant shadow that grows, even in the dark. As I was saying…there are no words.