A sweet friend made sure I had Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book, Lament for a Son, in my hands just days after Dominic’s accident. And it was one of the most helpful, kindest gifts I ever received. It still lives by my chair and I look at it often.
It might have been the similarities in circumstances that took our sons-his died in a mountain climbing accident, mine in a motorcycle accident-or it might have been our shared theology, but when I read his words, they spoke my heart.
A professor of philosophy and a believer in Christ, he refuses to gloss over the hard edges of grief and pain. He faces the questions head-on and brings me with him into the dark chamber of sorrow, letting me sit in silence and feel the heaviness of loss.
He does not wrap his experience up into a tidy package.
It may be counter-intuitive to those who have not experienced child loss to know that I find his lack of tidy ending MORE encouraging than the books I read that try to tell me it will all be just fine.
Because my heart screams that it will NOT be “fine” this side of heaven. I will NOT understand this side of heaven. I WILL NOT be satisfied with any answer this side of heaven.
There are many quotes from this book that speak to my heart, but this one sums up so much of what I am learning through loss:
If sympathy for the world’s wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experience of death comes nothing good, then death has won. Then death, be proud.
So I shall struggle to live the reality of Christ’s rising and death’s dying. In my living, my son’s dying will not be the last word. But as I rise up, I bear the wounds of his death. My rising does not remove them. They mark me. If you want to know who I am, put your hand in.
~Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son
As I wrote on Dominic’s first Remembrance Day, April 12, 2015:
Two truths have been burned on my Soul. One, broken hearts still beat. We are surrounded by wounded people. Walking gently through this life is the greatest blessing we can give to one another.
And two, LOVE WINS. There is no force as strong or attractive or eternal as love. God’s love for us and our love for Him and one another will be the song we sing forever. It would behoove us all to learn it here on earth.
I am not who I was two years ago.
My heart has been both broken and made larger.
My eyes see the pain in the eyes of those around me. My ears hear the strain in a muttered, “I’m fine.”
I have no patience for petty disputes and silly games. I am more empty of envy and more full of love.
And my arms reach further and wider to embrace and encourage the wounded.
As I have been comforted, I want to comfort others.
Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as Christ’s sufferings are ours in abundance [as they overflow to His followers], so also our comfort [our reassurance, our encouragement, our consolation] is abundant through Christ [it is truly more than enough to endure what we must].
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 AMP