A note from Kelly King: It’s been almost 25 years since one of my dearest friends experienced the death of her one-year-old son from a brain tumor. Even so, I can remember the details of that day and the grief that was present in the hospital as many gathered around them to comfort and pray. It was a stark contrast to my own life as I was nine months pregnant with my second child. Walking alongside my friend, I know I had little understanding of her pain, and my words seemed inadequate. It’s likely you will know someone who has or will experience this kind of grief as you minister to women. In today’s article, Kaye Hurta provides some perspective to all of us, whether we have experienced this kind of loss or know someone who has. She provides some excellent resources at the end, but I want to also add Angie Smith’s book, I Will Carry You.
Almost always, when I meet someone who has experienced a loss, the first words I say are, “I am so sorry for the pain of your loss.” On some occasions the only thing I can bring myself to say is, “There are no words.” That’s what I say when I am with someone who has experienced the loss of a child.
The honest truth is, I have no words now. I’m imagining you, a mom with her heart ripped out of her chest, on the other side of this screen, and I feel an ache in my own heart. To share space with you either in person or through print is a privilege and feels like sacred, tender space to me.
My personal experience with child loss is through a failed adoption (another article for another time). Therefore, I cannot speak to your loss prescriptively. I have however, walked alongside dear friends who have lost their children to death. In next week’s article I would like to speak directly to those of us who will help carry the weight of someone grieving such an unspeakable loss. But for today, if you are a grieving mother, know that you are seen and loved. While I do not know how you feel, here’s what I do know:
- This road you are walking is devastating and excruciatingly painful. It is also lonely.
- Losing a child is similar to being in a war. The battleground looks different, but the effects are just as traumatic.
- Everyone grieves differently. Even in a shared loss, the grievers grieve in isolation. This is especially true of parents grieving the loss of a child. They grieve alone, together. Nicholas Wolterstorff, a father who lost his son, writes in his book, Lament For A Son, “I have been daily grateful for the friend who remarked that grief isolates. He did not mean only that I, grieving, am isolated from you, happy. He meant also that shared grief isolates the sharers from each other.”
- Everything is normal; not everything is helpful. By this I mean, it may be normal to not want to eat for lack of appetite, but it is not helpful to your process as your body still needs to be strong and your mind still needs nutrition.
- Time does not heal this wound. Only God can do the work of healing your broken heart and binding up your wounds. One day it will fully mend, and what has been shattered will be whole; one day all wrongs will be made right.
- Until that day and along the way, your heart will find comfort. I am praying now that you are experiencing His comfort to your heart.
Because we all grieve differently, offering resources to help you process your pain is helpful to some and not to others. If you find comfort in reading about others’ experiences, consider the following resources. (These are books or blogs I have read and found helpful; this is not a LifeWay endorsement of these resources.)
- Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff
- A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser
- Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman
- Colors of Goodbye: A Memoir of Holding On, Letting Go, and Reclaiming Joy in the Wake of Loss by September Vaudrey
- God Wins…but Can I? A Mother’s Journey blog by Marie Guthrie
- The Question That Never Goes Away: WHY by Philip Yancey
I pray these help.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.