I have not had to face the loss of a child and I pray that I never have to face that in my own immediate family. I have, however, walked alongside many other families who have gone through that unspeakable loss. Whether it is a miscarriage, a still birth, a young child dying of cancer, a teenager in an accident, or a grown child dying before their parent. All are heartbreaking. All lead to the question of “why” and the debates about the fairness of life, the power and presence of God. A friend who continues to go through such a loss described their immediate life after their child died as if everything in life had gone grey. That even the light that shone through the day lost is color and vibrancy. In those circumstances, I have prayed and tried to be like Job’s friends were before they started talking – simply being present in the midst of the loss helping to assure that they are not alone.
Nouwen wrote about this heartbreaking loss in today’s devotion. He writes the following:
There probably is no greater suffering than losing a child, since it so radically interferes with the desire of a father and mother to see their child grow up to be a beautiful, healthy, mature, and loving person. The great danger is that the death of a child will take away the parents’ desire to live. It requires an enormous act of faith on the part of parents to truly believe that their children, however brief their lives, were given to them as gifts from God, to deepen and enrich their own lives.
As I read the devotion this morning, my prayers turned to my own children but also to those who grieve such a loss in their lives. Lord, in your mercy…Hear our prayer.