I have “met” many mothers who have written about the pain since the death of their child.
And they write about the further pain from people who have slowly distanced themselves.
Friends, even close friends, and church family … and I have wondered why.
I think I am onto something I hope will explain at least one reason.
They are afraid.
When you look at it like this, it helps you to be the bigger person. I know you don’t want to be the bigger person but you have to be or you’ll drown in sorrow. You will not get a reason why your child died and why you feel shunned by people, so you have to live with it. Understanding that fear may be partly the problem helps sympathy kick in rather than frustration, anger, discouragement, and ultimately, bitterness.
When your pain is not visible, well, people don’t see it. But you know it’s there because you feel it. Some days the pain presses down hard, but the pressure is there in some form everyday. You can tell when you don’t smile as freely as you once did. Or you find yourself staring out the window more. Or you hear yourself sigh.
Many say that the death of a child is the most unbearable kind of sadness. For every child who was healed, unscathed, or rescued from death, others died. I know many people who just move on and avoid this fact. They continue to carry the banner of faith as if tragedies don’t exist, let alone how to deal with them personally and corporately in a church setting. This kind of thinking is confusing to many who have been thrust into the dark abyss of horror – which is what it feels like when you lose a child.
People wonder, “What if it happens to me?” And so they avoid. Especially in the spirit-filled, non-denominational, word-of-faith and believing-God-for-favor Christian thinking. There is some serious energy in this camp and the mandate is to press on. If someone is paralyzed from a car accident, we don’t expect them to walk. But someone with a paralyzed heart is expected to walk without a trace of a limp because that’s the Christian thing to do. If you do show any signs of being different since your child died, eyebrows are raised and the gossip ensues. What’s wrong with her?
At his crucifixion, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know what it feels like. This isn’t an excuse because I believe we should all be learning to let experiences shape us and teach us. With the scripture, it guides and directs us in ways we may not want, but isn’t that the point? We do what God wants the way he wants because we trust him? Because we love him? Because he knows how we work best?
If I had not walked through the Valley of the Shadow of death, I would not have known the comfort of God’s rod and staff. I would not have known the green pastures and still waters. And I would not have known to not fear. Fear leaves when you’ve seen God. Therefore, I sympathize with those who are afraid. Afraid to change direction if how they are responding does not line up with what God says.
Suffering is a part of life. We don’t focus on it, we don’t dwell there. We acknowledge it, accept it, and live with it.
For those who continue to carry out their mission of faith, if you really care about hurting people around you, think about what you are doing. It does not validate those who have suffered and lost. Faith is much more than “taking mountains”. It’s continuing to believe when you’re under the mountain.
When I have read about men and women who have suffered throughout history, far greater than most of us will ever see, I am inspired by their courage which were certainly mingled with their tears.
Some are asked to carry a weight of glory. God knows who can.
And in the end, all is not lost. Take heart. We will hold our children again.