Most of the deaths that I have experienced in life haven't necessarily taken me by surprise. They usually were ones that either we were expecting due to an illness or it seemed somewhat natural in the sense that it was an older person passing away. Last year while we were at the Seminary fellow students of ours tragically lost their 9 year old son over Christmas break while they were on vacation in Texas. We just happened to also be spending our vacation in Texas. We were all shocked. It seemed so unnatural for someone to have bury a child. You just never expect that as a parent. How do you comfort a mother and father who just lost their son... what do you say? We ended our vacation a day early to attend the funeral of Caleb in Dallas on our way back to St. Louis. Greg and I both felt like we wanted them to have a piece of St. Louis present there, someone who knew what the funeral was like and would be willing to talk about it back in St. Louis after they returned home. We weren't particularly close to this family before Caleb's death... but definitely became closer through it. I loved hearing his parents talk about him and it was inspiring to watch them cope with the loss of their child with such a steady faith and trust in God. Who would have thought we would be in a similar situation less than a year later. Their words to us shortly after losing Samuel were such a comfort and encouragement.
Now having lost a child of my own, I have seen first hand how hard it is for people to deal with a grieving person... friend or just acquaintance. I completely understand people's uncomfortableness with death and people who are grieving, but how they react can sometimes make the grief even harder to bear. I know that may not make sense to someone who hasn't been through a loss personally.
I think most people think that someone else is reaching out to the grieving person and that is certainly easier than doing the reaching out yourself when it is intimidating. I had lunch with a woman from church this past Sunday. It was such a breath of fresh air. I had told her that I just headed up north last minute because I just needed to be with people, have the physical presence of someone with me... This dear woman on Sunday said she wanted to talk with me about Samuel and cry with me. Wow, that touched my heart. I never would have imagined the intense need and desire for me to have my son's life validated. When it comes to him I am almost like a mama bear as far as protecting his honor. His life counted even if it was only in the womb. Each day of his life was treasured and celebrated in this home. When people are too afraid to talk about him... it just doesn't feel like they think his life counted. Does that make sense? I have heard many say that they are afraid to bring it up for fear that it might make me cry. Actually to release the tears that are already on the inside would feel so good. I don't know why but I do lots of crying on my own... it is kind of nice to cry with someone sometimes. Most others are able to show off their little ones proudly... all we have is pictures and memories of sweet Samuel's life. And his life is just as precious as any of our other children.
So I have been ministered to greatly by other women who have lost children themselves. I wanted to post about 2 women that have posted on their blogs about How to help a grieving friend. I am not at all saying that people have or haven't done these things. I just know that when I read both of their posts.... I was amazed that for the most part, people who are grieving the loss of a child feel so many of the same things and desire a lot of the same things from those ministering to them in their loss. I would have to agree with almost everything that they said. I know my situation might be somewhat unique in the sense that we had only lived here 3 months before Samuel died... that didn't give us a lot of time to have a support system in place. And after the family left... it was difficult to say the least. We did have one family that was in the thick of it with us, having taken the kids and the mother even having held my sweet boy... but besides that there was a lot of talking and discussing and healing just within our immediate family.
Most likely most of us will encounter loss of some sort of have friends who have a loss personally. So I post these links just to help you in the future to know how you can minister to those who are grieving. My eyes have certainly been opened through losing Samuel. Things I would never have expected to need, I have needed. Things I would have imagined I would need, I maybe haven't needed. The first blog is www.sgirl79.blogspot.com. Stacy lost her son Isaac just a few weeks before Samuel died. Stacy just wrote a post yesterday that just had me saying... yes, yes the whole time. The other is Molly Piper, daughter in law of John Piper, the author. Her blog is www.thepipers.wordpress.com She lost her daughter Felicity 18 months ago. She also wrote a post a few weeks back entitled Grief at 17 months that opened my eyes to what a lifelong journey this really is. You will need to look on the right under top posts under How to Help a Grieving Friend. Both of these gals share with such wisdom and honestly. No pressure to read them both but I assure you, you will probably learn something new. I really wish I would have known some of these things last year when our friends lost their son. I pray that by reading them, you will be inspired in the future to be able to reach out and minister to those around you who are grieving.