Tuesday, August 26, 2014
An open letter to parents who have lost a child
Dear One (s)
It is a horrible tragedy when a young person dies. As parents we never expect to outlive our children, and when the death is so unexpected it is uniquely difficult. I have often wondered how I would respond if I got a knock in the middle of the night telling me my child had been killed!
I want you to know that although I cannot truly know your sorrow, I believe you as parents, and all those who are part of your family, must be in terrible pain. I have no clever answer about why such things happen. I struggle with the presence of such tragedy in the world. I suspect it is just the way it is in a world where we are given choices, and make them. And where those around us also have choices that can turn out tragically. It is the way it is in a world where illness and natural disasters occur.
The only thing I can really hold on to, as I did when my parents both died of terrible illnesses, is the fact that “nothing” as Paul says it, “can separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus”
God loves us when we are born. As we grow up. God loves us when we do well, and succeed. God loves us when we mess up and fail. God loves us in our joyful moments, and when we are in despair. When we are children connected to God, our Holy Parent, we are loved. When we have chosen to be “out there” and try it “away from home”, we are loved.
When tragedy strikes and we are ill, we are loved. When in a moment, on a dark night on a country road, something goes wrong, we are loved. In that moment of dying, we are loved. And beyond, we are loved
I believe God loved your child, and loves your child still, in that new place, that “something next” he/she is now participating in. I believe God loves you, and each person in your family who is hurting. I hope you can each feel, in some way, that love. And find some strength and peace in its presence.
I believe there are people around you who care. I believe there are people around you who are carriers of the Sacred, and who can help you find hope and healing. My prayer is that those people will find their way into your lives, and that you will recognize them when they arrive.
But mostly I wish for you, in the midst of this time, God’s presence. I would like to close by sharing with you a blessing given first (as far as I know) by John Claypool, who also lost a child.
God go before you to lead you, God go behind you to protect you, God go beneath you to support you, God go beside you to befriend you. Do not be afraid. May the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you. Do not be afraid. Amen.