I heard a message once that faith does not make the grief hurt any less, and I appreciate the honesty of that because I think we do people an unspeakable disservice when we assume that faith somehow ought to make it less painful of a road to walk.
Whatever is unnamed, undepicted in images, whatever is omitted from biography, censored in collections of letters, whatever is misnamed as something else, made difficult-to-come-by, whatever is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying language - - this will become, not merely unspoken, but unspeakable.
Much of the Christian theology out there these days suggests we are exempt from tragedies happening if we are a child of God. It's like double trouble being a Christian:
A) Tragedy is not "supposed" to happen to a Christian.
B) If it does, then it's not supposed to hurt!
"Well, isn't it supposed to make a difference that you have God?!"
Thankfully, God does not ask us to mince words with our pain. He encourages us to be real, and to reach out to other broken hearts like ours.
"Each of us has difficult times in our lives. Most of us simply keep it inside. May your hard spot be softened.. for that's the only way to heal. I know this to be true."
"This is an excerpt from a chapter that captures the initial deep question that (was) posed to ourselves (or better yet, was thrust at us; and against which we were forced to respond.)
"Though deeply and profoundly sad (a sadness from which I wondered at times if I could ever survive.)"
"At 27 years of age, our beautiful, beautiful boy, Nate, was dead apparently because of drugs. My mind stopped. My heart nearly did, as well. How had our family come to this? I was a leader in the national pro-family movement. I loved my son. What happened to our intentional, planned and purposeful parenting? All the family legislation and marriage conferences we worked on, suddenly seemed to amount to nothing; all the home schooling, all the summer vacation bible schools, all our parental warnings of the outside world and all the energy in constructing a godly Christian barrier to that world, seemingly amounted to nothing.
"Why had all our efforts not worked?"
Dennis Mansfield's book, Beautiful Nate: A Memoir of a Family's Love, A Life Lost, and Eternal Promises is to come out in March, 2013. Thank you Dennis for your contribution to the bereaved parents' journey.