Thinking Out Loud

May 8, 2010

The Grief Ripple

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:56 pm

A year ago at this time I was asking blog readers to join us in praying for Ben Elliott, an 18-year old who was stricken with leukemia.   Ben and my oldest son Chris were briefly in the same Sunday School class together.    Sadly, Ben’s body lost the fight; it would be wrong to say that Ben did, Ben really didn’t lose anything.

But his family definitely felt a loss.   In the time leading up to Ben’s death, his mom, Lisa, kept a Facebook page going titled “Pray for Benjamin Elliott.”   In it she chronicled all of the medical and emotional highs and lows of Ben’s battle with this disease.   Afterward, she kept posting articles and the page was renamed, “The Ben Ripple.”   Like the concentric circles radiating from the a center, there have been many, many ripple effects from all who were involved in or heard about Ben’s life and passing.

My wife forwards these to me, as I’m not on Facebook, and I was struck by something this week that was so trivial that Lisa had placed it in parenthesis.   I want to release it from its parenthesis for your consideration:

…Have you ever given thought to the fact that there’s no word to define a grieving parent? Someone who has lost parents is called “an orphan”. Those who have lost spouses are called “widows” or “widowers”. But there is no word that depicts what it is to be someone who has lost a child. Hmmm

In all of the debate over the doctrine of God in The Shack, many people missed the author’s primary purpose:  Dealing with “the great sadness” that presents itself in many of our lives.    It may be a loss such as Lisa and her family must deal with.   It may be relationship that ended, or one that never happened, or the one you’re in that leaves you totally unfulfilled.   It may be the children you lost in childbirth, or were never able to conceive.   It may be the opportunity that passed you by, the business that failed, the promotion that you didn’t get.    No matter what, many have a “great sadness” in their life, and often find ourselves saying, as Lisa put it so well:

There’s no word to define it.

All we can do is cry out to God:

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.   (Rom 8: 26-27)

If you wish to read some very well-written expressions of a mother’s pain in the loss of a son, I cannot recommend Lisa’s page enough. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere online I can direct you at this point, other than to join the Facebook group and subscribe to future items.   If you live in Ontario, Canada; Lisa is available as a public speaker for events including all-day women’s retreats.

If you got here from WordPress or Google tag-surfing, and you’re going through your own great sadness, let me encourage you not to “write off” Jesus just because of some previous experience with church or organized religion.    Speak to him in prayer, believing he hears our cries, and trust him to meet you in some way.   Leave a comment here and I’ll send you some off-the-blog possible next steps.

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