A mate from long ago sent me a message on Face Book tonight, telling me about the loss of a mutual friends son to a motorcycle accident. I haven’t spoken to my mate for around 4 years now, and despite the circumstances surrounding the conversation, it was really good to talk once again.
I haven’t seen my friends who lost their son for over 13 years now and was gutted to hear the news. Though, I haven’t seen them for ages, I still reminisce when talking about the past about our many escapades. I remember the night we celebrated his sons birth. His first born. A group of us went for a drive in the small work truck, and we passed this dirty big cigar around and a bottle of scotch as we celebrated his son. (I wasn’t drinking while driving. ) And I remember the trouble I got into from the boss the next morning when he discovered a huge layer of cigar ash over the interior of the truck, and how ill I felt as I cleaned it after having little sleep that night.
It was around 7 years later that my own son was born, and I remember the joy I had as I held him in for the first time in my arms. I was filled with a rush of pleasure, joy, hopes and dreams. As well as a mixture of fears – what kind of dad would I be, am I really cut out to be a dad and a myriad of other thoughts at the time.
One thing for sure as a dad holding my first born, I never thought about ever having to bury my son. And I am sure my friends as they raised their children ever thought the same. Oh, for sure as a parent, I have had times of fear for my children, where I send up a quick urgent prayer to keep them safe. Indeed I was a rat bag of a son, and had my parents worried silly over my antics as a teenager and young adult. And now as my eldest son journeys through his teenage years, I have a mixture of fears and anxieties that raise up about him and his future. BUT, I never expect to, nor hope to bury him.
Deep down, there is something wrong for a parent to have to bury their child. We expect that we will die at an old age and it will be our children who bury us. Yet, the facts are, death is something that ultimate, it is something we cannot escape. And nor can we escape the deep grief that separates us from our loved ones. Nor can we escape the guttedness that comes our way when we come face to face with the fragility of life.
I can’t know what my friends Tracey and Grahame, and their family are going through at this moment in time. Grief and loss is a deeply personal experience and its one that is deeply isolating. It’s a pain that we each must carry and face ourselves, and by ourselves as its a pain that no one else can minimise through words and actions. Indeed its totally human to try and escape the pain, through drugs, work, alcohol, denial and a myriad of other activities – but simply put, we cannot escape it. All I know is their pain is real. Their grief immense.
Its a natural thing for us to want to deliver our friends and family from this immense pain. We want to wipe away the tears. We want to offer pithy wise advice which will have a wow factor in it. But instead, we are faced with our own fears and inadequacies. The reality is we have no pithy words to help ease the pain. We cannot wipe away their tears. All we can do is to cry with them. Give them a helping hand. Journey with them through this time. Quietly sit with them, not saying a word as they throw themselves down in a screaming match. Allow them to cry. Allow them to grieve. And in doing so, we too can allow ourselves to do the same thing.
Graham and Tracey, while I know your not religious, I pray that God will indeed strengthen you at this time. May he help you to do the things you have to do, now and into the future. I pray that he will deliver you from the false and condemning guilt which is a natural result of grief and pain. May you know and experience his peace covering over you, working through you and welling up within you and the hope we have through the resurrection of Christ.