Two years ago I received the worst news of my life. My son had a disease that is practically incurable for science: bone cancer. He was in treatment for two years, but finally my beloved son died. When I got the news, it hurt me very much. I blamed God, and then had to ask Him to forgive me.

When I talk about my son, I still feel such sadness and pain. I know that I will see him again some day, but I miss him so much and I cry. What should I do when the memories overwhelm me?

Dear Friend,

We are so very sorry for your loss! The death of a child is the most difficult one to deal with because it seems so premature. We expect our parents to die. And we expect older people to die. But we never expect that our children will die before we do.

Your loss is also most difficult because you wonder how that child’s life would have turned out. You mourn the fact that he will never get married, never have children, and never have a chance to experience life as an adult.

As most people do at first, you blamed God. After any untimely death, we want to blame someone. We want someone to be responsible so that we can take out our anger on them. But you came to realize that it was not God who brought about your son’s disease or his death. Our environment, our genetics, and our lifestyles can explain some kinds of cancers, but much is still unknown about other kinds. As you said, science has not yet found all the cures.

Of course you still miss your son! And of course you cry and the memories overwhelm you! He grew in your womb and in your heart, and then was abruptly ripped from you. You should expect to feel that sadness and pain for the rest of your life.

So, you asked what you can do. First, don’t expect to “get over it.” Time will dull the ache, but it will never go away. And second, use the energy that comes from the pain to make a difference for some other person in your world.

We have friends who lost their son, Charlie, to disease when he was twelve years old. Charlie had many little friends who often didn’t have enough to eat. So he would give them his lunch, even though he was hungry himself. After Charlie died, his parents were understandably devastated, but they felt that God wanted them to continue giving lunches to the hungry children just as Charlie would have done. A few children turned into many children, and eventually they began an organization called Charlie’s Lunch, which now feeds hundreds of children in Central America, Africa and Asia. Their pain hasn’t gone away, but Charlie’s parents have turned the pain into something that saves other children from starvation and death. Because of Charlie’s life and death, other children will live, and other mothers will be spared the excruciating pain of losing a child.

Ask God to help you find a way to change another person’s life in memory of your son. For James the apostle taught, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”(1)

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles
1 Jas 1:27