Dearest parents suffering tragedy,
I've been mourning with you. Silent tears reach my pillow each night. Prayers that God will give you peace are whispered aloud as I go about each day. I've hugged my daughter a little tighter and a little longer lately, and we've made a game out of mommy opening her arms while she runs into them, and I'm reminded that this won't last forever. I'm reminded that at any moment, anything could happen, but I'm also reminded that she'll grow up and won't need my hugs near as often.
I see the posts on social media, and they are fickle in comparison to the deep sorrow that has enveloped you as memories of raising your child flood your mind. These posts are political rants on both sides that do not address you; rather, they address whatever one feels about an issue that comes to fruition when tragedy strikes. Perhaps it's their way of coping: ignore the sorrow, the pain, and the agony and cover it with frustration and anger over opposing views.
As a fellow parent and Christian, I can't ignore the sorrow that you're facing. My heart is broken with you.
We have become a people afraid to feel, afraid to gather as a community to rally one with another. I doubt you'll read this letter now, because nothing that you could possibly read is going to change the fact that your child is gone. I also know that you'll never fully move on from this devastating loss like many others will. In those moments, you'll reach for traces of remembrance, resurfacing articles and posts from long ago. I hope you'll find this one, and I hope you'll find grace in the midst of pain.
To those of you who lost a child in the gay club shooting, it is my hope that your community is not shunning you and the immense sorrow you face simply because your child was at a gay club. I hope Christians and nonchristians alike are standing with you and mourning with you because you've lost a huge piece of yourself. You've lost the child that you've raised-the one for which you spent countless hours nurturing-the one you sacrificed for-the one who you continued loving regardless of their sexual identity or any other defining factor. Some of you may be beating yourself up because you didn't show your adult child as much love as you could have, and I hope you give yourself some grace. You loved them immensely even if it wasn't always shown in word and action. We are all human. We are all trying to figure out this thing called life together.
To Matt and Melissa Graves, my heart grieves deeply with you, for you lost your little boy before knowing the man he'd become. It is my hope that other parents will come alongside you and comfort you, because an accident is just that, an accident. I know you'll go through the stages of grief, and you'll blame yourself for what happened, and you'll wonder the "what-if's," but it is my hope that you'll find strength, grace, and peace to face each new day without your sweet little Lane. It is my hope that you'll focus on the precious life God graced you with, and know that Lane is with the One who created him to bring brief but forever joy into your lives. Finally, it is my hope that you two, as husband and wife, will cling to one another and not let the lashing words of the media define your marriage or your parenting. You were the perfect mom and dad for Lane. I don't know why accidents happen that rip our loved ones away from us, but I do know that neither of you are at fault.
To parents all over the world who have lost a child, whether it reached the news or not, my heart hurts with you. I don't know what it's like to lose a child, and when I consider the thought, I'm overcome with sadness. I don't know why you are going through such devastating loss. I only know that clinging to Jesus in the midst of pain and surrounding yourself with the comfort of others brings healing. Today, it is my prayer that God will give each one of you strength for this day.
Grace and peace,
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble...The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." Psalm 46: 1, 11