The other night, while in a conversation with my new friend, Pam, she thanked me for recommending a book which I had quoted in a recent blog. I immediately confessed I had not read the book, and I had only shared a quote from it which I had written down because it made sense to me.
My friend went on to say how she purchased the book and how it spoke to her grief in many ways. Her review was enough to prompt me to once again add another book to my grief library. Lament for a Son, written by Nicholas Wolterstorff, is my newest search for comfort and after only reading the preface, I understand why Pam suggested this book to me.
Mr. Wolterstorff’s son, Eric, passed away at age 25 in 1983 after a tragic accident. Amy was not even born yet. Eric had a sister named Amy. After I read The Shack, I discovered that author also had a daughter, Amy. Seems Amy is everywhere. (Don’t mind me as I earnestly continue to connect the dots.)
Lament for a Son was published 12 years later from a journal of notes the author had written. The writings start in 1997.
What struck me was that this book spoke of this grieving parent’s pain and was not trying to sugarcoat or downplay his loss. I agree with every word he writes. This kind of writing always speaks to my broken heart and shattered life.
Mr. Wolterstorff writes:
Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he was worth grieving over. Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides.
So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it. I do not try to dis-own it. If someone asks, “Who are you, tell me about yourself,” I say — not immediately, but shortly — “I am one who lost a son.” That loss determines my identity; not all of my identity, but much of it. It belongs within my story. I struggle indeed to go beyond merely owning my grief towards owning it redemptively. But I will not and cannot disown it. I shall remember Eric. Lament is part of my life.
If she was worth loving, she is worth grieving. So, so true! Amy is impossible to put behind me, get over or ever, ever forget. Grief may be a permanent part of my new normal. Hopefully, some day, some year, a softer grief … Not this relentless monster grief which is all consuming.
He ends the preface to his book with these two short paragraphs:
A friend told me that he had given copies of Lament to all of his children. “why did you do that?” I asked. “Because it is a love song,” he said. That took me aback. But. Yes it is a love song. Every lament is a love song.
Will love songs one day no longer be laments?
My own experience with grief comes from losing a father when I was age 11; a brother who was only 35 and one year later after my sweet niece lost her 5 month old baby. That is my deepest personal experience with grief until Devastation Day hit. Losing my daughter gave me the inside view of how my mother and niece feels yet still our experiences are our own. What is our common bond would be the unimaginable pain that is reserved exclusively for losing a child. No experience in grief prepared me for this life sucking, joy stealing experience. No one could possibly understand unless they have experienced it. While I give kudos to any person who is willing to stand tough at my side and bear witness to a broken woman, you can’t see what is inside, but thank you for trying and not hiding out or slamming the door in our face.
I need to read on before I can write more about this book, but wanted to share a book that may or may not help others. Believe me, I got the memo a long time ago and know everyone travels their own crooked path. Never, ever do I presume to know the way. I can’t lead and I am a reluctant stubborn follower. All I know is that I miss my daughter, Amy, and nothing prepared me to live in a world without her physical presence.
Amy, you are my love song. You occupy a place of love in my heart. The grief is my reaction to your loss, not a testament to the love we share. Always, always remembering my sweet daughter, Amy.