Tonight I was praying for families who lost young adult children. Unfortunately, I have an idea of how to pray for them since I am one of them. Our friends have loved us well. I am grateful. As I prayed for three specific families that lost sons recently, I was thinking…
So many families lost young adult sons in our community these past few weeks. They are strong families. With strong faith. They know God and are trusting Him.
But they are hurting. They are wounded. Their hearts are crushed. Every part of them hurts now.
They will hurt for a very long time.
Please do not confuse their strength and their faith with healing.
They are broken-hearted.
Their heart will be broken for a very long time. Though they may go back to church in a week or two or three. Though they may return to their jobs. Though they may drive their other children to school and attend graduations and summer events. Though they may mow the yard and do chores. Their hearts are broken.
They are walking wounded. They are filled with pain and sorrow.
It will take a long time for their wounds to heal.
They are broken-hearted and will be for a long time.
Even after the funeral.
Even after their son is buried.
Even after the headstone is placed.
Even after they clean out their son’s apartment or dorm room or bedroom.
Even after they drive his car home filled with his belongings.
Even after they carry a death certificate into the bank to close his account and cancel his student loan account.
Yes, a death certificate. A piece of paper. An official piece of paper with son’s name, age, and birthdate. It also shows his Date of Death and Cause of Death. They will have to carry a death certificate into the bank to close his account. They will have to mail it to the student loan services organization.
And to the cell phone company to turn off his phone.
And to any utility company where he had an account.
And to the voter registrar to have his name removed from the voter rolls.
And to their employer to remove him from the company-provided health insurance.
His landlord may require proof of death.
Their auto insurance company may require proof of death if he had his own policy.
If he had a 401K or retirement account from a summer job, they will have to send in a death certificate with the appropriate forms to claim money he will never spend.
Next winter they will complete his final tax return and fill in his Date of Death in the appropriate blank. They will receive his final refund, money he earned but they will have to decide how to spend.
And they have to figure out what to do with his things – clothes he’ll never wear again, toys he’ll never play with again, books he’ll never read again. What do you with your dead kid’s possessions?
So, my friends, love them well now. Bring meals and gift cards for takeout and groceries. Send cards and notes. Send texts and messages. Love them well.
But don’t confuse their strength now with healing. It will be a very long time before they experience healing.
They are in shock surrounded by prayer and kind words.
When the shock begins to wear off they will move through life in a grief fog for a while. They may appear strong in public, at work, and at church. But trust me, they will have times of immense pain and sorrow.
They will sob to the point of dehydration.
They will want to scream because of the pain, physical pain. Deep in their chests.
Their faith will be shaken to its core.
They may even have moments when they wish they could join their child. The pain will seem unbearable.
They will cry out to God and beg Him for answers. He will answer. You don’t need to. Please don’t try to fix their pain by throwing verses at them. Let Him comfort them as only He can.
They will rethink their theology. They will question what is true and what they can trust. They will look through Scripture for truth.
And they will continue to walk with God. What choice do they have? Where else will they find true healing and peace? He is the only only Way, the only Truth, the only Life.
They will need your prayers for a very long time as they deal with the shock and fog of loss and grief.
And then next year, after all the firsts – first Mother’s Day, first day of school, first thanksgiving, first Christmas, first birthday, and the first anniversary of his death – after all the firsts, reality will set in. The reality that their son is really dead, never to return.
“The second year is the hardest,” experienced people say. They are right. It is harder than the first. The shock wears off and the fog lifts, but the pain and sorrow remain. Though it may not show to the world, the grief remains.
So, my friends, love them well. Both now and in the months to come.
And this time next year tell them you still care. Tell them you still remember. Say their son’s name. Say it loud. Say it with joy and laughter and tears.
They are broken-hearted. Love them. Love them well.
Note: The legal issues involved with losing an adult child can go on for years. Bills from the hospital and funeral home. Contracts for car loans and cell phones. Mail addressed to them may continue for years. Trials for their child’s killer. Our son has a retirement account we still have not been able to close more than three years later.
Please, pray for families who have lost children. And let them know you care even years later. Let them know you remember their child.
“I never met Andrew, but I’ve heard such wonderful things about him. I look forward to meeting him some day,” is one of the sweetest things I’ve heard lately.
We who are followers of Jesus Christ know that all disciples of Jesus never die. Their bodies die on earth, but they live on in the presence of Christ. They have eternal life! Those who have gone before us are alive in His presence and we will join them some day.