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Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.

Lamentations 3:32-33

Pick up just about any book on parenting a child with special needs and you find a section or chapter dealing with grief.  That book is likely to tell you that grief is not only normal, but necessary. You had a dream for your child.  All parents do.  Your dream may have even been conceived years before your child.

  • My son will go to college.
  • My daughter will have the dance lessons I never had.
  • My child will take over the family business.

The dream is different for every parent, but you can bet no one’s wishes ever include, “My child will have a handicap or life threatening illness.”

And so your grieve the loss of your dream.  Strangely enough, however, I have met quite a few parents who feel guilty about this grief.  I have felt the guilt myself.  “My child is alive, ” we say. “I should be happy.”

Let me assure you that there is nothing wrong with grief.  God allows grief and promises to be there with us.  We need to go through this grief.  The problem comes when we grieve too long.  We wallow in grief and self-pity.  God wants us to pick ourselves up and get on with our lives.  Only in our moving forward can we truly be of us to the child who needs us.  Likewise, it is only in our moving forward that God can be glorified in our lives.  He is there to lift you up.  Just ask him.

Lord, thank you for being there in my grief.  Show me how to work through it.  Each day help me to find more to be thankful for and less to mourn.  Amen.

Cole…I Love You to the Moon and Back:  A family’s journey with childhood cancer    by Aaron Dean Ruotsala.  Xulon Press. 2009.

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that really grabs hold of your heart.   This is one of those books.  But then, during his short life, Cole Ruotsala was a very special boy. 

In June 2008, Cole celebrated his third birthday, a seemingly normal, happy, healthy little boy.  Less than three months later he was gone, but before his death he managed to touch the lives of thousands around the world.  During his 2 1/2 month battle with cancer, his CaringBridge website had over 600,000 hits — that averages out to over 7 hits a minute, every minute, 24 hours a day for over 60 days!!!  What’s more, visitor after visitor wrote on his site that his story truly changed their lives.

During my years as a librarian and a book reviewer for Library Journal, I read numerous books written by parents detailing their journey through their child’s illness or disability.  Never have I read one that held onto hope and promise on every  page like this book does.  Even through the pain of Cole’s death, his parents held onto the promise that  through their suffering God would work miracles in the lives of others.

A unique feature of this book is the inclusion of numerous notes from visitors to Cole’s CaringBridge site.  They give perspective to the effect this one little boy had on the world.

This book is a must read.  When you’ve finished it you’re likely to “hug a little tighter, love a little longer.”