(1.5 second flight of an eagle into our backyard.
This bird then perched for a half hour in one of our tall cottonwood trees.)
I am a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. My son David was stillborn. I held his body in my arms and said goodbye... for now.
This ungodly event, 26 years ago, sent Linda and I into the light-impoverished place of grief. I was asked to be a pastor for Sparrow Hospital's "HOPING" group to parents who lost children in the Mid-Michigan Neonatal ICU in Lansing. Linda and I met with many who suffered these great losses.
Along the way God helped me through some books. They include:
- A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis. In the 1970s I was in a bookstore and saw a first edition of this book, written by N.W. Clerk. It was $15. I didn't buy it! Lewis used this pseudonym so as not to freak people out over his frank expression of doubt and struggle at the loss of his wife. God has used this little book, Lewis's journal entries, to comfort many grieving people, including me.
- Lament For a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff. Wolterstorff is a Jesus-follower and a professor of philosophy at Yale. He here reflects on the loss of his 25-year-old son to a mountain climbing accident.
- A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken. This is an excruciatingly beautiful and helpful book on the loss of Vanauken's wife
- I'll Hold You in Heaven: Healing and Hope for the Parent Who has Lost a Child through Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Abortion or Early Infant Death, by Jack Hayford. This was the little book that helped Linda and I the most after our son David's death.
- Broken In the Right Place, by Alan Nelson. While this book is not essentially focused on grief, it does relate to sufferings and trials we go through, and God's redemptive activity in their midst. In doing an amazon search I just found and ordered Embracing Brokenness, by Alan Nelson (Foreward by Eugene Peterson).
- A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Jerry Sittser. My friend Don Follis told me about this book. Linda just finished it. I haven't read it yet. Linda thought it was among the very best. We'll be referring it to many.
- Don't Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart: How to Relate to Those Who Are Suffering, by Kenneth Haugk. Another recommendation from Don Follis. We haven't read it yet. Haugk's Journeying Through Grief also looks good.
- Good Grief, by Ben Witherington. Forthcoming, as an e-book. This will be Witherington's collected writings on the loss of his daughter.
- A Cry of Absence: Reflections for the Winter of the Heart, by Martin Marty. Recommended to me by Elmo Familiaran.
- The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society, by Henri Nouwen. The is the classic text on ministering to others out of our own grief; through our stripes, others are healed.