We heard word at church this morning about a bus accident in Indianapolis, where a bus bringing teens and young adults back from a week at camp overturned. At the moment I write this, 3 people have passed away. 2 of those are the youth pastor and his wife, who leave behind a young son. (If you want the story, one place is here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/27/3-killed-in-indianapolis-bus-accident/2592733/)
These would be decent people. Sometimes it’s hard when this happens, and we all ask questions like “Why?” It might be “Why them?” All of us who have lost children will ask forever “Why us?” Seeing this story brought a quick thought to mind.
Theologically, there’s an easy overall why. We live in a world cursed by sin, and sin brought about death (see Romans 5:12). I remember a really hard day at UPS where my crew and I were just getting slaughtered by cardboard (we would often say ‘baptized (immersion-style) by cardboard’). A buddy across the rollers from me just went off and started yelling, “Thanks for the sin, Adam. Thanks a lot! This could have been pleasant, could have been fun, but you had to go screw it all up!” Then he turned to me and said “First thing I do when I get to Heaven is punch Adam right in the face and say “Thanks for the sin, Adam! Thanks a lot!”
He was a little bit angry, and there are some theological issues there, but that’s the overall reason. Adam messed it all up. Then Jesus paid for all of it, but Adam brought us this mess. That’s the overall reason.
In terms of each one of us, there really isn’t a specific answer. It tends to remain a huge mystery, and that might be for the best. I’m not sure that I could handle an actual specific answer.
But one thing often occurs to us parents of loss at a time like this. It’s easy to blame ourselves and think or feel that we messed the whole thing up. People might ask if a pregnant mom ate the wrong thing, didn’t rest enough, didn’t do this or that, maybe did too much of this or that. Really, the whole point that occurred to me to is simple……
Don’t do that. Death happens, even the terrible ones that we’re all living with. When those darkest moments happen, and they always do, don’t fall for the trap that says you’re the reason that your baby died. You’re not. Don’t go there.
In a way, that provides me comfort beyond searching for answers. Doria’s death wasn’t preventable. That was going to happen, and saving her wasn’t ever possible. Frankly, the only answers that could point to us doing something wrong involve blaming Doria’s mom, and there’s no way I’m going there. For the record, if you’re going there with the mother of your child, you need to stop and never go there again.
If you’re wondering about why, that’s OK. We all wonder why. It’s as normal as can be. The reasons aren’t clear, and they probably never will be. As a research guy, that bugs me, until I pondered out the possibilities. Then I became more OK with it.
If you’re blaming yourself, though, that’s less OK. It’s normal, but you don’t want to stay there. That’s the most horrible comforting thing I know how to say.
It’s not your fault. You did not kill your child. Death happens to the best of us, whoever the best would be.
OK. “Rant” is finished. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame each other. Be there for each other, because the grief walk is hard enough without the extra baggage.