I’m So Upset Right Now I Can Hardly See Straight & Ben Witherington on Losing a Child

Yesterday’s post was viewed by thousands of people. Many more than I anticipated.

I dipped my keyboard in acid before I wrote it as I was upset . . . and I still am.

If you didn’t see it, click Rick Warren’s Horrific Tragedy & The Sickening Response of Some “Christians”

Today, I want to switch attention to the matter of losing a child. At least three Christian scholars have written on the unfathomable agony of losing a child or spouse.

Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote Lament for a Son after losing his boy (Kindle Edition).

C.S. Lewis wrote A Grief Observed after losing his beloved wife (Kindle Edition).

And not long ago, Ben Witherington and his wife Ann wrote When a Daughter Dies after losing their daughter.

ben witherington

In our day, grief is mostly privatized. But the ancients were different. They grieved in public.

All of the above embody human grief in written form. As such, they stand in the spirit of the ancients with a view to helping others handle their own grief and loss.

Ben Witherington asked me to endorse his book after it was printed, which I gladly did. Here’s what I wrote.

Every parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child. Unfortunately, this was the nightmare that befell renowned New Testament scholar Ben Witherington and his wife Ann. Writing from the pain of a recent tragedy, this tender book will touch the heart of every person who has lost a loved one. While beautifully honoring the memory of their daughter Christy, the Witheringtons also tackle the difficult questions about God’s will in such tragedies, how to handle grief, and how (not) to help others who are grieving, all within a biblical context.

If you have a story about losing a loved one (family member or close friend), and you’d like to share it with us, you may do so in the comments section. Try to keep it to three or four paragraphs as long comments are usually skipped over.

Click here to grab a copy of Ben’s book


Rick Warren’s Horrific Tragedy & The Sickening Response of Some “Christians”

If you find this post helpful, you are free to add a LINK to it on your blog or website.

Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss anything. It’s free. All Email Subscribers will receive my eBook Rethinking the Will of God (Revised) free. Also, if you are interested in setting up a new blog, click here. If you’re looking for a new hosting service or you want to buy a domain name, I recommend BlueHost, hands down.

About Frank Viola

See my About page. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Google+

  • http://theriverfellowship.com Paul Hughes

    I also highly recommend Jerry Sittser’s A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss. He has a PhD in Religion from the University of Chicago, teaches at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, and lost his wife, mother, and daughter in a car accident in 1991. (As he said, he lost part of his past, his present, and his future)

    This is a very helpful book also. Blessings.

  • Pingback: The $25,000 Give-Away()

  • http://lightfortheway-pen.blogspot.com/ Patricia

    What a wonderful reply – you had a NEW mission in life, forgiveness! We heard our oldest son scream and then immediately shoot himself to death. That’s the litmus test for the community, not just the family. It never dawned on my silly soul that good Christians were so ready to sit on God’s judgment seat! While we were simply trying to stitch our broken hearts together, some “friends” were busy ripping the fabric of our lives apart. It has been incredibly sad to see this happen to the Warrens. Personally, I believe God has a new mission for them! God has chosen this grieving family for a message of love and forgiveness that only the Warrens can give us. God bless them mightily!

  • Ben

    You’re a GREAT writer. I love your books, and have given them to many. But what I sense is not a reaction to Warren’s tragedy so much as it is a reaction to the man himself. Face it: he’s a lightning rod in many circles … as are you. If something happened to your family, might some Institutional Church lover react that that’s what you get when you call the practices of “God’s church” pagan? Of course he’d be wrong in your case, but are they always wrong who believe that God rewards theological error with human tragedy (… as He did with David)?

  • http://goministry.net Tress

    “I find it interesting that it takes these kinds of tragedies to remind us that as Christians, we deal primarily with actual human livs, not abstract ideas.” What a great thought and I appreciate you putting in words. I’ve been trying to help some people understand that while they may have some “biblical stances”, they are dealing with breathing, hurting, living, seeking human beings. And human beings cannot be summed up in a doctrinal statement.

  • http://goministry.net Tress

    My mom battled alcoholism for years. At the age of 49 she simply could not fight any longer. She chose to stop eating and only drank vodka for two weeks. As she already was just a skeleton and had cirrhosis of the liver, this was all it took for her to loose her battle on earth. It was a slow agonizing suicide. I was 27 years old with four small children and my sisters were 16 and 17. I had a mess on my hands to finish raising my sisters while raising my own children, handle my moms financial mess, work two jobs, and unfortunately go through my own divorce.
    Following my mom’s death, many people would say to me “well your mom is finally at peace”. That sentence made me so angry. “Well, that’s just great, she’s bailed on me and is at peace while I have to clean up the mess she left” was all I could think. And then there was the other end of the spectrum that it “must be hard knowing your mom isn’t in heaven because of her choosing to end her life.” Again, anger. “And exactly how is that helpful?”
    That was 17 years ago. My sisters and I have wonderful lives. I am a pastor and hospital chaplain. God has, in time, brought beauty and compassion into my heart that has enabled me to minister to other broken and devastated souls. I could have never imagined 17 years ago that life would ever be full of joy.
    And what leaves me in even more awe? Ten years following my mom’s death and well into my own healing and faith, God gave me such an amazing gift. The cry of my heart for my mom was to know if she really was at peace. I was uncertain of her salvation. The Lord gave a word to my daughter during a health crisis in which she was unconscious. She told me “God said to tell you that Grandma Linda is at peace.” My daughter never knew that was the cry of my heart and I know without a doubt that in spite of my mom taking her own life, she is with Jesus and at peace. I could not be happier for her.
    If I could tell Rick Warren’s family anything, I wish I could share that story with them. Maybe it could help in the face of the grief and the cruel words of recent.

  • Steve

    One more book to add…Richard Lischer, Duke Divinity School, has just published the story of his son’s death – Stations of the Heart. It is warm, courageous, touching, humorous and a wonderful story of life in the backdrop of death.

  • Fernando Villegas

    A Grief Observed was my introduction to C. S. Lewis. Although I have since enjoyed and been blessed by many of his better known works such as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, A Grief Observed has always had a special place in my heart. This is Lewis in his rawest, most personal, most stripped-down form. As his stepson wrote in the introduction to my edition, few could’ve written this book. Even fewer would’ve had the courage to publish it, even if they could’ve written it!

    I just went through another reading of it last year after my father passed away.

    I find it interesting that it takes these kinds tragedies to remind us that as Christians, we deal primarily with actual human lives, not abstract ideas. Maybe if we remembered that more often, we’d see more compassion and mercy in the way we communicate with each other.

  • Frank Viola

    Thank you.

  • Frank Viola

    Thx. I wasn’t angry when I posted, just hurt for the Warren’s and disgusted at how they’re being treated. Being upset in that way isn’t going away when I think about Warren and the reaction of some professing Christians to his tragedy. I haven’t written anything here that I’d change. Perhaps in a year from now, as I’m a flawed writer who is always learning how to write better. Thx. for your comment.

  • http://www.equipthem.com/blog Wes Schoel

    February 2001 was a month of intense emotion for me. During that month I traveled to the top of the emotional mountain several times and I visited the valley of despair several times. The worst of it all was the 17th of February, the day my 4-month-old grandson died of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Only hours earlier we had spent the late afternoon hours visiting my son and daughter-in-law and played with our grand-daughter and our new grand-son. Then while grilling dinner on the BBQ on our back deck, the phone rang. It was my son frantically asking us to pray. Stephen wasn’t breathing – the EMT’s were in transit. We immediately went to prayer and we prayed hard. Ultimately, Stephen never recovered. I remember seeing a room at the end of a long hospital corridor. The door was open and my son was holding his dead son in his arms. I whispered a quick prayer asking God what I should say or do. His reply was immediate, “Just love your son and daughter-in-law.” Many others in the Body of Christ would call, write, and give emotional and even financial support in the ensuing days. Comfort came in abundance.
    My son conducted the funeral for his son. I was so proud of my boy that day. But it was on that day that the unbridled tongue of the enemy was loosed upon my family and me. As Christian leaders, we were indicted by some in our own Christian circle of family and friends.. “Why hadn’t we commanded Stephen to rise from the dead?” “Why didn’t we have faith that day in the hospital?” “Was there some secret sin in our lives?” “Was God punishing us?” There were many more barbs and accusations but they need not be expounded here. But, now as I look back upon those foolish questions and accusations, I can’t help but wonder what I would have felt or thought had I not clearly heard God that sad day in the hospital when He said, “Just love your son and daughter-in-law.” He didn’t tell me to pray for healing or to raise my grandson from the dead. He said, “love.” My family weathered the storm. We are all still serving God. And we have forgiven those folks and moved on. I hope our joy and peace in the face of tragedy speak louder than our loss.

  • Ben

    Maybe when you are upset you should wait until you cool down before you post? After all, wasn’t your point that some people post things without thinking who might be offended by the post?

  • Tom

    When I lost my mom, the reality of her passing on only started to sink in about 40 days later – that I would not be seeing her in the ordinary ways I used to see her. Only after a year I finally accepted that she was gone. Although many people conveyed their sympathies I found that I could only grieve over my loss with people who also had experienced a MEANINGFUL relationship with her. Our joint grieving helped heal my heart.

  • http://thebarnabaspage.com/barnabas/ Dafydd

    See also “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sittser. Published by Zondervan