|The loss of a child raises questions that are not easily answered.|
By Fr Vito Crincoli, LC
I have always found it next
to impossible to speak to a parent who has lost
a child. It is like trying to delve into a
world that is not your own, and the more you
try to do so, the more damage you can cause.
During my pastoral internship in Mexico while I was still
a seminarian, one of the boys from our youth club
was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident while riding a
motorbike he had just received as a birthday present. His
mom had constantly fretted that at 14 years old he
was too young, but his uncle always said that if
he wore a helmet he would be fine.
an oncoming minibus made an illegal turn, crossing in front
of him. Unable to turn swiftly enough, the youngster fell.
The bus rolled over his head, crushing the helmet, and
he died instantly. The scene was gruesome: those who went
to retrieve his body were friends of the family.
the crowded funeral, friends and family alike had their eyes
on the picture placed over his coffin: a baby-faced blue-eyed
boy. If I had the ability to read minds, I
am sure that I could write a whole book out
of all the feelings that were expressed that day.
waited a while before calling his mother to give my
condolences. She didn’t speak long; personally, I think she didn’t
want to speak to anyone. But I called her back
a year later, and this time we talked at length.
It was this same person, with those same eyes which
witnessed such horror, who was asking me “why”? She was
confused, hurt and even felt that maybe God was punishing
Listening to her made me feel even more incapable
of helping her, because I didn’t want to say something
that could rub more salt into her wound. I told
her that to be angry with God is not a
sin, but a manifestation of the confidence and love you
have for Him. We let our anger out with those
who we are closest to because we know that they
will accept us the way we are. That’s the way
God is with us.
What good comes from such a tragedy?
We can improve safety laws in order to prevent similar
situations. Maybe others will be saved, but that won’t bring
your child back. It’s like murder: the killer has been
condemned to death, but this won’t bring anybody back from
Those who suffer tend to question the power
of God. If God is so loving and great, why
does he seem so powerless in life’s toughest moments? How
is it possible that young girls should die gruesome deaths,
when dictators for the love of money and power destroy
the lives of innocent women and children? Doesn’t God see
the big picture? Is he weak in the face of
evil, or limited in his power?
We know that God,
who is Love itself, can never be the cause of
evil. As a matter of fact, God desired that we
should live in Paradise forever. But we were the ones
who warped God’s plan. Here is the problem: God loves
us, created us to be happy, and the way he
showed that love was by making us free. God would
never lord it over us. He trusts us so much
that he allows our free choice and nature to take
We have always heard that God can bring
out of evil a greater good. But when and how?
|Mary also understands what it is like to lose a child.|
This sobbing mother told me many times on the phone
that the passage of the Bible that she loved most
was “love is stronger than death.” Our conversation was very
enriching for me. She spoke of the happy memories she
had of her son, the way he loved her and
was always there for her. She seemed to constantly talk
about the friends who were always close to him, the
people he cherished. She said that these people were the
presence of God in her life. Through them He was
assuring her that everything would turn out alright. She began
through her suffering to find God and know him better.
Her suffering made her a better person, and she later
went on to found an organization dedicated to those who
had lost children in tragic accidents. This woman, after having
undergone so much pain, now considers herself to be a
“wounded healer.” God was not “weak” before this situation. He
knew exactly what he was doing.
Sometimes it seems that the
world would be a better place without pain. Christ in
the Garden of Gethsemane seemed to say the same thing:
“Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass me
by.” But he knew that sometimes that isn’t the way
things need to be. He was human; he was afraid
to suffer what he was going to suffer and more;
he knew that the world would be indifferent to his
agony. Would it really be worth it to suffer so
much and to undergo death to save a world that
could care less? He felt what we feel when we
confront tragedies and difficulties. But when we know how to
face our difficulties, what happens then? When I fall on
the path, after learning the lesson, what kind of person
am I afterwards? As Tolstoy said, suffering helps us to
see our limitations but, what’s more important, it helps us
to know who we really are.
What does God’s promise
say to me in my present situation? We are all
undergoing some kind of suffering in our own lives. The
key is our attitude before a certain situation. Maybe you
made a mistake, or maybe you were betrayed, or maybe
remorse for something in the past won’t leave you in
peace. But those personal tragedies can help us grow, just
like pruning makes rosebushes burst into more bloom.
reason behind what we suffer. God allows it because God
knows what we need. But rest assured: he won’t let
go of us or give us something we can’t handle
in our lives.
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