Friday evening, I was cruising along, writing the long-overdue Review Policy for this blog. I finished it and hopped into my Gmail account to pull up my Google Documents to get the Book Submission Form I had set up when the blog was still on Blogger. I saw an email with the subject line, “A Homeschool* family needs our prayers.” Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. Our homeschool group is pretty large, and while not frequent, such emails aren’t unusual. Most often, it’s the death of the parent or grandparent of one of my friends. That’s what I assumed it was this time. Had I taken a few more seconds to think about it before I opened the email, I would probably also have thought about an illness or accident in the family. Nothing could have prepared me for what I actually did read.
A precious six-year-old girl left us Friday to be with Jesus. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Even the link to the news story didn’t alleviate the shock. I just sat here staring at the computer screen with my hand over my mouth. I was suddenly so very glad that the boys hadn’t gone to their dad’s this weekend, and were sitting an arm’s length away from me, playing on NickJr on the laptop. I needed them near me at that moment, and all weekend, really.
Our families weren’t close because our kids had different interests. So we hadn’t spent a lot of time together, but I’ve known this family for several years, so I’ve known this darling girl most of her life. I remember at our gingerbread-house decorating party in December, that I was impressed at how meticulous she was with her decorating. My boys, after all, had pretty much slapped their houses together, then tore them apart and ate them. I thought about taking a picture of her house, but I had forgotten my camera, and I didn’t feel like messing with the camera on my phone. Now I’m kicking myself because I would love to be able to give that picture to her mother and tell her that I thought her daughter did such an awesome job that day that I had to take a picture. Even if it was taken on my phone.
Later, I got to thinking about a recent conversation on another homeschooling list. We were talking about the thoughtless things people say to grieving parents, usually after a miscarriage, but it applies to the death of any child. I never know what to say in these situations. I’ve never lost a child; I can’t even comprehend the gut-wrenching loss parents must feel. How can I say something even remotely appropriate? So I don’t say anything more than, “I’m sorry.” The moms who have lost babies had whole lists of crazy things people have said to them. The most disgusting one to me, and the most common one Christians like to use is, “It was God’s will.” I think that is rude, insensitive, and completely untrue. I don’t think death at all is in God’s will, and the death of a precious child can’t possibly be part of God’s plan. We live in an imperfect world, and horrible things happen. Don’t try to brush off a grieving parent’s sorrow by claiming the loss of their child is “God’s will”.
Our whole homeschool community, and the community in general, I’m sure, has rallied around this family. Nothing we can say or do can take away the pain and devastation they are experiencing. I’m pretty good with words. I can talk up a storm and I can write all day long, but when it’s something this important, I just don’t have any words. I don’t know what to say to my friend except, “I’m so sorry.” I’m praying that others will only have words of love and encouragement for the family and no one will say anything insensitive like “It was God’s will.”
*The name of the family was used, but I’m not posting it here in order to protect their privacy.