People say there is nothing harder than losing a child. I can’t say for sure – there’s much I haven’t experienced. I can say that when my teenage son committed suicide, the existential angst tore into my soul, spiraling me into ineffable grief that still stings after more than three decades.
To love is to be vulnerable.
Profound unutterable sorrow ripped open my heart, allowing more divine love and empathy to come in. Slowly, in increments often indiscernible, my ability to care has grown. First, for bereaved parents and survivors of suicide. Most especially for parents who lost a child to suicide.
It expanded to those who have lost loved ones under any circumstances, then to those who are homeless, addicted, mentally ill, and displaced. My understanding of a racialized culture and deeply imbedded institutional racism grew, as did my concern for the displaced, for immigrants, and for the marginalized and disenfranchised. As my heart continued to slowly crack open more and more, I came to see the homophobia, patriarchy, and white privilege in which I was enculturated. My anti-war sentiments and my commitment to nonviolence solidified.
Agony, suffering, long nights of panic attacks, years of depression, utter hopelessness and worthlessness, confusion, and heartache drew me closer to the Man of Sorrows acquainted with grief. Without knowing it, without meaning to, I followed Jesus into the broken anguished heart of God. Here, we enter the fellowship of God’s sufferings.
Here is love.