“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6, ESV)
I remember the day that Jamie died there were dozens of people at the hospital. Within a few hours of the news getting out, there was easily a hundred people there. So many that the ER staff set up a room just for Laura. Then, later at the hotel people came by in a constant flow to see Laura and give her comfort. All her friends were there, her “sisters”, ladies that she has known since childhood, cousins, aunts, her mother. People from our church (and previous church), LCA (Jamie’s school) and Liberty University were there offering comfort, help, hope. People were hovering around Laura in a constant flow of love.
I sat off to the side, quietly in a corner or outside the door. Close enough that if Laura needed me, I could be there in an instant but far enough for her support team to be there for her. Eventually my chair moved further away as more people came. I was slowly becoming invisible. Unless someone needed me to get something or to give up my chair. I slowly started to migrate outside. I spent my time walking around the hotel we were staying in because we couldn’t bear to go home. Walking around LU’s campus. Becoming even more invisible.
Society in general tends to give the mothers the most attention when it comes to the death of a child. I understand it. The mother carried that child for 9 months inside them. Nurtured and loved them from conception. They become one with the child. When that child dies, so does a part of them. A real part, their blood, flesh. It doesn’t matter if the child is lost in the womb, at birth or at 50 years old. They are still part of her. It’s understandable that, at a time of loss people tend to flock to the mother of the deceased.
As for the father, well we are supposed to be the strong one. The rock for our wife to lean on. The one to stand guard against all things evil. Yet we are not to show grief, we are not to cry, we must be strong for our wife, always be in control. We must be a MAN.
In those first few days after Jamie died, I can only remember 3 people that came to see me specifically. My boss from work, a friend from out of town, and one of my cousins that had lost a daughter a few years before. At first, I thought that my grief wasn’t important, that they didn’t care about my feelings. But when I looked around, I started to realize why no one was praying with me, crying with me, giving me words of comfort. There just weren’t many other men around, and the ones that were there just stood with their wife or girlfriend or outside talking or for lack of a better word, hiding.
I was one of those guys. I understood. I had done the same thing when a friend or family member had lost a child. I was like a shy child standing off to the side with my head hanging down and kicking dirt with the toe of my shoe, hoping no one could see me.
Men, we need to be more like our wives in that we need to be available to be a shoulder to cry on, we need to be the one that gives the fathers the support they need. We need to pray for our “Invisible Fathers”. Help them become a person again. Give them the love and support they need to be the man that his family really needs. A “Visible Father” that relies on God’s love and wisdom to guide his family through the most difficult thing they will ever face. So, the next time you are in the presence of a family grieving the loss of a child, go to the father and say to him, “I see you and I’m here to help”.
Keep Up the Fire
Co-Founder & VP, Ephraim Ministries