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No. I did not mean “a hole in my heart.” I meant “soul.”

There are people in your church or community who resonate with my statement. They may define it with different words but they understand the concept. They belong to a fellowship of people bound by grief which they did not ask to join.

Who makes up this “fellowship” with a full heart yet a “hole in their soul?” — They are the people who have lost a child to death. It is not enough to say they miss the son or daughter or even that their heart aches. The only way to express the pain is to expose the “hole in their soul.”

As a father who is approaching the 14 year anniversary of separation from my precious daughter Misty, I can tell you the “hole” does not heal because time has passed. A part of you is perpetually missing.

I would like to share some thoughts on how to be sensitive to those hurting in your church or community. Every situation is different, but here are a few to consider:

  1. Everyone grieves differently and needs to be given liberty to do so.
  2. Don’t avoid talking about their child, realizing that parents do long to talk about them.
  3. Offer your help but give them space.
  4. Recommend books on grief that will help, but don’t push.
  5. Send notes of encouragement, especially relative to the child’s birthday, death day, and special holidays.
  6. One of our great fears is that people will forget our children, so find ways to let them know they are not forgotten.
  7. Be aware that all time is now forever related to the day of our child’s death.
  8. They probably will go through what I call the “tyranny of the first.” For example:

The first Sunday since they died, the first day of a new month, the first time they go to a grocery store, the first time they go to a place the child had been, the first birthday, the first holiday…etc.

I do not mean for this post to be morbid or discouraging: my goal in my writing is to add value to the body of Christ. One of the ways I can do that is to help by giving hope and encouragement to someone else with a “hole in their soul.”

And now perhaps as a result of this post…so can you!

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16 Comments

  1. Great post my Friend!
    I’m sure it will resonate with many.
    The trut is however, most of us have no idea hoe deep, wide or painful that “Hole” can be.

    Praying your investment here has great ROI……….

  2. Hello Mike,

    What are some good questions to ask a parent about their child? In light of point 2: Don’t avoid talking about their child, realizing that parents do long to talk about them.

    • Luke, good question, just ask them to talk about some of their favorite memories, the things they miss about their child or how their child made things different in their home. Anything that allows them to talk about their child and their love for them in the “present tense.”

  3. Charlene (capron) Loomis - Reply

    I often think of Misty when I see a really foggy road. I was here in CT and I still remember the shock. She was very special. Not having kids but losing both my parents and many in karen z’s life, I know pain of lose. Thankfully thinking of Heaven more helps the most. I pray for you every time I see you and Betsy on facebook. So you have some secret prayers from afar. Wonder how God is using her in Heaven? Love you both!

  4. Thanks Mike,
    You always know the best way to make us think of others and how to edify one another. I appreciated this post as it is a very delicate matter and sometimes we speak without thinking when we intend on encouraging. Sometimes just knowing someone thought of you or remembered your hurting heart is a tender moment. This post is very helpful as we try to comfort those hurting so deeply. You and Betsi are such a consistent encouragement to me. Thanks not only for what you do, but for being who you are. love you!

    Cathy

    • Cathy, I wrote the post with people like you in mind because you are so readily available to encourage others and knew you would put this to use.

  5. Mike and Betsy, I cant know your pain and praying I never do. I can hear your cry to help those who do. Thank you for sharing at this profound level. I never had an opportunity to know Misty but I do know and love you.

    • Jeff, as you said, I pray you will never know but I do want to help equip you and others to be able to minister to those who do know this pain. Thank you for your ministry, blessings on you and your sweet family.

  6. Holes happen for friends too. I am forever grateful to have known your girl! Watching Jesus change her set me on a path to my life’s calling! Lots of prayers for you and Betsi as the 14th probably in many ways still feels like a first.

    • Christie, thank you for your influence in her life, as a result she left a hole in a lot of hearts and souls. I am thankful for your ministry in the UK. Mike

  7. We were missionaries in Uganda in 2002, my oldest son (11yo at the time) fell in love with a sweet baby boy named Richard in the orphanage we visited. Richard loved Samuel too and was happiest when he was in his arms. I often said he was the HAPPIEST BABY I’d ever met. Sadly he passed away March 13, 2002, he had been very sick. While he wasn’t biologically related to us, we were his family, we grieve him as our own. It was also tough as the mom since really he was Samuel’s baby.

    Thanks for the blog post. And Blessings on you and your family.
    Rhoda

  8. Remembering you and your family in thoughts and our prayers.

    • Kelly, I am so sorry for what you and your family are experiencing, my heart goes out to you. I am glad you felt comfortable expressing yourself, it is important not to keep this all bottled-up inside so make sure you have someone to talk to about your pain. Also, if Jordan had siblings, don’t overlook the impact this has on them. One of the things my wife and I have seen over the last 14 years of ministering to grieving families like yours is the tendency to focus on the parents missing the pain of the siblings. This may not even apply to your situation but I wanted to say it here for anyone else who may be dealing with this. Kelly, I just prayed for you that you would be able to experience a few of those pain free minutes each day. Mike

  9. Mike, thank you for sharing your heart and grief. I’m so sorry you have to feel this pain of losing your daughter. My family and I are 16 months into this horrible pain after losing our sweet 14 year old son Jordan. It hurts so much, deep into my soul. So much that I often don’t feel I have a heart or soul anymore. It feels as if someone ripped right through me and stole both. I just keep praying that I can find some reprieve from this horrible pain, at least a minute or two everyday.

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