We had just finished speaking at our son’s funeral and my little boy’s body was rolled to the vehicle that would lead us on the longest, slowest, most painful drive of our lives. 

It had only been an hour since I saw my son and the funeral director closed the casket, never to be reopened again. I longed so deeply to rescue my tired son from the cold.

There were so many layers to grief this day. Grief weighed heavy because I lost my son, who was in so many ways my best little friend. My grief was compounded because my wife, who has the most gentle and tenderhearted soul I have ever known, ached in ways I cannot comprehend. I grieved for her … for a mother’s love is unique … a mother’s love is deeper than deep. However much I was pained by the death of our son, I know this good mother ached infinitely more. I also grieved for my fallen son, who wanted so much to live but whose life was cut short. I grieved for my other children who, confused and full of sorrow, lost a dear brother they adored. 

As I looked at my wife, she seemed to stare into the horizon as if to wonder how life could possibly continue. In my heart, I felt that way, too. Ethan stood stoic, peering into the back of the hearse at his younger brother, his best friend, trying to make sense of loss. 

If ever I was tempted to feel like an utter failure, this day only amplified that. The days and months ahead would grow dark with grief. The pitch of night would, by comparison, seem light. 

All the provincial things I thought weighed heavy on my shoulders suddenly seemed light as a feather. Crushed by the gravity of grief, I found myself stumbling over pebbles and gasping for breath. There were days that would follow I even wished for death.

Grief? Grief is just a flimsy word to describe the unimaginable. The indescribable. Grief is a pebble of a word, a grain of sand, even … hewn from the mighty Everest of sorrow. It points to a pain that simply defies words. 

Ever since we lost little Mitch I have spent a great deal of time contemplating the wages of grief. At first, it felt like the wages of grief were only hopelessness and deep, dark sorrow. One can’t help but ask themselves “why my child?”, “why not me instead?”, “why in the first place?” The question I hear most often is “Why would a loving Father allow us to hurt so much?” I suppose we may never know (at least in this life) why some are required to suffer greatly while others are not. One thing I do know, for certain, is our Father loves us, and He loves us a whole lot. I know because I have felt it all along our journey, even deep in my wilderness of grief. In the darkest corners of my soul, He has offered me hope and peace.

The wages of grief are not always easy to see – especially when our vision is smeared by tears, pain and misery. Though painful beyond belief, grief is teaching me things I would have never learned in comfort and relief. Painfully, it is shaping me, and with heaven’s help it is not breaking me. And with each tear I shed, I am beginning to see things differently.

I still wrestle with grief every single day, but I am learning to carry my sorrows in a different way. Deep in the wilderness of grief I may be tempted to feel forsaken and alone … but when I quiet my soul and listen, I hear my Father and my little son leading me home. 

Leading me home.