THE STAGES OF GRIEF: LAMENT FOR A SON 1
The Stages of Grief: Lament for a Son
Grief surrounds the lives of many peopleespecially after the loss of a loved one. The Lamentfor a Son is a book written byNicholas Wolterstorff detailing his grief process after prematurelylosing his son Eric in a mountain climbing accident (Wolterstorff,2000). Nicholas puts forth a collection of anecdotes and quotes aboutEric’s life in an attempt to survive the painful ordeal of losinga favorite child. The story takes us through the different stages ofhis grief, including his self-blame for the death and his acceptanceof the tragedy through Christian faith.
Nicholas learns of his son’s death through aphone call on a Sunday. Eric lost his life after a mountain climbingaccident where he was researching for his thesis on Origins of ModernArchitecture (Wolterstorff, 2000). After the call, Nicholas undergoesa few seconds of resignation contemplating on the reality of thematter, followed by intense pain. He reflects about Eric’s life, aloyal and principled son. He reflects on how the family took him forgranted after many of his colleagues married and moved away yet Ericremained unmarried, stern and critical. He wanted to pursue hiseducation first. Nicholas is engulfed in grief for having to bury hisson. He believes no parents should ever bury their children becausethey are the future and they should be the ones to bury their parentsinstead.
Nicholas explains his journey to Kufstein toclaim his son’s body. He has many questions that lingers in hishead. He cannot comprehend why Eric went mountain climbing alone. Hewonders why death took away his son. He articulates of death causedby a disease process rather than accidental death because he couldhave a chance to say goodbye to Eric (Wolterstorff, 2000). He wonderswhy death has cut his son’s life at the peak of his vitality.Nicholas soul searches the things that Eric could have achieved thatthe short knife of death robbed from him and will never be achievedagain. Nicholas sheds tears of sadness ignoring the societalstandards that discourage men from crying.
Nicholas gains courage and assembles his familyto break the sad news and advices them to live their lives as if Ericwas around. He advised them to remember him always through theirdiscussions and in their daily activities. Eric’s funeral givesNicholas a peace of mind though he regrets having to let him go. Hefinds solace in resurrection and God’s favor and eternity and praysfor the Eric’s and family’s protection (Wolterstorff,2000).Nicholas considers God’s glory to be reflected via oursuffering and encourages us to find hope in the life, death, andresurrection of Jesus Christ.
The five stages of grief by Kubler-Ross areexpressed throughout the book. Nicholas is engulfed with deep painand grief of losing his son. The first stage is denial of the death(Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2014). Nicholas refuses to accept thefacts that his son has left him. He does not believe Eric as young ashe was dead. He chose to cling to falsehood and preferable realitythat could give him solace. He laments that his son had gone too sonand the future he embraced to himself had been destroyed. Eric hadslipped out of his arms. He cannot believe his son is gone.
Anger is the second stage of grief where aperson feels angered by the loss of the loved one. Blame shifts fromone person to another (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2014). Nicholastries to find someone to blame for Eric’s death and is deeplyangered by death. He feels that Eric should have died through adisease process where he could get a chance to say goodbye. Helaments that people should not say that death is not bad since itawful and demonic. He is unhappy that Eric went out mountain climbingalone. Nicholas feels the loss deep in his soul. He blames himselffor leaving behind one of his soldiers in the battle field.
Nicholas tries to bargain the death of Eric bycomforting his family and himself to remember him in their dailylives (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2014). They are encouraged to talkof him in their conversations and to cherish him forever. Heencourages his family to learn to live as faithfully andauthentically with Eric gone as they had done with Eric present. Hetells them not to forget him but to speak of him and remember him allthe time.
The fourth stage is depression and Nicholas isdepressed by the thought of death (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2014).He cries openly for his son going against the societal standards thatprohibit men from crying. He is angry at death and feels it isdemonic. He doesn’t see the essence and beauty of life any more.The last stage of grief is acceptance (Kubler-Ross & Kessler,2014). Nicholas accepts Eric’s death through his Christian faith.He believes that Eric will resurrect and he would see him in heavenone day to apologize. He learns to live with the loss and believesthat death had made Eric the special one.
Death has an important meaning and significancein Christianity in that it forms the transition from earthly life toeternal life with God. Through death Christians leave the worldlythings and unite with their maker in an everlasting life of peace andjoy. The soul leaves the body of the dead and is received in heavenwhere it achieves immortality. According to John 16:7, Jesus revealedto his closest disciples that only in memory after death, will theyachieve real intimacy with Him. It is only in memory will theyrealize the full meaning of the things they had witnessed on earth(Bible, 2015). According to 2 Corinthians 5:8, the ultimate gift forChristians is eternal life with God and that death is a passage tothis eternal gift (Bible, 2015). Nicholas finds hope and calmness inresurrection since he believes he will unite with his son again. Hebelieved his son was in eternity and through resurrection he wouldhave a chance to see him and apologize to him (Wolterstorff, 2000).
Bible, B. (2015). The Holy Bible.The AuthorizedKing James Version. Post Falls:Century Publishing.
Kubler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (2014). Ongrief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the fivestages of loss. New York: Simon andSchuster.
Wolterstorff, N. (2000). Lamentfor a Son. GrandRapids: WM. B. EerdmansPublishing.