“I will say I am still very angry at God. I’ve not been able to pray any longer. My heart aches for God at the same time my anger prevails.” This was part of a recent email I received, from someone who lost her son over four years ago.
One of the things I hear about the most from pareavors (parents bereaved of their child) is how much they struggle with anger, which is why I am writing about this topic again.
Lynn Breeden and I talked about this at the recent virtual summit I hosted, in her session When Your Faith Has Been Shattered. Lynn’s life was forever changed in October of 1987, when her son Joel Brian died of cancer at the very young age of only five years old. After coming to terms with this loss, her greatest desire is to help other moms through their own loss, so they do not have to grieve alone.*
Here is some of our discussion, in relation to being angry with God about the death of our child.
Laura: One of the things I hear the most is how angry they are at God for allowing their child to die. Because, we all know, God could have stopped it. We all know that. So many of these parents are so angry at God, because He didn’t. Is it okay to be angry at God?
Lynn: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that’s a healthy, normal reaction to something that happens to us that is so earth-shattering, and life-altering. And I talk to a lot of moms that are grieving, and they don’t have the same experience where my foundation of God gave me that knowledge that God didn’t do this to me. God didn’t take my child.
And so, their natural reaction is to be angry at God. And I think God wants us to. God wants us to vent and to share, to pour out our hearts; to wail, to cry, to help us understand why. And I think the hardest part of this, is we long to know the answers why. And we don’t get to know those answers. And in our humanness, we have to understand it. Somehow, we’ve got to make sense of it. And I don’t know that there is a “make sense of this.” I don’t think that we get to always know the answers. Most of the time, ever, this side of heaven. And so, obviously, it is easier to be angry at God, because He seems to be the one that is in charge of all of this.
Laura: And He can take it.
Lynn: Exactly. Absolutely. And I think that’s probably why I say that’s the best person to be angry at, because He understands us. You know, he can take that. His shoulders are pretty broad. And He can handle that. And when we’re crying out to Him, we’re talking to Him. And that’s what He wants, is that communication, whether it’s good, bad or ugly, it doesn’t matter. He just wants us to talk to Him. So, I kind of love it when people do that, honestly.
Laura: Yeah. It’s like when we’re angry with our spouse or something, we kind of have to have it out with them. We have to work it out. And it’s the same thing with God. It’s a relationship. And so, if we’re angry at God, we need to have it out with Him, and work it out.
So, Lynn, when someone comes to you and their faith has been shattered by the death of their child, is there anything that you tell them they can do? Some steps, or some things that they can do towards getting that faith back? What can they do proactively?
Lynn: You know, sometimes we get in such a rut of the anxiety of life, and we’re so consumed in our pain and our grief; and it is consuming, especially in those first couple of years, it’s incredibly consuming. And it’s hard to step outside of yourself. And, you know, there’s a lot of mental in all of this. And to quiet ourselves in the presence of God, and to try to empty our minds…the pain that we’re feeling…I think there’s a lot of ways we can do this.
I would want you to do it in the way that speaks best to you. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s art. It’s not necessarily just sitting down and praying. But it’s immersing yourself in something that is constructive, not destructive. And I think that we tend to gravitate to bathing our pain in pain. And sometimes we have to step outside of that, and figure out how to steep ourselves in something that’s good.
I also want to remind you of that Scripture, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” That’s a verse that I’ve hung onto over the years. Because it tells me, “I can do anything with God’s strength.” And that’s a big deal in this whole process, knowing that we have a God that is stronger than anything, even when we feel pretty weak in this deal. But to immerse yourself in things that are good. When we immerse ourselves in positivity instead of negativity, it changes how we look at things. And I think that’s a powerful place to start, in changing some of our rhythms of life. ‘Cause everything has changed.
Obviously, there is so much more in this discussion than what I can put in a short blog.
Lynn went on to talk about
- Meditating – getting control of our thoughts
- The process we go through to process the death of our child
- How we are all on our personal grief journey so it will look different for each of us
- Coping skills when blindsided with a grief attack
- That after being on this journey for 30 years, there is HOPE, and that God will keep His promise to you to take you from a place of mourning to a place of joy
We also talked about being blindsided when God did not answer our prayers in healing or protecting our children and had a discussion on unforgiveness within our anger.
The bottom line is that it is normal and okay to be angry with God for allowing the death of your child. But it is something you need to go through the process to work out with Him.
To hear the full interview, which ended with Lynn praying a beautiful prayer over all of those watching, just fill in your name and email address below.
Expressions of Hope is written by author and speaker Laura Diehl to bring hope, light and life to bereaved parents. If you would like more information about Laura as an author or speaker (or to contact her) click here.
*Lynn Breeden founded Mourning to Dancing, which is a non-denominational ministry, with the sole mission to offer comfort, hope, and encouragement to mothers who have suffered the loss of a child. She also currently serves as a Pastor for Lambs Chapel United Methodist Church in LaPorte Indiana.