I wanted to share with you all this extended quote from Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Lament for a Son.
On the way back [from claiming my sons body] I thought about tears. Our culture says that men must be strong and that the strength of a man in sorrow is to be seen in his tearless face. Tears are for women. Tears are signs of weakness and women are permitted to be weak. Of course it’s better if they too are strong.
But why celebrate stoic tearlessness? Why insist on never outwarding the inward when that inward is bleeding? Does enduring while crying not require as much strength as never crying? Must we always mask our suffering? May we not sometimes allow people to see and enter it? I mean, may men not do this?
And why is it so important to act strong? I have been graced with the strength to endure. But I have been assaulted, and in the assault wounded, grievously wounded. Am I to pretend otherwise? Wounds are ugly, I know. They repel. But must they always be swathed?
I shall look at the world through tears. Perhaps I shall see things that dry-eyed I could not see.
“The Tears…streamed down, and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested.” St. Augustine
I have encountered this so many times and in so many subtle ways. The person who comes over to me when Bekah leaves the room, “So tell me, how is she doing?” The person who tells me, “Your only job is to get her through this.” The person who asks my theological opinion about what happened only days after the loss.
Does this not affect me? Did I not lose my son also? Did my future not fall apart as much as hers did? Do I not deserve to be asked how I am doing? I know that her body bore the pain and the marks much more than my own. I know that she shared an intimate connection with Silas that I can never know, and that makes our pain different. But we both still hurt.
Did I not read to my son in the womb? Did I not play guitar for him, and sing him songs? Did I not go to sleep every night with my hand on her stomach, cherishing every movement he made?
In Drops like Stars, Rob Bell points out that suffering and pain have a way of making us honest. I guess this is me being honest.
Please, I beg of you, when it comes to the loss of children, even if it’s through miscarriage or stillbirth, stop acting as if the father should be an unaffected rock. I know that I need to help her get through this, just as much as I need her to help me get through this. And we need all of you to care for both of us, checking in on the both of us. Ask us to our faces how we are doing, and be ready and okay with an uncomfortable response, silence, or tears.
And if you see me crying, simply come and cry with me. As Wolterstorff says, “Perhaps [we] shall see things that dry-eyed [we] couldn’t see.”