Westmont Magazine Hopeful Grief
A Reflection on the Death of His Son
by David R. Carr ’72
As Barby and I were driving to the critical care hospital in Limoge, France, early this year, we learned via car phone that our 18-year-old son, Jeremy, had died. He had been hit by a car two days earlier while crossing the street in Aurillac to catch a bus. We cried and prayed. We held each other. And within a few minutes we both came to the thought that no one would enjoy heaven more than Jeremy. God gave us the ability to think heavenly thoughts about Jeremy’s joy in God’s presence without denying our need to grieve.
Since Jeremy’s death, hundreds of people—both Christians and non-Christians—have offered comfort. But two common responses cry out for comment. The first is the assumption that “losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare.” As Christians with children who have accepted Christ as Lord, we would have to redefine what “losing a child” means for this to be true. For Barby and me, “losing” a child to God is really not a loss. To lose a child to the world—to drugs, alcohol, and immorality—represents a worse nightmare. If we are truly convinced of God’s wisdom and his right to make the choices he does, and if we truly believe that Jesus did in fact “go to prepare a place for us,” then we should FIND joy in the home-going of a child. I am not suggesting we don’t grieve, but certainly we don’t sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13).
Second, many people have said, “I don’t think I could handle what you are going through.” This comment instantly called to mind a story in Corrie Ten Boom’s Book, “The Hiding Place.” As a young girl, she developed a fear of death, and when she told her father this, he asked her: “Corrie, when we take the train to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket to board?” She answered, “Just before we get on the train.” Wisely, her father told her that God works with us the same way. When we need strength, he provides it.
Barby and I have experienced God’s faithfulness in this regard dramatically on two occasions: when Jeremy was born prematurely with pneumonia and when the Potter took one of his favorite pots home for his own personal use. We can assure you from experience that the “peace that passes all understanding” is not “pie in the sky”! We had wonderful opportunities to share the miracle of God’s strength with many people in France who then understood our assurance that we would see Jeremy again and that God really does know what is best for us. We learned that the grieving process for Christians can skip the denial, anger, and bitterness, and go straight to the healing.
Sometimes our faith is tested as we are forced to wait and see how God will “work all things together for good.” Our family is blessed in already seeing many ways in which God has used Jeremy’s death for his purposes. We look forward to the completion of this work and pray for eyes to see and the boldness to use the opportunities God gives us.
Jeremy’s letters included many references to the ways in which God made preparations for his stay in France. I am sure he is especially pleased with the arrangements for his stay in his real home.
Editor’s note: The Carr family has established a memorial fund to publish the 70 pages of letters Jeremy wrote in France and to develop a book aimed at teen-agers based on the themes in these letters—a teen talking to teens. Send contributions for the “Jeremy’s Journal” fund to Joyce Kopsack, Albank Marble Division, P.O. Box 978, Rutland, VT 05702.