Mercy for the Broken

I want to tell you what it feels like to hold a child as he mourns. I want you to know how it feels as his body, wracked with sobs, sinks deep against your own. You hold his tender frame, cradling him in your arms like when you soothed him as a baby. The maternal instinct that prompted you to rock him all those years ago returns, and you begin to gently sway, rubbing his back, breathing deeply of his scent to ground yourself so that you too are not swept away in the deluge of his grief. He shakes with the weeping, stops to grab a breath, and then returns to sobs. His hands grasp your body like he’s afraid of drowning. Every fiber of his being laments.

No more powerless feeling exists in all the world than to see your child endure a pain you cannot take away, that you cannot assuage even a bit. There exists no distraction, no reward, no encouragement, no gift, no friendship that can fill the aching void that compels him to tears. Death has pierced his tender life, and sorrow now has darkened every part. For every moment of daily joy, he owns a million more of sorrow. Behind every smile he hides a broken heart.

Even I — the one who bore the blow before him, the one who held him as he heard the news — even I cannot temper that pain. As close as we are, I still feel the impotent onlooker. I bear my own burden of sorrow, but I cannot bear his too. His sorrow is intimately his own, even as I walk beside him through it. In one form or another, his grief will accompany him his whole life long. This sentiment isn’t dark poetry; it is reality.

I hold my fatherless child in my arms, and my tears wet his hair. Together we weep. I pray that in his sorrow he will never sense Divine abandonment. Like Jacob wrestling with God, I demand a blessing on this tender boy whose spirit is crushed with longing for the father he has lost. I rock him, and I beg his Maker for mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Mercy for this broken one. This courageous little grieving one. And mercy for me too. The mother who promises to hold him close until his weeping gives way to tired sleep.

Published by Clarissa Moll

Discovering grace in grief

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