I’m not what you would describe as the ’emotional type’. I’m known as a bit of a Captain Holt kind of guy from the Netflix series Brooklyn 99, a figure whose emotions are undetectable. I don’t cry often and very rarely do I cry when reading. However, I’d like to share two books with you that have brought a tear to my eyes recently. I share these so that you can learn from these books, but also so that you can become more effective carers of people. though these books brought tears to my eyes, they also showed the wonderful hope that is the gospel of Jesus Christ!
For All Who Grieve by Colin Smith
Sadly, stories of sudden deaths, prolonged illnesses and horrific reports of people dying are not uncommon in the world today. During those times of grief and pain people ask some difficult questions, struggles arise and pain and loss no longer become feelings, but every day realities. This book focuses in specifically on the topic of pain and suffering at the loss of a child. We’ve probably all heard, at one point or another, someone say “no parents should have to bury a child!”. We all know it to be true, but sadly it happens and the question is; how do you deal with that, how do you help others in that grief and pain?
The material for this book comes from a small group that Pastor Colin Smith set up in his church after the death of a child. Smith gathered a small group of parents who had all lost children, some recently and other years in the past, to talk about their lives and to look at Lamentations together. In this book you’ll hear the stories of how parents lost their children, you’ll read the emotions and the pain in their words, and you’ll hear very honest testimonies of how they are coping with life now.
This book faithfully expounds some of the main themes in Lamentations and relates it to the loss of a child, but the teaching is so important and relevant for losing any loved one. The topics are split into chapters and at the beginning of each chapter you hear a different story from the group. The book covers; tears, talk, guilt, grievance, hope, healing and an appendix names “children who die in infancy”. This book is such a help when consider how to process loss and how to interact with the Bible’s teaching on it.
I highly recommend you buy this book, currently its £9.99 on 10ofThose and it is worth every single penny!
Colin S. Smith is a United States evangelical pastor and author. Smith is currently the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Illinois, where he has been since 1996. The Orchard Evangelical Free Church has five campus locations: Arlington Heights, Barrington, Itasca, Marengo, and Northfield.
Grieving a Suicide by Al Hsu
This book is not an easy one for me to recommend and it is not a book that I ‘enjoyed’. Often I read one book at a time and spend a good chunk of time reading during the day, but not with this book, I had to stop and start this book numerous times and often take breaks. Here’s why; last year a good friend of mine took his own life, we met weekly and read the Bible together, suddenly he was gone. I was a mess. I had the privilege of taking his funeral and I continue to have a good friendship with his family. I wish I had read this book before I had to deal with suicide, but I didn’t. Now you know why this book made me cry and why I struggled to read it.
Albert Hsu tells how he dealt with the suicide of his father and draws the reader into the reality and pain of that situation. The book is in three parts. In part one Hsu tells the story of his father’s death and everything that followed, he explains the pain and grief that follows the suicide of a loved one. In part two, Hsu explores the hard questions that remain for ‘suicide survivors’. In part two, Hsu deals with one of the most important questions about suicide ‘is it the unforgivable sin?’, his treatment of that question is both Biblical and gentle, the answer is ‘No’. In the third part of the book, Hsu explores how pain and suffering has been dealt with throughout Church history to challenge, and sometimes correct, the modern church.
I did not enjoy this book for obvious reasons, but I think you need to read it! If you want to know how to care for people who have experienced the death of a loved one by suicide and if you want to know how to think about the topic of suicide Biblically, buy this book and read it
Albert Y. Hsu (pronounced “shee”) is senior editor for IVP Books at InterVarsity Press, where he acquires and develops books in such areas as culture, discipleship, church, ministry, and mission. He earned his PhD in educational studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.
You’ll notice that I didn’t quote from these books in this post, that is not because there was no ‘quotable’ material, but a conscious decision because each book is best read in its entirety and not just snippets. I would recommend that you buy both.