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Wolterstorff’s reflections in Lament For a Son

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During the following paper, I will be analyzing in the book “Lament of a Son” by Nicholas Wolterstorff, where the author interprets his traumatic recollection of the death of his 25-year-old son on a climbing accident, and how he was able to appease his grief based on his faith in God. Consequently, I will be identifying the 5 stages of grief, how the author finds joy after his loss, the meaning of death in the light of the Christian narrative, and how the hope of resurrection play a role in comforting the author.

According to Elisabeth Kubler Ross, there 5 stages of normal grief: denial or isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, that are associated with Mourning as a response of a painful event such as loss of a loved one, terminal illness or, end of a relationship. During the bereavement process, we experience the 5 stages of normal grief, which may not necessarily be in order, or for a specific length. (5 Stages of Loss and Grief,2015).For some that be have experience death, we know that we may not experience it the same way, There is people that can be very open with expressing their emotions, whether others may just not be able to express it at all, it is important to mention, regardless of the order to the stages of grief, hope will help us organize our thoughts and push to get through those unpleasant moments of sorrow.(5 stages of Grief).

In the book Lament of a Son, the author expresses these heartbreaking 5 stages of grief. The Denial stage, the author looks for his son on a group of students that were passing by, or even in ballgames, he find himself looking for his son, but he is not there anymore. The author, also finds isolation after stating that he’s almost like an alien in the world. Reluctantly touching the world but feels as though it’s not his. (Wolterstorff, 1987). His anger,is expressed when he mentions, that there is a “hole in the world.” His son once was there, now it’s devoid of anything. Eric in his heart is irreplaceable and only an “emptiness is left.” He also talks about Eric with his unique perspective on life has been taken away and never returned. Questions in Wolterstorff’s mind that will never be answered because Eric is now deceased. Never to be sealed, an infinite abyss in his life due to the loss of son.(Wolterstorff, 1987).

His bargaining is the result of his beliefs in God, the author asks himself why Eric had to climb the mountain alone. That he should have stayed on flat ground and why didn’t in all regards go with someone such as a friend. He then begins reading books on grief to answer questions that to get a better understanding on how to deal with the death of his son. In these books, God is mentioned. Correlating with bargaining which states the following, “secretly, we make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable.” Wolterstorff will not overlook the misery of Eric’s death but owes it to God. Furthermore, Wolterstorff remembers and mentions on his book the special dates, that typically bring joy and happiness, only bring him tears.

He has many regrets; things that he may have should have done while Eric was alive. He mentions not taking him hiking, put work ahead instead of spending time with Eric, put off writing letters while Eric was overseas or off at school. He also mentions not giving Eric enough credit for many of his great achievements. The author finally finds acceptance, in his son’s death by the true nature of God’s Will. He states that nothing technology, or overcoming absent phone calls from the deceased can bring him acceptance. The truth of the matter is that, “Death is left for God’s overcoming.” I believe his faith in God I depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation, you have shown me the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures further more”(Psalm, 16).

In addition, Nicholas Wolterstorff, finds joy remembering his son and making him part of his history. As he mentions on his book, one of the profoundest features of the Christian and Jewish way of being-in-the-world and being-in-history is remembering. He states” Remember, do not forget, do this as a remembrance”. (Wolterstorff, 1987).Consequently, there is a passage in the book where the author mentions “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. PSALM 1,26; As the author griefs towards his son’s death, someone mentions to his wife if she had already learn to live with Eric’s death; The author mentions Shalom is the fulness of life in all dimensions.

Shalom is dwelling in justice and delight with God, with neighbor, with oneself, in nature. Death is shalom’s mortal enemy. The author mentions, “ When we think of God the Creator, then we naturally see the rich and powerful of the earth as his closest image”. “But when we hold steady before us the sight of God the Redeemer redeeming from sin and suffering by suffering, then perhaps we must look elsewhere for earth’s closest icon. Where?” everywhere around us, show love to people in need, to the our neighbor in that way we are showing love for God. Finally the author finds peace and acceptance to what had happened based on the God’s words.


The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief. (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617

Wolterstorff, N. (1987). Lament of a Son. In Lament for a son. Michigan, 49505, Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eearmans Publishing 2140 Oak Industrial Drive, N.E. Retrieved from: https://viewer.gcu.edu/P8UMA8

Read and Study the Bible Online – Search, Find Verses. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.biblestudytools.com

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