What’s life, death and heaven all about? When your son dies at 4 years old like Eric Clapton's or 25 years old like my son, you ask deep questions. Like a bulldog, a bereaved person will often wrestle with these questions and won’t let go. Eric Clapton asked some of those in his 90s hit song, “[No more] Tears in Heaven”, including if his son would know him there.
Often the griever’s “mental computer” is preoccupied by scanning every day that was lived to find answers. Searching and testing ideas, revising and adjusting, they are honing in to find the meaning of life and death. And it changes them. Often they become people with a keen sense of justice, deep empathy and cherishing and protecting life. They are resilient champions who have been battered by the worst storm and are still loving and still standing.
They usually are eager to hear every new anecdote of their loved one which might provide more of the puzzle of their lives. I, too, searched for understanding when my son died. I am so grateful for his dear friends Richard and Erika Taylor who gave me more keys when they told a significant story of what happened in Rwanda when he died. The Vancouver Sun newspaper included it in their report about Ben. It became a wonderful help to my puzzle picture. Ben had poured his life into helping start Wellspring school in Rwanda, to help rebuild a devastated nation. This story spoke of the impact of the work he did, of the love of his friends, and how they cared for each other.
Here is that part of the Vancouver Sun article:
“…When Ben died, the Wellspring Foundation members in Kigali got the news by phone. One of those was Richard Taylor, who, as Wellspring's executive director, was still working on the school. The members got together because they wanted to honour Ben. They decided to name the school's just-finished playground after him because the playground was meant as a place of joy.
"We were going to call it the Ben Farrant Memorial Playground," Taylor told me, "but that wasn't Ben, it sounded so formal. So we called it 'Ben's Boathouse.' [The playground is built to resemble a boat.] Most of the kids around here have few places where they can just go and be kids and play; lots of them have never been on a swing."
So, Taylor said, when they opened the playground last Saturday, they invited the local kids to come and play on it, and word spread and dozens and dozens of kids arrived.
"So there were all these kids having a good time, and I started thinking about Ben, and [in my grief] I just started chanting Ben's name -- 'Ben! Ben! Ben!' -- and all the kids started chanting his name, too, not even knowing what it meant. 'Ben! Ben! Ben!'
"And that's when I just about lost it.
"You know," Taylor told me, "a lot of people said it was such a shame that he died at 25, and that he died too young to have a family and have children who might carry on his name. But he has so many people to carry on his name, including some Rwandan children who didn't even know him."
I pondered and prayed about meaning. I studied about heaven and it helped me so much. I will need another blog for that.
If you are struggling with loss or grief, get the support you need. For more helpful blog articles scroll down. Included are Birthday Parties in Heaven, He is not here, Just tell Me What Happened and The Worst Nightmare plus helpful Renewing Resilience Tips. For additional grief and loss resources, including a 30 min. introductory session with Helga, click here.
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