Content warning: This post refers to the death of a teenager in our community. If this is triggering for you, please be gentle with yourself and don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need to talk.
As a parish priest, our church community frequently experienced more than a few deaths following the holidays. This phenomenon is broadly experienced and there are many theories as to why … maybe folks hold on for the holidays and then let go into their heavenly rest. Or perhaps the long, dark days make it harder to find the strength to stay in bodies that are breaking down. This year, we experienced a particularly traumatic death in early January. A much beloved 15-year old boy died extremely suddenly, leaving questions, profound grief, and deep trauma in the wake of his death.
Our work at Limina seeks to support people who are experiencing change in their lives, and a change like the sudden death of a child, is nearly incomprehensible. When his mother called to share the news that her son had died, my mind frantically cast about to remember an Erik who could have possibly died. I could not conceived that it was her son, and neither could anyone else who heard the news. Grief like that is so heavy that it can be hard to stay afloat. As I walked those hours and days with the family, I was so blessed that the Spirit sent four mothers into my life who had endured the death of teenage sons. These extraordinary women generously shared their stories and survival strategies that I could pass along to Erik’s family, and supported me.
When the community gathered to grieve and support each other, I was honored to offer the homily. As I reflected on and prayed about living with a sudden trauma, the Spirit led me to learn the story of Corrie Ten Boom. Her passionate dedication for sharing the love and light of Jesus with Dutch Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands provided a parable for how to live with incomprehensible sorrow. To learn more, please listen to my reflections with the gathered community of family, friends, teammates, fellow students, church members, teachers, coaches, and mentors who love Erik. May we each have the grace to help carry each other’s heavy burdens and be bearers of God’s light in even the darkest times.