In October 2003, I marked the third anniversary of
Nancy’s death. The next morning, a Wednesday, was another spectacularly
gorgeous day, more like spring than fall (we don’t really do fall in
Dallas; we just open up the windows and let the air conditioning cool
things down).
Anyway, it was the sort of day when
all seemed right with the world. Sun shining. Leaves turning. Birds
singing. Dogs barking. Parents hugging their kids good-bye. Neighbors
waving on their way to work. And a parade of schoolchildren walking,
skipping, biking, and scootering their way to the elementary school
just up the street.
A mother walks her two girls
to the thoroughfare between their block and the neighborhood of the
school. Look one way. Look the other. No cars. Okay, it’s safe. Into
the intersection goes the four-year-old, then the mother, then the
first-grader on her Razor Scooter.
Just then an
SUV sitting at the intersection across the street pulls forward.
Without warning, it turns left—right over the first-grader. Later, the
driver would tell officers that he was blinded by the morning sun and
never saw the little girl.
But three years and a
day after I held my wife’s hand as she slipped into eternity in a
tragic and premature way, a mother just blocks from my house held her
daughter’s hand as she lay in the street and slipped into eternity in a
tragic and premature way. And two more families, and classmates, and
teachers, and neighbors joined us in the House of Mourning.
was my responsibility on the following Sunday to teach the second of a
two-part series to a class at my church. The first week I had spoken on
God’s lovingkindness from Psalm 136, which twenty-six times insists
that God’s lovingkindness is everlasting. And then that tragic
“unintentional injury” occurred to a little girl in our community. I
found myself silenced. And a bit embarrassed, to be honest. Rebuked,
was how I felt. Rebuked by life and by “reality.”
was God’s lovingkindness for that precious little girl? That was the
obvious question. Where was God’s lovingkindness for that poor mother?
Where was God’s lovingkindness for the little sister who watched the
whole tragedy unfold? Where was God’s lovingkindness for the
eighteen-year-old driver and his family? Where was God’s lovingkindness
for everyone else who loved those involved in the tragedy?
136 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His
lovingkindness is everlasting.” Oh really? In what sense is it
“everlasting”? And what about that proverb I cited earlier? “It is
better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.”
How so? In what sense is it “better”?
I had
planned to teach on other things that Sunday. But the loss of that
little girl just taunted me: “So, Bill, have you learned anything
through your experience with Nancy’s death that might be useful in a
time like this?” The book that follows is what I ended up saying.
before I say it, let me say this to the reader. As you may have guessed
by now, I approach grief as a Christian, and I write from my
perspective as a Christian. However, this book is not just for
Christians. It’s for anyone who knows grief, loss, pain, or suffering.
Because the experience of those sorrows is universal.
I recognize that not every reader will share my beliefs. That’s fine.
My hope is that regardless of your faith, religion, or spirituality,
you will benefit from my experience. Because should you ever find
yourself in the House of Mourning, you’ll discover a perfect cross
section of the world. We’ve got people with all kinds of beliefs and
disbeliefs about God here. And the interesting thing about mourning is
that it more or less forces out what people really hold to and hold on
to. What follows is what the burden of the last ten years has forced
out of me.

Taken from, The Light That Never Dies, Moody Publishers, copyright 2005 by William Hendricks. Used with permission.

About the Contributors

Bill Hendricks

Bill Hendricks is Executive Director for Christian Leadership at the Center and President of The Giftedness Center, where he serves individuals making key life and career decisions. A graduate of Harvard, Boston University, and DTS, Bill has authored or co-authored twenty-two books, including “The Person Called YOU: Why You’re Here, Why You Matter & What You Should Do With Your Life.” He sits on the Steering Committee for The Theology of Work Project.