Pope tells grieving parents: It’s OK to ask ‘Why?’

grieving parents

Grieving parents are perfectly entitled to ask God why their child had to die, Pope Francis says.

Demanding answers when one’s child dies is anything but a sign of a lack of faith.

“There is nothing worse than silencing pain, putting a silencer on suffering, removing traumas without facing them as our world often encourages in its rush and numbness” Francis told members of the Talità Kum Association from Vicenza, Italy.

While Francis had an aide read his prepared speech on 2 March (because he was suffering from bronchitis), he personally greeted everyone in the group.

In his speech, his words addressed each of the grieving parents. I want to “offer a caress to your heart, broken and pierced like that of Jesus on the cross: a heart that is bleeding, a heart bathed in tears and torn apart by a heavy sense of emptiness” his aide read for him.

“The loss of a child is an experience that defies theoretical descriptions and rejects the triviality of religious or sentimental words or sterile encouragements.”

Too often the pious phrases Christians offer to grieving parents do nothing to help. Sometimes they may just add to the pain, Francis’s speech continued.

Imitate Christ

The best response is “to imitate the emotion and compassion of Jesus in the face of pain” – not try to minimise it, but to share it.

“Grief, especially when it is so excruciating and without explanation, needs only to cling to the thread of a prayer that cries out to God day and night, that sometimes expresses itself in the absence of words, that does not attempt to resolve the drama but, on the contrary, inhabits questions that keep returning: ‘Why, Lord? Why did this happen to me? Why did you not intervene? Where are you while humanity suffers and my heart mourns an immense loss?’”

Francis also wrote that when people are suffering, God’s first response “is not a speech or a theory, but walking with us, being at our side.

“Jesus lets himself be touched by our pain, he has walked the same path and does not leave us on our own, but frees us from the weight that oppresses us, carrying it for us and with us.

“The Lord wants to come to our homes, the home of our hearts and the homes of our families shocked by death” Pope Francis wrote. “He wants to be near us, he wants to touch our affliction, he wants to give us his hand to raise us up again.”


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