Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Charity and Entitlement After a Family Tragedy

on February 17, 2014

There are a million things to worry about after the death of your child, and you have to deal with all of them through a fog of grief possibly mixed with anger and guilt. Your family becomes quite an easy target for sympathy, and honestly, it is welcomed. If someone wants to cook you casseroles so you don’t have to make dinner, great! If someone offers to play with your other kids so you can lie abed and be sad for another hour or two, awesome! Someone offers to help pay for your deceased child’s funeral expenses. Someone offers to buy you a load of groceries or some gasoline. All these people are very nice and trying to express their support and how much they care for your family.

It is not easy to become someone who can graciously accept charity. No one likes to admit that they need help, and when folks offer to do something for your family–and it fulfills a requirement that you actually couldn’t have filled on your own–it is a little embarrassing to be so frankly grateful.

And after a point, so many people are doing nice things for you, that you stop expressing gratitude every time. How can you possibly be verbally grateful each and every time a person does something for you? It’s exhausting! And then, it becomes almost expected. “My baby just died, so it is only natural that someone would offer to bake a pan of lasagna for my family.” But you have to keep being grateful, and all the people who do nice things need to hear you say, “thank you,” even if it’s the 249th time you said “thank you” this week.

It is really nice to see so many warm hearts and people moved to be charitable and helpful, and to support a family in need. It is nice that what could be a tragic event has also served to give many people an opportunity to perform works of mercy and find grace through giving of themselves. But this is also an opportunity for my family to find grace through humility, receiving gifts and giving thanks, every single time.

We have been extremely blessed by the generosity shown to our family and the outpouring of support after Agnes died. Several people have given to us enormously and a meager “thank you” isn’t even enough to express our gratitude. We can give gifts back as a way to express gratitude, but the whole point of charity is that you don’t expect a gift in return. On the other hand, it is good for generosity of heart to go back and forth, back and forth. What is the right thing to do? We are finding our way and trying to do the right thing and sometimes we make a mistake. Just know that we feel so overwhelmingly blessed by everyone who has supported us so far. And we hope to repay the kindness over time, and again and again.

One response to “Charity and Entitlement After a Family Tragedy

  1. Daphne says:

    As if you have never given of yourselves and not expected anything but a “thank you”! I know for a fact that you both gave a lot of yourselves in ministry and everyday life here in Montana. Now it is your turn for a little while. I wish I could hug you all.

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