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on March 9, 2001
the impact that this book has had on me. I was 25 years old this past June 16(2000), when my wife Jennifer left this life. We had just had our first child, born April 21, 8 weeks to the day that Jennifer died. Since then, I have found comfort in a few works, such as C.S. Lewis' A GRIEF OBSERVED, but no work, not one, has impacted me like this one. Many's the time I have called my folks and quoted Mr. Wolterstorff saying "See, this is what I've been trying to say!"
This work is a must have for those who've lost. The pain of loss is inexpressable, it is all-encompassing and it is unavoidable. Wolterstorff presents grief in all of its detail, and if you've lost you'll find yourself more and more amazed as you find your thoughts and emotions expressed through his words.
I also believe that this work is indispensable for those in the care of souls. Through Wolterstorff's expression of grief you will find a taste of what that person to whom you minister feels, the loneliness, the despair, and the disappointment in the God whom they trust. If you are in ministry, you MUST get this book.
God's blessings and comfort to you all in your struggle.
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VINE VOICEon October 18, 2001
Wolterstorff has written a brief, yet poingnantly reflective book on his journey through the valley of grief. He lost his 25 year-old son to a tragic mountain climbing accident, and wrote this book as he writes in the preface "to give voice to [his] grief." He continues "Though it is intensely personal, I have decided now to publish it, in the hope that it will be of help to some of those who find themselves with us in the company of mourners."
This book is powerfully moving and brought tears to my eyes when I first read it. Wolterstorff voices many of the often unspoken feelings that mourners go through- from intense sadness to anger, to questioning, to longing for the loved one whom has died.
His reflections are powerful yet concise, and he has written the book in the style of a journal- documenting his struggle to grieve and cope with the intense anger and sadness of losing his son. Ultimately he finds his faith to be his greatest source of comfort and strength, but not before a long journey through the dark wilderness of grief.
I have also found this book to be extremely comforting and helpful- both in coping with my personal losses, as well as for bereaved family members in the grief support group that I facilitate. This book should be required reading for ANYONE who has lost a loved one, or works with the bereaved or is close to someone who has lost a loved one. I highly recommend it.
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VINE VOICEon April 27, 2005
Like most of the reviewers here, I'm a member of that exclusive club who lost a child. I was given partial solace by leaders of the local chapter of Compassionate Friends which specializes in grief counselling. All the leaders and participants have paid a huge price to join, but nothing monetary. The glue holding it together is the loss of a child.

This author must have received comfort in writing while passing the time...time in the short term is your enemy. When enough time passes, the pain eases, although it never goes away. In the early months it's hard to concentrate because the grief keeps popping up without permission. I took solace in learning a few pieces on the piano which were way over my head, and doing an extensive photograph editing project about my lost child - a way for me to spend months making the time pass. Our author grieved by writing down his thoughts. My wife read lots of books on grief, but most of them were not my cup of tea. I found an isolated book or passage now and then which connected with me, and I actively looked for them. The usual grief counsellor doesn't have a clue, not from lack of sympathy or effort.

It's been 8 years now since my loss, so I'm not needy for solace, but I'm always ready to hear another man's story...and what a story this is. This book is a day by day pouring out of expressions of grief done in an effort to heal that which can never be entirely healed. I count it amongst those few books that would have been of benefit to me in the first year of my loss. My sympathies go to the author and his family, and my sincere appreciation goes to him for the sharing of his story.
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on August 11, 1999
I lost my 26 year old son in April of 1999. I have read many grief books, but this one struck home in the author's poignantly honest expression of his grief and confusion. He holds out hope but gives full recognition to the pain, the regret, the deep agony that shakes our very souls when we experience this most terrible of losses. I keep my copy on my bedside table and return to it over and over, especially certain pages which I have marked as particularly meaningful to me.
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on April 6, 2000
This was the single most important book I read after my son was killed in an accident with me.
Mr. Wolterstorff, in all of his suffering and doubt, allowed God's Grace to work with in his words.
In the five years since Michael died, we have purchased over 25 copies and given them to people who have suffered losses. His essays have been a source of inspiration in our Christmas Newletters and Homilys by Pastors.
The book that shows you the Grace in Suffering.
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on March 19, 2004
A friend recommended this book to me after my first child was stillborn (Oct, 2003). I read countless books that were specific to my situation (books on stillbirth, heaven, and infant salvation), but this book spoke to me in a way that none of those did. The author's rare honesty with his emotion was immensely helpful to me as I often struggled to put my pain and hurt into words. Reading sections of this book to my husband also helped him to understand some of my feelings, which in turn helped him to know how to support me. The author asks the tough questions we all face when a loved one dies, and does not pretend to have the answers. Too often, I believe Christians are made to feel guilty when in the midst of deep grief. Countless times, I have been told that I should feel better because my son is in heaven. However, what I needed (and still need) was permission to grieve - permission to have a broken heart - without being made to feel that my faith is not strong enough. This book did exactly that. I recommend it to anyone who grieves for a loved one, or anyone in the position of supporting those who grieve.
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on April 13, 1998
In this thin yet moving volume, Wolterstorff doesn't hesitate to ask the hard questions about how God could allow his son Eric to plunge to his death in the mountains of Germany, and how to live with suffering, and the permanent absence that so marks every family gathering. Says Wolterstorff, the commandment to love one another necessarily has a mirroring mandate: we must suffer for one another if we truly love. The implications of this extend beyond mourning and grief and suggest that lament is a way of living faithfully, sorrowing in delight and delighting in sorrow.
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on April 21, 2006
Nicholas Wolterstorff is a top drawer theologian who taught at Yale for years. He is a part of the evangelical Christian Reformed Church.

But he's also one who knows deep sorrow up close. His gifted, kind young son Eric was taken suddenly in a freak accident. Wolterstorff was plunged into deep grief that caused him to reconsider everything. On the other end of it came a requiem music memorial, and this engrossing little book - Lament for a Son, written in 1987. For years I have recommended this to many who have experienced loss. The only way Wolterstorff could make sense of his loss Biblically was to realize that God is a suffering God. He discovered the tears of God. What happened when we, essentially, flashed God the bird, since the Fall? God could have justly destroyed us all. Instead, God chose a course of personal pain. He invested his heart in us.

He is the long-suffering God. Wolterstorff says "the tears of God are the meaning of history." God suffers for the sins of the world. Every act of evil pulls tears from God. God voluntarily bound his life up with us. That is the best answer available to Wolter.'s grief.

This book is full of gems. Read his closing words on p. 86 for a contrast between the Stoic answer to pain and the Xian one. Or the Augustine quote on grief on p. 27. Or the funeral liturgy's opening words on pp. 38-39. Or the words of Scripture chosen for the requiem in teh appendix.

BTW -- very academic, but also excellent, is Woltersdorff's article from Reformed Journal, "The Wounds of God," on Calvin's view of mercy.
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on November 4, 1998
This book touched my heart. The author put into words thoughts and feelings that we as mourners seem only to be able to think. He discusses death as being evil and what God's role is in the trajic events that take place in our lives. I would strongly reccomend this book to anyone who has lost someone that is dear to them. It is very easy to read and understand. 6 stars!
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on February 23, 2006
A friend of Professor Wolterstorff once said that he had bought a copy of this book for every member of his family to read. Prof. Wolterstorff, finding that odd since the book is a meditation on the death of his son, asked why. His friend said he did so because the book was a love song.

And indeed it is. It is a love song to Prof. Woltestorff's son, Eric, who died at the early age of 25 in a mountain climbing accident, but it is also a love song to Jesus Christ and to the people he has made and placed in our lives. I can honestly say that no book I have ever read has helped me understand life and death so well. I think I understand much better now just how evil and satanic death truly is. While some say death is natural, and even elevate it to a special place in their spirituality, Prof. Wolterstorff, in recounting his grief and love for his son, reminds us that death was never meant to be. That even God himself, in all the mystery that this entails, hates death with a deadly passion and sits in anguish with us when those we love are taken from us.

I strongly recommend you read this book, regardless of whether you are suffering through such tragedy yourself. It is a love song that like all great love songs reorients the mind and the heart to that which is true and good.
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