Posted: March 23rd, 2023

Analyzing Woterstorff’s Reflections in Lament for a Son

Woterstorff’s Lament for a Son

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Demise is a cyclical and a recurrent reality in people of all walks of life, and often, loved ones and family members are left to go through the grieving journey all by themselves (Morris B. Abram., 1981). After the death of a loved one, different persons experience grief in dissimilar ways (Singh, 2014). In fact, this is attributable to the fact that people have different natural coping mechanisms, different personalities, and diverse support systems that determine the manner in which the loss of a loved one affect them. Woterstorffs son, Eric, dies during a mountain climbing activity aimed at assisting him in writing his thesis. Just as other parents, Woterstorffs mourns his son, but his mourning is severe despite the widely accepted idea that men do not cry.

There are various reasons that contribute to his mourning. First and foremost, he is a stout believer in the notion that children hold the future of each and every family. Therefore, they are supposed to bury their parents as opposed to the unfortunate tragedy that causes him bury his son. The other great cause of his lamentation is because he did not get the opportunity to bid his son goodbye. He even thought that it would have been better if his son fell ill as this would present him with an opportunity to say goodbye. Nonetheless, he realizes that death, whether caused by illnesses or tragedies, is unique and hurts in different ways. With time, Woterstorff calms down after the realization that there is a resurrection that would reunite him with his son.

During the process of lamenting for his son’s death, Woterstorff goes through various processes of grief. Indeed, his narrative offers a clear depiction that grief and lamentations are part and parcel of individuals’ lives after they have lost a loved one and that having faith in a supernatural being plays a very important role in restoring hope to the bereaved. Denial, as expressed in Kubler-Ross stages of grief, is the first stage that Woterstorff expressed in the narrative Lament for a Son (Grohol, JM 2016). This stage is characterized by the bereaved unwillingness to accept that they have lost a loved one to death and tend to hope that someone will send in good news. The death of his son made him feel as though he had gone into a combat zone and failed to offer protection to one of his combatants, which only added pain to his soul. He also tried to assume the demise of his son in the lens of other individuals and books, but this does not help him in any way. Denial is also demonstrated when he starts thinking of what would have happened if his son had not gone climbing the mountain.

Anger is the second stage of grief that is portrayed in Woterstorff’s lamentations. After accepting that for sure Eric was dead, he became angry with himself as well as his son (HealGrief, 2016). First and foremost, he started questioning why in God’s name Eric had gone climbing the mountain all by himself. In addition, he felt as if he was an irresponsible father because he was not with his son when the tragedy occurred because his presence would have given him an opportunity to bid him goodbye. Thirdly, there is the bargaining stage, whereby Woterstorff started asking himself the “what if” questions: what if he did not climb the mountain? What if he died of an illness? He was thinking that his son loss would have been a little lesser had he died of an illness.

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According to Kubler-Ross, when individuals realize that bargaining and anger are not helping in reversing the sudden loss, they become helpless and cry for the demise of their loved one. They also tend to withdraw from other people due to the feeling of depression. In the Woterstorff case scenario, he went against the norm that men should never shed tears. The final stage of his grief was accepting what had happened, which is a stage that should not be mistaken to mean that they have fully recovered from the loss. Indeed, this is demonstrated by Woterstorff passing the news of the demise of Eric to his family and asking them to move on with life as though Eric was living.

On the other hand, religion is the fundamental thing that helps Woterstorff to find joy after the loss of his son. The belief of resurrecting after death consoled his soul and also gave him hope for meeting his son again. He also believed that God was with him all through because he mourns with the grieving people. Indeed, Christians view death as the only way to join their creator. At this point, the soul of a person leaves his or her body and is the only basis that offers the assurance of eternal life. For Christians, there is an optimum gift, which is eternal life, and therefore, death is the emblem that gives the way to perpetual life.

Evidently, Woterstorff is calmed down by the hope that he would reunite with his son during the day of resurrection. Indeed, this gave him hope that during the Day of Judgment, he would meet Eric and apologize to him. As a matter of fact, the hope of resurrection plays a fundamental role in offering him comfort because it assures him of meeting his son again.


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