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‘Why have you forsaken me?’: A reflection from a mom facing tragic loss

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In that suffering I see a God who went where I am now going.

And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

Every year I go to Good Friday Stations of the Cross and when I hear that Jesus felt forsaken, I feel comforted — not because I am happy that Jesus felt that way on the cross, but because I know that my God has gone where I am now going.

I follow a God Who Knows — he knows how I feel during the hard times of life, because he has suffered. I don’t mean just the kind of hard times that almost everyone goes through with family, marriage, and bills, but the kind of suffering that knocks the wind out of you and makes you feel sucker-punched and alone, and yes, forsaken — like the moment when you must bless the body of your oldest son after he has taken his own life.

A year ago my uncle died in front of me after a long stay in the hospital. He suffered tremendously the last few days of his life. He wasn’t a saint by a long shot, but the idea that he had to suffer like that — even if his suffering was joined to Christ’s own for the sake of the world — didn’t make any sense to me. It mostly made me angry, and scared. I wondered, “What is death going to look like for me? What is life going to look like for me, for that matter?”

I felt abandoned.

Two months ago my aunt, the wife of my uncle, passed away. She didn’t suffer as much as my uncle did. When we laid her to rest I felt peace. She had a strong faith all the way to the end of her life. She showed strength and grace after the death of my uncle and taught us all how to grieve with the same strength and grace.

But again, I felt abandoned. My aunt was one of the few people who treated me with kindness. She would kiss me on the cheek and tell me she loved me. She was the person I went to when I was coming into the Catholic Church. Each one of those conversations was full of encouragement and love. My aunt spent her life loving me. Losing her was a loss of a supportive figure in my life.

Then there was the suicide of my son. Again I felt abandoned and this time, yes, forsaken. There was certainly a feeling of God forsaking me and forsaking Anthony. The questions came in a flood:

Where was God when Anthony decided to kill himself?

Where was God when Anthony called person after person that day to talk to them?

Where was God when he called to make an appointment with a counselor to try and get help?

Where was God when Anthony wrapped that belt around his neck and kicked the stool out from underneath him?

Why didn’t God save my son?

Forsaken.

These are all questions that I have asked over and over for that last month.

People give me advice and try to tell me things that they hope will make me feel better but none of them answer those questions. None of them answer my questions, or comprehend them as does Jesus crying out “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

His question still does not answer mine, but it gives me the assurance that Jesus knows what I know and has experienced it. He knows the heart wrenching pain of feeling as if God was absent in the moment of His greatest suffering.

That is how I feel now.

In that suffering of Jesus, feeling abandoned and alone, I can see myself. I can see the mother who walked into a garage and looked at the body of her son dead.

In that suffering I see a God who went where I am now going.

It is in that suffering that I feel that I am following a God who knows my heartbreak.

That knowledge is why I keep following Him. There is no life without suffering. Knowing that God knows that and put Himself in a place where we would have to go makes me feel His love is real and true.

~

Read all 7 reflections on each of the last words here.

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