Bereavement, Grief, Writing
Comments 19

To the mother whose child was just given the all clear…

I rejoiced with you this week, when I read your good news.

I rejoiced with you from the darkness of my bereaved parent existence, knowing that you will never get to know my reality.

I rejoiced for your son and I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing the pain my son endured in the last two weeks of his life and that fact that yours was spared all that, and you the totally heart-wrenching feeling of helplessness of having to watch him die.

But your social media update, which was picked up by so many churches, individuals and even by a local newspaper, made me very sad too.

You see, your update, as hope giving as it is meant to be, (as I do suspect you see it now as your life “testimony” to the Church, a confirmation they so desperately seek of a God who can perform miracles), has totally left out several facts and a huge group of parents and believers who have fought “the good fight”, just like you, but never pulled the winning ticket of healing.

You have forgotten to mention that, as much as you want to attribute your son’s healing “miracle” to God, his healing has a lot (if not all) to do with medical expertise. Your son would have been healed by God IF as soon as he had been diagnosed, you would have taken him home and have the hoard of tens of thousands of faithful Christians pray for him, as they have done and after all that, and WITHOUT any medical intervention, your son would have recovered fully.

But the truth is that, and your public updates are testimony to my statement, there has been a medical team who looked after your child from day one. A wonderful medical team who advised on the best treatment, who did all the risky procedures (many times, at the risk of their own career and hearts!) and who, in the end, managed to perform the medical miracle we had all hoped to hear about. And a medical team, who, disappointingly, receive no praise nor testimony in your latest update…

Your public update this week, has also done a lot of hurting to another group too.

You also forgot to mention, in your rush to proclaim to the world the “miracle”, a whole group of us. You showed a total lack of consideration to us, the bereaved believers and parents who have been on that cancer ward, fought in as hard and as dignified a manner as you have had, but never got their “miracle”.

I can assure you that all the parents who once believed in a simple God of miracles and who lost a child to illness, have been left bruised and terribly hurt by your statement.

And although they are, I am sure, happy for you and your child, as much as I am, they have had, once again, the scabs violently ripped off their emotional wounds and brought back to the same tormenting questions that plague our existences now:

  1. Why would God choose to heal her child and not mine?
  2. Did He find me less holy?
  3. Was my child a second-class Heaven citizen that didn’t deserve a life here, with us?
  4. Were we punished for some horrible sin we committed in our over-churchy-and-very carefully-edited-in-order-not-to-offend-God-nor-the-Church-lives?
  5. Did we not pray enough?
  6. Should we have asked for more prayer from the worldwide church, was our church not holy enough to reach God’s ear and touch His heart?
  7. Should we have done more than what we did when our son was diagnosed? And what is that thing that we missed that made the lifesaving difference? And why didn’t anyone tell US about it???

But the truth (and this is the truth you are most likely not aware of, as it is never preached in Church these days as it would be detrimental to the numbers and uplifting atmosphere) is different.

The truth is that, scientifically, your son’s cancer was manageable and possibly, curable. Some cancers are, some aren’t.

The big Truth, and I wish this post will reach each and every one of those bereaved parents whose hearts your update crushed this week, is also that God did not choose your son to live and ours to die.

In the last 15 months of agony, endless tormenting and questioning of everything sacred and absolute, I have come to realise that God is much more complex than what we are told in Church. That pushing Him into a miracle-maker box is limiting Him to a man-made image He will never belong into.

I have also come to realise, and written countless times about the subject, that, unfortunately, the Church is, at this moment in time, a circus who worships that man-made god and a place where real life issues like non-healing, chronic pain, death and grief simply do not belong.

This week, your testimony to me, as a bereaved parent, has not been one of healing. Your testimony to me and hundreds of other bereaved believers and parents has been one of exclusion and about a fabricated God who picks and chooses favourites.

Thank God, dear mother whose child has just been given the all clear, that, in my search and painful grief, I have come to know that your god is not the real God, as I have come to know Him…

Starry skyFootnote: I request you kindly to respect this blog and its author when leaving a comment, especially on posts like the one above. I write my personal posts as a form of therapy(the only one I can afford at the moment, ha!). I do not hold anything against the family mentioned and I truly wish them all the very best in the future. I chose to write this post as a reaction and although I do know that there will be many a folk at the ready, prepared to wack me round the head with their Bible, I would politely request them to refrain from doing so and read this post for what it has been intended. And if you can,possibly learn something from the way they relate to bereaved people.


  1. I have similar issues with how surviving premature babies are celebrated. They’re called miracles, and rock stars. Their parents describe how all the hours of vigil and prayers were worth it. I know nothing is meant by it, there is no intended implication that the babies who died and their parents are somehow less, but it really hurts. Love xxx

    • Yes, Leigh, and this is exactly why I wrote this blog post.
      I truly wish the family happiness and complete recovery but the way in which the announcement has been made public left me so, so hurt!
      We were discussing it with Alex and he calls these “miracles” a stroke a luck.
      I settled for medical expertise as I cannot accept there is a God who sits there counting prayers and refusing some babies the chance to live for the shortfall. I also refuse to accept a God who would pick and choose who lives and who dies for some aleatory reasons no one understands as his bible says ALL life is precious to Him.
      Hugs, my friend.xx

  2. Christina Canavan says

    Oana, I am so glad you posted this. Peter read that story this week and felt very hurt and frustrated. We stormed heaven for Ethan as I know you did and never got our miracle. Medical knowledge was no match for our boys diseases….simple as that xx

    • Christina, I am so glad this has reached you and has maybe put a bit of healing balm on your hurting hearts. Hugs to you both.xx

    • Thank you, Crystal. I wish my writing could act as a virtual heart bandage for all the bruised hearts out there!xx

  3. Christina Canavan says

    It has helped immensely. I momentarily found myself saying to Peter…. maybe we didn’t pray hard enough, believe enough….but I forbid myself to go back there again. Its simply unfair to put ourselves through the questioning again. This path is hard enough.

    Thank you. You have my respect for writing this xx

    • Our love to you both. Indeed, we need our strength for the real fight, the one of despair and hopelessness. We do not need any other burdens, as you say and I am so glad you are finding strategies to cope with this all!xx

  4. What a beautiful and well written post. I have never suffered such grief nor do I believe in god but I understand trying to make sense of life when it seems so unfair. I think you have done yourself and the writer of the original update proud in your response x

  5. Oana another dignified response to a very hard subject. I do not believe in God, as such, nor do I believe that things happen for a reason or in miracles. I believe life, at times is very cruel and unfair. I believe in circumstances and science. No one persons circumstances are the same, everyone’s body and in this case illness, is different, as is the way in which illnesses respond to medicine. I am sure that hundreds of years ago, generally, more people were religious than today, yet life expectancy and survival rate from such cruel illnesses was very much lower than what it is today. Is this because back then people didn’t pray hard enough or weren’t worthy of their miracle?! NO, it is because science and medicine have advanced greatly in recent years, and this is what attributes to people surviving illnesses such as cancer. Sadly we still have a long way to go, as survival rates of children with cancer are lacking greatly compared to adulthood cancers.

    Thinking of you all, as always xxxx

    • Thank you for leaving a comment, Helen. I have had so many views of the post but people chose to run away afterwards. Thank you for reading this post, acknowledging my pain and for giving such pertinent and logical answers to such a painful issue the church has completely messed up with!xx

  6. I can imagine reading that status was like a knife through the heart. I do believe in God but I don’t believe he chooses who to save and who not to save. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you just had to pray hard enough to got the outcome you hope for? Ha. As if.
    I pray for my mom but know that comfort and acceptance is all that I can hope for: her fate is in the hands of science and medicine. I am thrilled that children and adults are beating this cruel disease but they don’t beat it because they fought harder, prayed harder or were more righteous. You don’t beat cancer because you were braver or more virtuous than anyone else and to think that you do is an insult to those who don’t survive. xx

    • Louisa, you have so much wisdom and I am sure, it has come as a result of a lot of anguish and pain. As you say, prayer, virtue or God have very little to do with the result when facing such a giant as cancer. I have been advocating for research since Georgie died and I will continue to do so, as this will be one certain way people will stop dying of this horrid disease. Hugs and hoping with all my heart that medicine will help your mum beat the beast!xx

  7. One the hardest truths (and greatest comfort) I’ve come to realize in child loss is that each of our days are numbered. How I wish more than anything that my child’s life was longer than mine. Yet I also believe one hundred percent that the best way to honor my son’s life is by living my life well, living better, not bitter. ((hugs)) I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Yes, Angie, I agree with you, bitterness is never a pretty sight and I have tried not to become a sour grape. But the anger and sense of injustice are feelings that need to be expressed, no use hiding them behind frilly religious curtains. Grief is messy, ugly and I am sure you have felt those feeling yourself, if you have lost a child.

      • Exactly…stuffing those feelings is not healthy, that’s for sure. It’s why blogging is so therapeutic for us, isn’t it? I’ve had to work through those feelings over and over again the past four years. For me, writing has been an honest lament. And, of course, throwing eggs always helps! 🙂 (Our family went to a grief camp a few months after our son died, and throwing eggs at a board was one of the activities they did that we continue to do.) ((hugs))

  8. Oh, Angie, I need to set up one of those egg boards in the back garden, I would find that as therapeutic as blogging, indeed :-)! Hugs and thank you for your gracious comments.xx

  9. Such a powerful post – I was one of those that read and whilst I wouldn’t say I ran away I did need to think about my response, I’ve never been in your position, but my Mum had cancer when I was a young woman, both my parents were comitted Christans with a strong faith & I had a similar experience to you to comments that I saw after she died (even many years after) – was my Father to think that he hadn’t prayed hard enough or that my Mum wasn’t special enough to be “cured”, no, her cancer was just too aggressive and too far advanced for the medicine that was available at that time.
    I’ve had friends recover from the exact cancer my Mum had and I’m so happy for them, but I’d never think that they were able to experience a miracle becuase they had a stronger faith than my Mum
    Wishing you continued strength in dealing with your familys’ loss {{hugs}}

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