An expanded edition of this classic book on grief and loss—with a new preface and epilogue Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life—one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.
Gerald Sittser’s book is among the best I have ever read for those who are struggling with a great loss in life. He speaks from terrible experience. He lost his wife, mother and a daughter in a single automobile accident. From his own experience of the pain and suffering that follows he draws out a meaningful perspective applicable to the universal experience of human suffering. Without diminishing the pain and evil that suffering inflicts and represents, Sittser helps us make sense of suffering in the context of the Christian faith. He does so with honesty and clarity. Suffering can provide an opportunity for spiritual growth and strengthening of character. We all have that choice available to us.
Sittser rejects the notion of “recovery” from catastrophic loss. Such a loss can not be recovered from if that means that we will be the same as before. We will never get over it. Instead, following Victor Frankl’s example, he insists that we must find some meaning in suffering. Our souls must be enlarged by it to help us transcend the experience and integrate it into our lives if we are not to be crushed by it instead. He is an able guide to the avenue that the Christian faith provides for this.
The book has a good chapter on the futility of comparing one person’s loss to another. He shows that there is no point in deciding whose serious, irretrievable loss is worse than another’s. Each experience of loss is unique because each person is unique.
Sittser doesn’t minimize the problems that Christian faith presents in suffering. He has been through the dark tunnel of wondering why this accident happened to him and what God’s interest, or lack thereof, is in his suffering. Read more…
Sittser shares a deeply personal tragedy with readers, opening up the way for their own healing. He doesn’t sugar-coat things, but is very vulnerable and transparent in revealing his pain but also his growth. His main point is that grief and sorrow–suffering–can make us bitter or better, it’s OUR choice. By facing the pain and doing the grief work needed with God’s help and grace, we can grow and embrace loss, which will only enhance our lives. It’s just nice to know we’re not alone in our pain, that Sittser has been there, and he does the best thing: he points us to God, to show us that God cries with us and loves us and hasn’t punished us with our sorrow/suffering.
This is a wonderful book. So many families around me have experienced the loss of a family member within the last year that I was really praying for God to give me a good book to help me better understand what they are going through and how I can be more helpful and supportive. This book not only did that but also taught me so much personally about finding God’s grace to live life in general since so many of the issues that he brings up are common in day to day just not as overwhelming as when someone we love dies.