Lament for a Son

Lament for a Son

Lament for a Son

Wolterstorff, Nicholas






The author describes the progress of his grief from the shock of learning of his son’s accidental death to his final resignation a year later.


Library Journal

Wolterstorff, a well-known Christian philosopher, lost his 25-year-old son to a mountain climbing accident. His reflections in the wake of that tragedy are at times deeply personal, but always he expresses a prayerful anguish with which most bereaved parents will identify. Above all he refuses to turn from the “demonic awfulness” of death and, as he moves faithfully through grief, discovers new meaning in the Beatitudes, together with a new understanding of a suffering God. Spiritually enriching and theologically substantive. EC
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Journal of Psychiatry & Christianity

This book is destined to become a classic, and in many ways is even better than C. S. Lewis’s Grief Observed…. It is a book of questions in the face of death, searching for how to go on, living without a loved one…. He expresses both the evil of death and the face of God in and through death. It is a poem to life that expresses the numbness of death, the isolation of grief, the silence and yet suffering of God, finding meaning in the suffering. This is a book to read over and over and over.



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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Wow…what an honest, heart-wrenching, intimate book. While it is true that each person’s suffering is unique and personal, this book also contains universal truths. The book is also full of sincere questions, struggles with faith, and genuine “grief work”. The reflection on “blessed are those who mourn” is itself worth the price of the book, but there is so much in this short little book. I will return to this book over and over for personal reflection on pastoral care as well as sermon preparation. It’s going on my “favorites” shelf.

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Barnes & Noble

Losing a child is different than losing a spouse, a parent, or a grandparent, or a dear friend. Somehow the hollow, deep abyss within a parent or grandparent seems like a hole that can never be filled. Until I read LAMENT FOR A SON, I felt the same way. Wolterstorff’s pouring out of his loss helped me to realize I was not alone in my mourning place over the loss of my son. The hole may never fill, but little by little it has healing–become smaller–all because I read this book.

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