Losing a Loved One

Theology Refresh: Podcast for Christian Leaders

For Lyle Dorsett, it was the sudden loss of his ten-year-old daughter Erica. She came down sick one night, and died the next morning.

Years later, Dorsett and his wife Mary still are healing. Losing a child is a long, painful journey. There have been times, he says, when he’s thought, God, if I were in charge, I wouldn’t have done it this way. But God’s ways are higher than ours — and he doesn’t leave his children without a wealth of resources for comfort, even and especially when the path of pain is long and dark.

The Different Ways We Suffer

The Dorsetts found no silver bullets for lessening the loss, but they did find a God with broad enough shoulders, and tender enough hands, to show himself both sovereign and good. They learned to live in faith, just day by day, relying on divine promises, like Jesus’s word in John 14:16–17,

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

They took Jesus at his word and leaned on the Comforter who dwelt with them.

The Dorsetts also found they suffered differently. Over time, it seemed to be tougher on Mary, who went into a dark night of the soul. Spouses often find that they process grief and loss in varying ways when a loved one has been taken from them.

Rallying the Body

They did discover what a tremendous source of help and comfort the local church can be for those learning to living with the loss of a loved one. Especially helpful to the Dorsetts was talking to others who had lost a child and connect in this special way with their loss. Also they saw the body of Christ rally around them to just be present, and weep with them as they wept, and then to assist with basics like food and even cleaning.

There are remarkable resources for blessing the bereaved in the Christian community — if we’ll only take the risk to reach out with help, and not assume it would only be a bother, or that someone else will do it.

This 12-minute episode of Theology Refresh is just one man’s story. Dorsett doesn’t attempt to answer every question; it may not be for every sufferer. But we think many will get help from hearing Dorsett’s honest and hope-filled account of how he and his wife learned to walk by faith in the wake of such a tragic loss.

has been the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School since 2005, and teaches courses in evangelism, spiritual formation and church history. He also serves as the pastor of Christ the King Anglican Church.