What lies beyond the cemetery is the valley of weeping. Even before we leave our child's grave, we have begun the journey into that valley. Only, we don't know how deep or how wide the valley is, and this can make the descent both sad and fearful. Worse yet, if we are married, our spouse will also be in the valley. And though we enter together, we may not stay together. Often, one spouse will take a different path and, perhaps, go to places lower than the other can follow. Thankfully, there is a faithful Guide, a Good Shepherd to lead us through the valley.

          Hetty Wesley was a sister of the well-known Charles and John Wesley. All three of her children died in infancy. She wrote this poem after the death of her last child:

Tender softness, infant mild,
Perfect, purest, brightest child!
Transient luster, beauteous clay,
Smiling wonder of a day!
Ere the last convulsive start
Rend thy unresisting heart,
Ere the long-enduring swoon
Weigh thy precious eyelids down,
Ah, regard a mother's moan!
Anguish deeper than thy own.
Ere thy gentle breast sustain
Latest, fiercest, mortal pain,
Here a suppliant! Let me be
Partner in thy destiny:
That whene'er the fatal cloud
Must thy radiant temples shroud;
When deadly damps, impending now,
Shall hover round thy destined brow,
Diffusive may their influence be,
And with the blossom blast the tree!

          Hetty Wesley expressed the deep, heart-wrenching sorrow that some parents, particularly mothers, feel when their children's bodies are laid in the grave. Real grief is not easily comforted. It comes like ocean waves rushing up the sand, subsiding back, only to roll in again. These waves vary in size, frequency, and intensity. Some are small, lapping up around the feet. Others are stronger; they foam the water around you and cause you to stagger. Then there are the overwhelming waves with an undertow that can turn your world upside down and drag you out into the deep water. In times such as those, the mourner desperately needs an anchor. And, indeed, God has promised His people a blessing if they patiently endure. He has guaranteed the promise so that we might lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope is the anchor of the soul, and it is sure and steadfast (Heb. 6:19).

          One of these waves hit my wife about seven months after John Cameron's death. It was the season of Thanksgiving, but not for her. The grief of losing a son was mixed with the desire for another child. Desire turned to near despair when we decided not to have any more children. But what neither she nor I could see at the time was the place that God was preparing for us. The new "place" was the life that awaited us with our adopted son. And while God was preparing a place for us, He was also preparing us for the place. Our house of mourning would become a house of rejoicing, but we were not yet through the Valley of Weeping.