Grieving in Literary Works
Wolterstorff is able to find joy after his loss in more than one way. Specifically, the author was actually able to transition through the various stages of grieving as outlined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Those stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and understanding (Ferrini and Ferrini, 2008). Towards the end of the book, for instance, it is clear that he is able to arrive at an understanding of the entire significance of the death of his son and in that understanding he is able to once more experience joy. That understanding, of course, has a lot to do with his faith as a Christian as much as his ability to transition through the aforementioned five stages. It is pivotal to understand that the evolution of an individual through each of these five stages is not linear, and Wolterstorff’s experience certainly details this fact. Still, he is able to experience joy again largely because he is able to reach the stage of understanding. His ability to do so greatly pertains to his conception of death and its significance as understood by various aspects of Christianity.
Additionally, one can assert that the author was able to find joy again through his family. In this regard, his respect for and relationship with his other children helped him immensely. One can certainly clearly see the stage of bargaining that the author experiences as he reflects upon his other children and his duty towards them. There are passages in which the author considers what decision he would have made if he had to choose which of his five children he would willingly give up to death — which is a belated way of bargaining. Yet he quickly realizes that there is a sort of value in not only having his other children which helps to bring him joy, but also in having his one particular son. At one point in the manuscript he mentions that because of the loss of his son Eric to a mountain climbing accident he now things of him more — and in that respect is somewhat figuratively closer to his child, which helps bring him joy.
The meaning and significance of death in the Christian narrative is of prominent importance to the joy Wolterstorff was able to achieve after the loss of his son Eric. One of the critical facets of that significance is largely that death heralds the end of suffering. There are numerous points in this manuscript in which the author reflects on the fact that life — particularly in light of the loss of a loved one — is predicated on suffering. Perhaps such ruminations are part of the anger and depression stages that Kubler-Ross has outlined (Kubler-Ross, 1997). Nonetheless, in the Christian narrative death can herald the end of suffering because of certain…