Parent helps others deal with grief, loss

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Landmark News Service

 After suffering what he calls “the worst thing a parent can experience,” Henry White is now using his experience to help others who are traveling the same path.

White, pastor of Heavenbound Baptist Church in Elizabethtown and former director of Helping Hand, recently published a book, “The Greatest Loss – Ministering to Parents Who Lose a Child,” that discusses how ministers can provide aid to parents who have lost a child.

White’s 19-year-old son, Matt, died in a car wreck in 1999. Soon after his son’s death, White was inspired to write a book after hearing from many parents whose ministers ended up hurting more than helping them because of their lack of knowledge in dealing with the death of a child.

White and his wife, Brenda, joined the support group Compassionate Friends soon after Matt’s death, and it was there he heard these stories from fellow parents in the group. He began writing the book, but shelved it for quite a while before he was encouraged to return to it and complete it.

“So I felt it really was something I needed to do,” he said.

It was released a few weeks ago by Butler Books of Louisville.

White said he primarily had ministers in mind as his target audience, but said the book can be helpful to anyone, including parents who have lost a child and their friends and family who might be struggling with ways to help.

People don’t want to make a parent’s grief worse, he said, and that’s why often they won’t talk about the child or will try to explain why the tragedy happened. White experienced both after his son died, and speaks about the hurt he felt in the book.

He also discusses parents who blame God for the death of their child or find their faith shaken because of it. Ministers often feel they need to correct those statements and beliefs, but White said that’s not necessary.

“It’s not rational,” he said of people’s statements about God during this time, “it’s emotional.”

White also encourages ministers not to forget about the parents as the months go by after their child’s death. While they may be working to move on, their grief continues.

“But it never ends,” he said. “That hole is always there.”

White said he found the writing process fairly easy, and it served as a catharsis for him to write about his son. He discusses in the book the importance of keeping the child’s name alive and this was another way he could do so for Matt.

“It’s very satisfying” to have it complete, he said.

The book can be purchased by contacting White at (270) 769-1901 or henrywhite1001@comcast.net, or online at www.butlerbooks.com/thegreatestloss.html.