Losing My Mum to Cancer: Where Is God in Our Loss?

Loss can be hard to deal with, and it can test our faith. As we grieve, we may ask, “Where is God in my loss?” Katy Parker faced the loss of her beloved mum 11 years ago and has found God in her suffering.

It has now been 11 years since I lost my mum to cancer. I always get more emotional around the time she passed away, just before Easter. It isn’t easy to deal with traumaversary, no matter how much time has passed. It still hurts. And we may never stop to ask, ‘Why?’ Loss can be hard to deal with, and it can test our faith. We start to question ourselves and God. As we grieve, we may ask where God is amidst our hurt.

Where is God in our loss?

My mum was strong in her faith, and she used to say, “Everything happens for a reason.” I didn’t like her saying those words. How can someone who is terminally ill believe that there is a reason for it? A good reason? What could be a good reason for having cancer, for dying?  How can there be a benefit to this? And where is God now, in our time of hurt, of loss?

I found myself looking up as I pondered these questions as if I expected to see Him somewhere up in the sky. Why are you not stopping it? Why are you letting my mum suffer like this? Her, who trusted you and loved you all her life? Hasn’t she suffered enough yet? Losing her first child, broken marriage, being a single mother… How am I supposed to trust you after all this? Many questions would enter my head and a stream of tears would flow from my eyes. But I couldn’t see God in my suffering. Where is God during our time of loss?

God knows our pain

Easter came shortly after my mum’s funeral. At the time I couldn’t face the Good Friday church service. How could I? First, I lost my mum and now I should listen to the suffering of another? The horrid, gruesome and ugly death Jesus went through? But eventually, I brought myself to go to the service. And then there were the words, ‘Not my will but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42) and I started to wonder what His will was. God, is your will to take my mum away? But why? God where are you during my loss?

It’s hard to believe that our good God would let something that bad happen to our loved ones. But then only a few days ago I was reminded that He let His only son die so we could have eternal life. And this reminded me that this couldn’t have been easy for Him either. This wouldn’t be easy for any father. Just as seeing my mum’s coffin being lowered into the ground was so heartbreaking for me, so must have been the death of His only son for Him. He knows how heartbreaking it is, He knows what pain and suffering are. God is with us in our hurt, our loss. He was there nailed to the cross because of His love for us

Still doubting and asking, “Where is God?”

He gives us life and He takes it away. And whilst we may not always see Him in our loss and hurt, and may even turn away from Him, He is always with us. It isn’t Him who leaves us, it’s us who leave Him. And this may seem legitimate at the time if we are unable to see Him when our hearts are broken, we may have thousands of questions, doubt, or even be losing our faith. But He knows this and is waiting for when we are ready again. He is patient. And He loves us. He never promised that there will not be suffering. We all have to bear the consequences of Adam and Eve’s wrong choice. Death came to us because of sin (Romans 5:12). But God promised us that He will always be with us through the suffering.

And maybe when we lose what is so dear to us on this earth, we get closer to God. Our tears will eventually lead us closer to Him. Because however cross we are with Him initially, we must realise that He is not to blame. And that nothing can give us as much comfort in those hard times as His presence. We may have stopped praying, thinking our prayer didn’t prevent the death of our dearest one anyway. But this anger will never give us peace. It will only deepen our pain. 

Surrender to God

So, cry, scream, give your tears, your hurt to God. Free your heart of pain and anger. Tell Him how you feel and pray for strength and peace. And trust that He is with you in your hurt and He will use the hardship for something beyond what you can see or understand. 

It took me years to understand my mum’s words and there are still so many things I don’t understand, but I now know that her purpose was so much greater than just being here on earth for us. And whilst the loss may never stop hurting, letting God into our hearts can provide comfort and hope. Until we meet with our dearest ones again…

Katy Parker

Katy is a trauma-informed well-being writer who integrates mental health and faith into her words. Katy shares her journey of overcoming trauma on her Journeyofsmiley blog, where you can access her free e-book 7 Keys To Self-Healing, A Trauma Survivor's Guide.

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