Questions, Grief, and Gratitude

On our drive home the other day, my son asked me, “Mom, what has been the saddest moment in your life?”

My answer was easy. “The day my mom died, Honey.”

Then he asked, “What was the happiest moment of your life?”

And, again, my answer was easy, “the day you were born.”

Sean and I then agreed that the day I married his dad would be a close second. 🙂

Then I asked him the same questions. “So, what has been the saddest moment of your life?”

I was curious what his answer would be. Perhaps, he would recall a day on the playground when he felt left out. Or maybe, a day in his life that didn’t meet his expectations.

But his answer surprised me,”Mom, I don’t think I’ve had the saddest moment of my life yet.”

I found his answer beautiful. His life, this far, has been joyful and happy and carefree. And, after hearing his answer, I rejoiced over this fact. I also rejoiced because my son seemed to understand, that in his almost 8 short years on this earth, nothing in his life could be defined as the saddest moment.

As I thought about this, I also grieved. I grieved for children in the world whose reality is greatly different than my son’s experience. Kids who have experienced sexual or physical abuse. Kids who have experienced the death of one or both of their parents. Kids who have experienced abandonment or extreme poverty. Many kids would not be able to arrive at the same conclusion as my son did.

For some reason, this conversation with my son brought to mind the pictures of these little children. Below, are pictures of some of the children from my last mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Each time our team goes to the DR, we visit some of the poorest areas to deliver rice and beans to the families living there.

I have no idea if these kids have a memory in their life yet that can be defined as their saddest moment but I do know that their lives have been so much harder than my life and my son’s life.

This first picture is of a little girl who was home alone, her parents would be gone all week. They were out working to support their family. I wonder if this is the saddest moment in this little girl’s life so far. I wonder if she even realizes how sad her situation is. This is her life. This is what she knows. I wonder if she is just grateful for a chair to sit in, a roof over her home, and neighbors to look in on her while her mom and dad are away.

I am thankful for the easy life my son has had. I am thankful he understands that nothing in his life this far comes close to being the saddest moment.

Oh, and by the way, when I asked my son what his happiest moment in life had been he responded, “The time I went to Fun Forest and played with all the other kids there and we pretended our sticks were weapons and we chased each other.” Now that answer didn’t surprise me!

10 thoughts on “Questions, Grief, and Gratitude

  1. Jenifer

    We take so much for granted and don't realize it till we see pictures like this. Do these precious little ones remember their happiest moment, have they even had a happiest moment? My heart and prayers go to them.

  2. Lisa

    Your words really puts our lives into perspective. We may go through some hard things, but most of our trials don't compare to the daily struggles that people around the world are facing.
    Love Sean's answer about the happiest moment. 😉

  3. Eileen

    Suzanne, those picture stick with you.

    Jenifer, you know what's interesting about the kids I met in the DR was that many were happy despite their situation. The first trip I went on I remember seeing kids running up the street smiling while playing with a piece of styrofoam that they had found! I think many are happy when somebody gives them a pair of shoes or a toothbrush. Or maybe one night they get to have a second helping of beans and rice. What I realized is that the things we take for granted they tent to find true happiness in.

    Lisa, Yes! I loved that answer too.

  4. My daily walk in His grace!

    Hi Eileen – I love conversations like that. You can learn so much about your kids, and about God.
    Great heartfelt post.
    God bless

  5. Allison

    LOVE this…I feel so guilty sometimes because of all we do have compared to what others have. Even people in our own communities. He has blessed me with a servant's heart and I am grateful for any and every opportunity He allows me to serve others in His name. Even by sponsoring a child with World Vision and ShowHope's Maria's big house, I feel I am doing what He has called us to do as Christians, but mostly it just feels as if it's not enough…

  6. Kandi


    Oh my, we were on the same wave length today, it waw through the oddest circumstance that this subject was brought to mind. I could clearly see a woman in a fancy SUV talking on her phone and yelling at traffic and then she threw me some no so nice hand gestures, and I kept thinking to myself, why are you acting the way you are,do you know how fortunate you are? Your pictures put things so clearly into perspective.

    Blessings to you Eileen.

  7. Phather Phil Malmstrom

    It really is a sobering perspective when we realize the Blessings that we have, and that even our most difficult days pale in comparison to those of so many others.

    Thank you for sharing your photos, and your wonderfully perceptive son's conversation as well. 🙂

    Have a Blessed Day!

  8. Tiffini

    oh Eileen..I know! my heart just breaks over lives all over the world. Many stories so horrific we couldn't even wrap our minds around them. But God can…yes?
    And your son? He is so much like you! He makes me laugh:) You are a lucky mama;)

  9. Kelli

    Thank you Eileen for sharing these photos. It is a sad reality but yet reality for so many. Thank God for children who don't yet have a painful memory. I pray for those who do. Great post girl!:) I really enjoyed reading this.


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