November/December, 1998 Volume XIII Number 3

An Empty Cradle, A Full Heart

Reflections for mothers and fathers after miscarriage, still birth, or infant death

Author: Christine O'Keefe Lafser
Loyola Press
ISBN#: 0-8294-1173-9

Reviewed by Cathy Ramey

Books intended to help the wounded abound. In fact, I've collected and given away a large number of unsolicited titles over the years. While all are well-intended works, few have the power to convince me that the book is a resource I want to hang onto in my own library. Even fewer warrant giving away as books that I hope and believe will be particularly meaningful and treasured by another who is hurting.
An Empty Cradle, A Full Heart is different. It is the first book for grieving mothers and fathers that I am confident will bring a lasting sense of comfort for those who have sustained the most powerful loss imaginable. Whether the loss has come through illness, abortion, stillbirth, or accident, the text of An Empty Cradle offers the kind of compassion that affirms the depth of sorrow a parent feels when a child has died. And the book has more. It offers comfort in the present and hope for the future.
Christine O'Keefe Lafser has built on her own reflections in losing two babies as well as the reflections of others who have ached over the loss of a child. Skirting the empty platitudes that often hurt more than heal, Lafser matches personal reflections with biblical wisdom in entries that are short enough to capture a crying heart without being too weighty.
My own inclination is to purchase several of these small books to have on hand for those who grieve. As a person who is sometimes at a loss for words in such painful circumstances, I imagine being able to help a friend who has lost a baby through the most difficult times of grief. Every page of An Empty Cradle is an offering, one reflection particularly appropriate for this day of grief and the next for another.
In combination with caring family and friends, the man or woman who has been devastated by the death of a child is sure to find a measure of comfort in An Empty Cradle that may add meaning to a loss that sometimes seems too hurtful to bear.

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