Offer compassion to those who mourn the death of a child


Mark Pickup

October 14, 2013

It was a terrible accident. Thomas Wedman, age six, was walking to school at St. Albert's École Marie Poburan, a French immersion Catholic elementary school. While crossing a street, the Grade 2 student was accidentally run over by a school bus filled with children. Thomas died.

The tragedy cut to the hearts of parents and grandparents far beyond St. Albert. Even seasoned and usually dispassionate television reporters were visibly shaken as they reported on newscasts across the Capital region.

The public reaction was visceral. We all have worried about our children being run over on a street. The Wedman family is living the reality of what we fear.

Christians of various denominations have lifted the Wedman family up in prayer. We have a wonderful opportunity to reflect Christ's love by embracing the Wedmans with tenderness, and envelope them with kindness as they grieve. Christian counselling services are available for the Wedmans.


Loving kindness is where the Catholic faith really shines. I know it firsthand. I have been the recipient of it on numerous occasions, even before I was Catholic. It was love that drew me to the Catholic Church.

In death God called Thomas to himself. Those who die in God's grace live forever with Christ. They become like God and see him as he is. We have the assurance that little Thomas is in the warm presence and motherly care of the Virgin Mary, the blessed saints and our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read that on one occasion Jesus was asked by his disciples who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Christ called a child over to them. He said, "Therefore anyone who humbles himself as this little child is the greatest is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18.4).

Thomas is in glory. That is certain. It is the family he left behind who must be comforted. Christ's followers must be prepared to enter the Wedmans' grief and comfort them where they are at.

It's not easy. I have three grandchildren close to the age of Thomas. My mind reels to even contemplate it but contemplate I, we, must.

When King David lost his infant son he said, "I shall go to him" and eventually he did. Those who have lost children have the same consolation. Physical death is not the end.

Through Christ they shall meet their little ones again at the end of their earthly lives. But in the interim, we must be willing to meet hurting people at their point of deep grief and journey with them, if they permit it.


We know that everyone must face loss and sorrow at some point in their lives. Your time (or mine) to be comforted may come next. Pray someone will be there for you.

In the Thomas Wedman tragedy, there is also the bus driver who needs our loving concern and comfort. He must be devastated. I cannot imagine being in his place. Anybody who has been driving for a long period of time has probably had close calls when they could have killed somebody.

I'm included. Perhaps a child darted out between parked cars to chase a ball as we were driving down that street; maybe we caught ourselves inadvertently speeding through a school zone; possibly we did not see a child in a crosswalk because we were distracted by something and suddenly slammed on the brakes of the vehicle we were driving to narrowly avoid hitting the child or a senior.

If we are honest, we will admit we've all had close calls. Consider the poor bus driver who must live with this tragedy that killed Thomas Wedman and think: There but by the grace of God goes me. He needs our kindness too.


Love is like a salve for the aching or tormented soul. Tears must be seen before they are wiped away because they are an outward expression of a broken heart.

Give the broken-hearted your attention and let them freely communicate their sorrows. Hearts that communicate in the light of Christ's love begin to see each other as brothers and sisters in the human family.

In the Book of Romans we read, "Don't just pretend that you love others: really love them. . . . Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honouring each other" (12.9-10).

Love expressed is our greatest act of obedience to Christ.