Having been a widow at 30 with two small children, I have experienced the christian response to suffering and death. This is supposed to be the one point where all of this christian belief is vindicated - where it all is worth it. It was cold comfort to say the least.
There were so many people who wanted to help and they did so by praying. I appreciated their desire to help. Just not so much their way of doing it. I was still very much alone with our semi-private horror. While it might be somewhat encouraging to see people who have it so much worse than you do - even to the point of making you grateful for the small scope of your own problems - it is very lonely being on the other side.
I had a wise moment I think on the night my late husband died of brain cancer. I was sitting in his palliative care room trying to rock our toddler son to sleep. Little tyke had an ear infection and needed to be with me. I thought about how very strange it was to be doing this, given our modern way of dealing with death. I felt very alone in my situation. But then I thought about the generations upon generations of wives and mothers who had cared for their children while watching their children's father struggle to breathe. While it was still excruciating, I did not feel so alone. I was in good company - the company of many strong mothers.
Things are good now. The strength I found in myself has given me the confidence to move resolutely on with my life, rather than wallowing in unhelpful questions like 'why'. 'Why not' is indeed the answer. I am grateful (to noone in particular) that I was better prepared intellectually, mentally, financially and emotionally than most women would be in a similar situation. And letting go of the compartmentalized faith that persisted in my brain was an important part of that.
I have to deal with a daughter who wants to know if her Daddy is in heaven or if she will see him again. She also wants to know whether he can see her. I just tell her what I can with the honesty and integrity of a caring mom. I tell her that I don't really believe in such a thing as heaven, but since I have never died, I don't know for sure what happens. And I tell her that if her Daddy could see her that he would be very proud of her. She's adjusting to it.