The author, currently a member of the philosophy department at Yale and formerly professor of philosophy at Calvin College, wrote Lament For a Son "to voice his grief" upon the death of his son, Eric, in a mountain climbing accident in Austria in 1983. In the preface he says, "Though it is intensely personal, I have decided now to publish it in the hope that it will be of help to some of those who find themselves with us in the company of mourners."
[His] reflections and meditations, some of them very brief, are indeed intensely personal. He does not hesitate to ask the hard questions one asks about an "out of order" death and rather than offering easy answers to these questions, invites his reader into the mourning process as he experienced it. He eloquently conveys his own feelings of loss, his longing to be with is son again, and the intense regret he feels over things unsaid and undone. In one meditation he considers how he has changed and grown as a result of his son's death. Wolterstorff is able to point to ways in which he has grown in strength and wisdom, but he closes this section by saying, "I have changed, yes. For the better, I do not doubt. But without hesitation I would exchange those changes for Eric back."
Wolterstorff is a Christian philosopher and this book assumes a Christian audience. While not all of the meditations are written with God in mind, many are, and in most cases we see Wolterstorff wrestling with the question of where God was and is in the fact of his son's death. This book in no way attempts to proselytize, however, and Wolterstorff does not hesitate to confront and reject some traditional Christian platitudes. The book closes with the text of the requiem commissioned by Nicholas Wolterstorff in memory of his son.
-- Reviewed by Bill Londo for re-connections, 15 January 1991.