Story of a Grieving Father

Mercy verseby Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International

Here’s a true story you can share with your children.  Some details have been changed along with names of the people involved in order to protect their privacy.


Meet Byron and Norma Parker.  Married for thirty years, they’ve raised three children to adulthood in a lovely home in the suburbs west of a major American city.  Their middle son, Brad, had gone off to college and become a heroin addict before he could graduate.  Years were spent interacting with police and court authorities who had not always treated Brad fairly.  He did not experience much mercy from those outside his family.  His parents were worn out from worry and frustration, but recently they were encouraged as Brad finally found a way to break with his addictive behavior, complete his jail term and return home to start anew.

Then, one morning Byron knocked on his son’s bedroom door, checking to see why Brad had not come down for breakfast.  Tragically, he discovered that Brad had died in the night.  It was determined that he had overdosed on heroin.  Police entered the scene and soon arrested the supplier, a young man not much older than Brad.

Eventually, Byron and Norma were interviewed by the prosecutor in the drug dealer’s case.  They dreaded the encounter, praying for wisdom to say what God would have them say.

Back home from the court appointment, Byron wrote this in his journal:

Norma and I had a meeting today with the prosecutor of Jerry S, the boy who sold Brad the heroin.  They are charging him with manslaughter, I think- 10 years or more in prison if convicted. 

We were running late and parking around the courthouse is horrible. I have been there many times with Brad in the past, but as we approached the courthouse this time, a space was open just steps from the front entrance. We parked and walked right in. I clearly felt God’s love in this. He knew we were anxious and just wanted us to have a little better day without parking headaches. What a blessing!

The prosecutor wanted to know what Norma and I wanted as an outcome for Jerry S. He wanted to know how angry we were with the boy who sold our son the heroin.  The judge also wanted to know what we thought his sentence should be.

We told the attorney we wanted mercy. 

We wanted Jerry S to get counseling. We wanted him not to have a felony on his record which would make it impossible for him to get a good job. We wanted the probation officer to set up meetings convenient to his work schedule and not overburden him.  We wanted joy back in his life. These were all the things Brad did not get in the court system during his addiction struggles over the years.

On the way home we wondered if Jerry S was remorseful for Brad’s death. Would we want so lenient a judgment if he was not repentant…if he was hardened and took no responsibility?

I am so glad Jesus did not look at my hardened heart before He died for me.  I pray for Jerry S as he sits in prison. I pray earnestly that he will know God loves him.  I pray that if he is given grace he will understand better the grace of God.  In all things, to God be the glory.


  • After you’ve read the story aloud, use some of the questions like the ones we suggested in our last entry to help your children interact with what happened in this family.
  • If you find any similarities, or differences, to stories Jesus used in His earthly ministry, let family members share.
  • What might critics say about Brad’s parents wanting mercy for Jerry S?  Do you agree?  Talk about this.

One thought on “Story of a Grieving Father

  1. Nancy, this is such a beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes. It seems unfathomable– IMPOSSIBLE. For them to give the heroin dealer mercy? And yet, it was the way Jesus would respond– with love, kindness, and forgiveness. Thanks for sharing. I was going through a hard issue in my own heart– refusing to forgive an old neighbor who harmed our family. This reminds me to pray for them, even though they don’t deserve it, even though they caused so much turmoil for me and my family for 6 full years. Because Jesus loves them, I can as well. 🙂


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