Olive Tree Israel

Traveling to Cope with Child Loss (Part 5 - Garden of Gethsemane)

This post concludes our grief travel series, where we discussed how traveling provided new experiences and perspectives that helped in navigating the early grief journey. If you missed any posts, click the following links to read about our adventures at the Mayhurst Inn and in San Francisco Bay Area, Fiji, and New Zealand.


In 2022, before the current war*, we traveled with a church group to Israel. Visiting the Garden of Gethsemane was a notable experience.


The Garden of Gethsemane symbolizes a place of intense suffering and pressure. Gethsemane means “oil press.” In fact, the Garden of Gethsemane is full of olive trees, and olives are crushed and pressed to create olive oil.


During our time in the garden, one of the group leaders shared a sermon: The Garden of Gethsemane is the place where Jesus Christ spent time in great agony, praying before being crucified. Jesus felt extremely sorrowful and deeply distressed, to the point of sweating blood.


Jesus was hard pressed, yet He still pressed on to fulfill His purpose. The sermon’s encouragement was to “press on when you are hard pressed.” When life hands us hardships and tragedies, we are to press on because there’s often something beautiful on the other side.


On the other side of Jesus’ suffering, there was resurrection, forgiveness of sins, and abundant life.


On the other side of pressed olives, there is delicious, versatile olive oil.


On the other side of loss, it’s possible to experience “the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).


The death of a child is one of the most heart-wrenching tragedies a parent can face. How can anything beautiful come from this type of pressing? How can there be joy after the agonizing, crushing weight of death?


These are questions that each parent will have to personally wrestle with.


But being in the Garden of Gethsemane was a powerful reminder that God intimately relates with us when we are pressed with unbearable sorrow, and there is hope to experience beauty and joy, even as we carry grief.


*We grieve with the thousands of families experiencing loss in this region, including the loss of many children whose lives we hope will be honored and remembered.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.