Child Loss Faith Grief Inspiration

To the Parents of Caleb Schwab -The Boy Who Was Killed On The World’s Tallest Waterslide (Update)

Written by Lauren Eberspacher


Charges have been filed against the Kansas water park where 10-year-old Caleb Schwab died on the facility’s tallest slide in 2016. Court documents allege park owners and its director rushed the attraction into use without proper engineering or compliance with safety standards, and are now facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the case.

I wrote this letter to Caleb’s parents after his death and I was so grateful that it was able to encourage and speak to so many hearts that were hurting. May we continue to pray for the Schwab family and those who knew and loved Caleb.



Dear Representative and Mrs. Schwab,

I have no words to properly express the sorrow in my heart for your family and for the loss of your precious son, Caleb. I can not fathom the ache in your souls and the emptiness you must feel; I am just so sorry.

I’m not sure why I have felt such a strong connection to your son’s death. Perhaps it’s because I drove past Schlitterbahn Sunday evening after the accident. Maybe it’s because Olathe is my hometown. Or the fact that you attend the same church that my parents do. It could even be because I voted for you some years ago. But I think it has to do with something even deeper than that. You are my brother and sister in Christ. And it’s a moment of asking, “But Lord, why my child?”

I know we don’t know each other from Sam, but I have felt the Spirit laying something on my heart the past couple of days that I wanted to share with you. I know that as a fellow parent, the most earthly thing that I desire is to be able to keep my children safe and to be there with them when things aren’t. If anything, I don’t want my children to ever feel alone. And while you weren’t in that raft with your sweet boy when he met the Lord, I wanted to remind you that he was not alone. And neither are you now.

In the moment that Caleb had his accident, he saw the face of Jesus and it took his breath away. As he was sliding over that hill, he slid into the arms of the Lord. Even when he was at the top of the Verruckt waiting his turn, God had already seen this moment; He had already been there. Your son did not die alone.

And while your son was not alone in his death, you are not alone in your living. The same God who gently held your son as he entered into eternity now gently holds you as you ache, as you mourn, and as you weep. And as God gazes upon the new, redeemed body of your precious son, He turns to look at His own son seated next to Him, remembering his death on the cross so many years ago; the Father knows your sorrow. And that very same God, the one who lived in Caleb’s heart, has already overcome the world. So take heart so that you may have peace, my friends. And as you are walking through this valley, this dark, unfathomable valley, know that you are not alone and neither was he.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which our selves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Photo via NBC News


About the author

Lauren Eberspacher

I’m Lauren and I’m a work-in-progress farmer’s wife, coffee addict, follower of Jesus and a recovering perfectionist. When I don’t have my three kids attached at my hip, you can find me bringing meals into the fields, dancing in my kitchen, making our house a home, and chatting over a piece of pie with my girl friends. I’m doing my best to live my life intentionally seeking all that God has for me and my family.
Follow me at:

From Blacktop to Dirt Road on Facebook

laurenspach on Instagram


  • Beautiful post, Lauren. It is both kind and loving of you to express your sentiments for another unimaginable pain. I believe that your words will also help others who know the horror of this loss.

  • This child and this family have impacted my life greatly. Many times throughout each and every day, I find myself back in prayer for them. My heart aches greatly, my stomach is nauseous, my eyes burn from tears and I just feel overwhelmed at times. For me, it also brings my own pain of losing a child to the surface (it is always there but in layers now – things that trigger the fond memories as well as the painful ones). I know the devastating way in which the media tend to focus on the most hurtful aspects of the tragedy. They capitalize on our pain and seem not to care that they are pouring salt into an already unbearable and unfathomable wound. All for how they hope to impact the hearts and minds of the masses. Well, Schwab family; the media has not tainted my mind or that of world. Caleb was and remains and amazing child of God. While the media attempts to paint an ugly portrait of his last seconds on this earth; we have heard from your pastor who has eloquently and profoundly painted a beautiful picture of an energetic, fun-loving, joy filled, heart embracing, sports loving, compassionate, slightly ornery, delightful young man. One only need look at his picture to be consumed with his energy. I am so so so sorry for your loss but at some point, and it will come,I promise; you will, as I did, stop and have some quiet dialog with God about what you have learned from your child and even his passing. I would like to share to a couple of the things that I have been taught by my most precious angel, Marissa LeeRae Courtney. I learned that I learned a great deal from this little piece of Heaven. I long for her so deeply….SO DEEPLY….I feel my heart will just burst and my tear ducts will become dry. In my deep longing,I realized that this overwhelming longing is only a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father longs for us. I realized that until I long for my heavenly father the way I long for my child in heaven, I am not expressing my love for him deeply enough. I am working on that. I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined and that my child was the catalyst to me teaching others (primarily the health care profession) about her illness and proper protocol. I learned how to forgive the media and the devastating hurt they placed on my family. When people ask me, and many, many have, “how can you believe in a God that has taken your child from you”; I just look at them and tell them that if they can give me a better option than ALL ETERNITY, please share with me and I will run with it but there is no other option the idea of no heaven and no eternity together is completely and profoundly “unacceptable”. I am still learning from my little girl and I know that when God took my daughter home, he insured that her siblings and her Dad and I, would never leave or disbelieve in him. He insured that we will ALL live upright lives so that when we leave this earth, we reside in our forever home, together, for all eternity. My heart embraces yours, I hope you can feel it. I will now and forever, keep you in my heart, and my thoughts. Love, love, love to you all! Lynette Courtney

  • Beautifully written. Please continue to pray for the Schwab family as this is a loss like no other. I lost my two sons at the ages of 9 and 12 in a horrible accident almost 10 years ago. I’m sharing two books that I wrote with several other dads from the Indianapolis area. Our dads’ group has helped so many families and fathers and each other through sharing our stories and being real with our deepest emotions. Please pass this on to anyone that you feel it may help. We don’t profit from this book. Proceeds are used to buy more books or donate where appropriate. We simply want to help those who have to walk this never-ending painful journey so they are not alone and can live again. They are available on Amazon. Thank you.

  • You took the words right out of my mouth!! I’m so glad my friend shared this or I may not of seen it. My heart has been with this family since Sunday when I heard. I too am from Kansas. I lost my son 9 years ago when he was 19. You describe exactly how I have walked through the darkest hours of my life. God will bless you! He has certainly blessed me over the last 9 years even more than he blessed me before and I have never felt the kind of gratitude I have felt after his death. God truly knows our pain from hes own son’s death and we will know the joy when we are reunited!

  • My heart goes out to this family. I’m blessed to read this, my daughter passed away June 9 2014 of a rare disease. I held her as she took her last breath. But your words of God being with Caleb are very comforting to me.
    Blessings to Calebs family

  • This is a great piece! This has made me sick since Sunday for so many reasons, but also because my then-14 yo son and husband rode that same ride back in June of this year with a camp group. It could have been anybody. I hate that it was a child especially. You have a gift for writing and for comfort. Good for you!