Disability, Death, Guilt and Grief

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In this moving and sometimes emotional conversation, Sharon Betters talks to Susanna Musser and counselor, Heidi Scott, about the sudden, accidental death of Susanna’s adopted son, Tommy. Susanna and husband Joe and their entire family welcomed Tommy into their home even though he had severe disabilities.Tommy quickly experienced unconditional love. Yet God often calls us to hard places that are much more difficult than we expected. Through circumstances no one could have imagined, Tommy died. Susanna, with the help of her counselor, Heidi, shares the story of her family, her passion for adoption of children with special needs and the enormous struggle she experienced in trying to reconcile Tommy’s death while carrying self-imposed guilt no parent should experience. This conversation will not only encourage others in similar places, but will give listeners a renewed understanding of the burdens some parents bear and how to help them.

Biography of Joe and Susanna Musser

Our names are Joe and Susanna, and we are a very ordinary couple who probably wouldn’t stand out to you if you saw us out and about.  Well, unless we had the rest of our family with us.  It’s impossible for us to hide in a crowd!

Long before God brought Joe and me together, He gave each of us a strong desire to someday welcome many children.  We are living the privilege of doing exactly what we had always dreamed of.  We love having a house full!

Part of the reason we hoped to have many children was that we are Christians who believe that the Word of God is truth and applies to all of life.  God says that children are rewards.  We agree with God.  We stepped out of the cultural boat because Jesus called us to do that, and we have found that there is solid ground under our feet out here.

We also believe that discipling our children is the primary ministry God has given us at this point in our lives.  He has shown Himself to be faithful at every point in showing us how He wants us to carry this out.

We’ve been learning that when we stop trying to be the top boss of our lives, He writes our stories in very different ways than we might have written them. It so often looks like He isn’t sticking to the rules! Life is an adventure when God is in charge of it instead of us.  We are better off trusting Him than trusting ourselves.  If you knew Him in His perfection, and knew us in all our flaws, you would agree!


Heidi am Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Morning Star Counseling in Quarryville, PA.  She has over 20 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families through a variety of difficulties including trauma, sexual abuse, anxiety, depression, and addictions.  She has served in her church and community as a consultant on issues including parenting, sexual abuse, addictions, and family and relational issues. She is  a wife and mother of two children and reside in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.