To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.
My children lost a friend this week. A young man, 13 years of age, died very unexpectedly. Death came as quite a shock and it came suddenly. As a mom, I saw the hurt, the grief and the sorrow in my children’s hearts and eyes. Now what? We have never been here before; they have never lost a friend so young.
In the past we have prepared them for the death of a great-grandparent or an ill relative. When old age and illness are in the picture it is never easy but at least there is a process as we learn to say good-bye. Just before Paw Paw died at 92, we made a visit and asked him to pray for each of our children, we had them hug him and tell him they loved him. We were not sure if this would be the last time we would see him, but we prepared them as if it might be and it was. At the funeral they knew they had already said good-bye, they had already mentally and emotionally sent him on ahead to heaven and knew they would see him again someday.
No one knew to say good-bye to Caleb. No one expected his death to come so unexpectedly and so young. No one knew that the last time we saw him it would be for the last time. This grief was different; this grief was a reminder that it could easily be one of them.
I don’t know how to do this; I don’t know how to help them through this season, so I am learning along the way. Here are a few things the Holy Spirit is teaching me and I am embracing as we walk this out.
- Let them cry (and cry with them) – tears are healing and tears remind us that we are human; they express the pain, anguish and hurts in our heart. Tears release the tension and open our hearts up to receive healing and hope. Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
- Help them find a way to say good-bye – write poems, sing songs, plant a tree. An outward expression of what is going on in their hearts will help them process the pain and begin to let it go.
- If possible allow them to attend the funeral or memorial – To be around others who are also saying good-bye reminds them they are not in this alone and others are learning to say good-bye as well.
- Have them play a part in giving a bit of comfort to other family and friends. This is an opportunity for them to learn empathy and compassion. Their grief as a friend is very real and in a small way they can empathize with the family and share in their loss. Hugs, cards, send flowers, bring a meal, etc. This is where the rubber meets the road. By giving to the family they are in a very real way are affirming that this life was important and valuable and worthy. They are affirming the love and importance this person played in everyone’s lives and they are giving value to the life that was lost.
- Pray with your children. Remind them of the hope that we have as believers in Christ, this is not our home and we do not grieve as the world grieves without hope but we have a certain and sure future home with loved ones who are already there. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
I know as a mom I must help my children process their feelings and not bottle them up. I need to help them learn how to hear the cries of their heart and allow their feelings to be real, valid and affirmed. I must also help guide them past their grief, overcome any fears and continue to live the life God has prepared for them. My heart’s cry is for wisdom and direction as Darrell and I lead our children through the tears of life.