Thursday, June 5, 2008

Children's Deep Grief

Today I read in Lysa TerKeurst's blog posting about how grief and loss can cut so deeply into one’s heart that it redefines who you are and how you think. It is called deep grief. The posting reminded me of the importance of providing support to children. Children can experience this type of grief too. Their family is forever changed. What can we do to help children through their deep sadness over the loss of a brother or sister or a loved one?

When we lost our little grandson his siblings and cousins were heartbroken and needed a listening ear. Children want to tell others about when their loved one was alive. They want to talk about the sad, awful day when their loved one died. Some children even want to talk about what happened at the funeral or the food they ate that day. They want to tell their thoughts on whether God still hears their prayers or how long will everyone be sad. Sometimes reassuring them that God is with us in times of deep grief is all they want. A verse that has given our family comfort is Psalm 34:18, "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit" (NKJV).

As months and years go on children want to talk about missing their loved one, or the changes that have happened in their family. Older children may want to talk about returning to school, getting new things, or eating their loved one’s favorite food with out them, feeling their deep grief as if they are stuck in the mud. Sometimes children want to talk about finding an item that belonged to their loved one and the comfort they felt just holding the item while remembering how much pleasure the item gave their loved one. Then as time continues on some children want to talk about not needing to visit the cemetery or noticing they do not think about their loved one as often as they used to. Children wonder if having these thoughts or the need to go on living with out their loved one is okay. Their grief journey has ended. God promises we will experience joy again too in Psalm 126:5, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (NKJV). They need your encouragement to laugh and play again.

Some may think this type of support is for counselors, but having someone who is close to the child lending a listening ear, validating their experiences and feelings helps the child strengthen their faith, cope and heal.

God is with us in times of deep grief and joy does return to us. Reach out and provide a listening ear to a broken-hearted child today. Help them wade through their thoughts and feelings to learn if they are okay or to find joy in life again.

Visit Lysa TerKeurst's blog on how to help a grieving friend.

Resource box: Jewel Sample is a children’s writer and award-winning author of “Flying Hugs and Kisses” books. For more information about her background and publications visit her at Jewel’s Sand Box News

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