Tuesday, January 11, 2011
It comes into all of our lives...grief. Often unexpected, grief can stop us in our tracks and disrupt even the most calm of homes. When grief comes into our homes, it has profound effects on our children regardless of their age. Here lies an opportunity to evaluate our beliefs, our hearts, and our parenting...here we share our hearts with our little ones.
When they were toddlers:
-We spoke plainly, with real words about what had happened. Death is real and children will have to know this.
-I didn't hide my tears. Letting them understand my sorrow gave them the freedom to express their own, and to show compassion growing in their own hearts.
-I quickly learned that they were open about it. Death was not a taboo, it was explained in simple truth- age appropriately- and they were accepting it better than we were.
-We seized the opportunity to pray together; to love each other. We held our children close and grew closer as a family.
As they became middles:
-As I shared in grief with my children I had to consider each of them individually: how would each one respond, understand, react..and teach from there.
-Hard questions came that stunned me; there is a need to be prepared and be truthful. Sometimes the truth is a bit embarrassing because we must admit we don't have all the answers and we don't always understand things either.
-As a family, we had to grief together. Some personalities move on faster than others and our house was no different. When one griefs harder than the others there is an opportunity to teach each other to have a tender heart toward one who is hurting.
Now they are teens:
-Death is real and sometimes expected. I have spent numerous hours teaching my children compassion and care for the infirmed and the elderly. During care giving, the question always comes up, "Are they going to die?" Honesty is best...here we have time to prepare for grief.
-When death is unexpected, again we teach. God is sovereign and our tears are precious to Him. One thing that helped us immensely was asking each teen, individually, to explain their understanding of death is. Once we see their understanding we can teach from their.
-On the occasion that we knew the deceased person's testimony, this was an excellent tool in soothing grief. Setting our focus forward to Heaven.
-With every situation of grief, we have taken the time to share our faith in Jesus, to check our teens' faith, and to grow a testimony.
Until the Lord calls us home, grief will be part of our lives. Each situation is an opportunity to know ourselves and our children better; to see a bit deeper into our hearts; and, yes, to educate the next generation. We never know when the comfort and coping skills we teach our children will in turn be used by them to comfort another and help them cope.
If you have questions about educating through grief, our would like to hear our testimony concerning the grieving process (relating to stillbirth, close relatives, peers) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be blessed to help you.