The death of children is the theme of this post.
Some parents say it is an unending nightmare. Others say their lives will never be the same again. Still others say, rather than living in the nightmare there is more merit in living life in a loving way in honour of your child.
There is so much one could say in a post like this. It will be obvious to readers that a lot more could be said about this most heartbreaking part of some people’s lives. I will confine the content of the post to a few points.
I will draw attention to a couple real life accounts of child death. I will mention some general remarks. To conclude I will note how we may respond to parents grieving the death of a child?.
A Couple of Stories
A Little Girl: A number of years ago I was talking with a woman while doing some hospital visits. She was in her early nineties. Included in our conversation was her reminiscing about her children.
She spoke about one child in particular, her youngest daughter. They loved to sit on the porch of their house on warm summer days. The little girl wore light blue dress. Her blue dress suited her blonde hair. The old lady told me “She looked so pretty and happy as can be as we sat together.”
As the lady continued with her recollection she went on to say a week later people gathered for the little blonde girl’s funeral. She had come down with an illness that spread into her lungs and she died. The old lady looked at me and said, “One day I was sitting with her and the next week my husband and family buried her.” She went on to say, “I think about her all the time. I still have her in my heart.”
A life too brief: A number of years ago an incident occurred I have never forgotten.
At that time my children were teenagers therefore my wife and I knew a lot of young people. There was one young man who sticks out in my mind. I didn’t know him well. Frequently he would come to the church we attended and sit with other teens during the service.
One day while having a discussion with a friend of the young man she informed me he had taken his own life. As the story goes, he came home from school like usual. At the dinner table he sat with his family and ate his meal. After dinner he got up from the table and left the room. After an hour or so his parents were wondering what he was up to and where he was. After calling for him and looking in various rooms his father found his son in the closed carport. The young man had hanged himself. He was seventeen.
Over the years I have encountered numbers of people who grieve the death of a child or children. There are a few things people have in common in this context of grief.
I will summarize just a few at this time.
- It is not uncommon for a person grieving the death of a child to say, “I miss me.”
- The death of a child changes one’s life forever.
- One’s identity has been changed.
- One’s world has changed.
- You will never be who you once were
What does one say or how does one respond to parents grieving the death of a child? Do you say anything? Here are a few points to consider.
- Be genuine
- Be present
- Do not minimize grief by comparisons
- Listen—this is essential
I will say more about these points and continue with this discussion in my next post, A Child Has Died Part Two.
Please leave comments. Thank you.
6 thoughts on “A Child Has Died–Part One”
Looking forward to Part 2…
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Thank you Dixie. Part 2 will be out soon. Any other thoughts about part 1?
Thank you for sharing Alan. The death of my son has definitely changed my life forever. You are right on point with the words you shared. The loss of a child is uniquely a different grief than any other grief I have experienced. Never in a million years would I have thought MY child would leave for Heaven before me. It has broken my heart deeply and now I hold on to my faith tighter than ever before because I know God holds my son until I can join him someday. I think helping people understand child loss and the grief that comes with it is much needed because until someone walks down this path, it is completely unexplainable.
Thank you Alan!
Hi Stacey. Thank you for commenting on the post. I admire you for having the courage for expressing your private pain here and sharing it here. I love how you and your family keep memories of your son alive. Child loss is something most people run from. You live it everyday with grace and love.
Thank you Alan for sharing. Having had to bury my grand daughter i too understand the pain and loss of having to find ways to cope and figure out how to figure out how to continue living. You are absolutely right, the death of a child changed one’s life forever.
i think your points to consider are spot on. It’s so easy for the words “i’m sorry” to come out of people’s mouths. For me, i’m not sure why, but “i’m sorry” were the hardest words to hear from people. It really felt more like they were saying… “at least it wasn’t me” or “i’ve got nothing else to say” All i really wanted was for someone to grab hold of me, hug me close, and let me cry. No words needed to be spoken, i just wanted to cry and be help.
i remember when Addy was born stillborn i was so very angry. The Pastor tried to say “God had other plans for her” but i stopped him and said ” Don’t you dare talk to me about God right now” I was so angry. I guess what i am trying to say is you really never know what to say to someone when they lose a loved one, everyone reacts differently to grief. But just be there. Let them know that you are there if ever they need to talk… and even more than that… actually be there when they do need you. Sometimes, that’s the only thing that will help us get through the heartache on any particular day.
Bless you Alan,
Hi Annita! Thank you so much for your words. Your thought on “I’m sorry,” is a good. These two little words are the go to response to a person’s grief. You are right, if people don’t know what they see they can just sit with us. That is a gift of presence and a compassionate response. Even though years may go by, we still grieve. Bless you Annita. 🙂