Helping My Children Walk Through Grief

Bereaved parents often have several tasks before them in the days and months and years following the death of a child.  And one of them is to help their surviving children navigate loss.

I have three earthbound children.  And they are grieving.

Their world changed in the same instant mine did.  Their hearts are broken too.

I found it hard to watch the pain I saw written on the faces of my kids.  Harder still to know that as much as I wanted to be the guide in this situation, I was as lost as they were. My mama instincts demanded that I “make it better” -but I was and am, powerless to do that.

So I settled on being honest.

I decided that I wouldn’t hide my sorrow or my struggle in an attempt to protect them.

Because, really, how could I protect a heart that had been introduced so forcefully to the truth that WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL?

How could I try to manage their sorrow when mine was overflowing?

I acknowledged the pain-the pain of losing Dominic;  the pain of not being able to say, “good-bye”; the pain of never knowing exactly what had happened; the pain of feeling like God had closed His eyes or looked the other way while Dominic ran off the road; and the pain of watching each other in pain with no way to soothe or stop it.

I didn’t draw boundaries around how they were supposed to behave.  

I asked that we not hurt one another in our sorrow-that we not cast blame, that we not lash out-but other than this request, I made room for tears, shouts, pounding of fists or whatever else we needed to do to let out some of the emotion bottled up inside.

I do not insist that they give Sunday School answers to tough questions.  I understand that they are struggling as much as I am. We are all dissecting our faith and our understanding of Who God is, what He is doing, and whether we can trust Him with our hearts again.

We talk-about Dominic and about their lives.  I try to listen.  Sometimes I’m not as good at that as I would hope to be.

I respect their need for space or their need for companionship.  I haven’t tried to be the sole source of support for any of them.

I’m not offended if they choose to express grief in ways that are different than my own.

I am well aware that it is likely they will carry this loss for more years than I will and that they must find their own way to bear that burden.

They haven’t only lost a brother, they’ve also lost the family in which they grew up, the parents they used to have and the sense of safety that pervades childhood.  

Their eyes are opened to the fact that bad things happen.

And sometimes bad things happen with no apparent reason and absolutely no forewarning.

We love one another.  We acknowledge the impact Dom’s life and his leaving has left on us. We don’t sweat the small stuff (most of the time).

And we focus on making sure each one of us makes it through.

Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.

David Ogden Stiers

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

14 thoughts on “Helping My Children Walk Through Grief”

  1. Although it has been eight months for our family, we are still trying to learn to navigate together. My two earthly kids are 14 hours away from my husband and I at college. We talk every day. We try to get together once a month or so. But I can tell that my son has blocked off his feelings and know that sooner or later those are going to boil over. I just hope that I am there or someone who cares for him is there. My daughter seems to be dealing with the loss as she will occasionally bring up her brother’s name and talk about him a little. She did seek counseling as well which I was so proud of her for doing. I haven’t even been able to do that for myself yet. I enjoy reading your blogs as it keeps me knowing there are others out there like me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some days I’m not sure which is the hardest – grieving my daughter or parenting my grieving children – but the two are so enmeshed that they can’t be separated. Thank you for this blog post and all your inspirational encouraging heartfelt blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just loved this. Grieving and raising children who are dealing with their own grief is so hard. I particularly related to ‘They haven’t only lost a brother, they’ve also lost the family in which they grew up, the parents they used to have and the sense of safety that pervades childhood.’ Trying to find a new normal I have realised is an ongoing phase rather than something we just do. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Another aspect of our children’s grief is that they are changing too-they are becoming adults or if already an adult, they are dealing with life events like getting an education, starting a career, getting married, having children-all things that require adjustment in themselves. It truly will be a lifelong process. Praying God gives you insight and strength as you shepherd your children through grief.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Amen to every word. But especially meaningful to me was your comment, “I am well aware that it is likely they will carry this loss for more years than I will.” One of the greatest consolations my wife and I share is the assurance that all will be well in “just a few more years.” For our other children (as well as Parker’s friends), it’s a whole lifetime. That bleak thought tears at my heart every time it occurs to me. Thank you for affirming that we’re not alone in that compartment of our grief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mother is the youngest of six children and she has lost her parents and all her siblings. Even at 77 years of age, it is hard for her to be the “last one”. My youngest son received the arrow in his heart the day Dom died-he knew instinctively that he would likely be the one to carry all of our memories the longest time. It was a hard thing for him to realize. And it is hard for all of our children. Praying for them and for us to have the strength, courage and grace to carry on.

      Like

  5. Your insite amazes me and your gift to put it onto paper. I am so thankful to read that some feels as I do.
    I have a friend who does not understand me anymore. She keeps saying to me David would never want you to be this way. I do agree he wouldn’t but he’s not here. And that’s the reason I am so broken now. I tried to explain to her that I am forever changed and this is my life and it takes everything in me to act normal. When I read your articles, that is the only time I feel like someone understands me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Charlene, you ARE normal. I struggled (and still do with some friends) with those who couldn’t seem to understand that grieving a child is unlike any other experience on earth. I have often said that I am being remade from the molecular level. It’s painful and hard. It’s also not something we can just “get over”. It becomes part of the fiber of our being. Now, time may soften the edges (it already has some for me- 2 years) but the essential shape of my new life is what it is. I’m thankful my words help you. May God bring you friends that will encourage you.

      Like

      1. Melanie my son Joe died suddenly in a car accident on March 30. I am still trying to cope. So many different emotions. I have three adult children left and two grandchildren one is 17. He was my last child and only 20. Don’t know how I found your blog but it has been a source of help and comfort for me. Thank you for sharing your insight and your faith. I am just trying to make it through all the things left undone. Thanks again.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh sweet Anna-I’m so very sorry!! This is all new and fresh and absolutely terrible to have to walk through. I’m thankful that my words are helpful for you. I am part of an online community called While We Are Waiting (Facebook page you can look up) and I also have a Facebook page called Heartache and Hope (click on the link at the top of the blog post) that might be helpful for you. There are lots (unfortunately!) of mamas struggling in this deep valley. Being able to “talk” to others and hear their concerns and the things that have supported them is a real blessing. Praying that God gives you the strength you need for each day and that grace and mercy fill your heart to overflowing.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s