Walking Your Child Through Grief

To me, worse than finding yourself in deep grief is witnessing your child in that horrible condition. Walking a child through grief has been one of the most heart wrenching experiences to date. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do speak as an experienced mom. Desiring to maintain the privacy of my children, I’ll speak in general terms.

Remember in early parenthood trying to console your inconsolable baby? Your different tactics of comfort uttering failing. The crying continues. You are left exhausted, perplexed, emotionally spent, and unsure what else you can do while desperately wanting the wailing to end. Walking your child through grief gives you a similar feeling except you are aware the stakes are much higher.

As in the baby stage, your love will not fail though your approaches of comfort might. You will continue to seek to find relief. You will talk to other people to see what they did. You will never give up. You can’t. You are compelled to show them the deepest level of compassion. They are your child after all.

Here are a few recommendations:

Be very present. Your child needs you in a way they never have before. Their hope has been eclipsed and everything seems to be closing in on them. They need you. You are their tangible anchor. Hold your child. Pray with your child. Lay down next to your child at bedtime if that is what the child wants. Stay there for as long as it takes. Tune in and see what helps. Discard what makes things worse. Hold your child again. Affirm grief is part of life in a cursed world but that we sorrow with hope and the sure confidence that this dark period will end.

Their emotions might not make any sense to you. The triggers might take you totally by surprise. Their focus on basic responsibilities could be greatly lacking. Their ability to function might waver. They may be a completely unpredictable emotional roller coaster day after day after day. Be incredibly patient.

Spend time with them. Do what they want to do. This period of time is not about you and your interests but them and their interests. Seek to connect. Seek to relate. Be selfless.

Involve others. You are not the first parent to walk a child through grief. Listen to what other parents have to say. Adjust their recommendations to your situation. Open up with safe people who can support you and pray for you. Do not walk this journey alone.

Don’t despair. This path of grief did not catch God off guard. He actually planned it before time began. Though your heart hurts and you feel helpless, God is growing your faith simultaneously as He grows your child’s faith. Your child is watching you. You are setting the tone. Keep pointing your child and yourself back to concrete truth in the Scripture. Christ is your anchor. Breathe. Pray. Sleep. Journal. Read Scripture. Write out verses and post them in key places. Keep the faith.

When your patience is all done, when your selfishness rules, when you snap and just try to shake them out of their funk, humbly ask forgiveness. You will fail. It is not easy to walk your child through a long season of grief. It is exhausting. It feels like it will never end. You are human. Be humble.

The crying baby eventually stops crying. The grieving child will eventually stop grieving. And maybe just maybe God will greatly use this dark valley to shape them into the man or woman they never could have been without this hard time. God loves your child more than you ever could. He has a plan for them greater than you could ever imagine. Do you trust Him?

Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

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