I awakened this morning to the news a grandson of a dear friend died last night of a drug overdose. My friend’s heartache is deep and unavoidable. She grieves for promise unfulfilled and sweetness lost. Her grandson wasn't a rebel or a tyrant. He was a gentle, artistic boy, troubled beyond his family’s reach. In her own mourning my friend hurts, too, for her granddaughter--the younger sister who found him lying on the floor. My friend is no stranger to loss. She’s faced death with strength and dignity often through her life. She wonders how her granddaughter will manage?
There should be pat answers and a five-point lesson plan for helping kids face death.
The closest I can find is the following meditation written by my pastor for
A Sadness Shared (1999), a chapbook Judith H. Hussain and I co-authored.
A COUNTRY PASTOR’S THOUGHTS ON CHILDREN AND DEATH
My son’s hamster died recently. Devastated, Joel mourned Chester as you and I would grieve the loss of a close friend.
I had read that it is good for children to experience the death of a pet without parents’ jumping in to save them. In this way, children learn that sorrow, with time, hugs and understanding, can be overcome. This made sense to me.
Although I hated to watch him suffer, I determined not to rush out and buy a replacement present, a game, or an outing. Instead, I escorted him, his younger brother, Seth, and a neighborhood friend to the back yard. Joel wept as he dug the grave and drove the cross into the ground, but the real pain came as each one of us said, “Goodbye, Chester. Thank you for being my friend.” The boys asked me if there was an animal heaven. I said I hoped so. As we prayed together, even I got wrapped up in the sadness.
From this experience, Joel learned that “dead” means gone from this earth. He also knows he is strong enough to survive sadness and that family and friends can help. He knows a little about funerals and mourning.
Above all, he understands that time heals.
Rev. Paul Demant
"Dead" means gone from this dimension of earth. With God's help, one can be strong enough to survive sadness. Family and friends can help. Funerals and mourning must be endured. In even the most wrenching loss there is a gift, if one can dare to ask. Time heals. We've learned these things, maybe to guide our kids through the same lessons.