Dealing with Loss: Teaching Your Child How to Weep with Others

This weekend we learned my daughter’s best friend’s brother passed away.

For anyone who has had to deal with a loss of a child, whether a close relative, a friend, even a neighborhood acquaintance, or a child you’ve never even met, you know the impact shakes up a community and the aftershocks are endless. As a friend and fellow mom, I can’t help but empathize and feel the ache and brokenness in my heart from this loss. My soul grieves with this mom, this dad, these younger sisters.

Spending some time on this earth, I’ve experienced loss and tragedy before, but this loss marks a first for me as I am now finding myself with an opportunity to help my 8-year old daughter shine her light in a way she’s never had to before. For unbeknownst to her, God has called her to be the bearer of His Love.

Children in our world grow up yearning for love. They seek out this love through the approval of their parents, their families, their friends, teachers, and peers. “Am I doing this right?” “What do you think about this?” “Do you like my dress? My hair?” As followers of Jesus, we do our best to love on them unconditionally, and show by example that love is not be earned by our actions; rather, we are already loved because of who we are. But when we lose a loved one, especially one as close as a brother, we can find ourselves grasping onto whatever love – real or false – we can get our hands on to desperately fill that hole in our hearts that had appeared in an instant. I say this because I’ve been there. After losing my own brother at the age of 12, my heart was torn, and all I wanted to feel was the love I had lost.

Although I mourn the passing of this young soul today, I am renewed with a strength and hope that God has equipped me for this moment. In in this storm, I praise Him. In the wake of this sudden and tragic event, I hold onto the peace restored in me. As the scar on my heart bleeds tears of sorrow, I am strengthened with the knowledge that the Lord cries with us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Cor 1:3-5

I seek His guidance as I prepare my young daughter to embrace this opportunity to show God’s love. I want her to remember that it’s not what she does, but who she is that will bring God’s love to her friend. Yes, it’s nice to do things for her, but really, what this little girl will need the most is for someone to just BE with her. Laughing with her. Crying with her. Loving with her. She need just BE – be by her friend’s side, just as Jesus is.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

Friends, losing a little is tough business. And sometimes we don’t know what to say – to the families of those who passed, or to even our own children. As the friends of our children mourn, so do our own children mourn. How we help them navigate through these tough roads is how our children, in turn, will learn to empathize, comfort, and weep with their friends.

Some people choose to not say anything, choosing instead to give space to those in grief. But can I instead make a different suggestion: Choose to BE. Choose to show His love rather than tell it. Choose to be near, closing the gap of loneliness. Choose to say, “I don’t know what to say. But I am right here.” Choose to listen to your heart. For the Lord mourns not the death of this child (for this child lives an eternal life), but cries out in sorrow with His children here on earth. Choose to pray for this family those words He places on your heart. Choose to be the hands and feet for the Ultimate Comforter, Jesus Christ. For even if those who grieve may not be as strong in faith, YOU will be the Jesus they experience in this world. They will know His love – feel His love – through you.

God asks nothing more of us than to just Love. Love Him. Love people. It’s simply this.

  1. Jen, this was so perfect! I love what you’re teaching your daughter about how to be a friend to someone who is grieving. It is so exactly right on! There are many, many adults who could learn so much from this too. What a different book we’d have if Job’s friends had a mamma like you! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Esther. Such kind words. ? I hold onto the truth that we go through storms so that we may comfort others when they go through theirs. We are not here to “fix” things, because that job belongs solely to the Creator. Our job is simply to love. ?

  2. My heart hurts for A as she learns to navigate grief at such a tender age. AND I’m so proud of her (and you!) for learning to do it well. This is beautiful. Thank you for writing it. ❤

    1. Yes, it’s so disheartening when the littles have to “grow up”. But maybe if we look at earthly death from their untainted perspective, they are the ones who are doing grief right. We adults tend to muddle things up with our selfishness and our need to have an explanation for everything. There is much to learn from a child who grieves as well. ?

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