Recently I learned of a 36 year-old mom in our neighborhood who died. Unexpectedly. Her family is emptied.

Earlier this year I lost my grandpa and uncle in close, unexpected succession. One week a part. My 4 year old poked my grandpa’s cheek as she tried to understand how he could be there in the casket, but so utterly not there. That the most real part of him was absent.

Six years ago I had my first miscarriage and felt my world fissure and shift. My six year old had just created wonderful diaper shaped announcements and given them to friends because she was so excited to be a big sister again. Suddenly she was confronted with a mother who couldn’t quite be there and the reality that the sibling suddenly wasn’t here either. That mommy’s tummy wasn’t so safe after all.

In each of these circumstances, my kids have been enveloped in grief. Sometimes it’s been theirs, sometimes it’s been a friend or loved one, other times it’s been the realization that something was possible. If we all took a moment, we could generate our own list of times that grief overwhelms our world. Sandy Hook. Moore, Oklahoma. The Twin Towers.

How do we live in a world broken by grief and sin and not become paralyzed by the what-ifs? How do we teach our children to live lives with one eye on eternity, but a determination to do everything they’ve been called to do for the span of time they are here?

I wish there were easy answers. I’ve searched for books to help answer the unanswerable questions. Will our beloved dog be in heaven? What will our baby look like when we get to heaven? Why would God allow that mother to die?

One thing I have determined is to ask the questions. To let my children watch me question but return time and again to the bedrock of my faith. Being a God-chaser doesn’t mean life is easy. Being a God-chaser doesn’t mean I always understand. But being a God-chaser means that when life is hard and the questions harsh and the valleys deep, I know who goes with me. And that is ultimately what I want my children to grasp.

2 Responses to "Grief & kids: a hard combination"

  • Anonymous says:

    This note hits home. Last Nov our 20 year old died in a car accident close to our home. Her 18 year old sister found her before the paramedics, and is still dealing with the aftermath. We had 6 children 16-26 The story is continuing. My dad is dying of cancer, our son went through a divorce, and my oldest daughter is not talking to us because of some family issues. What I am trying to say is that the Lord is near to us, He is helping us to trust when everything is hard, and He is good. No, we don’t understand why, nor does the pain go away as soon as we pray, but there is a bedrock of stability, peace, and love that is so very real– and I know it is the blood of Jesus protecting us and the Father’s unchanging love. thanks for being there!

  • Anonymous says:

    My son inherited a condition my doctors told me at first I had, then took it back. When they said I was ok, my husband and I decided to try to have children. When I was 3 months pregnant, they “took it back”, said they’d “made a mistake”. The result was that our son was born with a medical condition he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. In the end, we both are dealing with this situation. I tell him that we all have thing we deal with in life, this is just ours. But I sometimes get burdened with guilt over the situation. However, I have beaten the odds and I know he can too. I have faith that God with us, he knows our needs and whatever comes our way, he will give us strength to deal with it. Thank you for showing me I am not alone.

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