Why Doest My 4 Month Old Baby Look At Me Dying On the Inside – A Child’s Grief

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Dying On the Inside – A Child’s Grief

The impatient blare of a car horn startled us. No one thought beyond getting through the sad night. Now the sun was up, and it took a moment to realize that this was just like any other school day – for everyone else. Unsavory chores always fall to the youngest child, so I was shoved, unceremoniously, out the door.

Rushing down the driveway, my childish mind searched frantically for the right words to say. Taking a deep breath, I stuck my head in the car window. “Mother won’t need a ride to work today. She is dead.”

I vaguely remember the shocked look on the neighbor’s face as I turned and slowly walked back to the house.

A gaping hole separated yesterday from today, and I was left clinging to the edge in confusion. At eleven years old, I was extremely shy. . . and killed by the sudden, overwhelming attention of morbid spectators, who drove slowly past the house to catch a glimpse of the face of sorrow. I didn’t know how to deal with this traumatic event.

For me time stopped; but life does not stop simply because a loved one is taken away. All I knew was that I was lost without Mother, while everyone else seemed to be coping well. I put my feelings behind a facade, and didn’t come out of my sadness for over a decade.

Today I realize that these circumstances are not unusual. Almost a third of my young students have already experienced the death of a parent or sibling! School counselors and mental health professionals are ready to help in times of crisis. However, the people most qualified to help us through the grieving process are those who love us the most — our closest relatives, friends, and church family.

Most of us feel too awkward to spend much time with a child who is grieving. We visit the burial ground; if he does not appear too much shaken, we convince ourselves that he would not appreciate our interference. We give his hand a sympathetic squeeze, say a heartfelt, “I’ll be praying for you,” breathe a quick prayer for his emotional healing, and move on with our own lives.

How very wrong is that reaction! Often enough, those closest to the young man are too distracted by their own grief to notice him falter. As Christians, we must administer healing, even at the risk of rejection.

Religion, which God our Father accepts as pure and blameless, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress. . . (James 1:27)

Therefore, I am afraid that your obligation to a grieving child in your family or church outweighs a visit to the funeral home. It requires an investment of your life, over the coming months, or perhaps years. Allow me to offer these suggestions:

1. Start with a hug. A handshake is strange to a child, and a blow on the head is demeaning. However, a loving embrace can break through the hardest armor, and often sheds the tears of healing.

2. With the parent’s permission, spend time with the child. Encourage him to talk about his loss, his loved one, and his feelings. If he refuses to talk, YOU talk. Share your own experiences. Leave yourself completely open for ANY questions or concerns.

3. Reassure the child that it is normal to feel

disoriented, overwhelmed, embarrassed, fearful,

angry, depressed, abandoned, hurt and worried.

4. Don’t be afraid to laugh and share feeling about

humor Spending too much time in sad, morbid

atmosphere can lead a child into deep depression,

giving rise to a host of new problems.

5. Help the child envision a worthwhile future. help

he or she finds reason to be excited about tomorrow, about next week and about next year.

Finally, use this opportunity to share the hope that

is in you

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says Jehovah, “plans to prosper you and not to make you miserable, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Why else does God allow suffering, if not to bring us closer to Him? Your loving touch and your testimony can mean the difference between a child coming to Christ, or facing a decade of unresolved grief.

__________________________________________________________

A prolonged illness, such as cancer, often triggers a certain amount of grief, depending on the prognosis of the disease. It is very natural to want to protect a child from the fears and uncertainties involved. But is it wise to hide the fact that one’s mother, father or sibling has a life-threatening illness? Probably not. Even when the prognosis looks very bleak, both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute agree that honesty and openness are important. By sharing openly with others in the family, a child is better able to deal with the stress and anxiety felt in the home.

Here are some great websites that encourage dealing with children and the emotional side of cancer:

http://www.kidskonnected.org

http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov/coping.html

[http://kidscope.org/kids.htm]

http://www.cancercare.org

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