Help Your Child Grieve a Family Loss
“I thank God for mommy, and daddy and Kerissa and Karina and Kellus,” my husband said, as he tucked in little Kellus for bedtime.
“But daddy…” little Kellus said, interrupting him “…what about for the baby?”
Moments later, I heard my husband’s voice echoing in the hallway. “Kennisha. Come here for a second, please.”
I hopped up from the couch and met with them in our son’s bedroom. My husband’s face spoke millions of words, though he barely said two.
“He asked,” he said. “While I was praying, he asked about the baby.”
“Oh,” I said, with widened eyes and an enormous pickle in my throat. “What did you tell him?”
“I just told him that it’s okay and that the baby is in heaven with Jesus now.”
I looked at little Kellus. His little head was bowed. His four year old little self seemed sadden by this news that was new to him. It was only a few days after we learned of our recent pregnancy loss. I wondered if he would notice a difference between the mommy that had gone to the hospital for surgery and the mommy that sat beside his bed. I noticed a different me– a baby-less me who was writhing in emotional pain from our tragedy. I knew I would have to explain it to him in a way he could understand. I just didn’t think he would be the one to initiate that conversation.
“But what happened to the baby, mom?” he asked, as I knelt beside him. Holding back tears, I simply said, “Well, the baby is with Jesus now in heaven.”
“He is?” Kellus asked. “With Jesus?”
“Yes dear. The baby is not in mommy’s tummy anymore. But he’s with Jesus and we’re happy about that.”
“Oh…” he said. He bowed his head once again. In my heart of hearts, I ached terribly sharing that– although my soul rejoices knowing where our four little blessings are. Still, it was terribly hard to see my son look so sad as we shared the news with him.
“But it’s ok, Kellus. The baby is safe with Jesus now and everything will be ok. Ok?”
“Ok, mommy,” he answered, before reaching up to embrace me. I’m sure he knew I needed that. After our hug and quick tickle, his bright eyes lit up my heart.
I knew our son Kellus and our daughter Kerissa could tell there was something different about me. In fact, today, a month later, I can still tell.
The day I learned the tragic news, my three year old could not stop hugging me. After I came from the doctor’s office and shared the news with my husband, she could not stop clinging to me. She never asked anything about the baby or made any comments. She just stared, smiled, and hugged. I knew that was the Lord using her to minister to me. But God was also showing me that although they may not communicate their hurt the way we do, when there’s an interruption in the family, they sense it too.
Yes, even the babies.
Ever since that night we tucked my son in for bed, my prayer has been for our children. I pray that God would embrace them as we all continue to heal. The truth is, it is a little different having my son rub my barely protruding tummy one day and the next wondering what would happen when he realizes the baby isn’t there anymore. Now that I know he knows, I simply want him to understand to the best of his ability that we love him tenderly, that God loves and embraces him and that everything will be ok.
Here are some ways I’ve learned to embrace my children as the family grieves:
:: Show constant affection— not overbearing– but be sensitive to their needs.
:: Talk openly and honestly and answer questions to their level of understanding.
:: Pray with them that God would heal their hearts and give them peace.
If you’re dealing with any grief right now from any situation, I pray the Lord’s love would continue to embrace you and that you’ll cling to Him. And if you have children, I pray they too would feel the love and tenderness they need, as they process it all too. Grieving isn’t fun for anyone. Although it is a natural process, it still can be challenging to walk through. It can also be challenging for children as well– even toddlers like mine. Take into consideration the fact that they too are human and feel. Then allow the Lord to guide you and show you the best way to love them during this time.