Thursday, March 11, 2010

On Grief and Death

When you lose someone close to you, the topic of grief and death is sometimes a constant companion. Maybe not always talked about, but always present.

If you have suffered the loss of a child, what do you say when others ask you about your children? If someone you know has lost a child, what words to you offer to help your grieving friend?

When your child asks questions about death and heaven, how do you answer? Some great bloggers have approached that topic today. As usual, the comments I leave on other blogs sometimes deserve to be blog posts of their own. In response to the post on Her Bad Mother, I shared:

We haven’t talked about death specifically with our 2 year old, but we do talk about her sister who is in Heaven. She knows that Susie is in Heaven with Jesus and that Jesus will come tell us when it’s our turn to go to Heaven.

I don’t want her to be afraid of death, although I know we all are to a certain extent. I want her to approach death with eyes of Faith, that there is life after death, life in Heaven with our loving God.

Even though she’s not yet 3, her questions challenge me already and remind me of my own grief of burying a child and a best friend, and beloved aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I am learning more and more not to be afraid of grief as I’ve learned not to be afraid of death. I believe that grief keeps us in touch with who we really are, and not the facade that we show the world around us.

Grief is good, even though it hurts. Death is not an end, it is a doorway between this life and the next. Faith in God allows me to know this and believe this. Without faith, I don’t know that I would be strong when talking about death. But then again, life is not for the faint of heart either. We need faith to face both life and death.
Of course, I approach the topic of grief and death through the lens of faith in Jesus Christ. That is also how I approach life. We want to share that faith with our growing toddler so that she can also approach the tough stuff of life with eyes of faith.

We don't have all the answers. What is the right thing to say when children ask about death and dying? IS there a "right thing" to say? I definitely think there are "wrong" things to say, depending on the age of your child. Or we could choose to ignore the topic. But I don't thinking ignoring the subject of death is particularly healthy for you or your child.

Death is a part of life. And I want to live, not with fear of the unknown, but with faith. Faith that there is a God who does have the answers. Faith that there is a God who loves me. Faith that there is a heaven, a life after death, and a joyous reunion waiting for us when we get there.

I can imagine the day that I pass from this life to the next. When I arrive in heaven, I know the first person I will see is my daughter Susie. She'll take me by the hand and say, "Mama, there's someone I'd like you to meet." And she'll lead me to the throne room of heaven, where Jesus waits to take me into His arms. I look forward to that day.


  1. That is so sweet, Heather. I hope that is EXACTLY what happens for you. I hope it with all my heart. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Heather, the strength is takes to survive what you have is exactly what I try to explain to my husband. He's never lost a single person who was close to him - a wonderful thing, but one that causes him great fear. He believes that when this happens he will crumble.

    It's so hard to explain that when the unthinkable happens, when we are faced with something we believe we will never be able to withstand, we do. Because we can. Because we are stronger than we will never know.

    I'm so sorry that you have had to withstand such pain, and I'm so glad you've found peace.

  3. First. A big, huge, loving hug, sweet mama.
    NO ONE should be us. NO ONE.

    I loved so many things about this. I wish I had that lens to look through but I do not. I am extremely grateful when others do, though. You deserve EVERY ounce of comfort.

    Much, MUCH love.

  4. OH Heather, so sweet. You brought tears to my eyes speaking of you little Susie taking your hand:)

  5. I believe that is exactly what will happen for you one day, sweetie. I believe it with all my heart. ((((hugs))))