When loved ones die young | Faith | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | April 29, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: April 25, 2018 at 10:02 am
When a loved one dies, no matter the age, we suffer grief and pain, sometimes uncontrollably, but that is the flesh in us. In the words to a popular song by Boyz to Men, “It’s so Hard to say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
None of us want to say goodbye because we feel that it is forever; therefore, it is a difficult thing to do. However, when a loved one dies, especially if he or she is in Christ, spiritually, those left behind can accept it better because Jesus tells us in John 14:1-4 (ESV), “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Further, according to Psalm 116:15 (ESV), “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” We are here only for a short while, so we must “…number our days” so that we can live a fruitful life here on earth before our departure.
Recently in our community, we have lost some very young people. Our hearts are bleeding, and we have been left wondering, but in time, God will give us the answers and the will to bear what has happened if we trust in His Word. I know that is easier said than done. We are left with a gaping hole in our hearts, seemingly, with no way to fill it. Sometimes, we may ponder over the thought of, “What could I have done differently?”
First of all, we have to understand that death calls no special age. However, when people die young or unexpectedly, it is more difficult to fathom and accept. We hear such comments as, “Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children,” “Gone too soon,” “If God is love, how could he let him/her die so young,” or “Life is unfair.” Yes, life can be unfair at times, but God is fair. I have never lost a child, so I can only imagine how devastating it is for those parents who have lost their precious child. Therefore, I chose to research this topic and offer some advice I found for grieving parents, among others. I just want to be a help to somebody in any positive way that I can.
According to Dr. Sherrie Campbell, clinical psychologist and author of “Steps Through Grieving the Loss of a Child,” “Parents expect to outlive their children — and they never expect to bury them. This loss is a lifelong grieving process. With each missed developmental milestone that comes and goes, there is a deep sense of grief and loss at the missed moments and opportunities, as well as wondering what your child would have looked like, been like, and been interested in.” Dr. Campbell offers some steps for this process, and I will share them in brief. My prayer is that they will offer to comfort someone.
• “Do expect tumultuous emotions. After the death of a child, expect to experience deep confusion.
• Do delay decision-making. It is advisable to wait at least one year to settle and adjust to the shock of your loss before making big decisions, such as changing your child’s room.
• Do turn to your faith.
• Do recognize that time heals wounds. There is no timetable in the grief process, and numbness may be a part of the program.
• Do not isolate yourself. It is vital for grieving parents not to isolate themselves and become inactive after the death of a child. This will only increase feelings of depression, loss and grief. When this happens, not only do parents lose their child, but they also lose their life of friends, work, and social activity.
• Do not blame yourself. Life’s design is unpredictable, and none of us are perfect parents. It can be easy to feel at fault for not being the perfect parent. However, this self-abuse is counter to healing.
• Do not live in guilt. Life is a process that none of us can control. In order to heal, parents must learn to release this guilt.
• Do not give up on life. Life has to go on after loss because that is how life is designed. To love that child’s essence, parents must keep forging forward.
• Do not compare yourself to how others are healing. Parents will heal in their own way and on their own time schedule.”
May God shower everyone concerned with His healing and comfort. In closing, I want to leave for these grieving families, fellow faculty members, staff, and students of Colleton County High School and Port Royal Elementary School, among so many others, the words of the first stanza and refrain of a hymn that I use to hear my maternal grandmother sing during times of trials, “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.”
“We are often tossed and driv’n
On the restless sea of time,
Somber skies and howling tempests
Oft succeed a bright sunshine,
In that land of perfect day,
When the mists have rolled away,
We will understand it better by and by.”
“By and by when the morning comes,
All the saints of God are gathered home,
We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome:
For we’ll understand it better by and by.”
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)