Exploring Grief

“Good grief,” is more than just a quote by Charlie Brown. Grief is real and it is no respecter of persons. Grieving is done by all but it is not done well by all. It comes to everyone sooner or later. For decades many children have fallen through the cracks of their parents' grief.

We grieve many things from small losses like the ice cream falling off the end of our cone to huge losses like the death of loved ones. Yet every loss no matter how small carries with it a need to grieve.

What are you teaching your children to help them with their daily small losses? What are you teaching your children that will prepare them for the really big losses that are coming, maybe not too far in their future? We can teach our children to grieve well. Though it is not something we do naturally.

Children tend to bury their grief because they have no understanding of how to deal with it. Eventually it emerges in anger at others. If buried long enough it can result in health or emotional disorders.

For some children their losses come when they are so young that they don’t realize they have a loss until a few years later. When it occurs to them that they or their family is somehow different because of something that happened when they were a baby, they feel a loss. The other family members have moved on by this time and they are left with a grief that may not be recognized.

In the New Testament we read in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We’re really good at having parties and rejoicing. But we’re uncomfortable with weeping and sharing one another’s grief.

Jesus was not reluctant to care for the needs of His friends and weep when they did. “When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the people who had come with her weeping, he was intensely moved in spirit and greatly distressed. He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They replied, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Thus the people who had come to mourn said, “Look how much he loved him!” (John 11:33-36)  

We should not be reluctant either. In John 13:34-35 Jesus said to His disciples, “I give a new commandment –to love one another. Just as I have loved you so you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples –if you have love for one another.” Weeping together is good testimony of our love.

For the next few posts I will explore the stages of grief. We really can help the children in our lives handle grief in a way that will help grow their faith and their understanding of God’s love and faithfulness. Join me every other Friday and let’s explore together “good grief” and the joy that fills the lives of those who grieve well.

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."