My dad died a month ago. It still seems strange for me to say that. I feel like he is still there. He is still with my mom, where he has always been. But he’s not, and that is hard to accept. Really hard.
My dad had been in a slow decline for the past 12 years since he had a massive heart attack in his “widow maker.” He lost a ton of weight, his breathing became increasingly labored, and he ended up in the hospital a few times before he finally passed. The decline over the past couple of years has been much faster.
I had visited him in the hospital the night before he died, and we all, doctors and nurses included, thought he would be heading to a long recovery in a rehab facility, but God had other plans.
Although I knew it was coming, it was still a massive shock to the system. My entire body went ice cold and then completely numb. I had to call and tell my daughters. The cries they made were so raw and painful. My mom and I (it is just us now as I am an only child) are comforted by the fact that we know he is in the arms of Jesus now, is no longer in pain, and is breathing freely.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a documentary called “Older than Ireland.” It was about individuals over 100 years old and asked them questions about all aspects of their lives, going way back to the beginnings of the Republic.
One gentleman was asked about the death of his wife. He was so sad. So, so sad. He said, “When she died? I died. When she died, I died. And I didn’t care after that if I died. And I still don’t care. She was the nicest girl in town. There’s only one love, true or false. If you love a person, you love them. That’s all.”
It absolutely broke my heart. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I rewound it and watched it over and over again. I’ll never forget him, the look on his face, and the sadness in his voice and eyes.
I feel so comforted that we will see him again, even in my pain and grief and my mom’s and my five adult daughters’ grief.
I was thinking, though, how difficult it must be for young children to understand death and grief when we, as adults, have such a hard time ourselves. I’ll miss my dad forever until I see him again…
Here are some resources for children grieving the loss of a loved one or friend:
God Gave Us Heaven, by Lisa Tawn Bergren, ages 4-8.
As the sun rises on her snow-covered world, Little Cub wonders aloud... "What is heaven like?" With tender words, her Papa describes a wonderful place, free of sadness and tears, where God warmly welcomes his loved ones after their life on earth is over. Little Cub and Papa spend the day wandering their beautiful, invigorating arctic world while she asks all about God's home: How do we get to heaven? Will we eat there? Will I get to see you in heaven? Papa patiently answers each question, assuring her that... "Heaven will be full of everything good."
Heaven for Kids, by Randy Alcorn, ages 8-12.
As in the adult title Heaven, Randy Alcorn addresses the difference between the present Heaven, where we go when we die, and the New Earth, where we will live forever with Jesus after he returns. Intended for kids ages 8–12, Heaven for Kidsis sure to be an excellent resource for families, especially those in which the parents have read the adult title and wish to pass on that same level of understanding to their children. The book features ten chapters of questions and answers based on Scripture and is written in a style relevant to today’s kids. The book addresses kids’ common questions about Heaven, like:
· Can we be sure we’ll go to Heaven instead of hell?
· How can we know what Heaven is like if we’ve never seen it?
· Will we have real bodies in Heaven?
· Will we actually see God?
· What happens to us the second after we die?
Emily Lost Someone She Loved, by Kathleen Fucci, ages preschool-elementary.
A recipient of Illumination and Moonbeam medals and featured on Focus on the Family's daily radio broadcast, Emily Lost Someone She Loved helps point grieving children back to Jesus after tragedy. "This book is excellent."—Dr. H. Norman Wright "A faith-based, beautifully illustrated, highly relatable book for children."— Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (T.A.P.S.) "One of the best children’s books I’ve had the privilege of reading."— Moms of Faith Emily was oh so very happy! She loved school. She loved her pup. And she especially loved her family! But one day the very worst thing happened. Emily lost someone she loved. And after that nothing, not one single thing, felt the same. One night when Emily cries out, “Where is God?!” she learns He is much closer, and loves her so much more, than she ever realized. Emily Lost Someone She Loved communicates real emotions children feel when they lose a loved one. It's a book that can be read over and over again, restoring faith in God and hope for the future.
Children and Grief, by Joey O’Connor, for parents of children dealing with grief.
This is a book written for you and your children," explains Joey O'Connor. "It initiates a conversation on a difficult subject most people prefer to avoid. It is about people like you and me struggling to figure out what they really believe when the unbelievable has happened. And then wondering, 'What in the world am I going to say to my kids? How am I going to explain what just happened in our family and what I believe about the God who saw this whole thing happen?'" "Children and Grief" offers parents a way to approach these tough questions with honesty, tenderness, and hope. O'Connor shows how to teach children to trust God, celebrate life, and have hope in the face of death.