You know there’s been too much sadness in the family lately when the 5-year-old, praying for pregnant friends and relatives, feels compelled to add, “And please don’t let their baby die.”
This prayer, however matter-of-factly uttered, is heartwrenching. The lad is tough, but with a tender heart, and he has shed tears for babies loved and lost. Did we err in sharing grief with him?
No. We have shared not only our grief, but the reason for the hope that we have—the reason that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. This kid gets it. He knows the race isn’t over yet. He knows we’re waiting on That Glorious Day. We’re listening for the trumpet blast that heralds the One who brings an end to all strife and the beginning of life made new.
More: He’s five, and he knows that even a teeny, in-utero sibling or cousin or friend that he’s never seen is a person, created and loved by God, whose existence is cause for rejoicing and whose temporal loss is cause for sorrow.
When it comes to topics like death, the truism is true: each mother and father can best discern the information that’s appropriate for their children. (For instance: We’re not totally sure where the three-year-old is with all this. We haven’t talked quite as much with him about it, but neither have we hidden anything from him. Also: we don’t dwell extensively on the topic with our older son, but deal with it as it comes up.)
Sometimes, the suddenness of grief forces a parent’s hand. Misguided protective instincts might tempt us to wrap our children in cozy euphemisms, or else cut them out of the loop altogether. Let’s not be misled by a world that grieves without hope into thinking that we should “love” our children by insulating them from sadness. Let’s not make our children’s happiness into an idol that usurps the place intended for a more profound joy. True Love, after all, is stronger than death.
Let us suffer here with Jesus, and with patience bear our cross.
Joy will follow all our sadness; where He is, there is no loss.
Though today we sow no laughter, we shall reap celestial joy;
All discomforts that annoy shall give way to mirth here-after.
Jesus, here I share Your woe; help me there Your joy to know.