Grieving in front of our children
Three weeks ago, my ten-year-old told confided in me that the scariest thing about Covid19 is that none of the adults knows what’s going on. His words bounced around inside me for days – I realised how unsettling this must feel for our children who are still just about basking in a pre-teen bliss of believing that Mum and Dad are invincible heroes who can fix anything. We took a determined stand against insecurity: extra patience, healthy routines and loads of fun. Perhaps, deep down, I was fighting to remain that invincible hero who can protect my kids from anything scary.
And then the phone call came. We’re all together, all the time, aren’t we? And so, when we received the sudden, horrific news that a young friend had lost his life to Coronavirus, our kids were right there as we crumpled and wailed and wept in painful horror, disbelief, and sorrow.
Honestly, it’s not the way I’d choose to share that kind of news with my children. We’ve experienced bereavement before, and have thought of calm, careful ways in which to break sad news to them. We’ve agreed in advance what we’ll say and how we’ll say it, foreseeing every possible reaction. We’d never plan to fall to the floor, clinging desperately to one another, tears and snot running down our faces, crying out “WHY?” in anger and disbelief.
We’ve journeyed a few weeks on from that point now, and it’s been a messy but beautiful time of sharing raw, honest faith with our kids. There’s no escaping one another at the moment, so they’ve seen it all. They’ve found psalms which echo our feelings of despair or hope, and they understand that God’s people don’t always have it all together. They’ve seen little miracles in our community as God has spoken clearly in this time of loss. They’ve found Bible promises about how God is close to the broken-hearted, they’ve prayed earnestly for our friends and written letters of encouragement. They’ve nurtured seeds into fragile plants and thought about life and death as part of creation. Most importantly, I think, they’ve seen in Mum and Dad that we haven’t got it all together all of the time, and that our faith isn’t perfect; sometimes it’s just choosing to know and to say “God is good”, even when you don’t feel it or can’t think straight.
I’ve been reminded of Deuteronomy 6:6-9, which is an important verse for us parents and teaches us that faith is nurtured by being real and intentional in the everyday of family life – warts and all.
I hope that our tears and testimonies of the last few weeks will inspire deep faith in our kids, and I thank God that when I’m not in control, I can truly assure them that He is.
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