Childhood. That word often brings up images of innocence, of carefree years, of discovery, joy, and wonder. Adults often go to great lengths to help their young child feel safe, protected, and secure. When a child loses a parent and they are forced to face tragedy, in their eyes that security and protection can be shattered.
My daughter was ten when her father drowned. As the months passed, I noticed she was becoming more sober, more serious, and less childlike.
It’s normal after experiencing tragedy to realize that life is uncertain, and that the possibility of tragedy is ever-present. Often children lose their spontaneity and their delight in life, and live in constant apprehension of yet another tragedy. Their childhood seems to be cut short.
What can we do to help them?
In studying things that bring happiness in life, one thing that I have found to be true is the idea that as long as we live, we need wholesome recreation. We need to remember to play, no matter how old we are. As a person grieves the loss of a loved one, it will take time to feel a desire to ‘have fun’, but it is important to respond to that desire as soon as you can.
Help the grieving children in your life to heal by helping them be children as much as possible. Create times to have fun together, if even for just a few minutes. Keep a list of the things you enjoyed doing, so when you feel a need to play together again, you can quickly choose an activity to share.
I’ve always loved the scripture, “Men are that they might have joy.” I believe that as we help the grieving children in our lives to find that joy, our hearts will experience it, too, and we will all find deeper and more long-lasting healing.