Robert and I lost a daughter in February, but my kids also lost a sister and best friend. Grief is complicated and messy. It grows more complex by the sheer number of people grieving within our home. Parenting children that are grieving is a delicate and fluctuating experience. All of our children are beautifully unique and their personalities differ wildly. Therefore their grief is distinct, not just because they are children but because they handle all emotions differently. Navigating each day can be a challenge.
We don’t go to the cemetery frequently and we rarely ask the kids if they want to go. Early on, Leah, especially didn’t want to go and we didn’t push her. Today, however, I had several things on my to do list. Send thank you notes, grocery shop, pick up receipt for burial plots and laundry. Even minute tasks seem challenging in the midst of grief, especially when in between laundry and grocery shopping we have to pick up physical reminders of the harsh reality we are living. When we arrived at the city’s public works building the kids naturally asked why we were there, I told them and the topic of the cemetery came up. Emma suggested buying flowers at the grocery store and leaving them at Jane’s grave. To my surprise Leah was the first to agree.
At the end of our shopping, the kids picked out some red carnations and we made our way to the cemetery. I watched the girls methodically lay out the flowers and George lined up some rocks. Emma and George headed back to the car but Leah paused for a long time. She wasn’t ready to leave yet. It was hot and I knew the frozen food would be melting in the car, but we just stood there. She didn’t cry, but she also didn’t say anything. After several minutes, I asked if she was ready to go. Leah turned and reminded me, “It’s just Jane’s old body. Her new body is with Jesus.” She then walked to the car with a resolute face.
Leah turned and reminded me, “It’s just Jane’s old body. Her new body is with Jesus.”
Most kids are resilient. My kids are a special kind of courageous and strong. They have experienced profound loss and with every play date had with friends, school assignment finished, memory shared, smile or tear shed, I see immense bravery. Their life has also been altered and the pain they bear at such a young age seems harsh. But I’m watching my young children learn and hold on to deep truths that even adults often miss. Their prayers are honest and their trust in Jesus is powerful. Robert and I desire to parent, love and teach them well. Most days they teach me just as much.
My kids are a special kind of courageous and strong.
They lost a sister and they lost a best friend. They lament and grieve in their own way, but they also hold onto the confidence of a sweet reunion with their beloved Jane. Thanks be to a gracious and merciful God, what a precious reunion that will be one day.