There are several ways to minister to a grieving child. Plenty of literature has already been written on the subject. But most of it is secular in its approach. As ambassadors of Christ, equipped with the Word of God, we bring something entirely new and life-giving to kids facing tragedy. Psychological approaches address the subject of loss by examining the thoughts, feelings, and stages of grief. In my experience, it is not as important for children to understand their grief as it is for them to know their Healer. The focus of all our lives, even when facing death, should be less inward and more upward.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps 147:3
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . to comfort all who mourn . . . Is 61:1,2
Make Jesus Known
In fifth grade our oldest daughter was placed in a grief group at her public school. The school counselor was trying to facilitate some discussion by pointing out the kids’ body language and what it said about how they were feeling. Our daughter looked at him with fury and said, “Did your mom die?” When he replied, “No” she said, “Then you don’t know anything about how I’m feeling.” Needless to say, she was voluntarily dismissed from the group.
Grieving kids often feel alone. They think no one understands what they are going through. This gets magnified in their thoughts and sometimes manifests itself in a tornado of angry outbursts, tantrums, obstinacy, and other tempestuous behaviors. It was a few years after her encounter with the school counselor that our daughter heard a sermon about how God, Himself, had lost someone He loved. Jesus. His Son. She finally realized God was the One who knew exactly how she felt. Her heart softened. She decided she could believe in Him again.
This is so important. You may never know what it feels like to be the bereaved child. But that doesn’t mean you can’t minister to one. You know Our Savior Jesus. You know He died for us. You know Him through Scripture, and prayer, and worship, and time spent with Him. Your faith in the goodness of God matters to these kids. You can point them to the One you know, who sympathizes with all our weaknesses, who never leaves us or forsakes us, who knows exactly what we are going through, and promises to strengthen us and help us.
What ultimately leads children back, from despair into faith and life, is knowing God is good, He loves them, He is with them, and He has eternally good plans for them. So reveal Jesus to bereaved kids. Reveal His true heart of love for them.