A Child's Grief


     Children’s Chapel is often a safe place where children bring their concerns about death.  Recently we noted a very important passing.  Clay had not been to church for a few Sundays but it was very important to him that he and his family come on a particular day.  The previous night, Clay’s beautiful neon, yellow/green glofish did not look well.  He just looked like he did not have much energy and needed to rest.  The family feared that he would not make it thus were quite surprised when a few hours later, Glowy seemed like he was going to pull through.  On awakening the next morning, Glowy had died.   Clay knew that praying at church was something that he needed to do.
     Clay’s mother had alerted me to the death so when I saw Clay at the back of the church before the service began, we talked a little about Glowy’s death.  He seemed ok and he asked if he could be one of the children who would take up the bread or the wine.  Of course I said.  We processed in to Children’s Chapel where Ms. Tracey was telling the story.  An usher comes to let us know when the sermon is over in the big church so that we know when to come back in.  When Mr. Thompson came in, I told Clay and the other child to go with him so they would be in time to take down the elements.  With that, big tears began to stream down his face.  He put his face in his hands and would not go.  I realized that we had not gotten to the prayer part of our service and he really needed to pray.  Bernie said he would take the children into the church in just a few minutes so that we could pray.  Not only did we need to pray for Glowy but Clay had also had a birthday.  All of the children and adults gathered around Clay to say the birthday prayer and then to pray for Glowy.  We also prayed that God would help Clay in his sadness.  He left with peace and a smile on his face.  Clay reminded all of us how important it is to grieve, and what a crucial element the body of Christ is in the grieving process.
     When my father died a very wise friend told me to grieve well.  I did – riding the waves up and down until I came to a place of healing.   The community held me often in this process.  It is important that we give our children a safe place to express their emotions concerning their many losses.  Children struggle with the same existential issues that we do.  They need to learn the gifts in grieving well while they are young. 
     There are many places at Christ Church Cathedral that provide the safe place to explore those sometimes scary emotions.  Children’s Chapel, Sunday School and individual conversations can help children  go through this very normal and healthy process.  I have many resources in my office that I share.  Remember to not hide your own grief with children.  If you do, it teaches them to hide their own emotions.
     Grieve well dear friends whether it is loss due to moving, possessions, broken relationships, or death.  Grieving well brings us to resurrection – the fullness of life that God promises.  Thank you Clay for the reminder.
God’s peace

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