Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.
How Do We Minister to the Surviving Parents?
I walked in the front door after spending a couple of hours with my beloved Grandson and my husband broke the news concerning the literal massacre of innocent children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Right now, the parents are dealing with horrific news and a very gross reality. Their children are gone.
Let me tell you, their lives are forever changed. As President Obama said, “No weddings, no birthdays, no graduations”. No new news.
We lost our wonderful daughter, Kate, at age 21 in a horrific car accident. There is no such thing as closure when you lose a child. That loss is felt until you meet again in Heaven. And, even though I know where Kate is and that we will see each other down the road, it’s very difficult.
I remember attending a friend’s wedding a couple of years after Kate’s death. The church ceremony was beautiful. However, about 15 minutes into it, I was overwhelmed with emotion because I would never see Kate walk down the aisle. I would never see the joy on Kate’s face telling me that she found that special forever man. And there will be no grandchildren with a mother named “Kate”.
This is grief. And it hits when you least expect it. It doesn’t appear when it’s convenient as some of your family or friends might wish. When your child’s birthday rolls around, very few people acknowledge it. When Christmas arrives, the child you would have wrapped presents for is just not there.
What the parents and grandparents will experience now is, of course, loss but they will feel emotionally overwhelmed. They will try to do something as simple as going to a restaurant and it will feel surreal. They will feel guilty enjoying the simple pleasures of life because their child is dead.
So, what can you do when a friend or family member has lost a child?
1. Pay attention to them. Ask if you can stop by for an hour. Refuse to play the avoidance game.
2. Hug them and tell them you’re available day or night. And mean it.
3. Continue to talk with them about their child, if they’re ok with that. Ask them if it’s ok.
4. Remember their child. Remember their child on their child’s birthday, during holidays and on the day they passed to be with the Lord.
5. If you live within driving distance, don’t phone it in.
6. Don’t say, “Are you over it yet?” or “It’s been several months, time to move on.”
7. Think of creative ways to remember your friend or family member’s child. How about sending balloons off on their birthday every year? Perhaps they would appreciate it if you gave a gift to Toys For Tots in remembrance of their child.
With just a little caring and love, you can make a difference in the lives of these parents.
Today’s the day.
Just do it.