Friday, December 15, 2017

Yes Emma Heaven Is For Real

Monday, November 10, 2008, 12:00
This news item was posted in Teen Talk category.
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by Dr. Chuck Baynard


Emma, a five year old came up to me and asked if Miss Patty a member who had recently died was going to be in church tonight. I told her no that Miss. Patty was in heaven now. As tears began to form in her eyes Emma looked at me and asked, “Chuck is this heaven thing for real?” I assured her it most certainly was and even though we missed Patty that Patty was okay and happy where she was now. Emma had been at the memorial service for Patty where we had shown a slide show of pictures from her life. Emma asked if I could get her one of the Patty movies. I told her I would get her a copy for her very own and that seemed to quiet her down for the moment and her usual smiling self reappeared.

Too often adults think death is for adults and shut children out of the events surrounding death. Alan Wolfelt, the author of Healing the Bereaved Child said, “Any child old enough to love is old enough to mourn.” Any child old enough to mourn needs adult assurance everything is really okay and the hurting does go away.

Tell children the truth about the death at the first opportunity. Children are very perceptive and will realize something is wrong in the family. Being told about the death and included in family discussions will help the child accept death as part of the normal life within the family.

The death of a family pet offers a great opportunity to teach younger children about death. Don’t hide the pet’s death, tell the children. Talk to the child and share past experiences about the pet and the funny things it done. Share how the pet will be missed. Perhaps even have a funeral service and allow the child to see the pet buried to help bring closure. Share your beliefs about life after death with the child. While Christians have our own unique system of belief all systems of belief include an after life. Share your faith, and the happiness the person will know in the next life with the child. It will comfort the child just like it does you.

The emotional response of children in grief is quite varied: anger, loss of appetite, withdrawn, silent, can’t sleep, or perhaps even doing poorly in school. Whatever the response of the child, accept that response and help them work through their grief. Tell them when someone we love dies it hurts and it is okay to cry. However, also tell them this sadness will pass and all is okay and their world will not end because of this death of a loved one.

If the death is in your family you may not be able to help the child at this very moment. If this is the case seek help for the child, they do not need to walk this route alone. Often another elative can spend the time lovingly talking with the child and especially listening to the child.

We need to learn that we simply can’t fix some things for our children and it may take a lifetime for them to work out all the details for themselves when the death of a sibling, parent or other close loved one is involved. Be there for them with a lot of love and a pot of patience as they work through this the best they can for their own age.


Dr. Baynard is an Associate Editor of the Christian Observer and Senior Pastor at Clover Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Clover, South Carolina


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