When a Child Dies #5
I boarded the last flight to Abilene last night and saw a good friend of ours. She was beaming, having just spent the weekend with her granddaughter in DC. She asked if I’d like to see pictures. Well, of course! Because as a proud grandpa, every time I look at pictures of YOUR grandchild, I assure a future audience for looking at pictures of MY grandkids!
There are just no words. Grandparenting is one of life’s greatest joys. (I love the old saying that grandparents and their grandchildren are so close because they share a common enemy!)
But the fact that it’s one of life’s greatest joys means that it has the potential to crush us with sorrow.
I write this thinking of my parents who have had to endure their children losing children.
My observation is that people rally around grieving parents. They know the loss must be unimaginable. But they do not often recognize the devastating loss the grandparents (and other family members) suffer.
Grandparents suffer a double blow. First, they lose a precious grandson or granddaughter. But they also have to see their own son or daughter enter the dark cave of suffocating grief. So they hurt for their loss; and they suffer for their own child.
What do you say to a grandparent who has just lost a grandchild? Return to #2 in this series. The same advice would apply. Be aware that their suffering is real, deep, and persistent. They will need you for the following few weeks. But they’ll also need you for the long haul.
Hold them up as they try to help bear the sorrow of their son or daughter, worrying whether they’ll ever have their child back again as they knew him or her. And support them as they continue the long journey of mourning the loss of their precious grandchild.
This is a reminder that the loss of a child sends shock waves that could almost be measured by the Richter Scale. An emotional seismograph could chart wave after wave, aftershock after aftershock, of loss. It will extend to grandparents, to siblings, to cousins, to uncles and aunts, and to friends.
Be prepared to weep with those who weep, to remember with those who need to relive cherished memories, to sit in silence with those who are exhausted, and to pray for those who for the moment seem too sad to pray.
We’ve already heard from grieving grandparents in the comments sections of the past four posts. But I would love to hear from others who have lost grandchildren. Can you help us understand more? Or perhaps there are others who can help us understand the loss of a brother or sister.