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From Laughing to Grieving to Hoping:
Finding Hope after the Death of a Child

Are you struggling through the process of grieving the death of a child?
Consider these practical and spiritual tips.

The death of a child can feel like the end of the world. How are you supposed to move on when a child dies? Of course, there are dozens of book s on the death of a child. But what are some practical, quick tips for making it through the next five minutes of grief? If you don’t want to read a book, but you still want healing, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five quick concepts on child loss that you can start with.

1) Allow yourself to grieve child loss in your own way.

The death of a son or daughter —a member of your family—is a uniquely painful experience; expect your grieving process to be unique, too. Yes, grief follows through five grief stages, but how and when you move through those stages after the death of a child can vary greatly. Be patient and compassionate with yourself when it comes to your pain, hurt, and grieving. Don’t beat yourself up for falling apart when a child dies; it’s part of the road to wholeness.

2) Don’t be surprised if you’re all over the place emotionally.

Many people who endure the death of a son or daughter experience a bizarre range of emotions. You may go from intensely missing your child to wishing she or he had never come into your life. You may blame yourself for child loss and then turn around and blame your child. These are confusing, frightening emotions. But knowing that they’re coming strips these emotions of some of their force. As time goes on, bereavement will fade and balance will be restored to your life.

3) Savor the memories.

Sometimes a parent tries to cope with the death of a child by banishing the memories of the dead child. The grieving parent might opt to remove photos from the house or throw away personal belongings. We encourage you to take your time with these items. The memories will cause pain at first; over the coming weeks, though, you will process this tragedy and formulate your child’s legacy and her or his place in your family.

4) Find a support system.

It may be difficult for you to talk about the loss of a child, but opening up is essential to thorough healing. Find a support system that you can interact with regularly—whether a church, a circle of friends, or a grief counselor. Your grief support system will help you find reasons to smile. Sure, the loss of a child can be devastating. But it can also be an avenue for finding new, close relationships, too.

5) Embrace your spirituality.

The death of a son or daughter be an opportunity for you to return to faith in God or involvement in your religious system. The belief in an afterlife can really ease our minds when it comes to child loss. Also, a church provides a community of like-minded people that are willing to walk with you through this valley in your life.

It’s true. Events like the death of a child often cause one to ask the big questions in life. As you continue to look for resources on the death of a child, why not consider one last possibility for healing? If you think about it, the entire story of the Bible relies on the act of a father watching his son die. If that’s true, God knows where you’re coming from. Why not take a few minutes to talk to God about your pain?

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Finding God and Your Grieving

The Bible is a real, authentic, genuine book-- filled with the stories and thoughts of real people. Whereas some grief-coping strategies may encourage you to deny your grief and try to convince you that your grief is just in your head, the Bible takes a different route. Your grief is real, your pain is actual, and there's still the opportunity for true healing.

Consider the story of David, one of the most prominent authors in the Bible. David was king of a whole nation, a military leader, a wise man, and a gifted songwriter. And yet his life was filled with sorrow: much of his life, he was being chased by a vengeful predecessor who wanted to kill him; his best friend was killed; his son died. And yet in the midst of this pain, David is able to sing out to God:

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. 

What is the hope that propels David through his seasons of grief? David devotes himself to loving and serving God and he finds God to be more than enough for his hurting heart. Want to find the hope that David had? Let God turn your mourning into dancing, too. Grief is hard, but God is bigger than that grief. He wants to comfort you, to sit with you as you mourn, and to carry you through to the other side.