It has only been a couple of weeks since my aunt passed away, the children’s great-aunt. They have been around her all of their lives and even though we knew she was very ill it was still a shock. My children are older now and they have been raised to believe that if someone trusts in Jesus as their savior then they will go to heaven when they die. If they were younger and did not understand as well you would, of course, have to explain things to them in a way they could grasp. It really depends on the age of the child in question when it comes to comfort. And it also depends on your belief system as well.
Even if you are sure that someone is in heaven when they pass away it does not take away all the pain. We who are left behind miss them so and we no longer get to spend time with them and that makes it oh so hard. My aunt’s granddaughter who is five who has grown up in a Christian home was thrilled that my aunt was with Jesus! She told me as we were cleaning out her grandma’s house that she wished we were all in heaven with Jesus. She was so precious when she told me, no wonder the Lord loves the little children so much and said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:15 (NIV)
All children are different just like adults in how they handle death and grief. I remember my great-grandmother’s passing when I was young. I really did not have a clue of what death meant. I remember clearly seeing her in the casket but it did not overwhelm me; I knew she was okay and that I would see her again in heaven. The overwhelming sadness that overtakes adults usually does not affect a child the same way, partly because of their innocence and partly because as children they have not formed the bond that is formed by adults.
I have heard children being comforted by adults telling them that the person who has passed will always be in their heart and that is how they stay alive. I imagine that would work in a child’s mind but as for me I would be much more comforted knowing that there was a heaven and that my loved one was no longer sick, sad, or hurting in any way and being forever with our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ! Being able to tell a child that they are in heaven and also that they are with all of our loved ones that have passed on before them that were believers in Christ would be the greatest comfort of all.
When my aunt passed we could not get a hold of her on the telephone and she lived about twenty-five minutes away from us. My mother (her sister) recently had open heart surgery and was not well enough to go and I am taking care of mom so I called my oldest daughter who is twenty-eight to stop by on her way home from work. I praise God that my daughter knows Jesus as her personal savior because she was the one who found my aunt. She looked as though she just fell asleep and went to be with Jesus which was such a blessing but nevertheless it was still difficult to find her gone. I made arrangements and went right away to help her with the police, emergency medical teams, coroner, funeral home, etc. When I arrived the policeman that was there was so very kind and had nothing but praise for my daughter; he actually wondered if she was in the medical profession because she was handling it all so well.
A little while later when things settled down a little he came over and asked us if we were okay. I told him that we knew she was with Jesus and not in pain any more. He got so excited and shook my hand and told us that so often the families are hysterical and that he does not know what to say to them because they are not believers. He was so thrilled that we were Christians and he had some way to comfort us. We were very blessed by his presence and that he was then able to share scriptures with us and encourage us in the Lord. He told of the countless times he has encountered death and suicide with no words of comfort for the family because they did not have the hope that you find in Jesus Christ and the promise of spending eternity with Him in heaven.
I was asked to speak at my aunt’s funeral and I was so very thankful that I could tell everyone that I absolutely knew she was in the arms of Jesus and in the presence of our precious heavenly Father! There is no other way I know how to comfort and when someone passes away without believing in the Lord Jesus I do not know how people rationalize or cope with the death of a loved one.
Helping children understand death is not an easy or pleasant task, but by focusing on the good things you can lessen the pain and help it to be a time to remember the joy of certainty in Christ and the fact that we will see them again in heaven.
Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.