What congregations can do
Forgotten family grievers: the children (siblings), grandparents, extended family members
Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as he was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great storm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.
Mark 4:36-37 NKJ
You may remember this account of Jesus in a boat with His disciples. He fell asleep in the stern and a great storm arose causing the disciples to fear for their lives. There were also little boats with Jesus in the same storm and He was not on the little boats.
Just like there were other boats in the same storm so there are other persons that are impacted by the loss. Children can be compared to the little boats experiencing the same storm as the larger boat. While adults may not understand why the loss has occurred they do understand death and what death means. Children, depending on their age, may not. Children grieve developmentally and are in need of support during this time. Later as they reach other developmental milestones, children revisit and re-grieve the loss. They are in need of caring and supportive adults who understand that the entire family has been impacted by this loss and may be in need of persons outside of the family who can help.
It has been said that grandparents grieve twice: once for their own child and a second time for the grandchild that was lost.
What congregations can do:
- Remember that the other family members are grieving too.
- Learn about sibling grief, the special grief of grandparents, and other extended family members
- If possible, send cards to the children, grandparents, and extended family separate from that which is sent to the parents. This will show the extended family members that you care about what they are experiencing.
- Develop resources for families that also includes material for children, grandparents, and extended family members
- Provide information regarding support groups for children and encourage parents to allow children to participate in the groups. (There may also be adult groups being held at the same time as the children’s group.)