Emergencies happen.  They are not planned and so one cannot truly prepare for them.  A few years ago there was a widely popular book series and games built upon worst case scenarios.  These were entertaining and humorous because the players or readers were not actually trapped in the scenarios and could examine them from afar.  Imaginary settings can be absent of the typical fear and stress induced adrenalin of true emergencies.  I wonder if these books or games have proven to be factual and helpful in real life?

Families have emergencies.  It is an event that is unexpected and critical.  The agenda has changed and all other plans are abandoned.  Life or health may be pending.  It is a frightful time.  Adults and children are affected, though differently.   It is troubling for both.  Adults understand the greater magnitude of problems.  Children’s innocence and naivety protects them but their immaturity does not equip them.  Adults should be mature enough to cope better with problems, but often they do not know what to do either.


When an emergency arises take the necessary time to communicate with your children.  Explain as many details as possible which are age appropriate.  Don’t make any promises you may not be able to keep.   Don’t guarantee a grandparent will recover from their stroke or heart attack, if there is not plenty of evidence to support that claim.  Do give much assurance that the best possible care is being given to their loved one.  Be generous with hugs and words of love and comfort.  Pray together.  Cry together.

Develop your contingency plan and clearly explain what needs to be done when, where, and how.    Allow your child to ask questions and express concerns.  They may even have some worthy suggestions.  Tell them they may need to be exceptionally strong and brave and that you know they are able to do so.  Help them to focus on the needs and feelings of others and not just on their own.

I recall one Friday afternoon when I was about eight years old (I really hope I was that young) arriving home from school excited because I knew we were going to go to my grandparents’  home for the weekend.  I was informed that the trip was cancelled because one of my parents had to work overtime.   No one was sick or dying, but I was crushed.   My crying was so ridiculously exaggerated for the occasion that my mom grabbed her camera and took my photograph.  That made me mad  I wanted to hide my face so I pulled my dress up over my head but exposed my underwear.  My reaction to my disappointment was outrageous and just continued to get worse. My mom took the photo anyway!     I recovered.

Children are so childish.  That is nature/normal.  Don’t shield them from all emergencies and disasters.   Journey through it with them and help them handle the struggles that arise.

P.S. Remembering our own childhood nonsense helps us be more understanding towards our children.



Most women have, or know someone who has, experienced a miscarriage. Which one are you?  I am both.  How did you, or they, handle it?

My first miscarriage happened when I was 20 years old, had a 9 month old son, and we were out of state attending a family wedding. It was a difficult situation. Even though the second pregnancy was a surprise we were happy and then we were crushed.  I was about eight to nine weeks along and suddenly everything changed.  I began bleeding and even with no activity and rest I was cramping.  I went to an unfamiliar doctor at an unfamiliar hospital.  The worst part was that I was treated in the maternity wing and could hear other newborn babies being wheeled down the hall.  I hope hospitals have changed that policy.

It didn’t matter that I had only been pregnant a short time.  I still loved my unborn child and his passing was a loss.  Yes, I grieved.   Even years later, when I would think of him I would be sad and then think about how old he would be and what kind of personality he would have.  It is a grief I have kept to myself or talked about with just my husband, or maybe my sister, because others don’t want to discuss your unborn child.IMG_2060

Family and close friends express sympathy and that helps.  Time and life bring healing.  Focusing on others and family also brings healing.

When our daughter, child #4, was almost two years old I miscarried again before I even realized I was pregnant.    Eight months later we conceived again.  We were excited and convinced our daughter would finally have a sister and not just brothers.  With much relief I passed the eight – ten week mark.   At twelve weeks it reoccurred.  Even though I had four living children, this loss was the greatest.

Of course, my husband was with me through all of this and he grieved in his way. Again family and friends expressed sympathy.  But there were two people who did things which I still fondly remember.

My sister returned to the store some maternity clothes which I had just purchased.  That task was emotionally impossible for me to do.  Her doing this was a tremendous help to me. Thank you, Linda.

IMG_2062A week or two later a friend at church gave me a hug and said he was sorry.  He was the only male (besides closest family) who verbally acknowledged our loss and grief.  Thank you, Brian B. for your courage and tenderness.

The loss of a child is the loss of a dream and a future.  We are left only to imagine the possibilities.  I am thankful for the comfort of knowing that someday in heaven I will meet and know our other three children.

Their needs, Your needs

Should my child attend a family funeral?  Recently a friend asked me that question.  It caused me to think and I discovered a new thought on the subject.  To my own surprise I advised, “Maybe not.”

Our children were 7, 4, 2 and 2 months old when my mother-in-law suddenly passed away.  It was a very difficult time for me.  I didn’t know I could cry that much.   We traveled 600 miles for the funeral.  I cried all the way.  Once there we worked with the family to make plans and arrangements. The only visitation was for the immediate family and we took all our children to it. Even though the casket was closed we took our children to see it and the inside the funeral home.  We also used this opportunity to prepare them for what would be happening the next day.butterfly
On the day of the funeral my sister-in-law’s friend, whom I had never met and I did not know, offered to watch our
two youngest children and their two year old cousin.  On our way back from the cemetery and on our way to the church for a meal we picked up the children.  I am very thankful for that kind woman.   I am grateful for her assistance.  Caring for them myself during the funeral service would have been very difficult.

I previously wrote in my blog called Weeping that attending funerals is a part of life and it was fine for children to do so.  But I had not considered the emotional needs of the parents.   I needed to not have to be responsible for my youngest children at my mother-in-law’s funeral.   I didn’t have any particular responsibilities at that funeral; I was just struggling with her unexpected passing and my own great loss.

Yes, I actually had a wonderful mother-in-law.  She was my biggest cheerleader.  She never criticized me.  She taught me many domestic skills like jelly making and embroidery.  When she would visit us she would play with the children, teach me new skills and help me complete many unfinished projects.  She wrote me frequent letters. (This was long before email or cell phones.)  She told me that when a daughter marries the mother gains a son, but when a son marries the mom must become friends with the new daughter or she loses her son.owl

When my mother-in-law passed away I truly lost a mom and a friend.  My heart was so broken.  My grieving was heavy and it was almost exactly a year before I could think about her without breaking down.  Be
cause her casket needed to be closed I never saw her at rest and so closure eluded me for a long time.  Seeing a loved one lying in peace really helps bring closure for me.

Here is my bottom line.  Yes, take children to family funerals.  It is not too difficult for them.  But it might be too difficult for you.  Only you can decide your needs as well as theirs.  The friend who brought up this question to me took her 6 year old and 11 month old to the funeral visitation of her grandmother, but on the day of the funeral they stayed with her in-laws.  Family members all saw her children at the visitation and the children saw the reality of grieving family.  The funeral service was a little easier for her thanks to her kind in-laws.


Winning and losing.  Living and dying.  These are a part of life and offer such valuable lessons.  Of course we will always choose the winning and living, but there is also losing and dying.  Children have very limited understanding of the later. Our daughter was a preschooler when my Aunt Ruby passed away.  She went with us to the funeral home for the visitation and then the funeral.  She referred to them as the “dead body party” and the “dead body meeting.”  There were lots of people and there were flowers, hugging and talking and later there was food.  I can understand why it seemed like a party to her.  The funeral service was sort of like a church meeting or worship service.  She typically had to sit still and be quiet for church meetings just as she did for the funeral service. Funeral homes sort of seem like churches.skyscape

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  Yes, even children are capable and able and willing to do this.  Except under special circumstances children should not be shielded from death.  For most children their first exposure to death is a grandparent or a pet. Help them to learn from their own hurt to be sympathetic and empathic to others.  Help your children find ways to express their own sorrow and be supportive of others in their sorrow.  There are many things a child can do for others such as give a hug, make cookies, draw a picture or make a card.  They undoubtedly will have other ideas which you can discuss and help them to decide on the most appropriate actions.

Most adults feel awkward at funerals and don’t know what to say to the sorrowing family.  Saying the perfect thing is not really important.  A warm two-handed handshake or a hug expresses much.  The following are some helpful and simple thoughts which when said sincerely are meaningful.  “Sorry for your loss.”  “I care.”  “I love you.”   Of course you can also add a short antidote about the deceased or just a reference such as; “I will miss ________, too.”  “They were a good (loving/faithful/inspirational) friend or boss or ____________.”   “I am thankful for ____________ which (the deceased) taught me.”

Before taking your child along with you to attend a funeral or visitation be sure to talk with them about what to expect.  Tell them there may be lots of hugging or crying. That is normal at such gatherings and it is okay.  Let them know what is expected of their behavior.  Discuss the things they may say or not say.  Don’t force a child to get physically close to approach the casket or look upon the deceased if they are uncomfortable doing so.

Don’t try to explain death as sleeping because we all go to sleep every night.  Do explain God’s plan for us to live in eternity with Him where there will be no crying or sorrow.  If you need to know more about heaven, read Revelation chapters 21 and 22.  I have been told that Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven is outstanding.  Alcorn also has a Heaven for Kids edition.


Grief is a process.  Everyone goes through that process at their own pace.  Be patient with your children.  You may have to ask your children to be patient with you.  You cannot protect your children from experiencing grief, nor should you.  It is a part of life and it is a part of growing up.  There are hard and troublesome things in life but we can learn to love and support each other through them.  Don’t forget the rejoicing with those who rejoice part of the scripture.  Practice that too.