When Your Child Suffers
Dealing with the death of your child
We all want the best for our children. We want them first to be healthy, then we want them to grow up in a stable home with love, to know happiness, and to become productive members of society. However, for some parents, these dreams are never fulfilled due to their child being born with some physical defect, or having a disease that ultimately results in their death.
For the last seven months I have witnessed such an event when some friends of mine had a girl, born in March, who was born with a defective heart. She had several surgeries, and suffered much through those seven months. This last week, they had her funeral. However, they had so much joy through this process, because they focused on the positives everyday, instead of focusing on what they did not have. Here, I want to show you how they dealt with the situation in such an amazing way in an effort to encourage you if you are dealing with such a situation or know someone who is dealing with such a situation.
Following are some principles they lived by.
1. They lived in reality
At no time did this couple deny the reality that their daughter was sick and dying. They did believe that God could heal. They kept their focus on the little positives along the way. But they did face the reality that she could die at any time. Often, facing reality is the most difficult step to take when dealing with a difficult circumstance that we are facing. Once you face the reality of the situation then you can take steps necessary to living with peace and contentment.
2. They loved no matter what
When someone you know is dying, there can be a temptation to distance yourself from that person in an effort to protect yourself from pain. This couple chose to develop an intimate relationship with their child, and walk towards the pain of losing her. Ultimately, when she died, they were able to live without regrets. They gave themselves to her, and now are being rewarded in many ways.
3. They had strong faith
This couple believe that there is a God Who is in control of everything. So, they kept their focus on Him. Instead of complaining, the only thing that came out of their mouths was thankfulness that God gave them a child at all. They have a healthy boy. So, their appreciation for him only grew deeper. When facing such difficult circumstances, faith in God is really the only thing that can bring you through and make sense of the whole situation. There were many moments when the doctors would say that she was coming out of it. Their hope of bringing her home was being realized, but before you knew it she was back to the point of death. There were many ups and downs. Through it all they kept a level head and a strong faith.
4. They had strong support
When you are facing the death of your child, strong support from family and friends is absolutely necessary. I watched in amazement at the family and friends who were there the whole way. They also had a website that allowed people to write in and express their thoughts and encouragements. They kept people updated daily on her progress. By the end, countless people from all over the world knew the story of this little girl, and many lives were changed because of her. She did not suffer or die in vain.
5. They mourned with joy
Throughout the seven months and at the time of her death, they obviously shed many tears, but they did so with joy. They knew their God, and knew that He had a bigger purpose in mind than they could see at the moment. If you have a child who is dying or know someone in that situation, know that mourning is necessary for healing, and know that joy can be had if you know the One Who walks with you through it all.
A word to those watching someone with a dying child
You may not have a child who is dying, but know someone who is. I deliver flowers for a couple florists, and often deliver to the local children's hospitals. One day I delivered flowers to a couple who had a healthy girl who had a routine surgery. She caught staff infection, and ended up dying. I delivered just minutes before she died. I was told that her organs were shutting down, and that she had just slipped into unconciousness. Though she was not my child, my heart went out to them, and I began to mourn. When you are watching someone else's child dying, you can be involved in several ways:
If you are a person of faith, get involved by praying. The child obviously needs prayer for healing, but the family needs prayer for strength and healing of their own.
2. Offer encouragement
The family can get very discouraged, and need words of encouragement to keep them going. Try to avoid the temptation to offer advice. They don't need advice, unless they ask for it. Just be there for them.
3. Help with chores
When a couple has a child who is dying, they want to be with that child as much as possible. So, offer to do cooking, cleaning, and shopping so that they can be free to be at the hospital as much as possible.
4. Love your children a little bit more
If you have children, allow times like this to cause you to appreciate what you have. Listen to your children with more interest. Hug them a little closer. Show them your appreciation and love for them. Take a moment to thank God for the gift of healthy children. We all can be guilty of taking our family for granted. May we realize what a gift they are.
A word to those without children
If you do not have children, you may feel as though you have nothing to offer. Nothing could be further from the truth. You may not have the experience necessary to offer advice, but you can still feel their pain, and walk with them through the experience. You are still their friend, and they need your love. Don't feel like a fifth wheel. Not having children does not make you less valuable. Your friendship is what makes you valuable. There are many difficult circumstances that I watch friends and family go through that I have never gone through. However, I can still be there and feel their pain, and show my love through those times.
The death of an innocent child is difficult to grasp. However, their is a purpose for everything. You can make it through. Take encouragement, knowing that God really does have a bigger plan in mind than our little minds can grasp. God is a loving Father, and He can get us through difficult times if we will simply trust Him.
If you are watching someone dealing with their child's death, be there for them. They desperately need you. Don't let the business of life crowd out the time they need you to spend with them. In this little girl's life, many lives were changed through it all. Your child will not die in vain.