I write this blog with a
heavy heart. Yesterday I found out that a good friend of mine had
lost his nephew. Delivered at just 18 weeks, the little one lived
only 20 minutes before he passed. My friend posted his thoughts on
Facebook, and his tribute to his nephew touched my heart. I wanted
to share some of his words with you so that you too might be
touched and so that you all could pray for his family.
In moments like
these, it's so easy to get lost in what might have been. What kind
of personality would he have had? What color hair? What sorts of
things would he have liked? It's easy to think about the
experiences he and we would never have, like riding a bike, having
a birthday party, and enjoying the precious season we're currently
But, [he] lived for 20 minutes. For a lot of people this may not
seem like a lot. In fact, most would argue that it is not nearly
enough for someone so innocent and pure. However, in those 20
minutes I know his mom and dad were right there with him, loving
him for every single second of those few precious minutes. In 20
minutes, they gave him more than a lifetime of love. In 20 minutes
he lived a life where he never for a minute had to be alone. In 20
minutes he must have lived a lifetime....
Though I never got
to hold you, see you, or tell you that I love you, know that I do.
I love you, little nephew, more than you will ever know."
My heart goes out to all of those
who have lost children. Please be in prayer for my friend and his
I hope that your ministry never has to deal with a situation
like this. It can be so hard to find the right words to say and the
right steps to take. Every situation is different, but here are a
few things that might come in handy to remember if parents in your
ministry find themselves in this horrible position.
1. Pray. It's so important not to forget to
pray with and for these families. Also pray that you would know the
right steps to take. Parents will be experiencing different forms
of grief. Asking God for guidance is a must.
2. Help. You don't know how much a helping hand
will mean. "Let me know if I can do anything" (no matter how
genuine the sentiment) is an offer rarely taken up by grieving
families. Offer to do some housework or run a few errands. A useful
website is Take Them a Meal. Here you can create a meal
schedule where people can sign up to take meals on particular
days-this way everyone is working together and not inundating
families with too much food.
3. No Rush. The grieving process takes time,
and it's different for everyone. Know that it may be a while before
the parents return to church, and that this loss is something that
you are going to help them cope with for the rest of their
4. Privacy. If you are among the first to find
out, respect the family's privacy. Asking others to join in praying
is great, but only if the family wants their situation to be made
5. Children. Don't forget that children grieve
as well. Victor Parachin gave some great tips in a recent
article. Avoid euphemisms when talking with children. Allow
kids to express themselves in different ways (through drawings,
music, words), and be a role model for them during this time. The
best thing you can do for them is emphasize God's love.
Do you have any suggestions for children's ministers who may be
dealing with this situation? How do you find the right words to
say? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Also, if you ever find yourself needing to make a trip to the
hospital to see a parent or child, make sure you check you the current issue of Children's Ministry
Magazine. In it we have an article by Danielle Christy that gives
you the do's and don'ts of hospital visits.