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Grieving Grandma

Q. My mom passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure how to handle the grieving process for myself and my two kids, ages six and ten. They've never even experienced the death of a pet—let alone a loved one. What's the best way to talk to them about this?

A. Simply listen. Your children need to express their fears, feelings, and questions. Encouraging them to do this will enable you to keep your finger on the pulse of their hearts. These shared times will help you through the grieving process as well. Remember, your kids need to see you grieve to reassure them what they feel is normal.

Children may react to profound loss in a variety of ways: regression, sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, anger, withdrawal, sickness, or depression. While prolonged responses may be cause for concern, any of these reactions is typical at first, and may resurface in cycles for many years. Allow your children to grieve naturally, without suppressing their emotions—even ones that would require reining in under normal circumstances. Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you when your mothering instincts take over. God promises to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death; lean on him for wisdom.

Most important, depend on God for comfort. Teach your children that the Holy Spirit's name is "The Comforter." Ask God to use this opportunity to transform the abstract concept of heaven into the reality that Jesus has prepared a place for each of us, and that Grandma is there now enjoying her beloved Lord's presence. And she'll be there to hold her grandchildren again one day if they also make Jesus their Lord.

Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family), So You're Thinking About Homeschooling (Multnomah), and the founder of MomTime Get-A-Ways. She and her husband, Steve, have three children. E-mail your parenting questions for Lisa to parentingfeedback@christianitytoday.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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