|One of the last pictures of my mom|
Here is the beautiful part for me: my mom is now known to her. Susie recognizes her pictures and talks about Grandmommy. The other day she was pretending about her. We still haven't even pulled out the home videos, but when we do, I know she will be even more present in her mind. And when we visit my childhood home next, I will be able to point out even more special things that I know she will latch onto.
When Susie heard me say that Miss Jodi's mom was dying she said "like Jesus died on the cross." I am so thankful that her first reference with death is Christ's death -- because he triumphed over death! And it is because of his death that we who have lost our loved ones can have hope -- and can pass this hope on to our children when we teach them about death. I am not suggesting being overly morbid or trying to push children into emotional situations they are not ready for, but I am talking about creating a category for my children in which we weep but we hope in Christ when we are facing a difficult situation. This is why I bring my kids to a visitation -- perhaps not yet to see the casket unless it was someone they knew particularly well, and we haven't had that situation yet -- but to see what mourning looks like to people who hope in the gospel.
The truth is, there is not an age in which we can discuss death and not feel the sting it brings. One of the elders at my church, Bruce Ware, lost his mother shortly before I lost mine and he told me "Gretchen, my mother was 90 years old and ready to see her Lord. But she was my mom. And I miss her tremendously because she was a good mother." It is also true that we cannot control when and if death will encounter our children -- it is outside our control. Your child may lose a pet, or a grandparent, may deal with a miscarried younger sibling or may witness the sickness and loss of a family or church friend, as many children at our church witnessed when our music pastor Chip Stam battled cancer and died. My encouragement would be to begin at a small age to explain just a little bit, and be open with them when someone is sick or passes away. And even more important -- be sure to teach your children, even very very young ones, that Christ died once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God. It is the ONLY way we can also then explain that we have hope that one day we will be able to say "oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory?"
So I would encourage you in the upcoming Easter season, to use Holy Week as a time to instruct your little ones about Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the grave! Teach them songs, read them books (you may want to be choosey about the pictures so they aren't overwhelmed with images of Christ's death they aren't ready for), and celebrate that He is ALIVE! In the upcoming weeks I hope to post more ideas for the little children during Holy Week, but for now, here are several posts I wrote last year when Susie was almost two. Please leave me a comment if you have input or ideas for me!