|Volume 18 Number 3 March 2016||
The loss of grandparents is something we are likely to face at some point. Those of us who have lost our grandparents, depending on one’s age and relationship, remember that loss with varying emotions. Some of us who have lost both parents are now grandparents. Some of us have suffered the loss of our spouse and the void that was left had to be addressed with the grandchildren. Some of us were brought up by our grandparents for any number of reasons. If the relationship was close, you were probably greatly affected when they died.
Don Williams (2015) stated:
In early America, death was a familiar experience. When several generations of a family lived in the same house, children became aware of aging, illness and death. With life somewhat like that of The Waltons, children watched as Grandpa and Grandma grew old and eventually died. They gathered with other family members when death occurred, and knew what funerals and “wakes” were all about. These were normally held in the home. Children of early America realized that a significant loss had occurred, and they would experience tears and sorrow. Death was something that was a regular part of their lives as animals would regularly die. Death was not a mystery to children in early America. (99)
In their book, Grieving with Hope, Samuel J. Hodges, IV and Kathy Leonard state:
One difference between grieving adults and children is that children grieve intermittently. Whereas adults feel they are constantly flailing in a tidal wave of emotions, children will experience those strong emotions and then take a break. The next thing you know, they’re playing with their friends, laughing, and having fun. Recognize that your children are grieving and be there to help, but also allow your children to be children. (70)
Hodges and Leonard advise:
When you talk to your children about death, it’s important to use truthful, age-appropriate language. Avoid abstract euphemisms. For example, telling children “Grandpa has gone on a long journey” isn’t helpful. The next time you tell your children you’re going on a long trip, they may conclude you’re about to die. Depending on the age of the children, you may be able to say something as simple as, “Grandpa’s body stopped working, and now he is in heaven.” If your children have more questions about what it means to die, H. Norman Wright advises you to speak in short, simple statements that communicate what death is and that it is permanent. He gives an example: “Death means Grandfather won’t be able to do what he used to do. He won’t be able to talk. He won’t be able to feel. He won’t be able to walk. He can’t eat or drink. He doesn’t breathe anymore. His body is no longer going to be here.”
Norm continues, “You need to give as much information as the children can handle according to their age level, and you’ve got to be honest” (72-73).
Notable quotes from God’s Little Devotional Book for Grandparents.
Biblical References to Grandparents
Williams, R., and D. Williams. Walking with Those Who Weep. Killen: RonDon Books, 2015.
Hodges, Samuel J., IV and Kathy Leonard. Grieving with Hope. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011.
God’s Little Devotional Book for Grandparents. Tulsa: Bordon Books, 2003.