Christianity 201

July 29, 2020

Our Kids’ Emotions in the Middle of Loss

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today’s blog post is a little different from what I normally run here. Hopefully, it contains some practical advice for parents, but it really deals with emotions that all experience in times of loss. But first I need to set this up.

My sister-in-law and her husband have two twin boys. She writes,

Parenting is … hard. On so many levels.

We want the boys to enjoy the experience of having a family dog. It’s not quite working out so well. The boys have had four dogs in their 12 years of life. The first had a compromised immune system that just quit at the age of 3 years old. The second had Parvovirus as a new pup. The third had fear aggression and bit a couple children (including our own) so he had to go live with a family member, and now the fourth dog gets overheated, Lyme Disease, and a ruptured bowel over the span of two weeks.

B. says “I think Gods trying to teach us about grief.” Although he’s also incredibly devastated and angry, I told him it’s OK to be angry with God— just ask Him to help you understand.

C. says “What are we doing wrong?!” We told him, sometimes things in life just suck and this is a big one. We’ve explained what we couldn’t control about every scenario but he still thinks there has to be something we could’ve done.


Of course it’s easy to simply read things on social media and click on a sad-face emoticon or just let my wife’s replies suffice. But I think this touches on matters that affect us all, not just parents, not just kids. I took about 45 minutes to craft a multi-paragraph response…

Thinking about C.’s question, I turned to Job 1:1 “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (NIV) Job clearly hadn’t done anything wrong.

In John 9, “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. Rabbi, his disciples asked him, why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (NLT) And Jesus’ answer is “Neither.”

In Matthew 5:45, Jesus says, “For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike.” (Phillips translation.)

[At this point I realized that some people might default to a ‘Well-then-it-doesn’t-matter-how-I-live’ type of response believing that it doesn’t affect outcomes at all. So I continued…]

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits from living a good, God-centered, Christ-following type of life. There are, and one of them is having someone to turn to and pour out your anguish and disappointment at times like this. And I would dare to say — some may disagree — that it’s okay to say, ‘God, I’m really upset with you. We prayed and our prayer wasn’t answered.’ And he’d say, ‘I know.’ God would rather have our anger than our apathy

And who knows the big picture? It started out about the dog being overheated, but then became about Lyme disease. In the end it was about a bowel obstruction. How did all these factors play together? I don’t know.

Pets do come in and out of our lives. Maybe not with this frequency all the time, but it happens. Each loss, as B. says, is a learning experience. Reactions varies from person to person, and from pet to pet. Jonah threw a major fit over a plant that died, a plant he’d known for basically one day. “Then the Lord said, ‘You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly.‘” Scripture records this for us to see these feelings are not unique. And remember, that was about a plant!

We all want to feel like we’re playing on a winning team, and your team got into an epic battle which at the end wasn’t won. But that doesn’t mean that us (the four of you and we, your extended family) aren’t winners, because the dog was supported and loved and cared for until the end. That means that everyone involved had an overflow of love to give, and an overflow of love to grieve. That’s the correct response. Waking up today and deciding it’s just another Wednesday wouldn’t be right. We were made to feel things; we are a combination of body, mind, soul and spirit.


I could have kept going, but these kids are young and it’s just a day later.

Maybe this applies to you or someone you know today. Perhaps you are just really upset over the situation the world is in right now, and asking, as someone asked me yesterday, how God is permitting all this to happen.

My answer would be the same: Talk to him. Confess your sadness, your disappointment, even your anger if that applies.

Talk to him.


Here’s one of Ruth’s responses:

…Part of love is wanting to protect, both for you toward your family, and the guys toward their pets. We’ve all been there. We’ve all struggled with helplessness. In those moments all we can do is be there with and for each other. God may not give us the miracles we ask for, but he gives us each other. That’s not a fix, but it can be enough to give us the strength to hope.


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1 Comment »

  1. Thank you!

    A timely and meaningful reflection and personally valuable to me today!

    Barbie

    Sent from my iPhone

    Comment by Barbie Van Allen — July 30, 2020 @ 7:45 am | Reply


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