Burying a parent is never easy, even though most people expect they will outlive their parents. Still, this is a person who has been around forever, it seems, and it is difficult to lose a parent. It leaves one feeling lost and empty. Whether the parent was well loved or not, losing that parent to death leaves the children missing them. If the parent was a good one, they miss all that was done. If the parent was a bad one, they miss all that was not done.
Facing a future without a parent is different based on a variety of factors. These include whether or not the parent and child had a good relationship, how old the child is at the time of the parent’s death, and whether or not the parent was a professing Christian.
Christian children can know that they will see their Christian parent again eventually. This is a hope that only Christians have. Those who are unsure of their parent’s spiritual status may have a more difficult time working through the grief that will be faced.
God is always there to offer comfort to His children. He is the “father to the fatherless” and wants to comfort the brokenhearted. God offers peace that passes understanding, even in the midst of sadness and grief. Believers do not have to grieve alone; not only is God with every believer, but His church is there to mourn with those who mourn, share the burden, and comfort through pain.
Many times, parents were the primary support for the child(ren) of the family. This can cause even adult kids to be at loose ends after the loss of a parent. While God is more than willing to be support, sometimes people desire a physical support system – someone who can be hugged and seen. This is when turning to the body of Christ – the church – is more crucial than ever. Most churches will have someone who has been through a similar situation that can offer empathy, comfort, and (if needed) advice. A child who prays for guidance will usually be led to the person who can help most.
Grief is a very personal thing. Everyone grieves in a different way. Each deals with different things that are harder for them. For a younger person, the realization of the parent missing from the major events of their lives, such as graduation, wedding, grandchildren, first job, and more, can be devastating. For older kids, the wise advice of someone who has been there before is a loss that cannot be replaced. The loss of family stories, explanations of photographs, maybe family recipes can be a source of pain.
In the midst of all the loss that is inherent in a parent’s death, God is there. God is not lost. God is big enough to handle the frustration, the loss, the anger that often follows the loss of a loved one.
In today’s secular world, the death of a parent who is older than seventy is often blown off as “something that happened, of course, no big deal.” However, Christians realize that life is precious at any age, and the loss of a parent is a loss whether the parent is 20 or 110, or anywhere in between. That loss has an intense impact on the child every time.
When the parent is the mother, that is often even more excruciating. Often, a child will pursue career paths, schooling, or other dreams that are more the preference of mom than self, but when mom is gone, those things seem less important (or, for some, even more important, as a form of connection). There will often be a new soberness and introspection that was triggered by the parent’s passing.
While God’s wisdom is the most important, most start by gaining that wisdom from their parents, and graduate to learning it themselves from the Bible. This change can be abrupt if the parent dies early.
There are resources available to aid through the loss of a parent and moving forward in the following years. These include workbooks and journals for working through the grief and remembering the loved ones, books to help understand and heal, and mementos to remember and as a memorial.
For Young Children
Loss of Mother
Loss of Father
Loss of Either Parent – or Both