by Ken Rolheiser
Helping children know about Angels and grieving

One of the most difficult aspects of the loss of a loved one has to do with helping children with the grieving process. As a grandfather I have been part of this process. The burden is lightened where faith exists in the family. Children can be closer to God than we often expect.

While I was assisting my grandchildren when their mother was in hospital after a C-section, I noticed the two girls stopping during their play and kneeling down to say a prayer for mommy and the baby. God has a great love for each of us, and when children get to know this, then explaining God’s will to them becomes easier.

When my son-in-law’s father was born to eternal life recently, I sent a message to my grandchildren to help them cope with the loss. Besides sharing ideas about our guardian angels I shared two stories with them.

One of the stories I shared was about Colton Burpo from Nebraska who was four years old when he underwent emergency surgery twice. As he lay on the operating table, Colton, now 11, says he went to heaven. A book of his 'experience' has since become a New York Times Best Seller.

Colten said he recognised his great grandfather from a picture taken of him as a young man. Colton told his astonished parents that he had met the sister his mother had miscarried a year before his own birth.

Speaking about the sister he never knew he had, he said: “She looked familiar and she started giving me hugs and told me she was glad to have someone from her family up there. She doesn't have a name though. She said they never gave her one. But she can't wait for her mom and dad to come to Heaven to meet her.”

In my message to my grandchildren I said, “Your grandpa has gone to be with God and the angels.

God saw that Grandpa was suffering and took him home to heaven. Heaven is the place where there is no sickness, no pain and no suffering.

“When Jesus lived on earth he looked after his friends. When it was time, Jesus told them that he was going to go to heaven to prepare a place for them, but that he would still look after them.

“Grandpa has gone to heaven, but now he can help look after us and be near us everyday. Grandpa is an angel now and still loves us very much. You can pray to Grandpa to ask God to look after Grandma or your mom and dad. And Grandpa can talk to God.

“You have other family members who are with God and you can talk to them too, like Great Grandpa George or your little brother who went to heaven before he was born.

“I have asked Grandpa to look after you and to help you not to be too sad. We need to be happy for Grandpa because he is strong again and can move around without any pain. If you had a race with Grandpa now, he could beat you.”

To people of faith there is much to celebrate. Life begins on this earth, but it does not end here. Making God’s love known to children will prepare them for life’s challenges.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

(582 words)