Comforting Children

Posted on: January 4th, 2012 by Kay Swatkowski

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
—Matthew 5:4 NIV
I did not catch the names of the authors. I don’t even remember the title of the book. Yet, there was information shared in the radio interview I shall never forget. While doing research for their book on family life, the husband and wife writing team questioned dozens of adults about loss during their childhood years.
Specifically, the authors asked each person to describe a time during childhood when someone had tenderly comforted them. Only one-third of those responding could recall a time when they had been comforted by an adult. Sadly, most had simply muddled through disappointing and difficult life circumstances alone. It is heartbreaking to think that so many of us have traveled through life without experiencing tender comfort for our pain—heartbreaking and true.
Loss and disappointment, mourning and grief, are inevitable. Children lose pets, friends, favorite toys, and sometimes grandparents. Parents accept job transfers and children frequently move away from the only home they have known and the familiar surroundings that are secure. Divorce disrupts family life, school life, and normal routines, and children feel shaky. Childhood losses matter. Children mourn as surely as adults do. Many children enter adult life with unresolved loss and pain.
When I was seven, my grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack. Our family was in shock. It seemed that no onecomprehended the grief and loss experienced by the children in the family. We were comfortless. Without any adult comforters, it took us many years to recover from the loss of this central figure in our childhood.

We cannot bring back the friends, toys, security, or people our grandchildren have lost or put an end to their pain, but we can offer words of comfort, understanding, and kindness. We can model healthy mourning. Even small children can absorb lessons on how to comfort others in the future by experiencing comfort themselves.

Comforting our grandchildren in times of need reminds them that they are not alone. Our presence can strengthen them and help them get through hard times. My prayer is that when asked, my adult grandchildren will be able to point to times in their childhood when our family offered them the comfort and support they needed. I pray they will each have a friend who will provide them with comfort and encouragement at just the right moment.
Even more important, I pray that they will discover “the God of all comfort” who will attend to their mourning and bring them genuine, enduring peace and comfort.
Let Us Pray that . . .
+  we will have wisdom and use the right words to provide comfort, reassurance, and healing to our grandchildren in times of need. (Proverbs 16:24)
+  we will have wisdom for the times when our grandchildren do not need our words, but rather need us to sit quietly with them in their pain.
+  we will be sensitive to the losses and grief of childhood and not minimize our grandchildren’s concerns. (Romans 12:15)
+  our grandchildren will find the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)
+  our grandchildren will learn to comfort family members and friends during loss and disappointment. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
Heavenly Father, Through the most crushing losses, you have been my comforter. You always give me the strength I need to go on. Your love restores my hope and soothes my soul. Lord, open my eyes to the concerns and disappointments in my grandchildren’s lives. I pray that you will use me to bring words of comfort and reassurance in their moments of need. Help me to direct them to you as the greatest source of comfort. May they learn to comfort others with the same tender care that you give. I look forward with great joy to the day when you will wipe away the tears from our eyes. Amen.
Think and Do
>  What was your greatest loss during childhood? Who was your comforter at that time? What did you learn from that person? If you did not have a comforter, what do you wish someone would have done to help you through that time?
>  Do you know the greatest losses experienced by your grandchildren? Listen to your grandchildren’s everyday conversation and stories and note any underlying losses: relationships, reputation, comfort, favorite toys, pets, or activities.
>  When we feel pity, we feel sorry for and lament someone else’s pain. When we comfort, we offer meaningful physical touch and words of reassurance that give strength and hope. The next time a family member suffers loss, offer both sympathy and comfort.
Are you searching for some resources to help you as you pray for your children or grandchildren. Here are two.
My recent Kindle release: One Endless Line of Faith: 30 Days of Prayer for Grandchildren.

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2 Responses

  1. Susan Gaddis says:

    Sounds like Milan and Kay Yerkovich. They wrote “How We Love,” and it asks a central question of “What is the earliest memory of being comforted.” Great book.

    I found your post insightful as I don’t think giving comfort is often something parents or grandparents think about–they either do it or don’t. Regardless, few of us do it well. Your words bring the importance of loving through comforting front and center. Thank you!

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