My newest release is called Quinn Says Goodbye, a children’s story about the presence of God when life is hard or confusing.
It seems like a deep topic for a children’s book, doesn’t it? But children have to deal with loss and hard things all the time.
Did any of the following affect you as a child?
- Changing schools
- A friend moving away
- The loss of a favorite toy
- Left a favorite teacher behind when moving to the next grade
- The death of a grandparent, relative, or family friend
- Adoption / Fostering
- Loss of a pet
See what I mean?
Loss affects nearly all children in some form or another. The way we help them work through it as a child has a HUGE impact on how they deal with loss as an adult.
Nothing hurts more than seeing your child in pain. But as much as we want to protect our kids from tough situations, Jesus is explicitly clear that we cannot expect to live a charmed life.
In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples about the losses and grief they can expect in their near future. He ends the discussion by sharing this deep truth:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.John 16:33 NIV
Being prepared for hard things doesn’t mean we live in a bomb shelter or that we constantly regale our kids with the evils of the world. But it does mean that we have to be truthful with our kids when the bad stuff happens.
If you’re looking for some child-friendly ways to help a child through a tough time, look no further than Quinn Says Goodbye!
4 Uplifting Phrases for Kids Dealing With Loss
*All phrases are quotes from Quinn Says Goodbye.
1. It’s okay to cry.
Kids cry a lot, and sometimes it’s about silly stuff. My own kids have wept over getting the wrong cup at supper. 😩
But when something real is happening, kids (and even adults!) don’t always know how to process it properly. Kids can easily bottle up their fears and sadness. Part of that is because kids are naturally better at compartmentalizing pain. They can easily forget that something (or someone) is missing.
One article calls this “puddle jumping”. Children can jump in and out of feeling sad.
It’s important for them to know that they don’t always have to be happy (or always sad). Accept their feelings for what they are, whether they’re happy, sad, angry, lonely, overwhelmed or anxious.
You can read more about the feelings children experience when grieving here.
2. Sometimes we need to say goodbye to someone we love.
Death is part of life. There’s no way to hide that. Kids experience death all the time – a mouse gets caught in a trap. A wasp finds its way indoors and gets smacked with a fly swatter. Plants die in winter (unless you live in a nice warm climate).
The truth is, sometimes we need to say goodbye to someone we love.
In my article on helping children deal with pet death, I share our experience with the death of our pet fish. It seems small, but my middle son still grieves his fish, months later. Fishy’s provided a helpful way to talk about loss.
Want to explain death to your child Biblically? Read this article.
Thankfully, loss doesn’t always include death! But that brings us to the next phrase you can use with your child:
3. God doesn’t always stop bad things from happening.
It would be so great if God stopped bad things from happening. That is, after all, why so many people have an issue with him. Why does a good God allow bad things to happen?
One explanation is that evil is still in this world. Jesus promised that in this world we would definitely have trouble.
Another truth about suffering can be learned from the story of Joseph (of the technicolor dreamcoat).
His brothers were jealous of him and despised him so much that they sold him into slavery and faked his death to their dad.
Many years later, he ended up saving their lives. When he revealed himself to them, he shared this:
Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.Genesis 45:5 NLT, emphasis added
God continually weaves bad circumstances into good. Without the bad, we would not grow in character and closeness to God, for it’s often in the worst times that we finally find ourselves turning to God.
Which brings us to the very last phrase you can use with your child:
4. He does promise that He will always be with you, and he will never stop being your friend.
One of the most repeated promises of God in the Bible is his promise to always be with us. Some great verses you can read your children are Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 28:20, and my favorite:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39, NIV
This is the beautiful truth that Quinn learns at the end of Quinn Says Goodbye.
Before you go, if you are in the midst of helping your child struggle with grief, I have a free resource for you.