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How to cope and find peace after the death of a child

Do not feel guilty. Losing your child was not your fault. It didn't happen because of something you did or didn't do. It is not a punishment for something you did or said or thought.

  • Have a memorial service. It will help you and your children and others in your family to understand and deal with the death of your child.- Read about grief. Understand the stages of grief and accept that. You may be depressed, angry or in denial. Each person in your family will handle the loss in a different way. Understand and accept this. Sometimes the focus at this time is on Mom. Yet, do not forget the father has lost a son or daughter, and children have lost a brother or sister.
  • Find ways to make this precious child remembered as a part of your family. One idea is to make a memorial book. Cards from friends, pictures, a copy of remarks made at a memorial service. Place an ad in the newspaper to say "thank you" to all who helped you.
  • Ask for a priesthood blessing. This is a Heavenly Father's way of helping us. It is His way of putting His arms around us to say, "I care. I understand."
  • Realize seeing other families with children might be hard. Do not be afraid to let others know what you can and can't handle. This will help you in the long run. Don't be afraid to talk about your child and your feelings.
  • Turn to the scriptures for guidance and comfort. By reading the scriptures that teach us families are forever, children are precious in the sight of the Lord, and how the atonement of Christ is for us, we found the peace and comfort we needed to heal and go on. - Cyndy McDonald, Visalia, Calif.

Help others

Our granddaughter, Melissa, passed away four years ago. She was 10. Her parents, Steve and Jolynn Fleming, were, during the seven months of her illness and have been since, grand examples of enduring.

They are second-mile home teacher and visiting teacher. They volunteer many hours to make their schools and community better. Their door is always open. They recently opened their home and hearts for several months to a young expectant mother. They have shown us by their example that the way to deal with the death of a loved one is to be involved in helping the living. - Elder Delworth Keith and Sister Joan Young, Brazil Recife South Mission

Acknowledge God's hand

  • Communicate openly with each other and those who care about us. Support groups are very helpful. We must work through the pain we feel so we can enjoy the sweet Plan of Salvation.
  • Forgive those whose cliches or lack of words wound us. They are trying to help.
  • Share your feelings with surviving children often. As they grow older, they will miss the one who died, as our daughter does. Even young ones can learn more of Heavenly Father's plan for them.
  • Attend the temple as often as possible.
  • Acknowledge God's hand in all things. Turning to Him rather than saying, "Why us?" will bring greater peace than you ever thought possible. - Barbara Higinbotham, Orem, Utah

Be obedient

Ten years ago our little girl was run over by a school bus on her way home from kindergarten. We all felt that our lives had just crashed in on top of us. My older two sons, ages 9 and 11, were just as devastated as my husband and I. We had blessings and counseling to help us through that time. After a few months we were trying to do the positive thing, so we could learn from this experience. We, as a family, decided that Catherine was now with the Heavenly Father and our job now was to live our lives and be obedient so that we could join her there and really be an eternal family. - Lynn Peterson, Nampa, Idaho

Found comfort

Many years ago in the mission field, my companion and I knocked on the door of a young couple who had lost their baby two weeks earlier. They were hurt and in pain, and they were very bitter toward God. They even blamed God for the death of their precious baby.

We asked them to read with us the entire Chapter 8 of Moroni. This couple found comfort in verse 12, "But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world . . . ." We assured them that their baby and all babies who die find comfort and peace in heaven with their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. - Samuel E. Bainson, Brown Deer, Wis.

Sweet memories

Daily scripture study and deep personal prayer are essential. Remembering all the joys and sweet memories of or shared with that child gives peace and light to our souls. Choosing to talk as a couple about that child - expressing our hurts, memories and feelings - pulled us together.

If you have sad memories or have had trials with the child, turn to the Savior in earnest and seek His peace, understanding and even forgiveness - if needed. - Tina Bates, Anchorage, Alaska

Another mission

Our oldest son, Paul, died March 8, 1991, after his body rejected a bone marrow transplant. He was 22 years old. As a family, we had fasted, prayed and administered to him, but, finally, we came to realize that our Heavenly Father had another mission in mind for Paul. The night before he died, he asked me to let him go, and I had to say, "Yes."

I am grateful for the time we had Paul with us, and I know that he is working and preparing for the time when we will join him. I have come to understand and appreciate with much more depth what the atonement and resurrection mean for our lives. And I am grateful to my Heavenly Father who has designed a plan for our return to His presence. - Lauralee Gardner, Fullerton, Calif.

Trust in the Lord

  • Trust in the Lord to bring peace.
  • Trust in your spouse. As my husband and I looked to each other, we gathered strength to endure the stifling emptiness we felt.
  • Trust in your family. Our two boys needed to eat, play and be loved. Our family brought to them stability when we were overwhelmed with pressing decisions, worries and obligations.
  • Trust in the teachings of the gospel. Scriptures speak directly, prayer is a lifeline for survival. Visiting teachers, bishops, members of the ward and stake family render Christlike service. Writing a journal helps to articulate the deepest feelings of your heart. Activities and Sabbath worship provide a chance to get back to the routines of life.
  • Trust in time. A year to the day after our second twin daughter died, her sister was born! And now, because two children await us on the other side, we have an added incentive for our family to live virtuous lives. - Sheri Becar, San Bernardino, Calif.

  1. Seek God's peace; search scriptures, pray, live gospel.
  1. Remember joys and sweet memories of the child; allow for grief.
  1. Reach out; seek healing in helping, serving the living.
  1. Communicate openly with others, share feelings; don't blame yourself. *****

May 27 "How to turn trials into blessings."

June 3 "How to protect your home against evil influences."

June 10 "How to be tolerant of others' lifestyles without compromising your standards."

June 17 "How to become a greater asset at your place of employment."

June 24 "How to rid yourself of self-pity."

July 1 "How to overcome personal barriers to making friends."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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