It happened this week. My heart is breaking as I write this. My wife and I have been praying non-stop for this child’s healing. Each night as we read the post on Facebook offered from his daddy, our hearts would hurt for this precious family. It has been a roller coaster of emotions for them and everyone. There was great hope and encouragement then a fever and disappointment. More treatments ushered in more hope, followed by no success. The church rallied together calling on hundreds and hundreds more people who boldly joined the fight by praying and giving. But no successful treatment was found. The parents were exhausted and didn’t even know it. The fight for healing was very long but they were in it to win. The doctor’s tried everything then came with the news that there was nothing more they could do. We prayed and cried and prayed some more then Sunday he died and was free from pain and alive in the arms of Jesus.
Today we celebrate the life of this seven year old boy and lean on our Lord even more. Okay Mr. Minister, Okay Miss Teacher, how are you going to minister? We don’t want to plan for these life events because we don’t want them to happen but the problem is, death happens and we are not prepared. Just like me, I suppose you will sit down and cry (maybe daily). Good. After you dry your tears and wipe the snot off your face, (like I just did) it’s time to get organized. There is joy in serving others!
Here are 10 ways you can minister to a family dealing with death:
- Pray for the family.
- Set a reminder on your calendar for the next 10 years. This way you can reach out in love with a note or text each year because you remembered.
- Plan a meal after the funeral.
- Arrange meals to be provided to the family in the weeks following the funeral.
- Offer to watch young children during the funeral service and watch the house while they are away. Offering child care while making funeral arrangements is appreciated too.
- If the death is a child, make a scrapbook for the parents. Include pictures and thoughts from friends in the church and community. Simply ask others to write about things they remember or loved most about the child. Include teachers from school and classmates.
- If the death is a spouse, arrange long term babysitting, house cleaning and lawn service. Ask the youth minister if this might become a ministry opportunity for students.
- Send occasional texts of Bible verses and reminders of your prayer for them.
- Offer times to go get coffee and talk. Be a listener and cry if needed.
- Never underestimate a hug and whisper, “I’m still praying.” Your care is deeply appreciated.