“Death's got an Invisibility Cloak?" Harry interrupted again.
"So he can sneak up on people," said Ron. "Sometimes he gets bored of running at them, flapping his arms and shrieking...”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows A child’s capacity to understand death is limited, to say the least. Accepting that all living things eventually die is a tough call for everyone. After all, mortality is an utterly scary thing, and no amount of sweet words can undo it. In the presence of death, an unsettling feeling of fear creeps in and can easily takes over. Therefore, it is essential to dispel this darkness and offer comfort to our children. Help them make sense of the loss, and explain how and why it occurred. Remember that without death there would be no life. They are two sides of the same coin, even if death is its dark, sinister part. Guiding lights This is something that we all learn the hard way. When my first pet died, I was a kid in a state of shock. What I could not make the sense of is how my hamster, which looked fine in the evening, became still and silent when I woke up. A chilly dread came over me, and would not let me go for weeks. It was even worse when my German Sheppard disappeared one day from the yard and never came back. This time, confusion was present, and I was imagining a plethora of terrible things that could have happened. I needed a clear answer, yet there was none to be found. The third and the most unsettling encounter with death came when my grandmother died. I adored and loved her, but I could not feel anything for some time, and felt guilty because of it. A life experience like this suggests that children of different ages do not have the same outlook on death . As a result, they react to it in a variety of ways: From a complete lack of feeling to the overwhelming sense of grief. The most important thing to realize, however, is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel about death. They are all natural reaction to the loss, so make sure a child understands that. What is more, there is no point in hiding the pain and tears from it. This hinders our attempts to portray such behavior as a humane response to the emotional suffering.
As we grow older, we become readier to grasp the finality of death. Yet, it is only when people mature to teens that they start to realize that we all turn to dust one day. Then, thinking about mortality becomes a part of the search for the meaning of life. Furthermore, it is common for youngsters to have a feeling of guilt if someone close to them dies. Again, expressing and sharing inner grief is paramount to finding a way out of the dark labyrinth. Parents must be guiding lights, even when they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel themselves. This is something that helped me immensely to get over the grief of losing my pets and grandparents.
It can also be beneficial for kids to participate in meaningful rituals of farewell. They can understand the symbolic notions and be very creative about them. Still, attending the funeral is not always the best solution, which I discovered at my grandmother’s funeral. I was not explained the exact meaning of this morning ceremony and what happens there. Thus, a child is better off being told that the body of the deceased will be in a casket, and that the people will be crying. After that, a parent should give the child a choice of whether to go. Spiritual beliefs and practices may help one get through a difficult period, but they cannot be forced upon children. Rites of passage Parents who walk through their own grief must realize that kids cope with it differently. Tom or Birgitt, who run Affinity Funerals here in Sydney, point out to the importance of allowing children to ask questions about death. These differ from the dilemmas that adults face, and require a straightforward, simple answer. So, there is no need to sugarcoat things, or to beat around the bush. It is crucial to explain death in basic, concrete terms that a child can comprehend. Steer away from euphemisms and saying things like “the grandpa went to sleep”.
Children’s view of the world is very literal, especially if they are no older than six. When they ask about the whereabouts of a late grandparent that does not imply they are wandering about the afterlife. This was also the case when I was beseeching parents to tell me what fate has befallen my dog. Hence, telling that someone bought a farm does not help, and only creates misconceptions about death. The resting place is a cemetery, and there is no need to say otherwise. Also, if the elder person has passed, then it might be a good idea to say that his or her body was not working anymore and that there was no way a doctor could fix it.
Now, we may not have all the answers, but that is not even the point. The key is in creating an atmosphere of openness and comfort. This is not to say we should create an illusion of deceased miraculously returning. On the contrary, make it clear that is not going to happen. Allow the child, however, to have its own “childish ideas” about death. We have all personalized death at some point, and imagined it as a skeleton, bogeyman, or some other nightmarish creature. An ace up the sleeve Children should be allowed to grieve the loss their own way, knowing that parents support them every step of the way. Dealing with this situation is a process, with many peaks and valleys. When things go out of our hands, we should not shy away from seeking help. No matter how much we would like to shield kids from the sadness and pain, they are an integral part of life. Death is our greatest enemy in the sense that it might be the only one we cannot beat. Yet, without it to cast a shadow over existence, life would not be the shimmering beacon of light that it is. The greatest trick we can pull on death is to accept the menace for what it is, and help our children find the strength to do so too.
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Updates included in this newsletter : College Ministry | Cuatro Christian School | Children's Home | Team Ministry. COLLEGE MINISTRY Escaping Poverty to Serve Others Did you know that Kids International Ministries has a college ministry that provides full tuition and books for its recipients? This ministry is the last chapter in breaking the cycle of poverty, by providing a college education that will allow a person to succeed in life. This past month four of our students graduated from college: Jam Cortez, Darleen Domingo, Cris Mendoza and Venus Balucay.
While each of these graduates is a story of triumph, Venus is such a success story for the ministry because her life comes from the depths of poverty. Venus grew up in Tondo, Manila, and lived on Smokey Mountain (also called Trash Mountain because it used to be the old city dump for Manila). Through the ministry of Pastor Ramilo Mateo, Venus came to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Relationships were built and Venus graduated high school and then, through supporters like you, Venus went on to college and graduated with a degree in Psychology. Venus will now be working with YWAM in Tondo as well as continuing to minister to the people on Smokey Mountain. If you would like to help students like Venus escape the cycle of poverty through a college education, please give to the college ministry program. CUATRO CHRISTIAN SCHOOL Beyond CCS - The Next Chapter 11th and 12th grades are crucial. Imagine coming so far - from kindergarten to 10th grade - and then your schooling ends, with no hope of graduating from high school or having a career. Such was the dilemma of our grade 10 finishers…until Beyond CCS . While working to establish our own CCS senior high program ( Watch video ) a year ago KIDS started Beyond CCS . This ministry helps these CCS finishers of grade 10 to complete their senior high coursework at another school by providing them with pamasahe at baon (public transportation fees and lunch) each school day. As of the close of our first year of Beyond CCS , we have helped six young people graduate from high school. Our second year of Beyond CCS is already underway. The group this year will consist of 41 students: 14 seniors and 27 juniors. Our students will be attending five different local Senior HS programs. The objectives for this ministry are two-fold: mature in your relationship with Jesus Christ and graduate from high school. All of our students are up for the task. They have spent their summer (April and May) leading in ministry activities, including Vacation Bible School, ministry feedings, swimming with children from New Faith Family Children’s Home, woodworking projects for the elementary school, and assisting in basketball clinics. Completing ministry hours is one of the requirements for each student to receive “ Charity With Dignity” as described by CCS Pastor Rante Aranas. If you would be interested in learning more about Beyond CCS , or donating to help fund this ministry, you may contact Dewey Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org . NEW FAITH FAMILY CHILDREN’S HOME Times of Refreshment and Insight What a busy but sweet month of May it was for the family at New Faith Family Children’s Home! Fresh goals were envisioned and humbleness instilled through visits to other children’s homes. Much joy was brought to each person through the returning visit of Tito (Uncle) Mike from California. The fruit of Tito Mike’s continuing relationships with the children was evident. His generous heart provided a fun family outing for the entire Children’s Home. They traveled to Rainforest Adventure Park where they spent time swimming, admiring the beauty of the botanical gardens, exploring the zoo, and enjoying one another’s company. Tito Mike also took the older teens ice skating for the first time at a nearby mall. It was a great break from the scorching heat of the Philippines! In addition, staff of the nursery and toddlers had an opportunity to observe two children’s homes this month. They observed daily life and how staff best interacted with the children. Our staff came away with new ideas and fresh perspectives. This was helpful in enabling our staff to create new goals aimed to provide excellent care and consistency with the children and in the operations of the nursery and toddlers rooms. Staff of the older boys and teens also had the opportunity to visit Hope Love Kids Ranch, another children’s home. Through this time, they were inspired and reminded of several principles: 1) every good work God has for us has value, whether that be doing dishes and laundry or playing with the children, 2) every act should be done in love, 3) be the example—not only instruct but guide and teach; we are not only teaching them for today but training them for tomorrow. Lastly, members of the children’s home staff were able to spend time together for a family retreat. They journeyed to Ten Cents to Heaven in Tanay, Rizal, where they spent time in prayer and were led through team building activities. It was a chance to rest and center themselves once again on Christ. Despite the rain, staff were in awe of God’s glorious creation. Together they gave thanks to God and had an opportunity to grow closer together. New Faith Family Children’s Home is grateful for each child in their care and each staff member who serves to be the hands and feet of Jesus daily. Praise the Lord for His continuous blessing and provision over this home. For more information on our Children's Home, please contact email@example.com TEAMS We’re gearing up for our busiest month of the year, with well over 100 guests coming over the month of June. May was a slightly quieter month, but it was great to have a few guests here who have helped us immensely. It was great to have Tito Mike from California here with us, who took our Children’s Home kids ice-skating and on some different adventures! We also loved having an older couple here from Florida who invested spiritually into our team, leading Bible studies with our office ladies and pregnant women at the Pregnancy Clinic. We love ministering to teams as they come, but often our guests inspire us with their fresh passion and fuel to help children and do ministry, especially when our local team is feeling tired from the heat of summer. For June, we have a variety of teams coming: large school groups from Hong Kong and Beijing, a team of people from across the US, a group of six families from Australia, and a few other individuals staying for a longer time over the summer. We’re excited to plug these teams in to our different projects, and while it will be challenging managing logistics for so many people, we believe God will do incredible things in and through every person who comes. If you are interested in serving or bringing a team, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org