Through The Darkness for Parents




 Have you ever turned on the news only to  wish you  hadn’t? Or answered a  phone call only to  wish you  could un-hear  the  news on  the  other end? Whether it’s  a  global disaster,   a school shooting, our parents’ divorce, or the death of a friend, there’s nothing fun about tragedy. It can make us feel like we’re walking around in total darkness—where nothing seems quite right and there are more questions than answers.

What do we say? What do we do? What happens next? And, how long will it take before things go  back  to  normal?  At some point, we‘ll all find ourselves in or  around  a  tragedy,  but

being there doesn’t mean we have to stay there

. There’s    a way through the darkness to the other side, to  healing—  and we’ll get there by trusting the One who is leading us.





By Kayla Lin, L A PC


Parents are fixers. We straighten teeth with braces, intervene with coaches, and help with homework (or at least find someone who can). Naturally, when our kids go through grief, our instinctive problem-solving tendencies spring into action. Although our intentions are good, these quick fixes don’t equip our children with what they need to learn how to cope with grief. Instead, we need to guide our kids through, not around, the grieving process. So what does that mean exactly?


Avoid positive spins.

We have all experienced a time when we were mourning a loss and someone responded by putting a “positive spin” on the situation. Maybe someone said, “At least he’s no longer suffering” or “Everything happens for a reason.” These  positive spins  tend  to  dismiss  and  avoid  the  difficulty  that a  person is  experiencing, and  may  even cause them to  feel

shame. This kind of response tells someone that he or she shouldn’t be feeling the way they do. It can be hard to know what to say and what not to say when your kid is experiencing a crisis. So, our friends at GoWeekly created a conversation guide for parents. It is included below.


Empathize with their reality.

If you want to guide your child through grief, it’s important to understand what they are experiencing. Understanding how your child perceives the crisis allows you to empathize with them, whether you agree with their perception or not.


It is important to remember that even if you believe your child is wrong in what they see or how they feel, it is their reality. When we empathize with their reality, we are building trust and our kids learn that they can share their feelings without judgment. Empathy is extremely helpful during the grieving process because it creates  a bridge and reduces isolation. Grief can lead to feelings of isolation or loneliness very quickly, since many times people feel that they go through crisis alone. But empathy builds a bridge of connectedness, allowing people to heal faster.


Encourage self-care.

Another way you can help your child through grief is to show them how to take care of themselves. Self-care activities can aid in healing. But it’s important to distinguish whether an activity is productive or simply a way to avoid the grief. Avoidance activities are activities that don’t re-energize us when completed; productive self-care  activities  make  us  feel refreshed. For a  teenager,  a  productive  activity  could be something as  simple as  reading, journaling, or  listening  to  music.  Helping  your  child  identify  what  they  need  and

making sure they take that time out for themselves is  helpful for  dealing with current and  future  times of  grief.


Remind them of God’s presence.

Lastly, it’s important to remind  your  student  that  they’re never alone. It can be helpful to ask how  they  feel  about God’s presence in the midst of tragedy. If they respond with questions or doubt, that’s okay. These questions need to be processed, not answered immediately; when they reach a conclusion on their own, it leads to stronger faith than an answer given to them.


Kayla Lin is  a  Licensed  Associate  Professional  Counselor at Paraclete Counseling Center in Canton,  Georgia.  For  more resources like this for parents of teenagers, visit





It can be difficult as a parent to guide a child through grief.  Grief is messy and rarely short-lived. In order to stay on track and keep the healing process moving, here are a couple resources  and  reminders that will help along the  way.


  1. Be available. Quantity time creates quality Especially as time goes on, feelings of grief after the event can pop up randomly. Being available on a regular basis creates opportunities for helpful conversations to take place when those moments of grief happen. It is hard to  force  quality time out of short, scheduled segments in  a  day;  rather,  quality time emerges out  of  moments of  availability.


  1. Show Showing empathy builds trust and encourages our kids to share what they’re feeling.


  1. Ask and guide. This week, ask your kid what he or she Ask them who they can talk to and trust. If this isn’t you currently, that’s okay. During the high school years, your kid is going to need several trusted adult voices to reinforce what’s true in their lives. And maybe one of the most helpful things you can do is help guide them toward those voices—such as a mentor, counselor, small group leader, or trustworthy friend.


Leading them to what or who they need also shows your kid that

you are trustworthy and are there to guide them through

whatever they’re facing.

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