Walking Through Sorrow Together as a Family

By Holly Giles | Family

walking through sorrow at Canaveral national cemetery

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Walking through sorrow

Walking through sorrow together is something that seemed so foreign to me. When my boys were born all wanted to do was protect them from pain. I tried to do everything in my power to keep them from being lonesome, missing a loved one, or having to experience loss in their childhood.

By the time my youngest son was 12, he had experienced more sadness, tragedy, and loss than I did until my twenties. When Grant came to me and said “I hate hospitals, I think we should outlaw them!” and I asked why he said, “Because everybody is sick or dying and I don’t like it.”

It was then that I realized that I had no control over what happened around us. There was no way to shield my children from pain. It was shaping who they were becoming, and I noticed that it was developing them into loving men.

all the boys with bruce


My husband and I decided that we were all in this together and hiding the truth from our boys was a disservice to them. As painful things happened in our family, we sat down together and talked it out. We answered questions, let them express whatever feelings they had good or bad, or we left them alone to process for themselves.

As family members were pushing through recovery or loss, our boys stepped up and helped in whatever ways they could. Sometimes I cried alone for what they were witnessing at such young ages, but then I was reminded that they are being prepared, every step of the way, for who God created them to be. Servants.

Learning compassion

Teaching our children compassion and service can sometimes be hard. It can fall on deaf ears and often times it is not “fun” for younger children. When faced with a service task that hits home it can bring a deeper understanding of what love is and how to show it.

Walking together through sorrow can bring families closer. It helps children realize the finiteness of our lives and how fragile they are. Depending on their age they can gain a more significant understanding of compassion for other people in a variety of situations.

walking through sorrow with meemee

Time to process

Pain, sorrow, death, and tragedy are never easy for any age to cope with sometimes. However, when you include your children in the process, it can make them stronger and learn empathy for their parents as well.  The featured image of this post is recent. It is my oldest son Grayson and myself walking through the Canaveral National Cemetery after laying to rest our bonus grandpa Frank. He knew to take my hand and walk me slowly back to the car. Both of us are taking in the solitude of such a beautiful place. This is where our servicemen and women are honored by their country. Subsequently, it was a powerful moment for us both that reached beyond our own sorrow but to other families who had walked here before us. It was a moment that I would not have wanted to keep from him.

Life experiences

I will never know the depth of my boys’ growth in all they have faced in their young years. I hold tight to my faith that God is using them for a bigger plan in their lives where these experiences will be useful.

What can you do in hard times to bring your family together?

Tips that we have learned from experience and professional counselors:

  • Allow children to feel whatever emotion they feel except for destructive behavior.
  • Answer questions, even seemingly silly ones to the best of your ability.
  • Tell your children the truth about the situation, and age-appropriate explanations.
  • Share how you are feeling and don’t hide emotions from them.
  • It is very common for children not to express emotion in stressful situations, even detached.
  • Give children space after sharing information to let them process it in their own time.
  • Let children be with their friends or relatives of close age; children tend to express feelings in playful ways even though it may not seem appropriate to adults.
  • Seek professional help if harmful behaviors arise. Children’s therapy comes in many forms that can curb a turn down the wrong path.
  • Pray together. Pray for those that are hurting and ask for wisdom on how to help. Most importantly, when given the opportunity children are resourceful. They will come up with ways to feel like they belong which are essential to the process.
  • Share age-appropriate books that can help children process by reading about a third party experiencing the same thing. This activity can help them feel like they are not alone and can spark conversation.

walking through sorrow with frank


About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.