The loss of a child is probably the greatest tragedy on earth. No parent can imagine losing a child, no matter how old the child is. So if you are a parent who lost a child, whether the loss was caused by miscarriage, crib death, illness, accident, suicide, violence, or natural causes, your child’s death has caused tremendous trauma and grief for you . Death is a trauma. Spiritually, physically, emotionally and socially.
God does not expect you to accept the loss of a child without feeling the overwhelming weight of the loss and confusion. Jesus himself was called “the man of pain”. He wept over the death of Lazarus at the grave (Matthew 11:35), he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead in front of her desperate parents (Mark 5: 41-42) and lamented Israel’s rejection of him as Messiah, and said: “ I have longed to gather you … like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you did not want to. ”- Matthew 23:37. Everywhere Jesus went he approached the brokenhearted and the oppressed. He loves us like a parent and he feels loss like a parent.
If you have lost a child, there is good news for you. God intends to walk you through your suffering, grow you in your suffering, and deliver you from it. In praying for the loss of a child, we can receive that comfort from God.
Process grief through prayer
We have a Comforter who is given to us when we become believers (Jn 14:16). Use the Holy Spirit to question, pray, vent and process. God can handle anything you give him. It is for this reason that he gave us the lament. He wants us to scream to him in our grief so that he can heal us. This includes praying for the loss of a child.
The Bible lists at least 42 Lamentations in the Psalms alone (that’s about 1/3 of the Psalms), in addition to the entire Book of Lamentations and Jeremiah. Most minor prophets express their grief in complaints, as did Jesus in the New Testament. Nowhere in the scriptures can one find God (or his prophets) correcting or judging someone who is in mourning. Instead, God comes in as a Comforter and regenerates life in other ways.
If God did not understand or accept our expressions of grief, why should the Bible contain so much of them? In addition to talking about grief, child loss is rife throughout the Bible (because it was prevalent in ancient times); Because children are blessings in the biblical context, any person who loses a child suffers a terrible loss of blessings. And then the story takes a miraculous turn. Whenever a parent turns to God in grief, God restores life. That doesn’t always mean bringing a child back from the dead. Job lost all nine of his children in a single accident, and God gave him nine more children; Job did not get his first nine back, however. David’s baby with Bathsheba died as a punishment for David’s sin, but after David repented, God allowed Bathsheba to see Solomon. Elisha, Jesus and Paul brought all dead children back to life.
But we cannot pigeonhole God to bless what we want or to protect us from the pain we don’t want. But we can turn to God in prayer and let the Spirit groan for us when words fail us (Romans 8: 26-27).
Here are four prayers for the loss of a child:
1. A prayer for the loss of a baby
“Dear Lord, you said you would proclaim your glory through the mouths of babies and children, but you did not give my child this chance. I don’t understand why you want to bless me with this little life and then take it away so quickly. I mourn the life my baby never could lead and the loss I feel. I mourn the memories we would have made together, but now we can no longer. Give me the courage to trust you, hope again, and love again. Protect me from living in fear and paranoia. You are good and you are doing good. Help me trust you even if I don’t understand why this happened. In Jesus name, amen. “
2. A prayer for the loss of a child
“Dear Lord, my arms are empty and long for this child. I see my child all over my head and I don’t know how to live anymore. I’m so angry that I lost this child who had so much life ahead of them. Keep me in this grieving process and replace my pain with joy again. Teach me how to cherish our memories without feeling overwhelmed by grief. I need you to make up for this loss and to show yourself powerful to heal. I believe you are the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus name, amen. “
3. A prayer for the loss of an adult child
“Dear Lord, I never expected my child to survive. It’s not right and it’s not fair. This loss affects so many people. I don’t know how to go on. I ask you to give me good memories of our life together. Help me trust you in the painful circumstances surrounding my child’s death. I want to glorify you, even in my pain. Show me how to do it and protect me from bitterness. Give me a new purpose in life and a way to honor my child’s life. I trust you and I honor you. In Jesus name, amen. “
4. A prayer for the loss of a child to violence
“Dear Lord, like me, you must be angry when you see violence against children being committed. How could you let that happen? What good can this become? I am angry with you and this world. I feel responsible, and yet I blame so many others. God, I see no way out of this fear and anger. You say you are saving us from violent people. Where was your protection Lord show me who you are I know you are good, and yet I see nothing good here. I need a miracle sir. I give you this tragedy to redeem in the name of Jesus, amen. “
Death appears to us who live on this earth like the great victor, but God says:
“When the imperishable is clothed with the immortal and the mortal with immortality, then the written word becomes true: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ – ‘Where, oh death, is your victory? Where, oh death, is your sting? ‘ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thank god! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ”- 1 Corinthians 15:51, Hosea 13:14.
Scriptures Comforting for the Loss of a Child
God promises to “never forsake or forsake you” (Hebrews 13: 5)
God’s plan is to “comfort all those who mourn” (Isaiah 61: 2)
God says he will trade ashes and sorrow for beauty and joy (Isaiah 1: 3).
David believed that God would reunite him with his dead son (2 Samuel 12:22)
Jesus said whoever mourned would be comforted (Matthew 5: 4)
Our pain will make us strong in the Lord while His power heals us (Isaiah 3: 3)
Everyone’s days are predetermined by God, even before birth (Psalm 139: 16)
God walks with us in the valleys of death and gives us courage (Psalm 23: 4)
Without the resurrection of Jesus there is no resurrection of the dead or gospel message (1 Corinthians 15: 1-2)
10 ways to find hope after losing a child
1. Give God your guilt, anger, sadness and bitterness. Be honest about your feelings and ask him to help you.
2. Meet with a counselor or therapist regularly so you can talk about your child and your grief.
3. Move to another location on anniversaries and holidays to give your heart room to breathe.
4. Limit your social circle to wise, empathetic people who will listen to you (no matter how you feel) and not give you incisive advice.
5. Talk about your child and your pain with people who have earned the right to listen to you.
6. Read the scriptures, especially the Psalms, and pray the Psalms if you cannot find words to pray.
7. Believe that your suffering will bring a good harvest in your life.
8. Realize that you will never “get over it,” but the intensity of the pain will subside over time.
9. Choose joy in memories when you have fond memories; if not, make fond memories with or for other children.
10. Manage your nervous system. Monitor heart rate, sleeping, eating, breathing, exercise. You need to train your system to calm itself down and reject the trauma reactions (fight, flight, freeze).
Photo credit: © GettyImages / KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Sue Schlesman is an award-winning writer, public speaker, blogger, English teacher, and pastor’s wife. Her second book, Soulspeak: Praying Change into Unexpected Places, won a Selah Award in 2020. Sue was also a Top 15 Writer on Crosswalk.com in 2020. Sue has a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in Theology and Culture. Your material appears in a variety of print, online, radio and podcast media. She has a passion for poetry, mission, justice, travel, reading, the local church and her family. Find her writing about life, education and Jesus on sueschlesman.com and 7prayersthatwork.com, which attract visitors from all over the world.