The opening hymn at today’s Pentecost Sunday church services at St. Francis Houston was “Come Spirit Come.”
As I was listening to the hymn on Facebook, Ellisa walked in the room and was crying. She was grieving over the death of her pet hamster, Peanut. I recalled yesterday’s vivid memory of Ellisa holding her dead hamster in her open hands, a death anointed with Ellisa’s tears of grief. What could I say or do to help her grieve? Grieving is something children of all ages experience whether age 7 or 99. What could Ellisa do to let go of her loss and move forward just a little bit happier today?
From my prior posts you know that Ellisa is very good at art. So, I asked her, “What do you think about drawing something to put next to Peanut’s grave? What about including a Cross like the one Jesus was crucified on which gave us and all His creatures eternal life with God?” Ellisa’s eyes lit up. She responded, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” A smile replaced the sadness on her face.
So, Ellisa found a small picture frame in one of our dresser drawers. She gathered some paper, scissors and fine-pointed ink pens and began to create a Memorial for Peanut. Ellisa wanted no help from me. She wanted to do everything by herself. Grieving was her problem to resolve, not mine.
Over the next half hour she drew a Cross, the outline of Peanut, added the colors God and Peanut would like best, cut out the drawing, and placed it in the frame. The photograph of the Memorial to Peanut is shown with this prayer. You may notice that all of the Cross is not visible and is hidden by the frame. But, some of the truest and most real things cannot be seen either. Like, the love of God or the spirit which dwelled in Peanut.
Next, Ellisa found a candle to shine on the framed Memorial. She walked out the back door and stood next to the grave. Solemnly she placed the framed picture and candle on the ground above where Peanut’s body laid. Ellisa created a piece of art. A work created by her grieving heart. A little bit of the loss she felt had been replaced with God’s love and Grace. Ellisa loved Peanut for a little time on Earth. Now, God will love Peanut forever.
God has spoken to us in Scripture about receiving the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit in death, and grieving in times of loss.
Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Let us pray together.
God, in prayer, please help us to assist children to deal with grief. For letting go of those they love, including pets, is one of life’s most important lessons.
God, in prayer, please open our eyes, ears, and hearts to see when a child is grieving. For we cannot know to do our part as Your messengers of love unless we are aware that the child is grieving.
God, in the hustle and bustle of life, please help us to take the time to be truly present when a child suffers a loss, even a loss such as Ellisa’s of a small pet that held a big place in her heart. God, in that moment of presence, please help us to find creative ways to have the child do a memorial or tribute to his or her pet, family member or friend who has died.
Last, God, as in the dark moment of Ellisa’s sadness this morning, or in church today on Pentecost Sunday, and in all times of grieving for children, young or old, may we all say and sing in our hearts together, “Come, Spirit Come.” Amen
If you like this prayer, please share.
If you want to purchase for yourself or a friend a copy of Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love or Prayerful Passages: Asking God’s Help in Reconciliation, Separation or Divorce, please click on here to go to Amazon.
Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.