How to Help a Child Dealing with the Loss of a Friend
When your child is hurting, it is hard to hear. As parents, it is natural to want to fix the issue – especially when it comes to a friendship that has ended. It is tempting to try to restore your child’s friendship after the loss of a friend, but it is ultimately up to your child.
Helping Your Child After the Loss of a Friend
So how do you help a child with the loss of a friend? In addition to listening to what happened, how your child is feeling, and why he or she feels the friendship is over, let her know that God cares about her pain.
Scriptures about Children
You can show your child that God cares about them by taking them to Bible passages related to children. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus corrects the disciples for trying to send away the children. He said, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” He then laid his hands on the children and prayed for them.
In another passage, Luke 18:15-17, Jesus called the children to come to him. He also reminded the listeners nearby that they need to receive Him as children receive Him, with total acceptance.
Not only do Scriptures about loss remind your child that Jesus cares for him, but they also speak specifically to the emotions your child may be feeling after the loss of a friend.
Scriptures about Emotions
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that God has purposed a time for everything, including emotions. In verse 4, we read, “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Setting aside time for grief can help your child know that it’s okay to be sad. Sadness is a part of loss, and avoiding it often only prolongs other negative emotions.
Even Samuel, who anointed kings, experienced anger and sadness. Scripture tells us that he “cried to the Lord all night” (1 Samuel 15:10-11). Another verse that mentions grief is Romans 12:15, where the Apostle Paul instructs his readers to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”
This means that the people who surround someone who is grieving have a significant role to play. The Bible tells them to not just tolerate someone’s emotions but join in with those same emotions. For parents to join in with their child’s sadness or anger over a the loss of a friend, they must remember how it feels to be betrayed, hurt, left out, or replaced. It can bring up painful memories, but Scripture reminds us that this is not a step to skip.
Scriptures about Loss
Whether it’s through death or a betrayal of some kind, losing a friend is real. It’s also hard. Scriptures about loss are spread throughout the Old and New Testaments. In 1 Samuel 18, we read about David’s friendship with Jonathan. They were so close that they formed a covenant to show their commitment to one another as friends.
So, when Jonathan and his father, Saul, died, David was understandably grieved. He penned a poem of instruction – telling the people of Israel to mourn – because of his grief. He writes, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan.” (2 Sam. 1:26a). Expressing emotions about the loss of a friend helps our child be reminded that feelings are not bad. They are simply a clue that tells us how much someone meant to us.
Scriptures about Friendship
In the second half of 2 Samuel 1:26, Jonathan is remembered by David as a friend who treated him with extraordinary kindness. James 2:23 says that Abraham believed God, and God was his friend: “and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God.”
Psalm 25:14 promises that the friendship that comes from God is for those who fear Him. This doesn’t mean that he is only friends with people who are afraid of him; instead, it means that God’s friendship is with those who accept Jesus as Savior and believe He is the Son of God. Friendship not only matters to God; it originates with Him.
Scriptures for the Brokenhearted
When your child loses a friend, is teased, feels betrayed, or must move away from a friend, it can be difficult to understand why God would allow such loss. In those times of doubt, a child needs to be honest about his struggle. Denying doubt does not make it go away.
Instead, encourage your child to look for ways that God is with him or her. In Psalm 34:18, we read, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Help your child understand that loss of friendship isn’t necessarily the result of some choice he has made, a sin he has committed, or a punishment from God.
In the case of a friendship lost due to bullying or some other cruelty, the promise in Psalm 147 may help your child sense God’s care: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (v. 3).
One of the most encouraging Scriptures for those who have experienced the loss of a friend or betrayal is the prophetic voice that comes from Isaiah. It explains why Jesus came to earth to live, to be betrayed by His friends and followers, and to die for the sinful though He was sinless.
Isaiah 61 says the purpose of the Messiah’s coming is “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (v. 1). It’s amazing to think that God would send His own son so that a person’s sin can be forgiven.
Listening to Your Child
In addition to leading your child through God’s Word, simply being a compassionate listener helps. There is no perfect balm on this earth that relieves our heart’s sorrow when we are hurt, confused, and in emotional distress. But as you listen without trying to fix it, your actions speak to the heart of your child.
He will know that you are there for him in both good and tough times. While no parent is perfect, God can use your attempts to show compassion and lend a gracious ear. He can make perfect your weakness; He can work through your heart to help your child.
Do you want to learn more about grief, loss of friendship, or parenting? We have trained counselors who can help.
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