Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: Our oldest son graduated from high school with honors. He’s been accepted at three prestigious colleges. He just told us that, instead of going to college, he wants to enlist in the military.

We believe in letting our children make their own decisions and supporting them in those decisions but this one threw us for a loop! With the world political climate the way it is, we just can’t support him this time. We haven’t argued with him except to tell him to seriously consider his decision. Should we just stay out of this?

~ Worried Parents




Dear Worried Parents,

Life is truly precious and we do whatever we can to protect it. Maybe instead of “Worried Parents” you should have signed off as “Really Great Parents.” In having a child who is willing to enter into civil service, you have shown great wisdom in guiding your child to think of others. It is difficult when we think of our children being put in situations of danger, but there is also a blessing in raising a child to look beyond himself to see the importance of protecting the lives of those he loves and cares for.

I feel for you in this situation as having a child interested in a career path that I know to be difficult and challenging, I want to protect him from the realities of pain and suffering, of life and death. Having had a taste of military experience, and having nieces and nephews in service, the angst you feel is real. The world looks like a dangerous and unforgiving place and yet, when one is invested in the service to others, a new possibility is born for the future.

I invite you to share your feelings of fear and concern with your child but also be aware of what military service may give him for the future. Your child may put in his service and then enter into the next phase of his life (even perhaps at one of those prestigious schools) more committed to making a difference in the world. With the training and discipline that would be gained through service (even in the midst of present political realities) you may be seeing the next true leader of the future stepping up.

Share your concerns, support your child, see what the future holds!

Pastor Scott





Dear Worried Parents,

Have you asked your son how he feels about going to college? Is he fully confidant in his intellectual abilities? Is he more comfortable doing sports and physical things than studying? What are his motivations for enlisting in the military life where he gives up his self-determination and literally marches to the beat of a different drummer where someone else sets the pace?

This is not the time to back off as parents. On the contrary, it is the time for big talks about life and what it offers. What does he want out of life? Where does he see himself in the years to come? Help him to paint a few different pictures of his possible future. What does he want to accomplish? What work does he plan on doing?

This is not the time to stay out of it. It is the time to help him sort out these things from a place of wisdom and understanding. No arguing allowed! You will be less worried and you will know that you gave your son all the knowledge and life experience you possess to assist him to make good decisions for his future. You will make him understand the enormity of the crossroad he is standing in and the import of these very consequential steps in front of him.

May God be with you in this important moment in you and your son’s lives.

Rabbi Janet Bieber





QUESTION: We’ve been blessed to have two beautiful grandchildren. My husband (Gramps) and I (Gramma) helped take care of them from the time they were born because both parents work. I have to say my husband did as much as I did, from changing diapers to helping with feeding.

Gramps had a massive heart attack and died quite unexpectedly. Now the children, ages 3 and 5, are asking, “Where is Gramps?” We’re a church-going family, the children have been in Sunday school, but we’re at a loss to help the little ones understand that Gramps is in heaven with God. Please help us put these precious little minds at ease.

~ Grieving Family




Dear Grieving Family,

My heart goes out to you. It has been my experience that children are far more resilient than we give them credit for. Although you may want to, do not dodge their questions. Keep your answers brief and simple. Gramps became ill and passed away from his illness. If you feel comfortable, you can share that it was a heart attack. Express how you feel about his passing. Stay away from euphemisms. Be prepared for a variety of reactions and know that they may bring it up again and again. We had a young cousin pass away recently due to a car accident. What I shared with my 5-year-old was that his cousin did not survive the crash. He asked me point blank, “Did he die?” I responded, “Yes.” He didn’t ask where he went but we did talk about life being a cycle. Then we talked about ways to keep Breland’s memory alive. We talked about the impact Breland had on our family in such a short period of time and how we want to remember him.

I know this kind of conversation is not easy. But how you language this moment can go a long way toward helping them develop a healthy understanding of life and death.

I wish you the wisdom of Spirit as you move through this moment.

Richest blessings,

Rev. Sherri





Dear Grieving Family,

I am sorry for your personal loss of a longtime spouse, friend and companion. I can appreciate, in the midst of your own grief, the difficulty of trying to explain the often unexplainable to your grandchildren in a way that will help them process their loss and accept, as best they can, the loss of their grandfather.

Every religious belief system has its own way of explaining and answering the meaning of life and the meaning of death. For children as young as your grandchildren, based on what you shared of your own beliefs, I think you chose a very acceptable and easy-to-grasp explanation for them. Not knowing the full extent of your conversations, I can only make a few suggestions I hope will be helpful.

I would begin by openly acknowledging how much they must miss him and add that you miss him, too. As to why he had to die, I would suggest that you share with them that his “life journey” was over and God wanted him back. You can say that we are all sent here for a time on our own unique, individual life journey and, when we have learned, or accomplished, what is necessary we return to God. We never know when that will be and often we don’t know what lessons we are to have learned until we have returned.

You can say it is very hard to lose someone you care for. And although it would be so lovely to still have him, it is just not possible. So even though he can’t come back, we should be so grateful and thankful he was with us, even for a little while. You can add that Grandpa still sees, cares for, and watches over them; and they can still talk to him and he will listen. He just can’t answer in the way they are used to answering one another.

I wish you luck and success in helping your grandchildren through this. More importantly, I wish for you a comfort for your own loss of such a close friend, and peace of mind over his passing. Here is a little affirmative prayer you can say when you feel challenged by his absence: I give thanks for the wonderful blessing of my husband, and for all the wonderful journeys and adventures we had together. I know all is well with him, and all is well with me. I accept with grace the change that has happened, and know that all will be well in this new part of my life as I continue my own journey. I know that Divine comfort and peace of mind are mine for the asking, and I give thanks for their manifestation in my life now. Amen.

Anthony P. Kelson, RScP