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Young victims of tragedy need answers when they ask ‘Why?’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“Why?”

It’s one of the most popular questions of all time, especially among children. And when “why” is asked as a result of a traumatic life event, Ann Miller believes children should be given appropriate and honest answers.

Miller, director of pastoral care at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, discussed the topic, “Hold My Hand: Spiritually Helping After Violence & Trauma,” in a series of workshops during the National Preschool and Children’s Convention sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Seven hundred preschool and children’s workers attended the Oct. 13-16 conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Miller identified trust as the principal factor needed in helping children cope with trauma. Even for adults, who often revert to their childhood when trauma strikes, trust must be a significant factor in the healing process, she said.

After high-level trauma or an injury, a consistency of trust allows a child to develop courage, hope and love, ultimately leading to healing, Miller said.

“There are some things that we’ll never understand this side of heaven,” she acknowledged, “but one of the things we have to do with children dealing with tragedy is answer any questions that we can and let them know they can trust us.”

Referencing Judith Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery,” Miller emphasized three key steps toward helping a child recover from trauma: establish safety, allow remembrance and mourning, and then develop reconnection.

“Often children are seen as ‘non-persons’ in tragedy,” a feeling Miller exhorted parents and children’s workers to address with honesty.

Next year’s convention, which focuses on helping preschool and children’s church staffers create better ministries, will be Nov. 11-14 at the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville.

    About the Author

  • Andraea LaVant