Olivia & Me – Helping Children Live Emotionally Healthy Through Tragedy

Emotionally Healthy In Days of Increasing Violence

How can a parent shield their children from death and tragedy in these days of increasing violence? It isn’t just in war-torn nations that this question is asked. Violence has become the “norm” in even peaceful nations like Canada. Olivia & Me is one small instrument for helping children live emotionally healthy through tragedy.

In Foreign Nations

At a woman’s center in Cambodia a woman, now in her 40’s, clings to my neck weeping, “Will you be my mother? I have never had a mother.” The violence of Khmer Rouge swept away all trace of family decades before; the vacant hole cried to be filled.

Will You Be My Mother

Another image creeps from my heart – a woman rescued from unmentionable abuse as a child in Guatemala. She gasps of air in an effort to put words to her story of childhood.

In Canada

It is easy to turn a deaf ear to the violent assault on the minds and hearts of children right here in Canada. We watch the news; they watch the news.

the youngest victim in the Manchester Bombing
8 years old
school lock down protocol
as common as fire drills for my generation…
Third Child Dies in Shooting in Just 2 Days”
the headings blare…
in schools, playgrounds,
streets and beds
children bombarded by death and tragedy.

Just a few years ago I witnessed the effects of a double murder suicide on an elementary school in a First Nations community. Painful wounds stole words and safety from these tender shoots of humanity. The leadership team was incredible as they cared for these traumatized wounded. Given freedom, one by one, I was able to pray, love, listen, with arms of tenderness – a channel of the hope in Jesus.

“Without God”

A recent post by Jonathan Kay states,

“… I realized that I hadn’t the slightest idea how to talk to my children — or anyone — about death

“…The memorial Facebook pages for other Manchester Arena victims … reflect … vague, but admirably humane idea that we should respond to tragedy by loving one another more. It is sentimental and unsatisfying. But without God by our side, it’s the best we can do.”

Without God by our side”

words feel shallow
efforts empty
love insufficient
caring temporary
sentimental and unsatisfying

God Within

A group has just returned from the refugee camps of Jordan. They went with God!

 the love of God within
the power of the Holy Spirit upon
the gentleness of the Father over them.

Numbers became faces capturing hearts as friends – some Christian, many Muslim, all loved by Holy God! Images children have drawn to help them speak of the atrocities too vivid and violent to fully explain adorn the walls.

Images of War Syria Iraq

When God is present everything changes. Everything! In Christ is

hope for the hopeless
healing for the broken
words for the wordless
help for the helpless
protection for the vulnerable
strength for the weakest of these.


Just as the assaults against humanity are personal, so is the greatness of the gift of live in Christ deeply personal and available.

I have shared before about our own little family’s touches by death. They were minuscule compared to the impact that millions have faced globally; still death is only overcome by life. Jesus is the life!

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

In Him we offer more than just “sentimental and unsatisfying”; our message to children and those who love them is powerful and tangible.

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:54


Olivia & Me

 “Olivia & Me”  proclaims to children and their families:

Life overcomes death;
eternity a reality beyond the dust on our feet.
Love is present and powerful
God’s purpose and plan prevails
the pain of today will be
“swallowed up”
by The Life!


For Those in Pain

Lord today we hold up those who are facing the pain
of death and tragedy.
Be their comfort in the storm
the strength that carries them fragile step by fragile step.
Hold them gently
giving them courage for today.


Related Posts:

Children and Death? How Can We Help?