Recently, I was asked by a local police department to attend to the family and to the child care personnel where a SIDS death occurred. Together with the police officer, I met the mother as she arrived at the scene and informed her of the death of her three-month-old boy. She reacted very strongly, of course, ending up vomiting, hyperventilating, and needing oxygen more than once. As the father, the grandparents, and the parent’s siblings and their spouses came, the crowd of grievers grew. I called for another chaplain to deal with the child caregiver, who was also in a critical emotional state. When I discovered that the family had good church connections, I summoned their pastor, who came immediately and was immensely helpful.
The police officer and I prepared the family for viewing the body of the baby as soon as the medical examiner was through with his investigation. We encouraged holding the baby and passing him around to the various family members. The whole process (from being paged to when I left) took almost three hours. I drove away saying to myself, I can do without another SIDS death for a long time to come! I wept later that night as I held my own grown married daughter, who happened to drop in for a visit, saying I needed to do that for my own healing.
Over these past 12 years in this service, I have come to believe strongly in the Importance and necessity of Christian counselors and pastors being available for critical scenes. God reached out to us before we knew him (Rom. 5:8). In our desire to reflect that initiative-taking love, we also reach out to people in trauma and crisis.
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