In January of 1999 I penned an article that was published in one of North America’s funeral service professional journals – Alliance Magazine. After re-visiting this piece, I realized that not only has my learning curve and life come a long way but also the life of the child that I wrote about. Today, this child “SETH” would be about 16-17 years old. It often crosses my mind of where might this boy now be and what type of young man may he have become? Something that is clear is that the same grief that Seth felt is the same grief that many of us today experience. With grief, everything is magnified, seems bigger, endless, larger and more difficult to overcome. There is hope and there is a tomorrow and you will overcome the obstacles that seem too large to move on your own. My hope is that this article touches your life in some small way.--Fred
Although many children may recognize the rituals of a funeral, most do not fully understand what death is, and in many instances, they do not express themselves outwardly. As adults we sometimes fell that the emotions of children do not run as deep as ours, nor can what they experience be compared to the emotions of adults. Therefore we often times forget about children during the funeral process.
I was inspired to write “Grief From Three Feet” when I came in contact with a small boy I met one evening some time ago at the funeral home.
One hand gripped tight to a piece of the material of his mother’s dress, while the other one was wrapped around her body. I closely observed as he fought to keep his face hidden against his mother’s body. He refused to look at anyone in the room.
He looked at me and said with his soft high pitched voice, “Mister, why is my daddy in that coffin in there?” Before I could even process the first question, he followed up with a second one, “Why did my daddy leave me? Mommy said daddy left us.”
For a second he lost me. I didn’t quite follow what he meant, but after a moment, I thought “I guess everything does look big to him for he is no taller than about three feet.”