"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"I See Dead People!"

 I didn't go to a funeral until I was in my late 30's. It was a distant acquaintance and I wasn't emotionally involved but my own children, and grandchildren have attend family funerals at quite a young age.
I have learned that children have a very different attitude regarding death. I first discovered this when my oldest daughter was around 3 years old.
We attended my husband's grandmother's funeral and she wanted to look into the casket during the viewing.  She was anxious to see what was in the box everyone was looking at.  My husband picked her up and stood a way back from the casket so she wouldn't reach out and touch anything.  She began patting my husband's cheek and telling him, "Daddy, look at the sleeping lady, she has a pretty dress on."
Other children who live a farm-country life see animals born and others die and have a bit different point of view.  When Uncle Bruce died and the graveside service was over, my daughter Megan's country-farm children wanted all the talking to end so they could ride on the tractor that pushes the dirt into the grave.  They had a different understanding of death and what it means.  But I think we as adults forget to explain things to children who may be connected to the deceased or try to help them understand what is happening.

Two years ago my husband had two brothers die within two months.  My daughter Megan lives in Utah not too far from the Uncles who passed away so her children knew them both and had spent time visiting with them and listening to old stories.

The younger brother Scott passed away first and we were all gathering for the graveside service.  My husband and his brother Don, who lived nearby, decided to drive to the neighboring town to pick up Leon so he could attend Scott's funeral.  They decided to use Scott's van as it was set up for a wheel chair and would be a better transport for Leon.

While we were waiting for Patrick and Don to return with Leon, Megan's children were restless and began walking around the cemetery looking at the rows of scattered gravestones.  The two older ones, Ali and Trevor were reading the dates and names on the monuments dotting the space and had gone quite a few yards away as they looked at the headstones.
I greeted the few people I knew, explaining we were waiting for the brothers to return with Leon from the convalescent home and noticed Ali the oldest of Megan's children looking puzzled and walking over to the gathering of people, and then back to a gravestone several rows away.  Ali was about ten, a very serious thoughtful and observant young lady. I noticed she was looking at a woman very carefully, and soon went up to touch the woman's skirt and hand.  Then she went back to stare at a headstone. Finally she came over and softly said, "How come if she's dead, she's walking around."  In the emotion and bustle of the day I didn't realize until later what had happened or why she made such a strange comment.

The woman's husband had recently passed away and as was the custom she had purchased the adjoining plot with a joint grave monument which had pictures of them both.  Ali was confused and couldent' figure out why, if the lady had her picture on the stone, which meant the lady was dead, she was in the cemetery walking around.

Soon after that her young brain got another shock.  As Don and Patrick drove up in Scott's van they carried Leon from the van and placed him in the wheelchair.  It was cold and windy so Patrick reached into the van and grabbed Scott's flannel shirt and hat and put them on Leon.  He was all bundled up in Scott's clothing and did not move as they rolled him slowly toward the grave.

Ali was sure the person in the wheelchair was Scott and they were going to put him in the box and then into the grave.  Her eyes got big, she grabbed my hand and leaned into me saying, "Why didn't they get him in the box before everyone got here."  I had no idea what she was talking about or why she gave a little squeak as Leon, who she thought was her dead Uncle Scott, stood to say the opening prayer.

So pay attention to kids at funerals, the strange things they say may make perfect sense, "I see dead people", may be true when you understand their point of view.

No comments:

Post a Comment