When an old person dies,

the family flies in from hours away.

They gather for a few days

cry together

share stories and tears

and that healing laughter

that eases us through such times.

When a parent dies,

the children join together,

tethered to memories and meanings,

each one gleaning from both pain and pleasure,

all taking measure

of what is to be kept in the heart

and what is to be given to the earth.

When a child dies,

even neighbors come

to show their shock,

to help bear the grief

of things which are not

as they should be:

ache-racked shoulders

heave with the weight,

numb to the touch

of all but closest friends.

But how, then,

do we ease the pain of the loss

of the un-named child?

Of the unborn?

When those barely formed in the womb

are taken before others even know they live,

how then do we give our grief ?

To the mother

who heard the heart beat

but never felt the kick beneath her ribs?

To the father with such great plans

having never felt the belly swollen

beneath his hands?

There is no gathering of sorrow

on the morrow of the monitor’s

cold news,

only a strangely solitary sharing

perhaps with one parent or the other,

maybe a sibling or two

or of that one who is closer than a brother

or a sister.

In the midst of this most private loss,

of this un-shared mourning

comes an awareness that in heaven

every child has a name

in a place where all are held close

and every tear will be wiped away.

Even these.

H. Arnett


About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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