Rememberance Service Readings
February 4, 2008 5:59 PM   Subscribe

We have lost a 3 day old child in our family to Edwards Syndrome. Please help me choose what to read at her rememberance service.
posted by Raybun to Human Relations (13 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
first, my condolences.

this always makes me feel peaceful...

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

posted by meeshell at 6:06 PM on February 4, 2008 [13 favorites]

you might try they've compiled lists of poems for every occasion. of course, not all of these will be appropriate, but since her birth and birthday were so recent, it might be a nice thing to remember.

poems about death
poems for tragedy and grief
poems for birth
poems about daughters
farewell poems
poems about childood

i'm so sorry for your family's loss.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:31 PM on February 4, 2008

This is a terrible tragedy. I'm sorry to hear about it.

Are you looking for something explicitly religious? Something that acknowledges the awfulness of the loss, or something that expresses hope?
posted by AngerBoy at 6:39 PM on February 4, 2008

My condolences...

Depending on how you personally feel about this, maybe "A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London" by Dylan Thomas might work? I'm sorry if this is insensitive in some way.

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

posted by nasreddin at 6:40 PM on February 4, 2008 [5 favorites]

(Wow, @nasreddin, that is an AMAZING piece. Thanks for sharing it.)
posted by AngerBoy at 6:41 PM on February 4, 2008

When my son died, I put this quote from The Little Prince on his memorial card

In one of the stars I shall be living.
In one of them I shall be laughing.
And so it will be
As if all the stars were laughing
When you look at the stars at night.

I don't think that it necessarily needs to be applied to a male infant, so I figured I would post it here. It still makes me tear up when I read it, five years later.

Godspeed to your Angel. My deepest condolences to you and your family.
posted by dancinglamb at 6:56 PM on February 4, 2008 [7 favorites]

Jane Kenyon wrote this as she was dying of leukemia:

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

posted by zia at 7:15 PM on February 4, 2008 [11 favorites]

Another Dawn
by James Dillet Freeman

Faced with the passing of someone we love, our hearts cry out in the passion of loneliness and are not comforted with easy answers. Our hearts tell us that we are meant to live, not die. We are meant to express life ever more consummately. When someone fails to do this, we wonder why.

To understand the meaning of death, we must understand the meaning of life. Looking at life, we see that all things change. But although all things change, nothing perishes.

Life does not begin with birth. It does not end with death. Life is an eternal process and an eternal progress.

Eternity is not an alternation of life and nonlife. There is only life. The truth is that we cannot die, for we are life. Life is energy. Life is expression. It cannot end, because it is endless. We may change form and vanish from view, but we cannot cease to be. We cannot be separated from life. We cannot be less than life.

There is a unity beyond the unities of time and place and even thought, a unity that links us as one. Does not love link us with our friends, though they be on the other side of the earth? So those we love may pass beyond the reach of hands, but not outside the heart.

Exactly what is on the other side of death we do not know. But we may be sure that it is life. Life is on the other side of death as it is on this side.

Death is a door through which we pass into another room. It is not the end; it is a new beginning. It is not the fall of night; it is another dawn.
posted by mamaraks at 7:23 PM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy
My sinne was too much hope of thee, adored boy,
Seven yeeres tho'wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I loose all father, now. For why
Will man lament the state he should envie?
To have so soone 'scap'd worlds, and fleshes rage,
And, if no other miserie, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask'd, say here doth lye
Ben. Jonson his best piece of poetrie.
For whose sake, hence-forth, all his vowes be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.

"On My First Sonne" by Ben Jonson.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:30 PM on February 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

On the death of the Beloved by John O'Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or might or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul's gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.
posted by hazel at 10:54 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Charles Lamb, 'On an Infant Dying as soon as Born':

I saw where in the shroud did lurk
A curious frame of Nature's work.
A flow'ret crushed in the bud,
A nameless piece of Babyhood,
Was in her cradle-coffin lying;
Extinct, with scarce the sense of dying;
She did but ope an eye, and put
A clear beam forth, then strait up shut
For the long dark: ne'er more to see
Through glasses of mortality.

Riddle of destiny, who can show
What thy short visit meant, or know
What thy errand here below?
Shall we say, that Nature blind
Check'd her hand, and changed her mind,
Just when she had exactly wrought
A finish'd pattern without fault?


The economy of Heaven is dark;
And wisest clerks have miss'd the mark,
Why Human Buds, like this, should fall,
More brief than fly ephemeral,
That has his day; while shrivel'd crones
Stiffen with age to stocks and stones;
And crabbed use the conscience sears
In sinners of an hundred years.

Mother's prattle, mother's kiss,
Baby fond, thou ne'er wilt miss.
Rites, which custom does impose,
Silver bells and baby clothes;
Coral redder than those lips,
Which pale death did late eclipse;
Music framed for infants' glee,
Whistle never tuned for thee;
Though thou want'st not, thou shalt have them,
Loving hearts were they which gave them.
Let not one be missing; nurse,
See them laid upon the hearse
Of infant slain by doom perverse.
Why should kings and nobles have
Pictured trophies to their grave;
And we, churls, to thee deny
Thy pretty toys with thee to lie,
A more harmless vanity?
posted by verstegan at 12:50 AM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Friedrich Rückert, Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgehn:

Now the sun will rise as brightly
as if no misfortune had occurred in the night.
The misfortune has fallen on me alone.
The sun - it shines for everyone.
You must not keep the night inside you;
you must immerse it in eternal light.
A little light has been extinguished in my household;
Light of joy in the world, be welcome.
posted by verstegan at 1:09 AM on February 5, 2008

Lots of wonderful contributions here. I don't have one to add, but I do add my sincere sadness. We lost our daughter, stillborn, at 7 months, so have some idea what you're going through.

Take care of yourselves.
posted by liquado at 6:01 PM on February 5, 2008

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