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Peace Monument, Washington, D.C. Grief weeping against the shoulder of History.

Peace Monument, Washington, D.C. Grief weeping against the shoulder of History.

Other thoughts regarding Newtown:

How many parents brought their children to the wake(s) of their classmates?

I was eight years old when I went to the wake of a mother and daughter killed in a house fire in Waseca. The daughter was five years old, and she looked like a little princess, white dress and blond ringlets, in her casket.

This was not the first wake I went to–with Dad as a gravedigger in a small town, I went to wakes as far back as I can remember. But that one was the first child’s wake I attended.

I hope that parents in Newtown took their children to the visitations. Of course, judgment is key. Parents will know if that situation would indeed bring on more trauma for their children. But all things being equal, if parents were on the fence about whether or not to take their children, I hope they would bring them.

I went to a baby wake a couple of years ago–the infant of a former high school classmate of mine. This classmate had an older son who went to a local elementary school. Of all the people at this wake, and the line was long, I saw only one mother who brought her young son, Jaden. Jaden was in the same class as the boy whose brother just died.

Jaden stood in line close to his mom, hands in pockets, wide eyes bright. He was only six or seven, so I’m quite sure this was his first wake, or at least the first wake of a child. I thought about what he was learning that night: that we are not immortal, that grief exists, that the world can be harsh and cruel and unfair, but that we come together as a community to help those who grieve. I hope the brother felt good that Jaden came by to pay respects, to honor the memory of the baby.

And I wondered, where were the other classmates? How many parents elected to keep their children away that night? And why? The brother needed comfort that night. Imagine how much comfort he would have derived from seeing all of his classmates coming out en masse.