We lost a young niece two weeks ago.  She went to sleep and did not wake up and mysteriously the autopsy has come up blank.  Realistically, I guess that they don’t always pinpoint the cause but it is certainly part of this story, that we don’t know why it happened.


The other part of this story is what I observed at the funeral home on the day of the viewing.  In a small town that you have lived in your whole life, everyone seems to know you and your family through school activities, sports teams, and neighborhood interactions. Your day is their day. In this small town the response to her death was overwhelming and hundreds of people showed up to offer condolences.

Hundreds of us with nothing much to say, it turns out.  I kept hearing the same thing over and over, “I am so sorry.”  I said that too.  “She was such a nice girl, I am so, so sorry, it’s unbelievable, I am sorry for your loss.”  After a while it seemed pretty trite.  But since that day I have decided that if that is what hundreds of caring people came up with, then that really is the correct thing to say.  What besides “sorry?”  There was nothing simpler or truer.

I watched as these people filed past our girl in the casket.   She looked a little different than usual because her dimples weren’t showing, but still lovely and relaxed.  Then people turned to her mother who was nearby and cried while in her arms, then they got in line to cry again while in her dad’s arms.  I was in those lines too.



I am a little slow on the uptake, but after hours of this, it sunk in – what started out seeming to be support for the family ended up seeming to be a request for comfort from the family.  In the afternoon I heard her mom say to a young person, “it’s ok.  And I want you to know that she really loved you.”  Her own tears were finally gone and she was in charge of this conversation.  She knew by then that she was making the person in her arms feel better.



Both parents stood the entire seven hours of the open house without any breaks and that is not an exaggeration.   The lines of people did not diminish until the end of the day when the funeral home people started to close up shop around us and people finally had to go home.

Fourteen years and one month old is far too young to be missing out on the goodness and the hardships of life Miss M.  I am so sorry for your loss and that of your family.

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