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12 December 2005 @ 11:15 am
Too fucking awful?  
When you lose your spouse, you are called a widow or widower. If you are a child and lose your parents, then you're an orphan. But, what's the word to describe a parent who loses a child? I guess that's just too fucking awful to have a name.

Brenda Six Feet Under Episode Nine, Series One.

What do you guys think? I find the idea of death fascinating, as well as the way that people (including myself) deal with death. However, I cannot be quite so cavalier about the death of children. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it just is that it is harder to say that they have lived a good life, or whatever. I recently updated a lay persons handbook on burial and funerals in my town and I was surprised to find that all the funeral homes had babies ROSE GARDENS. Why roses? A quick google search confirmed that this is the case in many other places. Ideas?
(Deleted comment)
joybonjoybon on December 13th, 2005 12:53 am (UTC)
I think the reason that it is treated differently by so many is because it challenges the world view of people. People expect old people to die. Some young people as well because of stupid acts etc. But child death is not expected, not in Western societies today anyway. I guess on one reading, the death of a child is less sad because a child is not leaving any one behind for whom it is responsible for. An adult does. Perhaps a death of child is also sadder for some because they were responsible and may feel guilty for what they may have done to contribute to the death.

Although, having said what I said above, when I went to a funeral for two parents and their two children, the children were basically ignored in the eulogies. I am not sure why.

cemeteryconsortcemeteryconsort on January 19th, 2006 01:57 am (UTC)
Just buzzing through
I think that we tend to forget that untill the latter part of the last century, children died quite frequently. Mother's too for that matter. In the time before penecillin and other anti-biotics, which were not available before around 1930, strep throat could become fatal. In my cemetery, you might find 7 kids in one family all dead within a few years of their birth. You might also commonly find second and third wives. The idea that your children will outlive you must be a fairly new consept. I always wonder if parents in 'olden times' were harsh and less caring of their children in an effort to prevent the pain when they lost them to some stupid fever. I think if today's parents lost 3 or more kids, they would be in an institution.
cemeteryconsortcemeteryconsort on January 19th, 2006 01:59 am (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
I swear I tried to put it through the spell checker! Sorry.
joybonjoybon on January 23rd, 2006 09:34 am (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
Cool username!
Thanks for your thoughts !

I have no way of knowing for sure but I think that parents were just as loving (or not loving) to their children in the past (or in developing countries today where the child mortality rate is much much higher) it's just that death didn't challenge their world view. In that, there was no crisis even though there was obviously someone to mourn.

I think if today's parents lost 3 or more kids, they would be in an institution. this is true because in our societies (I am Australian, I presume you are Western) deaths like these are unimaginable. Also, we distance ourselves from death so much these days that even the deaths of other, adults, is a shock to so many people simply because they do not see it as a natural part of life.

[eg. embalming etc as discussed in Mitfords The American Way of Death)

Ok so that was a bit tangental - cheers!
cemeteryconsortcemeteryconsort on January 24th, 2006 02:11 am (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
Thanks, the name comes from the fact that on some of the stones in my cemetery, the wife is listed as the 'consort of' the husband, and sometimes I feel I am married to my work.
It would be interesting to find something of the time that would describe the connection parents had to their children. I do recall that the Victorian view was that children were little adults, and were treated that way. I think that a strong religious belief probably helped people deal with the deaths of their children, as they were quite sure of an after-life according to the stones in New England. But I still wonder if there was a certain distance parents kept to avoid some of the hurt.
And you are right, Americans are very distant from the whole death process and the funeral as well. Only now it seems are people starting to take control of their funerals, and how they want to be memorialized. But at the same time, I also see busenesses taking this new interest as a way to make more money, by offering to make diamonds out of cremains, and lockets for cremains. Things like that. (how's that for a tangent?)
joybonjoybon on January 26th, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
Nice tangent.
What work do you do?

(I am a law/politics graduate currently doing a honours thesis on succession law)
cemeteryconsortcemeteryconsort on January 26th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
I mow lawns for dead people. I work at a cemetery doing everything that needs to be done. The only thing I don't do is the digging with the backhoe, since I don't have a license. Otherwise, I do everything. Mow, pick up leaves, trash, set up the funerals and help carry the casket. Sell lots when we have them. I also am the treasurer and I do a lot of recording of information. We do an average of 30 to 40 funerals a year. My cemetery is about 14 acres, and dates back to the mid 1600's. I have been doing this for almost 20 years. It pays very little, but I love it.
joybonjoybon on January 27th, 2006 07:25 am (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
This sounds like marvellous fun. Seriously!
Dating back so far would make it so much more interesting.
When I was young my mother would take us to old churches with cemetaries and walk us through and we would make up histories of the people. She never let us walk on the graves, we had to walk around.
The oddest cemetery I have been to was on Norfolk Island: soldiers and convicts and free settlers buried side by side. Some convicts with very grand head stones because their execution was to be an example to others.
Do you live on the grounds?
cemeteryconsortcemeteryconsort on January 29th, 2006 01:59 am (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
No, I dont live on the grounds, but I do feel like it's my second home. After so many years, I know many of the 'occupants' and I know the terrain. I know what spots need what attention and how long some places can go without mowing, etc. Did I mention the wildlife? We have some interesting animals that are fairly new. Deer, coyotes, turkey. It's neat.
Just to let you know, I walk on the graves all the time. No one has gotten up and complained yet, so I dont think they mind. I do say 'excuse me' if I have to spit (sometimes you can't help it with the dust and stuff), but I do that just to be polite.
We have a few murderers and such in our cemetery, and some historical characters. I always love to know the histories of the people in the ground. It makes you appreciate them more, knowing they were just like me or you.
joybonjoybon on February 18th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
Re: Just buzzing through
Just to let you know, I walk on the graves all the time. No one has gotten up and complained yet, so I dont think they mind.


I like it...
xbrittanylinnxxbrittanylinnx on September 15th, 2008 10:28 am (UTC)
I remember watching that.
Really enjoyed the series.