I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are predominantly by American authors. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog.
The Death of Infants
When a portion of home’s sunshine is withdrawn, – when one of the merry voices that made sweet music for us is hushed forever, – then w feel the worth of the treasure removed from our care ; and the depth of our sorrow is proportioned to the intensity of our affection. “We miss the small step on the stair;” we miss the little arms that used to twine so lovingly around our neck, the soft cheek that pressed our own, the smiling lips that gave so sweet a good-night kiss ; we see the favorite toys laid carefully aside, the little chair unoccupied, the cradle and the crib untenanted ; – we can turn no way without meeting something to remind us of our loss. Those who have wept over the coffin in which rested the shrouded from of a little one, know well that this is so. They are gone from us ; but they are not forgotten. Their names are treasured in our heart of hearts ; – their love abides with us forever.
There is often a solemn beauty impressed on the features of an infant, after the chill hand of Death has touched it. I remember, as if it were but yesterday, the hour when I first stood beside the coffin of a child, a little girl of four years old. There was a spiritual beauty on her face that I had never seen there before. The fair hair, parted smoothly over the pure, pale brow, the closed eyes, the round, dimpled cheek, the slightly parted lips, – all bore the impress of the Destroyer; yet all were beautiful. It seemed as if the peace of the home her spirit had found was reflected on the frail dwelling it had left.
The custom of placing flowers in the coffin of the little child, is, I think, beautifully appropriate. What fitter emblem could be found, than a delicate rosebud or a deep blue violet, of the brief existence of the cherished one transplanted from the desolate wilds of earth to the garden of heaven? Who could wish that frail bud again exposed to the blighting frosts of a cold, selfish world? Well might even the one whose warm heart’s love had twined most closely around it, – well might the mother of that little one have said, –
“Go to they rest, my child!
Go to thy dreamless bed,
Gentle and undefiled,
With blessings on thine head.
Fresh roses in thy hand,
Buds on thy pillow laid,
Haste from this fearful land
Where flowers so quickly fade.”
There is consolation in the midst of the bitter anguish attending such a bereavement. The fair brow that has been so carefully sheltered from the storm, will never be exposed to its violence. The young heart that answered so joyously to the accents of tender affection, will never thrill to the tones of harshness, or sink beneath the pressure of sorrow. The little feet, that have been led so carefully along the smooth pathway of opening life, will never toil wearily up the steep ascent, or turn suddenly aside, to seek the path that leadeth to destruction. Nor is this all. Is it not a blessed source of consolation to a mourning parent’s heart, to think, “I have a babe in heaven?” Is there not deep joy in the love, that purified by sorrow, rises from earth to a holier sphere ? Surely there is. And is there not sweet music in the words, “Suffer little children to com unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven ?”
- Amanda Weston