Death is a certainty. It comes in so many forms, ages and types. Young unexpected deaths are hard and young expected deaths can be even harder. When a child and their family knows they are so sick that they are going to die before they get to drive, go to prom, have a first kiss, get married, life becomes something else. Everyone involved suffers. The parents know that they are going to lose their child and know they will never watch that child experience life to adulthood. Siblings suffer, they are going to lose their brother/sister and have to watch it happen and their life is put on hold or disrupted because of this thing hanging in the background everywhere they go. There is not a lot to look forward to so it becomes about making the best of what you are given and not imagine what could have been.
In this case it was a young girl. She had been sick her whole life and she knew she would die young. Like most girls she dreamed of doing what girls her age do, in particular she had always wanted to get married and not just to be married but to wear the beautiful gown and get her hair and nails done, to be the beautiful bride. She understood all the other things she would miss; boyfriends, first kiss, children but it was being a bride she dreamed of most. In the weeks before her death she decided she wanted to be buried in a wedding dress and have her hair and nails done. She was going to be buried as a bride. She picked out her dress and chose her hair style, a manicurist came and did her nails in the hospital. When I was given the dress of barely pale pink with tiny bits of glitter throughout and pouf that would envelope her tiny legs, it about broke my heart. As I met with the family we went over closure and how even though they knew this day was upon them, it wasn’t enough to prepare them for the loss. We looked at pictures of her, she had round cheeks, her lips had a hint of pink as she smiled big in every frame, and eyes big and bright waved at us from the photos.
We had her hair done just as she wanted then topped off her curly bouffant with a ring of white flowers, just like an angel. As we placed this child in the casket the folds of fabric puffed and glittered in fun little ways. The dress filled the casket, she was very much the fairy tale bride. During her viewing, we opened both ends of the casket so everyone could see this beauty while showing off the dress she would never be married in and the tiny pale pink ballerina slippers just peeking out of the bottom of her dress. She was so beautiful and the moment precious and I watched her mother’s heart break as she buried her child bride.