This post I write with the greatest of care as it talks about a lot of things that we are uncomfortable with… children, death, war, and more…
Have you ever read …I Never Saw Another Butterfly…? If not, put it in any kind of bucket list that you might have.
This book is a compilation of poetry and pictures created by children who were enslaved in the Terezin Concentration Camp from 1942-1944. I could not find any photos to post online from the book, so the pictures here all have captions as to what they are…
Photo 1: After 9/11/2001, United States
Why on earth am I writing about something so painful… there are so many reasons.
First, this book is incredible for its art. If you want to understand how kids understand death, traumatic events, and unsaid things, study these drawings. They are powerful and profound.
Second, this book really drives home that kids know about death. If you aren’t there to help fill in the blanks as to the who, what, where, how, and why (in an age appropriate way), then the kids around you aren’t going to be supported in what they do know. Many people I have known that work with kids, like we did in our weekly programs and camps, know that kids have incredible imaginations and when things are kept secret, all of us tend to imagine the worst. This is as true of death as it is anything else.
Photo 2: From World War II
Third, because what these kids had to say is still relevant to how we need to be with grieving kids and to our world. Read the book and tell me that you don’t want to go march for peace so that no child has to suffer again.
Here is an excerpt:
The Closed Town
Everything leans, like tottering, hunched old women.
Every eye shines with fixed waiting and for the word “when?”
Here there are a few soldiers.
Only the shot-down birds tell of war.
You believe every bit of news you hear.
The buildings now are fuller,
Body smelling close to body,
And the garrets scream with light for long, long hours.
This evening I walked along the street of death.
On one wagon, they were taking the dead away.
Why so many marches have been drummed here?
Why so many soldiers?
A week after the end,
Everything will be empty here.
A hungry dove will peck for bread.
In the middle of the street will stand
an empty, dirty hearse.
All of the children in this camp were under 15 years old.
Now, we don’t live in Germany, in another place and time… but we do live in a world with constant wars… constant news casts… constant exposure to tv death.
Photo #3: Palestinian Child Artwork
Please don’t think that the kids in your life know nothing about death. Don’t think they don’t feel grief. Please don’t think they aren’t affected by the silence, the violence, the chemical dependency, or the other things that we think we are hiding from them in our own homes.
Despite the horrors that the children in the camps saw, they were able to see the beauty as well. It was all a part of their lives. There are some incredible poems in the book I never saw… if for no other reason, read the book to see the resilience of those children. 15,000 children lived at Terezin and less than 100 survived. The book is a touching snapshot of the human condition as it relates to trauma, dying, war, childhood, and life.
Please support children in their grief. Do your own healthy grieving if for no other reason than to be their to support the “forgotten mourners.”
- Grieving Teens and Permission (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Q & A: Still Grieving??? (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Grief Theories (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Factors that Influencing Grief (namasteconsultinginc.com)
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