Probably my favorite poem is part 6 of Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. You could read it here. It is about death, but it is really beautiful rather than sad. It ends like this:
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
I am thinking about the poem this morning because we just had a rabbit funeral in the backyard. A few days ago, older son and our dog (which he now calls a “hunting dog”) were outside together in our yard, and the dog killed a rabbit. Older son was rather excited about it, which was different from last time this happened. That time, it made him really sad. This time, he was excited about the action of it, and he even picked up the body of the rabbit and set it on a table we have in the backyard. Then he came and told me about it.
I wasn’t sure what to do about it. We have talked about it a little bit, but I just left the rabbit where it was as I pondered. The cold weather meant I had the luxury of procrastinating about it a little.
On Sunday, I had some friends over for dinner, and one of my friends suggested having a little ritual and burying it. She gave me a book
, How to Bury a Goldfish, and some fake paper flower petals I could sprinkle over the grave. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me. It was a great idea. Older son loved the idea immediately.
So we just had the funeral this morning. I should be working, but that was important too, and I’m glad we did it. We had a little prayer and then came in and read part of that poem. Here are some pictures.