Author: George Ancona
Photographer: George Ancona
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books: New York
Audience: Ages 7 – 12
Summary: Pablo Remembers is a story of one family’s tradition of remembering their relatives who have preceded them in death.
Literary Elements at Work: One of the most powerful literary elements at work in this piece of literature is language. Throughout the telling, George Anacona uses Spanish words to bring to life this family’s tradition in celebrating the lives of their dead, giving faithful witness to this particular family’s and community’s practice of grief and celebration—remembering.
Scripture: Romans 8:38-39 , Therefore, “Do not be afraid…” (occurs throughout the Bible from Genesis to Acts)
Dirge Without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay
“I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.
The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”
Death: we know, but we do not approve and we are not resigned; neither is God. Thus, as we mourn the loss of loved ones, we may also rejoice in the assurance of the resurrection God has won for us in Jesus Christ.
The loss of a family member, friend, pet, etc… can be a confusing, sad, angry, and frightening time in the life of families and, in particular, lives of children. This story, Pablo Remembers, gives families an excellent example of how to extend Christian care and nurture in mourning and worshipping in community.
Pablo Remembers is full of information for families to explore as they walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Inside you will find ways to discuss, read about, and respond to death openly, honestly, and faithfully.
Faith Talk Questions:
Faithful Activities for Grieving Families with Seven to Twelve Year Olds:
We share our lives together before God in community. Remember, when you cannot be available for your child, when you are unable to maintain balance for yourself or your child, our community of faith stands with you. That is why we begin, live, and close our lives within the context of the church, trusting God, committing to God, and orienting all of life to God. Grieve with God, your family and friends, and in our faith community. Children experiencing grief benefit from forming rituals with their caregivers, their faith community, and God –relationships they trust. This will strengthen their family bond as well as their bond with God and our faith community. This will also help them to remember that they are a child of God and that their loved one was and is a child of God, and that God can be trusted even in this time. Rituals are important ways of maintaining a sense of balance for you and your child.
- Reading together a Child’s Catechism is a wonderful way to begin a ritual and to share with your child our beliefs about the character of God.
- Encourage your child to help plan some part of the funeral service. Maybe he or she would like to choose a hymn or a scripture reading. They may want to share some memory of their loved one with the minister to be included in a prayer.
- Include an evening prayer or scripture reading with your child. Rituals and routines tend to become more sporadic as children get older and their schedules become more frenzied. Begin or make sure to keep an evening ritual with your child.
- Children at this developmental stage are very interested in fairness. This may be a good time to begin a journey through the prophetic biblical literature. The prophets focus much of their thoughts and teaching on social justice issues which speak to the heart of fairness. Walter Bruggeman, professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary, suggests that the prophetic literature teaches us to listen to the poets of the marginalized. Children, especially children facing crisis, tend to be marginalized, and may feel they have been treated unfairly by their deceased loved one or God. The prophets demonstrate God caring for, seeing, and hearing the marginalized.
- Music is important form of expression. Beethoven felt that music is the fastest way to communicate emotion to the human heart. Encourage your child to play, listen, or write music.
- Encourage your child to express their fears, anger, sadness, and thankfulness through journaling, storytelling, reading, praying, dancing, or creating art. Encourage your child to write a letter to God or their loved one expressing their feelings.
- Movies are a wonderful way to begin a dialogue with children. The movie Where the Lilies Bloom is about a family of Appalachian children living in the backwoods who lose their father. The main character, Mary Call, is a fourteen year old girl who tries to keep the family together after their father’s death. This movie is appropriate for children ten- to twelve-years old. My Dog Skip is about a shy eight-year old boy and his dog Skip and their life together. This is based on a novel written by Pulitzer Prize winner, Willie Morris. This movie is appropriate for children ten- to twelve-years old. Secondhand Lions is about a young man named Walter who reflects back on his uncles’ lives and his time spent with them. This movie is appropriate for children ten- to twelve-years old. My Girl is about a young girl, Anna Chlumsky, who loses her best friend in an accident. This movie is appropriate for children ten- to twelve-years old. All of these movies bring to life families’ struggles when dealing with death. Encourage your child to remember and struggle through his or her loss with God, you, and our faith community.
- Help your child to share their story of loss with their Sunday school teachers, ministers, choir director, and church family members.
Review prepared by Kim Lee, MACE, Entering Cohort Fall 2007