Summary: Addressing questions and grief for the family and friends of Heather, age 3, who died tragically.
Funeral Message for a Young Child
Doug McCulley, email@example.com
Born to Andrew & Darlene Kiss, on May 28, 1999 — Heather Rose was an exceptional child. She had suffered a stroke before birth and even though Doctors told Darlene and Andrew she probably would not be able to walk and that her capacity for speech would be very limited, the parents never gave up hope. She was developmentally delayed but she did walk and talk. She was an absolute delight and joy. I believe she had the most remarkable blue eyes that I have ever seen. She was almost 4 at her death.
The 2nd weekend in March, her newborn baby brother almost a week old, Heather became ill with fever. Given children’s Advil, she became terribly ill. Doctors soon diagnosed her with Stevens-Johnson syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. This destroys the soft tissue— skin, lungs, kidneys, etc. She was immediately transferred to one of the top burn units in the country where they tried to treat her symptoms.
Without being too graphic, Heather’s skin dissolved, her kidneys failed, and her lungs deteriorated. She was in horrific pain and gruesomely disfigured. She hung onto life for 6 days. She died on March 17, 2003.
There are many articles about her death. Her parents pushed for stronger warnings on ibuprofen and in the spring of 2005 the FDA ordered the drug companies to change their warnings. Pediatricians now know to educate parents of the risks of using ibuprofen.
Funeral Message Notes for Heather Kiss, March 21, 2003
On behalf of the family, thank you for being here. Your presence speaks of your concern and love for Andrew, Darlene and the rest of the family.
To begin: We grieve for ourselves
The Bible makes it clear
In heaven, God himself wipes away every tear. There is no death, or mourning or crying or pain. (Rev 21.4)
What that means is that as soon as Heather breathed her last
She went to be in the arms of our Lord and
She has no memory of the pain of this ordeal.
If she has any memory of her last week at all,
She may remember the kindness of caring doctors and nurses,
but not the treatment.
She may remember the love in our eyes,
But not the sorrow and tears.
She may remember the devotion the family watching over her,
But not our pain and fears.
AND after we’ve all been there in heaven for a millennia or two, at some point maybe God Himself or the Angel Gabriel, perhaps her guardian angel OR even Heather may gather us all together and introduce us to the 100’s and 100’s of people from different countries who prayed for her.
But even then, she will not know why we were praying except that it was out of love for her.
So we grieve for ourselves.
We have regrets— she has none.
We feel cheated— she does not.
We feel crushed— she is set free in eternity.
We miss her— she is perfectly content.
We may have doubts and fears—
She is in her Savior’s arms
wrapped in our prayers
wrapped in our love— for love is eternal.
I know this is true.
Also, She would want the people around her to be happy.
Children delight in the joy of their parents and loved ones. She would be elated to see you smile, to hear you laugh. She would be thrilled to feel the pleasure you will have with Tyler & Trevor. She would be satisfied to know that you will miss her terribly but that you will also learn how to enjoy life again.
There is a part of us that feels uncomfortable when we enjoy life after such a loss. That first time that you go through an entire day without tears, you may feel guilty… but do not… She knows you still miss her. Tears and sadness is not the only way to show that you miss your precious angel.
Friends, some practical things
Think about how you can help. We sincerely and caringly say, “If you need anything, just call.”
Not today, but in the weeks and months to come offer your help by saying, “I’m going to the store, I have the time. What can I get for you?” “I want to bring dinner over a certain evening or I can take this or do that for you.”
Be specific. Offer your time. If your help is declined one week— Offer again and again over the next few weeks.
Long term… a week from now, a year from now, a decade from now, don’t be afraid to mention Heather… To say “I remember her smile… her joy.” Say “I know you miss her.” Or “I’d like to see some pictures of Heather.” Yes, it might bring a tear… but those tears are nothing compared to the pain that saying nothing brings. So often parents who have lost a child say to me, “what hurts the most is that people act as if my child never existed.” Please talk about Heather to the family. They want to know that she was valued.