What with Aunt Margie's funeral last Tuesday, I have been pondering over life and death lately and how one best explains death to young children such as some at Margie's funeral. The following poem is the result of my pondering this weighty issue.
Why Did My Grandmother Have To Die?
The funeral over, the girl asked her dad,
"Why did my grandmother have to die?"
"That is just the way of life. I know it's sad,
but Nature demands it. I'll try to explain why.
"If living things remained alive perpetually,
the demand upon the world's resources
would become overwhelming eventually;
so a vital balance our ecosystem enforces."
His explanation given, her scientist father
smiled and asked the girl, "Now do you
understand?" His wife said, "Why bother
answering her if afterwards she hasn't a clue
"what your explanation means? Honey, let
Mommy try to explain it. You know how
our backyard has lots of rose bushes, yet
there is still room for your swing set now?"
"Yes, ma'am," the little girl replies. Her mother
continues, " Well, suppose every rose that bloomed
lived forever so there were new roses one after another
and the bushes expanded until finally they doomed
"everything else in the yard. Roses would take over
the whole yard. You'd have no room to run and play
with your friends. Just roses...and roses. Moreover,
the thorns would scratch you. In the house you'd stay."
The young girl said, "That wouldn't be any good."
"Well," her mother said, "now imagine dogs or cats.
If every one lived forever, the whole world soon would
be overrun. Things living forever would be bad; that's
"the truth for people as well. Each living thing has
its time to blossom, then fade away to make room
for the next generation. Just think of Grandma as
a rose. She had had her time to dazzle as a bloom.
"It was simply time for her to make room for the next
round of beautiful buds to impress the world with their
beauty. Her time on the bush was over. It's not complex,
my dear; we each get our chance to live, knowing there
"will come time when we must die to let the new roses
have their time. For there to be life, there must be death."
The little girl thought, then said, "Before my life closes,
I hope to be like Grandma - a rose in bloom 'til her last breath."