Big World Small Boat

Private Diary of A Priest. OK, so we're not all angels...Everyone needs a place to get things off their chest! And yes, I do talk to God about it all! Even He has a sense of humour! Want proof? Well, he made me, didn't He? Oh, one last thought-If you don't like what I've written, please keep in mind - it's MY diary. Go write your own!

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Location: England, United Kingdom

I've been serving children in crisis for over twenty five years. My goals are not to raise money, but to find organisations and individuals who can help change lives! What may be outdated equipment for you could change the life of a child in Eastern Europe! To learn more please visit our site at:


A Child's Funeral

Tomorrow at eleven I shall celebrate the funeral of a three-year-old boy. It will be difficult for me, but a thousand times more difficult, of course, for the young parents, the grandparents and the rest of the family. Here was a young life full of promise, welcomed with love and longing by his family and it all ended almost before it had begun.

The service for the funeral of a child is desperately moving; though for the family, the liturgy of faith and hope will not be easy either to say or to hear. Yet I know that the family will survive; in one sense life will go on and perhaps in time, they will even be strengthened by this dark and awful experience.

All around us, as we share the service together and lay the tiny coffin deep within the earth, the priorities of our world will continue. People will go about their daily work, their shopping, and their gardens. Newspapers will lay on the kitchen table, with headlines about war in Syria, President Obama, or the Royal Family.

For us, at the graveside, all the world will come to a standstill, just for a minute or two-there will be nothing more important than a small box and a few handfuls of soil. It seems like a parable on the subject of perspective.

Our perspectives for those fleeting moments will be unreservedly clear. Nothing else will matter. And then, of course, we shall return to what we call a ‘normal’ life, where perspectives are seldom clear and often hopelessly distorted. Before we know it, perhaps, the great and small issues of our days will take over, and it will be the price of petrol, or the continued rising deaths in Iraq that disturb our peace of mind.

Jesus accused some of the religious teachers of His time of ‘straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel’ - a very vivid way of saying that they’d got their priorities hopelessly out of perspective. Yet who, in our media-saturated world, really knows which are the gnats and which are the camels? What really matters, and what is of minimal and passing importance in the light of eternity?

In our moments of clear perspective, when our priorities are obvious, the values that tend to emerge are love, commitment, kindness, courage and hope. It’s when the tawdry agenda of every day takes over; celebrity, sport, news and gossip (which are often much the same thing), that we cater to the partisan, to cruel and unthinking words, and harsh, judgemental opinions.

It seems a pity that it takes very often a tragedy or crisis to help us see things so clearly.
As I stand by a child’s grave tomorrow morning I hope I won’t be too quick to forget what I learn there.



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Anonymous chirpy_bird said...

Dear Father Bill

My daughter and I attended the funeral you did for Gail Allen. I have been to many funerals. All of them were awful and I dreaded taking my daughter because I was afraid it would upset her.

Never in my life have I experienced such a tender compassionate and spiritual funeral than the one you provided. Stacey told me it was your idea to make the cover for Gails coffin. You made this entire experience so gentle and positive for all of us that I had to thank you. There were so many children there and you taught them in simple words they could understand about our life ahead when we die. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard in my life and I could not stop crying. You took away the fear for all the children and all the parents who were there.

I just had to write you to say thank you. I found your diary on the internet and will continue to read it. I wish all priests were like you. Maybe people would come back to church! I will never forget you and what you did for Gails family and for all of us. God bless you!

Blogger mel said...

Thank you for your words. Tonight I lost a 3 year old relative to cancer... and without being able to find the words I needed from within, I went to the internet and found your blog. Thank you. I didn't honestly think it was possible to sum up the pain of losing a young child, and yet you have. Thank you & God Bless.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your site looking for some words of comfort for loss and grief. Our neighbors son has died and we want to say something to the parents but don’t know what to say. This has helped very much. It isn’t the words of comfort it’s the act of being there for them and grieving with them.

Anonymous Alison Neuen said...

Dear Father Bill
Robyn and I heard you have been in hospital. We hope you can read this because we have been praying for YOU! You do so much for people around here. We pray you will be well soon. With love Robyn and Alison Neuen.

Anonymous Kiri said...

Father Bill, I too found this blog when searching for words of comfort for a family who had lost their 21 month old son to the cancer he was born with. I shared it with them and on the online community I started for families affected by childhood cancer (in New Zealand). It resonated with several members, some of whom have children on palliative care. Thank you for your sharing your thoughts, wisdom and humanity.

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Good Day Kiri!

Thank you for your kind words. I work directly with children who have been victims of child-trafficking. I own two homes in Eastern Europe and all of the children entrusted to our care have been kidnapped, raped, and ritually tortured. When I am at home I work in the arena of paediatric and geriatric palliative care. I'm honoured to serve, but each time I share a family's loss, grief, and mourning, even after all these years, I still am challenged to assuage the pain I feel.

But it's important for families to know that the pain we experience from loss is important. All too often here in the UK I hear parents comment on how 'we'll just get through the day' when the day of the funeral approaches. I try to gently explain to them that the funeral is not an event to strap-up and endure, it is a day to celebrate all that life brought to you, regardless of how brief. And it's a day to share in that grief with others. This is part of our human experience and I defy anyone to suggest that someone who is openly expressing their grief might be judged by others.

Even the briefest life leaves us with gifts. And in the days that pass, those flames of pain will indeed give way to glowing embers of warm memories. That is the demonstrable part of the gift we have received and it's a gift we should share with others. Always.

For all the families who find yourselves in this place, I pray that any words I have been able to offer will be ones of comfort and hope.

No one has the right to claim they know exactly what you are going through, but as part of our creator's world, we certainly can imagine. I too have suffered loss and found myself in a foetal position on the floor, wretching in agony and despair. But it is deep from within that dark abyss we will climb to discover a new day.

And I would be so bold as to say that this climb does not begin from faith, but rather from Hope!

Each of us has experienced times when our faith has been tested, if not lost. But it is from that mustard seed of hope that we find that small morning ray of light.

Celebrate your loss. It has happened and nothing will change it. But through hope your celebration will guide you and even at times inspire you.

Perhaps there may be other comforts your subscribers can find in these further links I've shared regarding my own journeys:

Finding The Right Words of Comfort For a Child’s Death

Bedside Prayer for the Death of a Child

The Death of a Child

Finally, it may be that the experiences I've shared have failed to help. In this case perhaps some help or guidance may be found through another blog - that of my very best friend - The Venerable Mr. Piddles. He's a far better writer than I am and at times, his wisdom and insight has helped immeasurably.

A Little bit of Faith in DOG can go a long way!

I wish each of you peace in His arms.

Blogger Marie Smith said...

Thank you for your words, they seem to say exactly what I am feeling, I am a new pastor about to do a funeral for a child, it is a first for me. I couldn't put into words what I was feeling, your words hit the nail on the head. Thanks.


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