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

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A Bedside Prayer for Death of a Child

I was honoured to have attended a child’s passing last night. Kayleigh was nine years old. She would have turned ten in November. Leukaemia had ravaged her body and she was extremely weak from both the illness and the aggressive treatments she had endured over the past few months.

Several hours earlier, the doctors had worked determinedly to resuscitate her when her heart failed. I didn’t need to ask in this case, I instinctively knew that Kayleigh’s mother still had not moved to acceptance that her daughter’s body was failing and thus had refused to sign the ‘DNR’ order, allowing Kayleigh’s spirit to pass on without further interference with her body. But you could see in the eyes of the kind doctor and nurses that they knew what the inevitable outcome would be.

In the early afternoon Kayleigh was talking with her seven-year-old sister Justine and mother. I sat in a chair far in the corner of the room. I could still just barely hear them speak, but couldn’t always clearly hear what was being said. Justine had been devotedly swabbing Kayleigh’s lips with a small sponge on a stick to provide moisture to her lips.

It was just before 5 when Kayleigh’s mother said she needed to take Justine home where her grandmother was preparing dinner. She would return within the half-hour. I promised I would remain with Kayleigh while she was gone.

As I walked with the mother and child to the doors of the ward, Justine looked up at me and said ‘ Kayleigh said she is going to send each of us a card.’ She said it with that beautiful conviction that only children can show, as if they were speaking of Father Christmas arriving the following morning. ‘That’s wonderful Justine,’ I said. ‘I’ll look forward to hearing from her.’

I said goodbye at the hallway and watched the pitiful figure of the mother move down the hallway, with Justine half-skipping, half-running beside her. I could hear Justine cheerfully chatting away about something as I turned back into the hospital ward.
When I returned to Kayleigh’s room, she was still. Her eyes were open and in any other setting, saving the pale grey appearance of her skin, you might have thought she was just gazing at the ceiling. It had only been a matter of minutes from when we had walked out the door to my return and Kayleigh's body had taken its last breath.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, but I also felt myself smiling. She was at peace. But there was something much more powerful in the moments that had passed. Kayleigh had fought hard to remain there for her mother and sister – to impart that powerful message to Justine – that she’s only going on a journey, not that she simply wouldn’t exist anymore.

And for both her mother and sister, Kayleigh’s passing occurred at a moment when little Justine would not have been subjected to a repeat of her mother’s frantic and poignant fight to try to protect her daughter from a disease that had ravaged the child’s body.

One of the nurses named Betty, came into the room and saw me standing at the end of the bed. It only took seconds for her to realise that Kayleigh had passed. I was deeply touched because without any words she put her arms around me and hugged me. Betty removed the IV line whilst I closed Kayleigh’s eyes and together we straightened the bed and turned down the lights. I didn’t really think about it, but I took a floppy eared sock rabbit that Justine had brought her sister from the nightstand and tucked it in beside Kayleigh.

I asked Betty if she would like to stay with me as I offered prayers for Kayleigh. She held up her finger to indicate ‘just a moment,’ and she left the room. Seconds later she returned with another nurse and one of the ward assistants. We gathered around Kayleigh’s bed and prayed:
Christ Jesus, most merciful Saviour,
Hear our prayers as we gather in Your name
We commend this child into Your arms of mercy.
Kayleigh has been a blessing to all who knew her.

She brought laughter, warmth, and comfort to many
And in the moments when her mother and others showed despair
Kayleigh provided a noble message of hope and promise,
in her unfailing conviction that her life here may be limited
but is by no means final.

Grant comfort and strength to those who gather here now,
dedicating their lives to the care of others,
who often must face life as it moves to shadows.
Embrace them with Your eternal love
through everything they do.

Thank you for the love we would never have known,
but for Kayleigh’s brief days with us.

May the angels surround Kayleigh
and the saints welcome her with joy.

Lord God, we commend this child to Your everlasting care.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

One of the staff very sweetly offered to remain with Kayleigh as I walked to the entrance of the hospital to await the return of her mother.
Now Lord, You let Your servant go in peace. Your word has been fulfilled. Support us O Lord all the day long of this troublous life. Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes. The busy world is hushed, The fever of life is over and our work is done. Then Lord, in Your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, A Holy rest, and peace at last. Through Christ our Lord. Amen


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is lovely

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you think it would have been kinder if you had run to catch up with the mother before she left so that she could be with her daughter too when you said your precious prayers? Stupid do-gooders.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the person who commented above. Its pretty sad that you have judged someone so quickly. I feel he did the right thing and besides you have no idea what the circumstances were. Don't be such a judge over others. This was a lovely story. Thank you for printing it.

Lisa Catterman (Boise Idaho USA)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father - I know thw hospital you were in and I know the family. You did the right thing! The staff talked about you nad how caring you are. We wish other clergy were as dedicated as you. dont be upset by what the person wrote they didnt know the circumstances.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was moved by your story. and i was shocked at the one negative comment below it. i suppose we are all challenged to be our best all the time. our words, our actions and our thoughts hopefully support all the goodness around us. and keep us from being mean. it is important that we stick up for each other and protect each other as peacefully as possible. the girl in the story is an example for us to follow in our lives. the negative comment below the story reminds me humans can be cruel. yet, we still strive to love them too. i pray peace may come to all those in our story. and i am grateful for the girl who stretched to live with love.

Anonymous said...

Father Bill, I have read many of your blog entries during this year. I want to say how refreshing it is to see what you write. You have given me a boost when I needed it and you have provided comforting words that helped in time of sorrow. Thank you for sharing your gift with us and allowing us to travel with you in your own journey of discovery.

Julie Harringer in Boise Idaho

Anonymous Erzsébet Tóthné said...

Father Bill. I saw you on television speaking about the death. I am happy to know you are now not in hospital. We have worried much for you.
Please tell my staff to come get me next time you check in for flight. I want to see you very much. Friendly. Erzsébet Tóthné at Malév LGW

Blogger Connie said...

To the person who stated "stupid dogooders" you have no idea the pain you feel when you watch your child pass from this world into the next. The memory stays embedded in your mind forever, running back down that hall to grab the mother would not have been good. Its better she came to the realization her child passed before walking in that room. When my son died, I begged to be beside him when he took his last breath. Its not as easy as one would think...Remember your angels smile, laugh and running and playing dont let the last memory be of them taking there last breath.

Blogger Vivi's Alex said...

Amazing story Father Bill, it somehow brought peace about my own loss. Our son Alexander was born still last year. From the moment I found out that Alexander’s condition (Trisomy 18) was incompatible with life, I prayed about his arrival. I prayed that if the outcome was death for God to please take him quickly and with at least pain as possible. But I remember mostly praying God would choose those people he wanted present when Alexander arrived, and my prayers were answered.
With that said, I believe that God knew that Kayleigh’s mom would be able to bear it and He made arrangements for an alternate to be there with Kayleigh when she transitioned. In any case, I thank you for your wonderful stories keep up the good work. God Bless You.

Vivian Perez
New York, USA

Anonymous John said...

To the person who said Stupid do-gooders. That is why this little girl is in a much better place now. There are no people like you there.
God bless this little girl and keep her safe.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story was so hard for me to read. I too have lost a child. I know the pain that mother is going through. I was not religious or faithful to god at the time, and did not have the support system there with me. That is my only regret. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

FOr the person who wrote such heteful comment..I leave you with this I will say a prayer for need it most of for the so called "do gooder" you speak of I only could hope that I myself am a "do gooder" and that in this world I would see and hear of more "do gooders" because it most certainly is much better than the alternative..not to mention if your not a "do gooder" than that is someone like you who is just a "do nothing" or a "do harmer" and that is far worse..prayer for you "do nothing but harm" I pray God will touch your hard and sad "another do-gooder"

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Blogger Christina Jowers said...

Father, I just found this post during a search for prayers involving the death of a child - not mine, but a beloved child in our community. Your words have been comforting to me and I look forward to reading more of your posts. God bless you Father.

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Thank you Christina. "I lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from The Lord." We lift up our prayers for the family in your community. Blessings. Fr. Bill+

We Are Never Alone!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking for comforting thoughts about my baby's death. I hurt so much but your words have helped. Thank you. LD

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Fthr Bill. I attended the funeral you held for little Taylor and Stuart Jenkins. Those children burned to death because their mother didn't give a damn about them. Thank God that at least at the end of their lives they were shown love. Their coffins were beautiful and I can see them playing and being proud of them. I can't get them out of my mind every time I drive past their home. Its so so sad.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear father bill
I too came across your post while looking for a poem for two young children in our school that we lost Your story and prayer was very comforting good bless you father.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the internet is prepared to offer advice for tragedies like the kidnapping of an innocent child and then searching for her body. But your prayer has been the best. Thousands of us are mourning her death and are praying for her body to be found or her killer telling police where she is.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr. Bill, You write beautifully. I came across your blog while searching for prayers for comfort on the death of a child. An old friend's 16-yr old child was passing and I wanted to find something that conveyed my thoughts for her, her daughter, and those who were caring for them. I adapted this prayer and posted it to her facebook page, and it was a great comfort for many people. Thank you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for that! :)

Anonymous Lorna said...

I think just as the person reacted negatively by saying " stupid do gooders" we too are reacting in a negative way! Are we not judging the person who made the comments just as he judged the Father without knowing the circumstance! This person is obviously angry and hurting! Anger is a stage of grief where I have witnessed some of the most gentle people lash out in hopeless dispair! Why was the person on this sight anyway if but not for the same reason we are! Maybe, this is someone who never got a chance to say goodbye to the child they loved! I agree that the reaction was thoughtless but I do not condemn an obviously hurting soul!


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