Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Teacher asks students to make her coffin

From the Telegraph:
A Dutch primary school teacher dying of cancer is overseeing one last project among her pupils: they are making her coffin.
Eri van den Biggelaar, 40, has just a few weeks to live after being diagnosed last year with an aggressive form of cervical cancer.
She asked the woodwork teacher, a friend, to build a coffin for her. "Why don't you let the children make it?" replied Erik van Dijk.
Now pupils who normally plane wood for baskets and place mats have been helping with the finishing touches. They have already sawed more than 100 narrow boards and glued them together. Only the lid needs to be completed.
The coffin now stands in the middle of one of the classrooms.
Although Miss Biggelaar can no longer teach she has looked at sketches of the coffin and is being kept up to date about it by pupils, aged between four and 11, who visit her at home.
"Life and death belong together," she said. "The children realised that when I explained it to them. I didn't want to be morbid about it, I wanted them to help me.
"I told them: 'Where I will go is much nicer than this world.' "
I, for one, approve. Modern society shields itself, and children in particular, from the realities of death. A sober contemplation of mortalilty is central to the Christian wolrd-view.


Kathy said...

It's such a beautiful story. Almost... too beautiful. If people go too far in the direction of "life and death belong together," there can be a danger of welcoming death as a solution to the problems of life. And then killing becomes merciful...

Still, what a concrete way of being allowed to care for someone they love.

romaryka said...

i meant to leave a comment yesterday, but got caught up in hectic work things. i think this is lovely. what a creative, and practical, way to make the idea of death a natural part of living. i see the risks kathy points out, but i still think it's a much healthier approach than the denial and shame of the west.

Anonymous said...

This is Holland, the Euthansia capital of Europe--so the risks of confusing people about death to solve problems is moot.

Mitch S.