Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Child in the Grave

The Child in the GraveThe Child in the Grave

There was once a mother who had a sick child, but despite all she did, the child died. She couldn’t really believe that her small child, the one she had cared for all this time, was now dead. The child was buried, but the mother lamented.

She did not seem her old self. She cried and cried. She seemed to be there, but not. Days wore on. Her husband worried about her.

One night she got in bed. She was quiet. Her husband though that maybe she had found some peace and a little rest for the night, but the wife waited until he was asleep and left. She went to the grave of her child, where she sat upon the ground. She cried and missed her child.

A figure in a black robe stood over her. It asked her if she might like to join her child and she said yes. She sunk down and down into the Earth, but finally she stopped, and there stood her child. They embraced.

The child has missed his mother, but spoke of all the wonderful things around him, none of which the mother could see. The child said he could fly now, but he couldn’t fly when she was weeping so many tears over him. The mother thought to go with her child, but a point was made about her husband and daughters at home. What would become of them?

The mother realized she still had a family alive and would have to go on for them.

She awoke on the cold ground. She prayed for forgiveness and went home to her family. She lived by the new mantra of whatever God does is best. People asked her where she found her strength and she said from her child who was in the grave.


I am quite sympathetic to this woman. At one point in history, many points actually, it was fairly common for a mother to lose a child, if not multiple children. This one was born too early. This one got chicken pox. This one got typhoid. This one got a fever and died. This one was kicked by a horse. The list goes on. Illness and accidents happened. There often wasn’t enough medical expertise to see that these children lived. Poor mothers were left grieving for their children, although, I imagine that some women became hardened to the idea of losing children and would hold themselves back emotionally.


This mother wanted her life to stop when her child died. She was filled with so much grief that she could not imagine going on. She was blinded by it. Her family at home and her husband didn’t matter. That child was gone and that was the focus of her life at this moment.

This would be so incredibly difficult. This poor child, whom you had cared for, loved, and birthed, is dead now. They’re buried in the cold ground, even though you did everything you could to save them. The state of mind this woman was in, was a sorry place to be. She couldn’t see the world because everything was black.

I’ve had lots of people die in my life, but luckily, it hasn’t been anyone who has caused this sort of grief for me. It must be terrible. I’m sure she felt as if she were simply a blob existing rather than a person at this point. She probably didn’t feel as if she mattered. She probably felt as if nothing mattered. Her joy and sunshine had been taken.

The thing was, she still had a family. She still had a husband. She still had children. She still had people who loved her and depended upon her. She had to get up and she had to keep going for them. We can be blinded by our grief and what we’re feeling so much that we forget those who need us. The mother couldn’t help this to a degree. She was probably depressed and you can’t just snap out of depression. To another degree, she could help this. She could choose to move forward, and ultimately, that’s what she had to do.

There is a paranormal bit in this. For those of you who believe in life after death, there is this common idea going around that if you mourn a person too much, or miss them too much, they can’t go on to what they’re supposed to go on to. They can’t progress to another state of being if you’re holding onto them so strongly. They care about you and don’t want you to be sad, so they stick around. Whether you believe in this idea or not, you have to remember that there is a life that exists without this person.


Life goes on, even after the death of a love one.

Weigh In

Do you think mothers mourn the death of a child more deeply than fathers?

How do you think this woman fared for the rest of her life?


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