On the death of a child (4)


My musings on the death of a child or sibling began with the conversation I had with a St. Boniface Church (Siesta Key FL) parishioner. (See PART TWO OF FOUR   - 17th August entry on my blog).

Those musings have been honed by the reading of “The Tender Land – A family love story” by Kathleen Finneran (published by Houghton Mifflin in 2000).

Kathleen tells the story of her family: Mom, Dad and five children and their life together in St. Louis, Missouri.   It is a good, solid and loving Irish Catholic family, as “all-American” as you could imagine.

The children are Michael, Mary, Kathleen (the story teller), Sean and Kelly.

Sean, the fourth child and second son, took his own life at the age of fifteen. (I get teary eyed even as I write these words).

Kathleen Finneran’s book is a powerful tale of family life, and of the tragedy of Sean’s death.

It is not a “preachy book”, nor does it attempt to “answer the questions” which arise from youth suicide or the death of a child.  It simply tells the tale of this good family with honesty, sadness (that’s not the best word), candour and humour.

As I read it I “became” Kathleen the story teller.  And I “became” the beloved Sean.

The power of Kathleen Finneran’s writing is in simply telling the tale.  For she takes us into territory which many people fear - the territory of loving, humorous, and honest truth. For that I am grateful.

I am not a “book recommender”.  I simply “happened” to pick up “The Tender Land – A family love story” from the shelves of the Selby Library in Sarasota FL.  It is a book which spoke to my mind and to my heart.  I tip my hat to Kathleen Finneran for her wonderful and powerful writing.


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