As a parent, it is rare to walk through a cemetery, find a child’s grave and not be moved.
If you put aside the possibility of financial hardship (meaning the family is unable to purchase a crafted stone) and the probable sub-standard qualities of stone during the U.S. Civil War, how grieving families memorialized their precious little ones has not changed very much over the years.
In the mid to late 1800s, you would find draped (broken) columns, mostly in the eastern coast states and Great Lakes area; while from the mid-west to the West, foot-stones (half the size of a regular upright stone) with a perched dove, a lowing lamb, an small empty chair, ,a pair of empty shoes, a weeping angel or a sleeping cherub.
But, these carved monuments have changed drastically as early as the 1900s; and it is the visual symbolism that has proven to be the strongest and most popular venue, and the examples are endless! (I list but a few):
- from a child reaching for the sky as he climbs out of his wheelchair,
- to teddy bears holding hearts — or sleeping upon a smiling, crescent moon
- to baby blocks, favourite toys and Disney characters
- to a small basin that when filled with water, allows a small, surviving brother to play again with with the sibling he lost
- to a simple marker surrounded by the relics of the child’s crib