The Burial Shirt

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

A mother had a little boy of seven years who was so attractive and good natured that no one could look at him without liking him, and he was dearer to her than anything else in the world. He suddenly died, and the mother could find no solace. She cried day and night. However, soon after his burial, the child began to appear every night at those places where he had sat and played while still alive. When the mother cried, he cried as well, but when morning came he had disappeared.

The mother did not cease crying, and one night he appeared with the white shirt in which he had been laid into his coffin, and with the little wreath on his head. He sat down on the bed at her feet and said, "Oh, mother, please stop crying, or I will not be able to fall asleep in my coffin, because my burial shirt will not dry out from your tears that keep falling on it." This startled the mother, and she stopped crying.

The next night the child came once again. He had a little light in his hand and said, "See, my shirt is almost dry, and I will be able to rest in my grave." Then the mother surrendered her grief to God and bore it with patience and peace, and the child did not come again, but slept in his little bed beneath the earth.

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Revised September 6, 2006.