under the hedge (work in progress)

‘Here it is’. My dad points at the hedge, right next to the old entrance to the catholic cemetery of De Steeg. Could it really be true that one of my dad’s siblings was buried here, somewhere around the second world war? 

 

Well into the sixties, children from catholic families were sometimes buried under or behind hedges of cemeteries. More specifically: children who died before they were baptised. There was no place for them in heaven and they could only be buried in unconsecrated ground, for example under or behind the hedge of the cemetery. Often in the twilight when no one could see. And almost always without a name and without a farewell. Afterwards, it was back to work and above all not talking about it. The church didn’t offer much consolation either: 'Just pray that there will soon be a new child.’

 

How big can the influence of an institution be? Why did these children have to disappear anonymously? What did it take for things to change? And what happens when you have to hide your emotions, even when you only want to protect yourself or your loved ones?

 

                                                                        All images are mine except for the image of the running child (photographer unknown)