“No Parent Should Have to Bury Their Child.” (The Two Towers, 2002)

bury their child

King Theoden, situated at his son’s graveside, weeping tears of grief, spoke truth for all parents who have had to bury their child: The truth being that no one should have to.

What inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to add this morbid scene to his novel, The Two Towers? King Theoden lost his son to war, but what other events occur to make parents bury their child? Detailed below are all the reasons that may have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to include this tearful scene.

To All the Parents Who Have Had to Bury Their Child

Parents have lost their children numerous ways. I personally have known more parents who’ve spoken of deceased children than I care to remember. For, I cannot understand their pain, considering my own childless situation. But the pain is all too real. Their grief and despair being way too strong for mere imagination.

King Theoden, albeit a fictional character, lost his son in battle. Nobility of character ran strongly in his family’s blood, so they saw the need to fight against the evil forces. But knowing this did nothing to ease the pain in the loss. Just as nothing eases the pain for parents in modern day. The following list details some ways children die, whether by carelessness, thoughtlessness, or evil intention, and why their parents grieve:

  • Miscarriage hurts parents who hoped for children.
  • Abortion hurts parents who realized their mistake in having the procedure.
  • Car accidents hurt parents who blame themselves for helpless situations.
  • Murder hurts parents who failed to warn their children about the world.
  • Suicide hurts parents who feel personally responsible.

I refuse to say that parents are always guiltless. For abortion runs rampant in today’s generation, and the women who undergo the procedure are responsible for the loss of human life. But, other than this and domestic violence, parents who bury their child should be pitied more than anyone else. For human life is the most glorious of all God’s gifts.

Why J.R.R. Tolkien Wrote About Parents Who Had to Bury Their Child

It requires little imagination, and only a little information, on why J.R.R. Tolkien would write about King Theoden losing his son to war. For Tolkien lived through, and fought in, both World Wars. Considering how many English and American men lost their lives in battle, Tolkien most assuredly knew many parents who had to bury their child. And sometimes more than one child.

Moreover, J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife had four children. Imagining the loss of one’s own child becomes easier when the individual actually has children. And if friends lost one or more children, then the horror that would come at the thought of losing one’s child would be only natural.

Did J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife bury any of their children? Did they experience miscarriages, or lose their children to war? I will find out the answer to these questions as I continue to learn about C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the other Inklings. Knowing that these men survived through two World Wars, I would be surprised if all their children did make it through alive.

How to Assist Parents Who’ve Had to Bury Their Child

God is the answer. Always has been, always will be. Every parent whom I’ve known to bury their child has turned to God for comfort and peace. Even women who’ve gone through abortions regret their decision, ask God for forgiveness, and join the church community. I need not say how parents respond to their grief without peace and comfort, for everyone has seen grieving people who speak and act with anger in their hearts.

To everyone who has to bury their child, I recommend watching Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers. Actor Bernard Hill performs magnificently as King Theoden of Rohan, capturing the loss and the pain in his life situation as a king. Because to see an example of someone who continued to fight the good fight, whether a fictional character or an actual person, gives the heart joy. Bernard Hill, acting as the grieving Rohan king, will bring joy.