Monday, December 3, 2007

Lesson in life and death

Pupils build dying teacher's coffin

A Dutch primary school teacher dying of cancer is overseeing one last class project: her pupils are making her coffin. Eri van den Biggelaar, 40, has just a few weeks to live after being diagnosed last year with an aggressive form of cervical cancer.

She asked the woodwork teacher, a friend, to build a coffin for her. "Why don't you let the children make it?" replied Erik van Dijk.

Now pupils of the school in Someren, who normally plane wood for baskets and placemats, have been helping with the finishing touches. They have already sawed more than 100 narrow boards and glued them together. Only the lid needs to be completed.

"Life and death belong together," she said. "The children realised that when I explained it to them. I didn't want to be morbid about it, I wanted them to help me. I told them: 'Where I will go is much nicer than this world.' "

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