Somehow this is an appropriate prelude to the period of grief and mourning that lies in wait for him. The sick room indicates the blight that has befallen him and the subsequent hurt he is bound to suffer. The line, "Counting bells knelling classes to a close" (Heaney 90) is significant in that the sound of the bells tolling is reminiscent of funeral bells with all that implies. Further the bells have an awful finality as they make the poet painfully aware of the fact that his brother's life has truly come to a close even though it had in truth, barely begun. The opening lines therefore serve to draw the reader into the poet's private sorrow and to awaken one to the impact death has on the living.
Young Seamus is driven home by his neighbors and on entering he sees his stolid, dependable father in tears, caught in the throes of his pain His mother meanwhile clasped his hand in hers and unlike his father she appeared to have found solace in anger. Her anger does not allow her to cry, and she can only rail silently at fate for depriving her of her young one. The outward manifestations of her grief according to the poet, are " angry tearless sighs" (Heaney 90).