Liza Dmytriyeva’s family and friends wiped away tears on Sunday as four men carried her coffin into the cathedral, where a photo of the smiling girl lay among roses and teddy bears, three days after she was killed by a Russian cruise missile attack.
The death of Liza, a 4-year-old with Down syndrome whose family nicknamed her Sunny Flower, summed up the brutality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
She was walking with her mother and pushing her own pram through a park on Thursday when a flash of fire and metal shrapnel erupted near them in Vinnytsia, a central Ukrainian town far from the front lines where there was still a sense of normalcy. seemed possible.
The strike killed 22 others, including two more children, and injured 140 people. Liza’s mother, Iryna Dmytriyeva, lost a leg and remains unconscious.
On Sunday, Liza’s family, who had just learned her first words and took pride in organizing toys, watched the coffin make its way to the cathedral, according to a video by The Associated Press.
When the priest, Vitalii Holoskevych, began to speak, he held a cross in one hand and wiped the tears from his cheek with the other.
“Elizaveta,” he began, “standing and looking close to God.” His voice broke as he looked at the coffin that held the body of the girl whose portrait showed her in braids long enough to touch her fuzzy purple coat.
Photos of Liza’s body, slumped next to the overturned carriage and her mother’s severed foot, have been around the world since she shared online by the Ukrainian State Emergency Service. The deep-seated nature of the images poked through the all-too-familiar stream of daily violence against civilians by the Russian military.
On Sunday, the men who carried Liza’s coffin to the cemetery wore pink bracelets, while her father, Artem Dmitriev, staggered behind them, his eyes closed as two men held him by the shoulders.
At her grave, dozens of people gathered around the open coffin, where Liza’s plush toys lay on her lap: a white rabbit, a gray bear, a crossbred moose. Mr. Dmitriev knelt and cried.
As a string orchestra played music, Liza’s grandmother, Larysa Dmytryshyna, called out to her granddaughter: The song, she said, was playing “for you to hear it.”
Then the workers closed the coffin and lowered it into the grave.
Liza’s family took earth in their hands and sprinkled the earth over her.