The death of a baby or a child, is agonising for a family. I think Mum feels it the worst because she has carried her dear child within her body. It is agonising for Dad, he not only feels the loss of his child, but witnesses the extreme sadness of Mum, if there are other children in the family the loss is compounded.
A baby, a child’s life fills a family’s life with hope and joy. Mums and Dads feel the excitement that they have created a little being, that is a representation of them to the world around. They feel the loss of not experiencing their growing years, of losing the image of what their personality would be. For parents and family it’s a loss of hope for the future. How do you celebrate the life of one so young?
It is felt, that now we acknowledge that life is not just when the baby is born, but moved back much closer to the moment of conception. Babies within the womb, feel family warmth around them. The happiness of the family life, senses voices, hears laughter and movements. We now see that even family pets, acknowledge that growing life is in Mummy’s tummy.
At Lady Anne we feel that where life begins, memories begin. As hospitals do, we gently encourage the family, particularly Mum and Dad to be involved. If possible, we encourage them to view the baby dressed and prepared for the service. If they think they are able, we ask would they like to carry the coffin, to help place memorabilia around the coffin, for family members to each light a candle. Permission from the family for the children to receive a little gift like a teddy bear when they arrive.
The preparation of the service takes time. If there is a family Priest or minister, they are invited to the discussion. Their spiritual advisor will take them through what he or she will say through the service. Their little one will be received into Heaven as one of God’s angels, covered by love and perpetual light. A blessing on the family that they will be comforted in their grief.
If there is no religious affiliation Lady Anne Funerals will suggest a Celebrant. A Celebrant that will talk about memories the family have, from when life began within the womb. When a woman carries a child, there is so much that the baby has already participated in. She carries that baby around in everything she does. When she is preparing a lovely dinner for the family. When she is rushing to an appointment. When she lies in bed at night, feeling baby moving around to get comfortable in the womb. When she ate the wrong food, and the baby becomes restless. There is so much life that happens whilst baby is in the safety of the womb.
It is also important that the other children and grandparents are acknowledged. So many get excited about a new baby, and help with preparations for his or her birth.
I knew of a Grandmother who was, like her daughter, grieving for the loss of her granddaughter, and grieving for her daughter’s loss too. Grandma was not coping well, and half way through the funeral she called out and said, ‘lets just get on with it, we’ve had enough’. The daughter turned and spoke to her mother ‘Mum, we need to do this, to talk and think about her life, acknowledging she was real’.
So different from days gone by. So many mothers in previous generations, now talk about how they were never given an opportunity to say goodbye. The baby was whisked away, and kindly people told Mums not to worry, they would have another baby. One child can never replace another. There was little understanding that saying ‘goodbye’ properly, although painful, helps in the grieving process. It helps lessen the shock, the denial overtime.
Hospitals give family’s time with the baby and Funeral Directors like Lady Anne help the family plan a farewell, that suits the family dynamics.
This is a complicated process for every family is different, if you would like to know more, Lady Anne will welcome you to come and chat, lay your feelings bare to other women who will help through this time.