Sunday, January 6, 2008

Memorializing our baby

saying goodbye to your child is an important part of grief work. all the experts tout that the ritual of burial and memorial services bring closure to a loss. I am not sure i agree entirely when it comes to the burial of babies, but i do agree that to an extent Burial rites do bring closure to some aspects of grief.

that being stated i would like to share with you my thoughts on the matter. I am not a professional griever by any means, i am just a mom that lost her baby and as such i was forced to make some kind of plans for our daughter's interment and memorial. Our daughter was buried less than a week after her birth, so all of our planning and arrangements took place while family was still arriving from out of state and just the day after i was release from the hospital.

our pregnancy was very public as a result so was our loss, many many people were aware that we were about to have our baby. We never even thought to have just a private funeral we went about our planing as if someone other than us would want to come to the funeral. we had aprox. 75 attendees more than we had even thought and everyone of them said that it was important to them to come because they needed to say their hellos and goodbyes. To me/us it was the only opportunity we would have to parent our child publicly, it gave everyone including family a concrete proof that Lucy was real, she does matter and always will.

For Lucy and for us we did the following:

At her birth:
  • Watson was raised Catholic so she was baptized.
  • I was raised Mormon so she was given a name and a blessing.
  • she was held and kissed an photographed and held and kissed some more.
  • her footprints were taken.
  • we made a shirt for Watson with her actual foot prints on the chest.
  • we let our family that was present hold Lucy. this was only my mom and our nurse friend
  • those that were not present were notified by phone in as safe a way as possible.

Preparing for her funeral:
  • met with the funeral director and explained our wishes
  • arranged a private & public viewing, memorial service and graveside service & burial.
  • we selected memorial card for the funeral attendees and ourselves,we have since ordered more.
  • chose her outfit right down to her purple cloth diaper and a receiving blanket to be included.
  • we asked that her casket spray NOT have just pink & white flowers but they they be colorful and joyful like she was
  • we placed an obituary in the local paper. I knew without a birth certificate this would be one of the only ways genealogist would be able to "find" Lucy, i also thought it would reach some people that might not have gotten the email and it did.
  • we looked at the local Cemetery's children's garden to be sure it was where we wanted to bury our daughter.
  • we tried to arrange for a priest that knew us to say the burial rites this was not possible but it was something that was important to us.
  • we asked a few close friends to get the info out by way of email. We composed a master Email with the pertinent information. after we spoke with our selected friends on the phone we sent them the info and they handled sending it out. we also sent out the email to our entire email address books. (we still missed people believe it or not)
  • We asked family members to notify extended family so we would not have to make all those phone calls.
  • We posted all of this information on our blog so that it would be easily accessible from all over the world and we continue to have it there.
  • We arranged for our favorite children's charity to receive donations in Lucy's name in lieu of flowers.
  • we asked that family and friends light a candle for us and our daughter and that they send up prayers and words of comfort for us.
For the Memorial Service
  • we made a CD of music to be played during her viewing.
  • chose the people we wanted to help us remember our daughter to participate in the service
  • selected poems, and passages to be read at the service.
  • asked a few musician friends to play & sing "You are My Sunshine" with my brother and father, for Lucy.
  • asked family members to to read the selected poems & passages and give prayers.
  • I asked one of my sisters (Lucy's God Mother) to read her a book that she selected.
  • I asked my other sister to read the Poem by W.H. Auden which was adapted by Watson
  • My brother and Watson created a slide show of Lucy's Journey which played during the viewing.
  • Family members were asked to write Lucy a letter, which was included in her casket, along with a toy, some candy, a pacifier from her youngest cousin, pictures of all of her family. we kept photo copies of each letter to be included in her memory box here at home
  • we also gave a portion of the services over to those that attended that they might be able to say what was on their hearts and minds.
  • Watson and i spoke
  • everyone was invited to join us for lunch after the graveside service
There are a few helpful site that have more about how you can memorialize your babies. Here are some of their links

March of Dimes

SIDS Austraila

The TEARS Foundations

Personal thoughts on funeral planning from another parent.

i will post more links as i find them. Watson and i read a lot of this stuff after we had made plans for Lucy. It was sort of natural to us to want celebrate rather than mourn Lucy at her funeral.

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