Written by Clara Hinton
Many times, parents are faced with the question of what to do when a stillbirth occurs. They were certainly never expecting to be involved with a situation as difficult as planning a funeral or memorial service for the baby they planned having with them forever and always.
A funeral or memorial service is a place to begin grief work. It enables parents to begin to recognize the reality of the loss of the baby that was so wanted. It also provides a specific time and place for family and loved ones to come together to lend support. A service also helps friends and family members to begin to adjust to the idea that the baby has died.
It helps so much if parents can find someone to help them locate a funeral home that is located nearby, as well as one that is within the family’s budget. Often a pastor or a close family friend is called on to help with this task. It’s often too all consuming for the parents of the stillborn baby to have to make these decisions during a time of shock and deep grief. Since the funeral director becomes a very important person in this grief work, it’s important to find someone who is extremely sensitive to the needs you have with planning a service for your precious baby.
It is very healing to write your baby a good-bye letter and place that letter by the baby. Writing a good-bye letter is something that other family members can be encouraged to do, also. If you have chosen a memorial service, it is appropriate for some readings of these letters, if you so choose. This is a very personal decision of the parents, and one that should be made only by the parents with no outside pressure from others.
It’s not possible for there to be a memory table since the only memories are that of the actual pregnancy. It is important, though, to talk about the pregnancy and the loss of the baby to others. Talking about your stillborn baby will be very healing to you.
Some parents have found that placing a journal type book on a table during the service and asking each person to sign it, placing a statement of what losing the baby has meant to them is very healing. This will be a treasured keepsake to the parents of the stillborn child in the months ahead.
If there are family members who cannot attend the service, ask the funeral director to take pictures for you of the baby, as well as any flowers that were sent. This is not something out of the ordinary, and the funeral director will gladly abide by your request.
Choose music that is symbolic of what you want expressed at this service for your stillborn baby. Many parents choose music symbolic of heaven and angels.
When planning a funeral or memorial service for your stillborn baby, make it warm and personal. Remember that this is a very special day—one that you will always remember. Plan this day with extra care and don’t rush through the details. Others might want you to expedite your plans, but it’s important for you to take your time. This is the very beginning of your grief work. Take time to plan the funeral or memorial service for your stillborn baby with care. This day is the beginning of the most important walk you will every take—the walk through grief.