Giving birth to a stillborn can be a heartbreaking experience, but saying goodbye in a formal way can help with the grieving process. Here are five ideas you may want to consider:
1. Holding Your Baby
Many people find it essential to hold their stillborns. Even though their child has been born stillborn, they feel a need to hold and kiss their child. This gives grieving parents the chance to say hello and goodbye in an intimate moment.
Some parents even have photographers capture these tragically beautiful moments, just as they would have a birth photographer capture a live birth.
2. A Funeral
In many parts of Australia, parents are required to hold a funeral for stillbirths born after 20 weeks gestation. You may be able to ask the hospital to take care of arrangements for you, or you can take care of arrangements privately or with a funeral home.
If you want a formal ceremony to say goodbye, the best option is to contact a funeral home. A funeral director, such as Farrell & O' Neill Funerals, can help plan a funeral while you focus on the emotional side of grieving.
3. Religious Ceremonies and Sacraments
If you are religious, you certainly want to have those elements in place at your baby's funeral service. However, in some cases, you may want to call a pastor or other religious leader to the hospital to administer sacraments or blessings to the child as soon as possible.
For instance, if you are Catholic, you may want a priest to do a baptism and the sacrament of last rites as soon as possible.
4. Viewing of the Body
When you plan a funeral for a stillborn, you have to decide if you want a viewing or not, just as you have to decide for any deceased person. When it comes to stillborns, this is a deeply personal question.
If you do not want others looking at your baby, you may want to skip this element and have a ceremony without the body present. However, if you feel it will help your family to grieve or if you just want people to be able to see your beautiful baby, you may want a viewing.
5. Symbolic Gestures
Losing a baby before you have even meet them can feel hopeless. Many parents choose to address some of their grief through symbolic gestures. For instance, everyone could release helium balloons at the funeral with notes about the loss in them. In other cases, it can help to get a stillborn certificate from the state as a way to recognise your grief.
Funerals can bring forth such a range of emotions: melancholy, grief, regret, relief and nostalgia. As an assistant at a funeral parlour, I am privileged to help people with organising their loved one’s final journey. I have learnt that a good funeral parlour can make the occasion truly commemorative. When I attend funerals for friends, I am saddened to see that so many ceremonies are traditional and joyless. I later find out that the family members simply weren’t aware of options such as a graveside memorial service. I love the fact that one of my tasks involves showing family members various venues and demonstrating what can be done. In this humble little blog, I hope to make it my mission to share some of the ideas – big and small – from the best funerals I have seen. Perhaps it will give you some inspiration at a difficult time. Bless.