Not long after the nurse took our sweet baby away from us did they give us forms to fill out requesting the name of the funeral home we wanted his body to be sent..
At this point it had been only 10 hours since we were informed he had died, less than two hours since I gave birth to him, and only minutes after we said our last goodbyes. I cannot express in words how unprepared I was to answer that simple question.
When you lose a baby there is no road map or manual to guide you through the aftermath. When expecting a baby you plan many things. You pick out a crib and a theme for the nursery, you decide if you are going to breast feed or try cloth diapers, you fuss over choosing a monitor and a stroller and maybe even worry if he will get in to the day care of your choice when the time comes. In no circumstance, in a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy, do you plan for a death.
In the first few weeks after losing my son I could barely operate a fork let alone make arrangements for a funeral. The shock of what happened completely crippled me for a very long time which is why I have only now, 6 months later, completed the planning of my baby’s memorial and burial of his ashes. We are all different in our wishes and in our abilities, some of you will have wanted to have a funeral right away, some of you are still wondering if you should. I am here to talk about my own experience and why I feel it is important to have a memorial service for my sweet Hayden.
Although it has been six months, this is still hard and unfair none the less. Last week my husband and I went in to approve the headstone design and sign some papers for it’s production. As we pulled in and parked next to the row of unmarked headstone samples I felt that ol’ familiar dark wave of agony and injustice wash over me. In no way is this fair. In no way is this right. So much of this I obviously do not want to do. I don’t want to pick out my favorite plot at the cemetery, I don’t want to choose an inscription for a headstone, I don’t want to contact and schedule a Reverend. With the cards I was dealt I make choices, and, as hard as all of this planning and preparing is, I WANT to have a formal service for my baby.
Many parents may wonder if it is right to ask friends and family come to a service for a baby they never knew. That thought crossed my mind once or twice. In the end though, I speak of Hayden so often I don’t give people an opportunity to forget him. And after this service we will be holding next month, they NEVER will. I feel it so important my son is honored. I honor him everyday by my thoughts that continuously revolve around him. I honor him by speaking of him constantly. I want to honor him by making a day that will be completely about him, not only to me, but to the people in my life.
In this wake of my grief I am ready to bury his urn. I am ready to retire his ashes to the ground in a place I may visit often and take care of. This is my opportunity to “parent” my son. To tend to a small piece of land that is his. This may seem like little to many people, and it is, but it is all I have.
If there is such thing as “closure” when it comes to losing you baby then I would attest a memorial service is one way to achieve that. As I write this I am still one month away from attending mine, but the planing I have done in the last week has made way for some strange sense of peace. I have made the necessary preparations for the service to be beautiful and memorable. I am making a place on this earth where my child’s name will be permanent. Although in the last few months I did not know that was necessary, I have come to conclude it is now.
I will not get to stand in the principal’s office, foot tapping and determined to vouch for my son in a school yard disagreement, I will not get that kind blind advocacy.
I will not get to invite anyone to his birthday, his graduation or his engagement party. I will not have his prolonged disapproval of my video recording every tiny monumental activity of his life. I will not get that kind of typical showtography.
I only get this:
I get this one time to give him all his birthdays and milestones at once.
I get this one time to be the “mother” of the room.
The list of my parental responsibilities is short..
I am going to take this one...
Photo credit: adapted from Jody Roberts | Flickr