I imagine it sounds a little strange describing a funeral as ‘beautiful’, but that’s exactly what Robyn’s funeral was…beautiful. Fate finally smiled upon on us, and the help that we received organising the funeral was amazing, but it could of turned out so very differently. Our inability as a society to talk about death, especially the death of a baby leaves us scared and floundering when we are suddenly faced with every parents worst nightmare…arranging your own baby’s funeral.
You leave the maternity ward empty armed, broken hearted and with a pack full of bereavement literature from Sand’s, ‘how-to’s’ of coping with your loss.
I’m one of those people who when getting a new camera, phone, or any technical item, chucks the instructions to one side and ‘figures’ it out by myself. After losing my daughter the last thing I could be arsed with was reading or concentrating on ‘good advice’. Thing is, it is really good advice and information you are unlikely to get elsewhere. I tried reading a few pages, but my vision was blurred from tears and I just pushed all the booklets to one side.
Understanding Your Options
Robyn went for a post mortem and we had been warned this could take 3 months, so it was a shock to receive a call to say she was back in under 2 weeks. We panicked, what happens next? We spoke to the hospitals bereavement officer and we were told how the hospital could arrange the funeral, a burial or cremation, and Robyn would be placed in a communal crypt with other babies.
I personally couldn’t think of anything worse! I remembered what I was like when I was young, not particularly sociable, and the idea of being in a churchyard, in a crypt with however many other children, no! If my daughter was anything like me, she’d want to be free, out in amongst nature, exploring. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but everything seemed ridiculous and so wrong at the time.
No, we wanted to arrange our own funeral, but we didn’t really know where to start. I wish now that the bereavement officer had just pointed us back to the Sands booklets, mentioned to us that all the information we’d need to help us arrange our own funeral was there, that we needn’t panic about money, most funeral directors charge reduced rates for babies or in some cases nothing at all and there was always help financially. We were in no fit state to think clearly, or to ask for help, so we just blundered on.
Thankfully we ‘blundered’ completely by chance to the door of a local funeral director, Sue, who instantly made us feel at ease, calming the fears we had and explaining everything that would happen, and most importantly finding out what we wanted for Robyn. Her genuine kindness and compassion made the rest of the ‘funeral’ experience so much more positive. Sue contacted the local woodland burial ground and we spoke and met with Jacquie, the site manager, who helped us pick a spot for Robyn and discussed a tree to plant. Tom decided to help dig Robyn’s grave. Sue also arranged a meeting with Lisa from the local church, who helped me with what we wanted to be said on the day, and was there for support and help with the reading. She respected that we aren’t religious, but we did decide to have small prayer read aswell for those who came to Robyn’s funeral who are religious.
A Fine Day
On the day of the funeral the sun shone brightly and though a little chilly, it was dry. A few people had been a quite surprised by the idea of a woodland burial, and hadn’t realised there was such a thing, but I think we have a few converts after Saturday. With views of the rolling green hills of the stunning Yorkshire countryside, being at one with nature is so uplifting, whatever your beliefs.
The idea of organising a funeral, especially for our baby had initially been so daunting, but the help and support we’ve received, well I don’t know where to start with the gratitude we feel for so many wonderful people, so I’ll start here. Thankyou, from the bottom of our hearts! All the love and support from our family, friends and all the people who helped us organise Robyn’s day has been truly overwhelming. We want to ‘give back’, not just by raising money for various charities, but by also raising awareness on a variety of issues surrounding stillbirths.
Having a ‘good’ funeral is one of the many topics so many of us avoid discussing, but I hope if you’ve read this post, you’ll see how much of a positive experience it was for us, and how it helped us to say goodbye to Robyn in our own way. As adults we have the luxury of planning ahead, talking about and deciding the details of our funerals and not leaving the burden completely with our families, but most of us won’t have that talk, instead remaining fearful and silent about one of the most natural stages of our lives…our death.
Now both me and Tom will be making a will, and I feel some peace knowing one day we will be with Robyn and we’ll have a ‘good’ funeral too.
Sands – This site is full of help/support and all the information bereaved parents need in such harrowing circumstances. Donations help fund research into Stillbirth’s and Neonatal deaths. This month, June 1st – 30th is Sands awareness month, check out their site to see if there are ways you can help raise awareness and raise funds.
The Natural Death Centre – Focus on independent advice on natural burial grounds, funeral directors, etc.
Dying Matters – Discussing, dying, death, bereavement and making plans for end of life openly.
The Good Funeral Guide – An independent, not-for-profit information resource for all aspects of a funeral.