Saying Goodbye – A ‘Good’ Funeral

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.

Useful Links:

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.

Robyn’s Memorial Page Raising money for Tommy’s, who provide lots of info/advice for parents-to-be and also fund research into stillbirths, premature births and miscarriage.

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.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye – A ‘Good’ Funeral

  1. mary

    Absolutely beautiful post, so honest and true. Thank goodness for sands ay? We knew our baby was going to die so we had planned the majority before she was even born (very unnatural) but yes its something few people will talk about.

    Isn’t it amazing how you just get a small sense of who they are and what will help you feel better about this situation. A funeral for me was all I could really do for her as a mother and it needed to be perfect. Sounds like yours was too xx hugs

    Reply
    1. Mother Mands Post author

      Well that’s the thing, I didn’t read any of those booklets till after we’d arranged the funeral, I so wish I had because we were so stressed about organising it. Thankfully the funeral director we found was brilliant, and yes, it was perfect, so glad it didn’t rain on Saturday!
      Thanks for your comment, I’ve not managed to comment on other blogs discussing baby loss and stillbirth yet, I have read your story and cried, but reading yours and other peoples stories and seeing how strong you are gives me the strength to look to the future. It’s getting easier and the more I post, the more I feel like I can move forward X

      Reply
  2. Tara

    Well done for writing about this, it can’t have been easy. I’m so pleased it was a ‘good’ funeral and that you had the right people helping you along the way. You’ve picked a beautiful spot.

    Something quite poignant happened while I was visiting my parents at the weekend. They’ve had a robins nest in their hedge archway for months and the robins decided to fly the nest on Saturday. The four of us stood and watched the five of them take flight, tentatively at first but then they became bold, and I thought of you, Tom and Robyn.

    Reply
  3. HonestMum

    Reading this crying, just beautiful, I’m so sorry you lost Robyn and know one day you guys will all be together again, sending much love to you all x

    Reply
  4. Jessie, flusteredmom

    It takes a uniquely special soul to find the beauty in something so difficult. Heaven bless for the peace you’ve found. I can’t imagine what you guys have been through, and I know so many others across the world have met similar tragedies. I hope the beauty you have shared finds them and brings them some comfort. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Mother Mands Post author

      Thankyou for your lovely comment, I really hope something good can come from sharing our story, it’s my way of coping (that and baking non-stop), I just hope writing openly about everything can help raise some awareness too.

      Reply

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