When your baby dies there is so many thoughts and questions that run though your head but I personally think the worst one is that you are going to have to arrange a funeral for a baby. Whenever I used to think about funerals I always thought they were just for really old people who have been married 60 years and have a whole bunch of kids and grand kids or adults that had illness or accidents never did I really think about having a funeral for a baby let alone my own son.
Where Do You Even Begin?
Honestly I have no idea, I have never planned a funeral and I didn’t even know what to do to organise one. But what I can tell you is that it is bloody awful. When we went into hospital the day after Dexy died to start my induction process and to talk about what was going to happen. This would have been a whole lot easier if the person that was doing the chat with us knew what the fuck she was talking about. We got given a plastic folder full of booklets about “How To Tell The Employer” “For Grandparents” “For The Baby’s Siblings”. All the woman kept saying was “That info is in the booklet” but I didn’t want to read a bloody booklet I just wanted someone to sit down with my husband and I and break it down. I needed them to tell me step-by-step what was going to happen and where to go from there. I needed brutal honesty and truth.
The first time the word “funeral” was brought up was by the bereavement midwife who gave us a funeral directors that do baby and children funerals. How awful is that, “The best funeral home for babies” never a sentence I want to hear. Hayley, our bereavement midwife was really helpful with the whole funeral subject. She broke it down and really explained it in a way that two parents who aren’t functioning, had no sleep would understand.
Let The Planning Commence.
The two weeks between Dexy dying and his funeral happening was really a blur. If I wasn’t crying I was numb and if I wasn’t numb I was breaking down. I really couldn’t get my head around that I just gave, I had all the pain of everyone else giving birth but I didn’t bring my baby home. Instead I covered his face in tears, told him I love him, and I walked out the room and would never see him again. I would never see him again and now I have to tell people and plan a funeral. Honestly life is so fucking shit sometimes.
Phil was amazing and done most of the planning for the funeral. I was so broken I couldn’t even face looking at the order of service, I couldn’t pick flowers, I couldn’t even chose the songs. I just shut myself off. I just really wanted my baby here and not in a fridge at the funeral home. I needed him. Everything that was meant to happen to me if my baby was alive was still happening. I got given tablets to stop my milk coming in but my boobs were still bloody painful and leaking, I couldn’t pee without crying and having a shit just felt like my insides would fall out. But what was my reward? Picking out a song for my son to be cremated to?
Without Phil and my parents I really don’t know how I would have got through them two weeks. Some parts of the funeral planning we couldn’t face. Asking people to come and planning other people’s contributions. The amazing thing about most funeral directors (I don’t know if amazing is the right word) is that pretty much the most expensive things are given to you for free.
The bits you have to pay for are:
There are some other bits you have to pay for but honestly I really can’t remember. I don’t think my brain wants me to remember.
Phil and I asked my parents to contact people and plan some bits with them as we just really didn’t want to discuss our son’s funeral with people and it was just easier on the both of us. But the parts we did plan ourselves I think will forever haunt me! Picking out a size of coffin for your baby and making sure it has enough room for their blankets and toys. Picking out a limo for you and immediate family to travel in. Picking out the hearse and making sure you have enough flowers and other bits to pack it out as the coffin is so small it looks lost in it. Picking out the songs to play and poems to read. Whenever I now hear these songs different parts of the funeral pop into my head but in some way it is comforting because I just remember looking at that coffin and thinking how close I was to him and that was the last time we would be together.
Picking The Funeral Playlist.
Three songs that are then forever associated with your child’s funeral. How the hell do you pick songs that need to mean so much but also at the same time need to comfort everyone in the room.
The song I chose of course was Lady GaGa. I sang this song every day when getting ready, Dexy would always kick me and go mental whenever he heard it. So It would only be fitting to play it for him.
Phil chose Eric Clapton as he too has lost a son. Phil really related to this song and knowing that it brought some form of comfort to him in not feeling alone I think it done its purpose.
Finally Roberta Flack. We didn’t pick her solely on the fact that she has my name or shall I say because I have her name. But because these lyric really spoke out to us. When we first saw Dexy’s face no matter if it was a scan or when he was born we were both completely in love with him.
The Day You Never Want To Come.
On the morning of the funeral I was scared. I was scared that no one would show up and I was scared what would happen after it ended because his body would no longer be here. I didn’t take any photos on the day of his funeral. Phil and I didn’t set a dress code or anything. People could wear what they like. We however stuck with black. I had a black loose dress with a little white-collar (Wednesday Adams twin) and Phil just stuck with a black suit. I don’t know why but getting dressed and doing my makeup was so hard that morning. I thought the longer I took the slower time would be. Immediate family turned up to my parents house as we were living there as we didn’t want to go home. Then the time came for the hearse and limo to turn up. Seeing Our son’s coffin was heart breaking. It all hit. I felt sick and I knew that today was it.
The drive felt like it took forever. Everyone we drove past looked at his little coffin and either stared at it or they looked away. This broke my heart knowing that people knew in the limo right behind him were two parents who are having the worst time of their lives.
When we pulled up I never expected so many people there. Nearly everyone we knew turned up and knowing we had that support was amazing. My cousin done the service, he put so much love and care into it. You could feel how much Dexy was loved just by the way people were and how they were behaving. We chose to have some alone time with his coffin after everyone left. We didn’t really say much other I love you and how much he means to us.
The drive to the wake it was all really a blur. I just shut myself off because I was so fed up with the fact that my son died and today was the last time I would be near him.
Well how do you have a wake for a baby? I have no idea, I just spent the afternoon drinking wine and trying to forget that today was even happening. I don’t think there is anything worse than everyone being there because it’s your baby that has died. It is by far one of the worst experiences of my life. All I wanted to do was share photos and talk about Dexy and then the realisation that I’m showing photos of my dead baby to people at his wake. How did my life end up like that at 21? What did I do so awful to deserve this amount of shit in my life.
What Happens Next?
The coming days after the funeral we decided to go home. We hadn’t spent any time there other than to collect post, flowers and new clothes. Going home was hard. Walking into your flat with everything set up and knowing it will never be used. The pram ready to go in the hallway, the moses basket on the stand and his freshly washed clothes that were folded on the side. We both knew that we couldn’t be around his belongings. It was too painful to wake up to see and empty cot and knowing that he isn’t just in the next room with his dad.
When packing everything up you realise how much of their life you are going to miss. You pack up the nappies that you are never going to change, The baby bath he is never going to use, his pram will never leave the house to meet his dad from work, and all of his clothes I’m never going to see him in. Watching phil dismantle a changing table and cot was awful. I felt so much anger that people will still have this with their babies and I’ve been robbed of everything. It isn’t like my pregnancy just vanished! My baby, his future, his life was gone and everything around me that was his has gone too.