It is a topic that nobody wants to think about or talk about, but sadly each year there are around 2000 deaths recorded of infants aged one year and under in the UK. Dealing with the death of a baby is an extremely difficult time for the parents, family, and friends. Planning a funeral for a baby is a difficult task, however the process is an important part of grieving. This article will consider how to plan an infant funeral, with ideas for what to include, as well as memorial options.
Funerals for Infants
Any baby who dies after 24 weeks gestation, in the UK, is legally required to be registered as a birth and subsequent death. The body is required to be cremated or buried as per any other death, and as such a funeral is usually held. The Children’s Funeral Fund for England can help to cover some of the funeral costs for any baby or child under the age of 18, and often funeral directors and celebrants, such as Steve, opt to waive their fees for the funeral of a child.
Processing the death of baby is difficult. The task of planning a funeral when you should be enjoying your newborn is almost impossible. However, the act of organising a funeral can in fact be cathartic and an important step in the grieving process, as we discussed in this recent article. Taking a step-by-step approach and utilising the support of professionals including a funeral director and officiant, as well as your GP and midwife or health visitor, can help in the planning process. Things to consider include:
- Type of service
- Poetry and readings
- Flowers or donation
- Memorial options
Funeral Service For A Baby
You can choose a religious or non-religious ceremony for your baby. If you are a member of a church, you may want the service to be officiated by your local minister and in surroundings that you are comfortable with. Most civil services are held in chapels at local crematoriums, some funeral directors have their own chapels, and some local authorities have purpose-built funeral chapels. Non-religious services may be officiated by a celebrant, humanist minister, or even a family member or friend. Choosing your officiant is important. A celebrant such as Steve, who is compassionate and caring, but who also has a wealth of experience in funeral planning and grief can expertly guide and support you through the planning process; you can contact him directly if you to discuss any aspect of funeral planning or grief with him.
Poetry and Readings
Choosing appropriate poetry and readings for the funeral of a baby can be a difficult task. There are no rules, and you can choose whatever suits the type of funeral that you would like. You can opt for traditional funeral readings and poems, or you could opt to read your child’s favourite nursery rhyme or story. There are many online repositories offering suggestions, you may like to browse and pick out some poetry that suits your requirements.
As for any funeral service that he officiates at, when preparing for the funeral of an infant Steve will spend time with the family discussing the event. He can also offer suggestions for further poetry and readings. You can choose to do a reading yourself or ask a friend or family member if you’d like, or you can leave it to the officiant if you don’t feel able to speak yourself.
For older infants, they may have a favourite song or nursery rhyme that you would like played at the funeral service. You can choose from traditional hymns, modern music, or children’s songs, particularly if you have opted for a civil ceremony. Again, your funeral director and/or officiant can assist with suggestions if you are unsure, and there are also numerous websites dedicated to offering ideas.
Some people choose bright colours, if you baby was old enough to prefer a certain colour you may ask funeral attendees to wear that colour. It really is an individual choice, but something to consider as part of the funeral planning process.
Traditional funeral attire is black, and of course on such a sad occasion as the death of a baby you may prefer to wear black and asks guests to do the same.
Flowers or Donation
Recently, some people have been opting to request no flowers at funeral services, and for people to donate instead. Whether you opt to have flowers or not is another choice to make while planning the funeral. You may also like to consider asking guests to donate to a relevant charity. If your baby was poorly there may be a charitable organisation that supported you, or the local hospital or emergency services may be an appropriate recipient, or a charity that researches into any condition that led to the death may be a preferable choice. Donating to a relevant charity can help with the grieving process, by producing a feeling that something useful is being given in an awful situation.
Finding a special way to remember the times shared with your baby is an incredibly personal choice. Many crematoriums and burial grounds have separate areas for infants, with the option to have a plaque placed on a memorial wall or feature. Or you can often opt to place a personal memorial such as a glass box containing a teddy bear or other personal memorial items in the location that your baby’s ashes were buried. If you opted for burial, there are an array of headstones that can be personalised to your requirements.
You may like an option that keeps your baby close. Memorial jewellery is one such option and can be made using the ashes of your baby, other companies make jewellery by rolling the metal in hair, or even using breast milk to make a unique stone Find out more about memorial jewellery here.
Another idea would be to plant a tree or a garden in memory of your baby. This provides somewhere quiet to sit and reflect, as well as a growing and ever-changing memorial to your child. There are many more options including having memorial teddy bears made, placing a bench somewhere special or naming a star after your baby.
Funeral Following the Death of a Baby
If you are sadly in the process of organising a funeral due to the death of a baby, taking the time to work through each step with the support of professionals will ensure that the service plays a role in the healing process. You may like to contact an officiant, such as Steve, who will of course deliver the perfect service, but also offer a wealth of compassion and support to help you through the grieving process.