If you face the loss of a child during the first few months or even days of life, you enter a world full of complex emotions, while also facing the reality of planning a funeral for this tiny person. The task can seem daunting to parents who are still reeling from such a terrible loss. If you are a family member or friend helping out, or if you are the parent yourself, here are some considerations to help you navigate the funeral preparations.
1. Trust a local funeral home.
This type of situation is exactly the time to entrust a funeral home to make the funeral arrangements for you as much as possible. Many funeral homes will donate their services for infant funerals, or provide them for a much lower cost, which can mean less of a financial strain on the baby's parents. Things like finding a casket, arranging for cremation or burial, and making programs should not be your focus as you grieve in the first few days following the loss of a child. Instead, the much-needed planning can be done by a professional, giving you the space for self-care.
2. Don't feel pressured to adhere to typical funeral arrangements.
Normally, funerals have speakers, music, viewings, and even lunch for people who attend. While there are traditional funeral practices, you should only agree to those that you feel comfortable with. If you don't want a viewing, ask the funeral home to skip it. Some new parents facing loss may not feel up to speaking or shaking hands with funeral attendees. Do whatever is possible for you, and leave the rest to other family members who are supporting you during this time.
3. Make time for the things that matter to you.
You can be as particular as you need to be during this time. If you want your baby to have certain items or to wear a particular outfit, that is your choice and the funeral home can make as many accommodations as possible to ensure your memories and peace of mind. Instead of traditional viewing, you might have people write down their love for your baby in a memory book or on a quilt that will be buried with you baby. Instead of paying for flowers, you might instead pay for a photographer to document the experience so you can look back later and remember your baby. Grief is very personal, and small things have great import for surviving parents. Those small things become warm memories that sustain you through the grieving process.