“What would you like to do with Christian’s remains?”. That was the question the hospital Chaplin asked us as we were getting ready to birth our dead son. What? Oh my goodness, he is not even born yet. I can’t think about that right now. What do we do, Sam? Do we bury him? Do we cremate him? I want to have a place to visit him, but I don’t want him to be alone at night time. But I also don’t want his body to be burned either. Isn’t there another option? Why do we have to make this decision? This is just all so wrong. Why can’t I wake up from this nightmare?
In the end we decided to cremate Christian. Our son’s body was burned downed to ashes a few days after he died. We were not there when this happened and that is a regret I have. I don’t even know the date that he was cremated on. Over the last 6 years I have had many regrets. I wish at times that we could have made a different decision and had him buried. I wanted a specific place that was just his spot to visit and a place to feel close to him. I wanted a plaque with his name on it. Something to show that he was a person and that he was here and that he mattered.
If you are like me and you have regrets about the decision you made for your child’s remains, there are some things you have to remind yourself of. You had to make this decision in the most unimaginable circumstances and you had to do it within the shortest amount of time. You made the right decision with the information you had at the time, all while you were completely grief-stricken. Deciding what to do with your child’s remains is a decision that no parent should ever have to make. You made the best decision for your child. You did. I did. We all did. Parents all over the world wish they had of done something differently so you are not alone in feeling this way. There is no turning back the clock and even if you could there are positive and negative sides to burials just as there are with cremations and the truth is, that it would not feel right with either option because having your child die in the first place is just so wrong, there is never anything right about the death of a child. After everything you have endured to date, you do not deserve to suffer through these regrets. So while I have my kick-ass, big girl “stick it to grief” pants on, I have decided to boot my regrets over having Christian cremated. They serve me no good purpose and I am sick of feeling awful about it. I have come up with a few simple ideas to help others let go of their regrets for both burials and cremations.
For People Who Have Regrets Burying Their Child/ren
I think the most common regret I hear from parents who chose to bury their child is that they feel that they cannot move far away from where their child is buried as they do not want to leave them behind. I can only imagine what it must be like to have to move interstate or overseas. A friend of mine, Kelly, moved overseas last year. Her daughter is buried here in Perth. Before she left she took some of the Earth from her daughter’s grave and placed it into an urn. She also had some placed into a locket which she wears every day. She now feels as though she did not leave her daughter behind at all. It also helps knowing that she has family and friends back at home to visit her daughter on special days. I remember speaking to her about this topic over the phone a few months ago. Kelly wished she could have had some ashes to scatter in all the special places she was visiting. I had this idea and so I told her my thoughts. Kelly, liked the idea and so she went ahead and planted a rose tree in memory of her daughter and mixed some of the grave soil in amongst the roots of the tree. She has been cutting every rose that blooms and she keeps all of the petals. When she visits special places she scatters her daughters petals as if they were her ashes. Kelly told me it has given her much healing and peace and now after spending some time scattering her daughters petals she has grown more of an appreciation for the Earth which has helped her to deal with her worries and fears over having her daughter placed in the ground. Kelly is so thankful to have found a ritual that has helped her to let go of her regrets of burying her daughter.
For People Who Have Regrets About Cremating Their Child/ren
I think the most common regret that people have about cremating their child is that they do not have a grave to visit. Just because your child does not have a grave that does not mean that they cannot have a special place that you could go to visit to feel close to them. Another friend of mine buried a portion of her son’s ashes at the beach. She knows the exact spot and so when she visits on a Sunday afternoon she leaves flowers from her garden there. I am so inspired by what she chose to do that I am looking for a special spot just for Christian. I know not everyone wants to separate their child’s ashes, so if you felt that this was not an option, you could look at planting a special tree in your garden for your child and take a piece of the Earth from under the tree to bury at your child’s special spot that you choose out for them.
My hope is that this article can spark conversations in our community so that we can all help each other to heal these regrets. Your child’s final resting place is a part of who they are. It is their story. If you can find positives aspects for the option you chose, concentrate on those and don’t ever let anybody tell you that you made the wrong decision. What you chose to do with their remains does not affect your child in any way now. They have not disappeared with their ashes into the sea, they are not stuck in the ground and all alone. They are with you, always. You carry them every day, everywhere you go. They are right there in your heart. I leave you with this short video clip from a trip I took over the weekend to scatter a portion of my sons ashes. It was a beautiful day and next time I do this, I think I will take petals from his rise tree too.