Still Standing

How the Decision of Cremating My Son Has Helped Me Heal

I sleep with my son’s urn every night.

His urn is nestled between his Molly bear and his stuffed elephant, Ellis, when I climb into bed. To keep them warm and close, I wrap a blanket around them. Every night, I have to place him there and kiss his urn before I can go to sleep. It is the last thing I touch before I go to sleep and the thing I reach for when I wake up.

This is apart of my life after loss routine. If I had never experienced the death of my son, I would think I was absolutely insane.

One of the hardest decisions I made about Jensen before I gave birth was to get him cremated. I remember sitting in the hospital with him still inside of me, wondering how I could possibly decided what to do with his body. In the baby books, there isn’t a section of planning out what to do if your baby is stillborn. I had never had to decide what to do with a loved one’s body after their death. The weight of making the decision between burying him and cremating him was… rough. I don’t talk about it nearly enough because it troubled me so much in the beginning.

For the majority of parents, the idea of picking out an urn or a casket is preposterous. Imagining your child in the ground or their ashes in one place forever is haunting. On top of the grief, a parent has to quickly decide what to do with their child’s body.

No matter if a parent cremated their child or buried them, they made the best decision for them and their family.

When I got Jensen’s ashes back in his blue urn, I almost immediately regretted not burying him. The little human I made was literally burned to ashes by a choice I wish I never had to make. I remember in those beginning weeks, I searched the Internet about stories of this exact decision. It turned out, no matter what I chose, it wouldn’t have felt ‘right.’ How could it ever feel right?

I didn’t just start sleeping beside his urn. It slowly started by me taking his urn to every room I went into. I needed to feel close to him and like he was involved with everything that was going on. Sure, I could have put some of his ashes into a necklace, but I was afraid to disrupt them. My family never questioned me about bringing him to their house with me. It’s become part of their normal too.

I’m doing what I have to do to survive.

There are many stories where parents have the urge to dig up their child from the ground because it’s cold outside. Some go to their child’s graveside everyday to read them a story. I know other parents who decided to cremate their child and hide the urns in their purse to go on errands. In life after loss, there’s no right or wrong ways to keep moving forward in life.

It might be the most morbid, uncomfortable topic, yet parents who have faced the loss of their child all have faced this decision. I believe it is important to let someone else know what they’re doing isn’t weird because it’s not. There are other parents probably doing the same exact thing you are too and are thinking the same exact thing. 

Keep making whatever decision you have to to survive.

As time continues to pass, I’m glad I made the decision to cremate my son. For me, his urn brings peace in my home and has ultimately helped me continue to heal.