If you’re reading this post because you’re having to go through the unthinkable process of planning your baby’s funeral, let me start by saying how incredibly sorry I am.
Planning Beatrice’s funeral was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever had to do because I wanted it to be heartfelt and special – but at the same time, I had no idea where to start. I found that there was nothing specific enough on the internet that helped me.
I’ve written this post as a guide in planning your baby’s funeral, so hopefully, it will provide a few suggestions for anyone who is also lost and confused, but desperate to ensure their baby’s service is unique.
Beatrice was 25 weeks when she was born, so legally in the UK, she had to be buried or cremated. I’m writing this from our personal experience.
The first thing we needed to decide was if we wanted a cremation or burial. Sands and Tommy’s have a lot of advice on how to choose which option is best for you if you’re unsure, but we both knew from the start that we wanted Beatrice cremated.
I wanted to keep some of the ashes for jewellery, so that I can always have her with me. I also like the idea of being able to spread her ashes somewhere special for us, and a burial limits your options in this respect.
Once you’ve decided what type of funeral you are going to have you need to consider who you will invite. This was something we changed our mind on every day, but in the end, we settled on immediate family, parents, and siblings only.
Although I thought I would have liked to have friends there for support and to share Beatrice with (as this is what we would have wanted had she survived), we didn’t think we would be able to cope with having lots of people around on the day.
For those that we invited, we asked them to come in whatever they felt comfortable with. We didn’t want everyone in black, and we didn’t want everyone formal. We just wanted ourselves and family in attendance to be comfortable.
Music for the ceremony is a common thing that people like to choose. We did it so that Jamie picked a song and I picked one. I wanted something upbeat so that in years to come we can put the song on, think about Beatrice, and not feel so sad.
I knew the song I wanted quite early on, but for Jamie, it took a bit longer. He picked one from his favourite band who we listen to every weekend whilst we’re having breakfast, something which again has relevance and meaning in our lives.
If you are opting for flowers for the service most florists offer an array of flowers for any budget and you can have them made into any shape, with almost any flower you want. We just wanted something simple, but beautiful, three David Austin Beatrice roses with a few green leaves behind them.
Because the roses had to be ordered in by the dozen, we then paid for the additional roses to be made into a bouquet for us to take home. I liked this as it felt like we had something to keep her a little closer to us for longer, and I used some of the roses to dry and press.
One thing to consider with flowers is – do you want people to bring and send them? For us, this wasn’t important, so instead we asked people not to buy flowers, but instead to donate to a charity of our choice on the day of the funeral.
For me, one of the most important steps was a tailor-made order of service. I wanted to have something physical for our family and us to hold and look back at when we thought of her, much the same as you keep orders of service for other family members and friends who have passed.
There are so many options for printing order of service (literally hundreds of websites, I know I’ve viewed them all). There are options online to suit all budgets, ranging from free templates to download and fill in the text yourself at home and print to more fancy templates which require a fee to use.
You add in the text and the owner of the website prints and sends in the post to you.
You don’t even need to use a template; you could just write up the text at home add a drawing and photo and print entirely free. If you wanted something a bit more personal and handmade, you could look into the option of using rubber stamps.
I designed the order of service myself. I wanted something personal to Beatrice and us, something that was a bit special and included a bit of colour.
I hand drew the design to include objects with special meanings for us. I wanted the order of service to be colourful on the outside and the inside.
Typically orders of service are plain inside with text only, but I included a little doodle to break up sections and a doodle for the footer. This might not be for everyone, but to me, it was essential to have something colourful, feminine and pretty for my baby.
Once I finally had the designs I liked, the tough part was knowing what to include in the service. We had these details, in this order:
• In loving memory and celebration of
• Hand drawn design
• Date and time of the funeral
• Location of the funeral
• Opening music
• Celebrants name and title
• Poem written by a friend
• “Thoughts about Beatrice,” here we had spoken to our celebrant about what Beatrice meant to us, how she was special to us and how she had changed our outlook on the world. Neither of us thought we would be able to talk ourselves on the day, but equally, you could do this yourself or ask a family member or friend to do so on your behalf.
• Wave of light information. Beatrice’s funeral fell on the final day of baby loss awareness week, and so we gave everyone a tea light with their order of service and asked them to light this on the evening to remember Beatrice and all other babies lost too soon. Whilst this was specific to that date, you could also do something similar.
• Closing music
• Invite for tea and cake at our home
• Appreciation – charity details
• A personalised packet of forget-me-not.
I also tied a pale pink organza ribbon around the orders of service to make it a bit more pretty and girly.
Although this looks like a lot of information, our celebrant ended up adding in a few extra bits. The words, poem, and music he shared were heartfelt and fit into the service perfectly.
So if you felt you wanted to include more personal touches, such as a reading, another song, a prayer, a minute’s silence, lighting of candles, etc. based on the order of service above, you would have time to do this, and it wouldn’t feel rushed.
One of the things we did was to give out seed packets and tea lights for everyone to take home and light on the evening. Some other things you could do to personalise the service could be to include any photos of baby/family.
You might write a letter for baby to put in the casket with them, and some people like to give baby a photo of themselves. We gave Beatrice some teddies to be cremated with, one from us, one hand-made one from the SiMBA memory box and a tiny one that our midwife gave her (we have a matching one).
One thing that is increasing in popularity is a photographer or the service itself. We didn’t go for this, but for many families who do it’s about creating more memories and not wanting to forget the small details.
I think if you wanted to do this the most important thing would be to have the right photographer for you, I would imagine they would need to be discreet in the service and the photos should be tasteful.
So that sums up how we went about planning Beatrice’s service. It does come down to personal preference, and it’s about making sure what is right for you as the parents.
Don’t feel like you have to conform to what is “normal” as there is nothing normal about losing your child.