Thursday, June 02, 2005

The practical side of things

Steve and I joke that there should be a handbook of practical considerations for parents whose baby has died. Sure, there are a zillion well-intentioned "how to survive" pamphlets and books. But there are no resources out there that answer the tacky questions you just don't want to ask (the kinds of questions an overly-analytical husband might ask in a cemetery while planting flowers on his dead son's grave).

Some potential topics...

~The all important memories...how to create them to last a lifetime. Is it ok to take pictures of your dead baby? Is it ok to dress your dead baby?
~How do you choose a funeral home? Open the phone book, close your eyes, and whichever one your index finger falls on you go with?
~How much does a funeral cost? A baby-sized casket? How about a headstone? (talk about sticker shock)
~How do you choose a minister when you aren't attending a church on a regular basis? (We have all sorts of excuses...I'm sure you don't care about them right now)
~How to choose the date of your baby's funeral when the funeral director looks at you and asks, "When would you like to have the service?" (uh, how about never?)
~What to expect when dealing with cemetery personnel...the unvarnished truth (and it ain't pretty)
~How much does it cost to buy a cemetery plot? And the related discount rate for actually living in the township in which you are purchasing said plot.
~How to plan for bad weather on the day of your baby's funeral.
~How much to pay people for services rendered surrounding your child's death and funeral. Kind of like a tip calculator for the bereaved.
~What to honestly expect from family and friends. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
~What to expect when you decide to take that little knit cap the hospital gave you, that your baby wore, out of the biohazard bag it came in.
~Learning to calculate time based on how long your baby has been gone.
~How to answer stupid questions like, "Are you going to try again?" or "How are you doing?" Several methods offered in this chapter...including the sad and sympathetic responses and the outright angry and defiant responses.
~What to expect when you visit the cemetery for the first time. Answers to all your questions about the operations of a cemetery and what is involved in laying someone to rest. Answers to the kinds of questions an overly-analytical husband might ask in a cemetery while planting flowers on his dead son's grave.

Oh, I could go on...but I think you get the idea. The death of a child is probably the most traumatic event a parent can live through. Yet our society does nothing to prepare us for the possibility...nothing to educate us about what we might actually need to know next. Perhaps people are afraid we'll tempt fate if we talk about it too much? Well guess what folks...we never talked about it...and it happened to us. And I would bet that most people it happens to never talked about it either.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Catherine, I stumbled onto your blog through David's blog (I hate this) and while I was reading I realized that I am pretty sure you just joined Stillborn and Still loved (I am a member) I am so very sorry Alex isn't with you. I am so broken hearted that there is ANOTHER mother out there that has discovered this new life. I am so sorry you have to sift through horrible things like planning a funeral when you should be planning a future. I am 2 and a half years into this journey, and while I can say that the pain will always be with you, but you learn to live around it. You will ALWAYS think of Alex each and every day, but thinking of him will not always bring tears. ((((hugs))) to you and your family. I wish Alex was here with you.