Wednesday, June 7, 2017
This morning we exhume Vivian's body to be cremated. My family will be with us. My mother and father in law, my parents and my brother. 'With' has never held more meaning than this season of our lives. When others have disappointed me with their 'with'ness, it is the passage in Isaiah (43:2-3,5) I cling to... "When you pass through the waters I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Do not be afraid for I am WITH you." Blessed and grateful for my family today.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
We met with the funeral home director. It's set. Vivian will be exhumed on Wednesday next week. For the last year and a half, her body has rested in Babyland (I hate the name and everything about the place) where her plot is unmarked, covered by grass, as if no one is there. I don't visit.
"What funeral home would you like?" None, thank you. We left our baby girl at the hospital because we didn't want to pick blindly and our family with us, were in as much shock as we were incapable of providing guidance. Just because her heart wasn't beating doesn't mean for one second I wasn't still mothering her. How do you walk away from your baby? She didn't belong in the morgue. Cremation or burial? With heads spinning, we chose burial and never really gave cremation a thought. Not sure why. It was several months later a class mate of mine in grad school lost her little boy in a horrific tragic accident. She had shared pictures of she along with her other two kids painting the white casket her son would be buried in. Oh, how I loved the idea...the images were powerful! Why didn't we think of that or why hadn't someone let us know it was an option. Gee, maybe because so few bury their babies. How do you pick out a headstone? What words do you choose to honor the life you knew, that so few got to meet? It was an impossible task for us. We wanted something one of a kind like she was. We met with tattoo to fine artists thinking an image for a tattoo or print could also be translated into an image to use on her grave stone. Either they wanted something turn key or there was an obstacle with how the drawing would be 'transferred' to the stone. Nothing was falling into place. Out of the blue the thought came, find a hand made clay vessel to hold her ashes in, hike Sawteeth Mountain in the Adirondacks with your boys and spread some of her ashes off the summit. Finally, something felt right for us. Peace.
This is a reminder of how little families are supported through baby loss. This is just one piece out of so many decisions or connections to be made that are missed. How ill equipped staff/nurses/providers are in facilitating a family through choices that absolutely can and do lead to BIG regrets. I so wish we would have had someone sit with us and walk us through our choices and the possible effects of those decisions. Some communities have bereavement counselors, trained nurses, pastoral care and volunteers on call to step into this role. We're working toward this in our hospital, but nothing comes quickly and time is limited. My heart hurts for families who are falling through the cracks. They deserve every resource available, compassion, time, and someone to connect the dots unique to their story of love.