It is often said that losing a child is the most unimaginable pain any parent can ever feel. Preparing baby funerals can be a surreal experience, and many people feel confused during this time because they are still in shock. It takes time to process such a tragic event, and the last thing people will feel like doing is making major decisions or planning funeral arrangements.
Our ladies at Lady Anne Funerals understand what a devastating experience this would be, and will help you through this difficult time in organising your baby’s funeral with experience and kindness. Here is some information on the options that are available to you when considering a baby funeral service.
What happens before a baby funeral
There’s a lot of uncertainty about what happens next when a baby — or any loved one for that matter — passes.
The law requires stillborn babies to be buried or cremated should they be born after 20 weeks gestation. Though it is a difficult time to think about paperwork, there are several documents that need to be signed when this happens.
The birth must be registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. When you fill out this certificate, you may choose a name for the baby, but it is also acceptable to use the name ‘baby’ if you feel more comfortable. A doctor will also provide you with a perinatal medical certificate of cause of death.
Before helping you with the arrangements, we need to obtain these legal documents before we can start to plan. Once this information has been received, your funeral director will take over on your behalf.
While there is no legal requirement to register the stillbirth of a baby under 20 weeks gestation, some parents still find it comforting to have their baby cremated, buried or memorialised through a service. If you feel you’d like to recognise your baby in this way, we are here to help you do that too.
For babies who have passed from other natural causes, the only paperwork required is a Death Certificate. In the instance whereby an infant has passed as a result of unnatural causes, the police will need to be notified, who will then forward this information to the State Coroner. Lady Anne Funerals will liaise with the Coroner’s Department on your behalf in these circumstances.
Ways to hold a baby funeral service
We know that the steps above seem very clinical, and that you’ll want to recognise the precious life of your baby in your own way. When burying or cremating a stillborn baby, a funeral service or memorial can be a good way to do this — even if you decide you are not ready to attend the ceremony yourself.
If you decide to have your baby cremated, their ashes will be returned to you in a vessel. It is up to you what you do with the ashes; many families hold onto them in a special place at their home, while others scatter the ashes somewhere that is meaningful to them.
Cremation is a more flexible option because it allows you to hold your own memorial ceremony in whichever location you choose. For example, you may want to bury or scatter the ashes under a tree, at a public place that’s special to you (such as a park or by the ocean), or even at your own home.
Alternatively, you may decide to have burial service to farewell your baby. This is usually conducted by a minister or celebrant — but it does not need to be a religious service (instead, we call these services a ‘Celebration of Life’). Your family and those close to you can be present for the ceremony, and it is up to you whether or not you want to attend.
A special touch to remember your baby
There are a number of ways you can add special touches to your child’s funeral to make the experience more intimate for you and your family.
This is a highly personal choice, but some of the ways other families have chosen to recognise the life of their baby is by:
- writing a poem or passage to read aloud at the memorial service;
- releasing balloons or butterflies;
- choosing a special song to play at the service;
- requesting that attendees donate to a charity that supports infant health or research, rather than bringing flowers;
- burying or cremating your baby along with items that are meaningful to you, such as a flower, a teddy bear, or a photograph.
There is no rule on how you choose to make baby funerals more personalised — each service is as unique as the life it commemorates.
The most important thing about the decision to have a baby funeral service is choosing what is right for you and your family; it’s the time to go with your gut feeling, and know that whatever decision you make will be the right one. But if you feel like it’s getting too much, allow the ladies at Lady Anne Funerals to guide you — they are committed to supporting you through this process and commemorating this special life, which despite being with us for such a short time, will never be forgotten.
Speak to one of our female funeral directors