Planning your baby's funeral
About Baby Funeral
The last thing that expectant and new parents think of is having to make decisions about their child’s funeral. For many bereaved parents, their child’s funeral is the first funeral they’ve had to think of, and for some, it’s the first they’ve ever had to attend. So it might be hard to know what to do and where to start.
A baby’s funeral or memorial service can be as casual as gathering a couple of loved ones at the graveside, as formal as a traditional funeral, and anywhere in between. A lot of people find music or readings helpful when explaining what words are lacking by themselves, but there are no criteria on what you should include in the service.
Planning for a baby’s memorial service, though, is one way that parents can step back for a moment and honor their child along with friends and family if they choose.
Can my baby have a funeral?
Any baby, regardless of the stage of pregnancy or the circumstances of birth, may have a funeral. You don’t have to have a funeral for your child, but many parents find that, although a funeral can be traumatic and emotional, it’s also an opportunity to remember and honor the short life of their child.
Deciding on the Type of Service
The first question before you move on is whether you want a funeral or some kind of memorial service for your baby. Also, it is important to note that there is no right or wrong solution to this.
Many people wish for a small and private memorial, while others accept the assistance of a wider group of friends and family. Your service can be similar to a typical adult service, or as easy as spending a few minutes in silent prayer at the graveside.
Religious funeral rituals vary a great deal. In most situations, the celebrant will be able to include what you want and make suggestions. In some cases, the arrangement is set and there may be less able to change the ceremony. If the ceremony is led by an independent funeral celebrant, a humanist, or a friend or relative, you can usually plan more or less whatever you want.
If you choose a hospital funeral it may not be possible for your baby to be buried. Ask your hospital about your options.
If your hospital has a burial option, it may be in a grave shared with other babies. They’d be in a tomb of their own.
It might comfort you to know that your baby isn’t alone, but it’s not for everyone.
There will be no headstone for shared graves. However, there may be a place to put a plaque elsewhere in the cemetery.
If your child is in his or her own grave, it may be in a special area of the cemetery for babies. Find out what is allowed on the grave, as there may be restrictions.
Organizing a funeral yourself or using a funeral director means that you have the choice between burial and cremation. If you choose to bury, there are choices for where your child can be buried, including:
- A cemetery
- A green woodland site
- In consecrated grounds
- On private land
You may be given individual cremation or cremation shared with other babies at the hospital. Individual cremation is provided, if available, for babies who died or were stillborn after birth.
Hospital funerals may be shared and performed by the chaplain in the hospital chapel, crematorium or cemetery chapel. Each faith will be referred to so that it fits all religions and parents regardless of their beliefs.
Some hospitals may perform an individual ceremony. You’d have more options about what you want in this situation. It’s going to be similar to what you’d imagine if you were preparing a funeral yourself or with the help of a funeral director.