Saturday, April 06, 2013

Discussion Time- Bereaved Parents Rights

Baby Andrew and his Mama holding hands
Oct 22, 2001
I am taking a certification online it is the  Creative Grief Coaching Certification. It is a course that is taught by  Experiential learning which is the process of making meaning from direct experience, i.e., "learning from experience".  In relation to that kind of learning a huge part of the whole process is Reflection, through the Refection, my own grief is being examined.
So lets start at the beginning, October 22, 2001 my son was born 22 wks gestation. He died shortly thereafter in my arms.
His name is Andrew Joseph.
Here I am 11 1/2 yrs later taking this course. A lot of learning, a lot of thinking, re-thinking and reflection is happening.

I am posting this discussion on my blog and I need your help. I hope to understand through the answers I receive to understand and know the fears or misconceptions or even truths that come from this discussion. Remember this is how you feel, the only thing I need from you is A. the truth and B. to be respectful, if someone post something that you do not agree with this is not forum for bitter arguing, it is the place for discussion and learning from each other.

 All over the world babies die at birth. Afterwards parents are stunned, shocked and grieving. When a baby dies gestationally 20 wks or more these parents are required by law to bury that baby, by cremation or burial.

Many forms of funerals happen or even no funeral happens.

This is my question.
What if the parents want to take the baby home?
I can think of several reasons.
Maybe to spend time with the baby alone, in a place of love and not a sterile hospital or a funeral home.
Maybe to have a home funeral.
Perhaps the parents want to take the baby home to meet pets.
Maybe to give the parents a time to parent that baby at home, to make memories and to soul connect without strangers around.
Maybe the funeral they want to create is non conventional, one they want to plan and to happen at home.

Dead babies do go home, for these reasons and many more.
It happens all over the world.
BUT in some places it is not happening, mostly because in the deepest darkest moments grieving parents don't even realize they can. Nurses, doctors,social workers, the ones who have been given the job of holding the hearts of grieving  parents do not recognize this as an option. So parents are never given the chance to make that decision. Fear fuels this.

How do you feel about moms and dads who want to take their baby home? Does this scare you? What are your fears? Concerns? Do you see this as an option that moms and dads should have?
Would you go to a home funeral?

I need to know what you are thinking. I am wanting to advocate for this and knowing what  discussions, thoughts and questions  that may come back at me. would help me tremendously.
Please be honest, please don't write what you think I want to hear. Write from your heart. I will hear you, and I will honour where you are, without judgement. Please be brave and help me.



gma said...

Ang I feel that the parents should be allowed to take their baby home if they want. Is there a law that says they shouldn't? I am for rights & freedom for everybody.

Unknown said...

I feel that any woman who has carried and lost a child should be able to do whatever is necessary to heal and have closure. So should her family. If taking the child home helps in the healing process, it should be an option offered. I do however think this is a process most people will not be able to understand. And what do you do if the mother and father have different ways of coping with the loss? What if one wants the body of their child taken home, and the other cannot bear it? Such a delicate subject, hope I am no upsetting anyone with my response. I have never lost a child and can never truly understand the hurt involved with such an untimely separation. The normal behavior a mother sometimes needs and wants to take with her child's body - such as holding, dressing, bathing, photographing, etc - can seem very morbid to those who never felt that loss. I think if a child's body is taken home, everyone who will be involved in the grieving process would need some sort of counseling on how to respond to and process what will happen so they have a good understanding of what is normal and healthy.

Unknown said...

And yes, I would go to a home funeral if I were very close to the parents. By the way, I am very proud of you for taking such a painful and private experience and learning from it, sharing it, and moving on to advocate for families going through the same thing.

Helen Campbell said...

I remember long ago being a bit shocked at a work friend who spent hours holding her still born baby boy. I couldn’t imagine holding the body of my dead child at the time.

I lost my sons twin brother shortly after his birth. They were 7 weeks premature, delivered by C-section and had been transferred to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at a different hospital. I never saw him; he lived under two hours, and died before I had awoken from the surgery. I believe he was cremated as we did not hold a funeral. It was not something my ex-husband shared with me. It was a week before I was released from the hospital and all decisions regarding my two children were made by others, almost as if I didn’t exist. All energy became focused on the surviving child.

This was 40 years ago. It has appalled me looking back and I have often wondered about my little angel. I actually do not know what I would have done. How would it have been to be given a chance to see my baby? I’ll never know.

Each of us grieves differently. My friend held her baby for so many hours as part of her loving and letting go of this child who had been with her for 9 months.

I believe parents should be given a choice of how they wish to handle their grief. They should be advised of ALL the options available to them, even if that includes taking their dead child home.

Thanks for sharing, Ang.

J C said...

I guess I am a little late answering this but I didnt see it before. Of course one should be allowed to take their child home. It's their child, for heaven's sake, born of their own womb. And the father should have his chance too, to hold this baby and love it without the coldness of a hospital setting.

As for going to a class 11 years later, I can totally understand that too. I lost my Aleta almost 5 years ago now, and I am STILL considering grief counseling. Just cant get the courage to go and talk to strangers about it. I still feel, I still cry, I still hurt. My entire life has changed. I am NOT the same person I was before I lost her. She may have been an adult, but she was MY baby.

So yes, I think the parents should have that opportunity to take the child home, but only for a short time. Hours, maybe. No longer. We have to be strong and remember what happens to a body when it is deceased.

A home funeral? Not a funeral. A memorial, of course. Not a funeral.

Good luck in your class. I sincerely hope it helps your heart continue to heal. Love you Ang. xoxo

Karen said...

Oh, ANg, thanks for bringing this heart-space onto the web-space.

To have a child, a part of yourself and your beloved, is such a precious thing. If the baby dies - at ANY stage (in-utero, still-born, or following birth), it seems only natural for the baby to be honoured and cherished in whatever way feels right.

And "right" can differ so such from individual to individual, couple to couple. The loss of a baby is new territory for most (sadly not all); I imagine one would be so shell-shocked to even know there WERE any options. Therefore being gently informed of the choices available for this loss makes sound sense.

For each death, you only get one 'go' at it - the time together - the things you do, the memories you create, and where the baby physically IS in the world. To have a baby whisked away, perhaps sight unseen seems such a wrench, and all the more if the baby is carried off and incinerated somewhere - it fills me with great sadness.

Parents of babies DO need the ability to hold, love and do whatever they need with their baby. Thankfully there is some wonderful work being done to educate, such as Cath Duncan and friends' There's also a lovely blog/info site I came across yesterday that I think you would enjoy...

Sending lots of love and compassion to all grieving Mums and Dads out there,