Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Planning an Infant Funeral/Memorial: The Funeral

This is part one of a four-part mini-series this week on Planning an Infant Funeral/Memorial.  

The Funeral Home
A couple of months before Evie came my father-in-law did some research for Josh and me (for which we are very grateful) on funeral homes in our area.  He decided the best option was Family Choice Funeral and Cremations.  

Family Choice offers free services for infants and children.  The only thing we were required to pay for was her casket (only one option was available for infants) and copies of Evie's death certificate.  The total was under $400.00.  

The day we left the hospital we had to call and arrange for the funeral home to come pick Evie up.  As you can imagine, that is not an easy phone call to make, but the funeral home director was so kind and compassionate and made it as painless as possible.  I just told him who I was and that we had been in contact with them and had to give the address of the hospital and the floor we were on.  They came after we left and we didn't interact with them any more that day.

We met with the funeral home director the following Monday after Evie was born.  They had a form that could be filled out online so we didn't have to take more time sitting at the home answering demographic-type questions.  Again, the employees of the funeral home were so kind and understanding.

After all the necessary information was filled out, the funeral home called the cemetery we had picked and arranged for our graveside service to be held that upcoming Saturday.  They were so accommodating and even agreed to make the graveside service one hour earlier than they typically open so we could keep our 10:00 time slot at the memorial service location.   

The funeral home also arranged for us to meet with the cemetery director immediately following our appointment with them so we could work out all those details and payments.

The Cemetery
I think the primary factor in choosing the cemetery where Evie would be buried was price.  Again, my father-in-law called around and chose the nicest location with the most reasonable price.  Evie is buried at Greenlawn Memorial Garden in Chesapeake.

Our meeting with the cemetery director was essentially just to pick out Evie's memorial marker and pay for their graveside services.  There were only a few choices for the memorial markers and I chose the simplest one by preference.  There were other fees to pay for, including opening and closing the grave and some other things I can't remember.  I think the total cost was somewhere around $1,200.00.  I am forever grateful to my parents, Josh's parents, and my grandparents for paying those costs.

A note about open vs. closed caskets.  You do have a choice, although the cemetery director said in his many years of service he had only seen one open-casket service for a child.  If you ask my personal opinion, closed is best.  Really.

Graveside Service Order of Events
Evie's graveside service was held on a Saturday morning at 9:00 am.  Our designated area was already set up with a green tent and a few chairs and her small, ivory-colored casket at the front.  Friends and family quietly filled in around Josh and me after we sat down.  My mother-in-law had picked out a colorful rose bouquet for Evie's casket and I added floral arrangement which was ironically named, Color Me Happy (I just liked the bright pink flowers).  My father-in-law, our pastor, prayed to start the service.  A family friend, Amy, had written a lovely poem for Evie, which she read that morning.  My sister-in-law, Lauren, and a dear family friend, Anna, sang a lovely a capella version of 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.  And then my father-in-law gave a sweet message that emphasized our thankfulness that Evie's soul was now at rest in Heaven.



I think graveside services are typically short, maybe ours was only 15 or 20 minutes.  I think what we did there was just perfect.  

Evie's graveside service was invite only, by choice.  We decided we only wanted our closest friends and family members to be there, but certainly you can invite as many or as few people as you would like.  

I remember seeing the whole line of cars filled with family and friends waiting for us to arrive so we could start the service and thinking, How on earth am I going to talk to all these people?  And then I remembered that I didn't have to.  These people loved me more than anyone on the planet and didn't expect me to perform that day, in that moment.  It was such a relief to be able to sit back and reflect on Evie's brief life and how the Lord had carried me through.  

I'm so sorry if you have to plan a funeral for your child.  Nothing can feel more wrong.  But may God grant you the wherewithal necessary to commemorate your child in whatever way you deem best.  And if I can help you in any way, please let me know <3.

11 comments:

  1. I too remember driving up and seeing the people we'd invited standing there. So confronting, even though they were out closest friends.

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    1. It's such a strange and uncomfortable place to be

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  2. I love you. Her graveside service was so perfect. Heartbreaking, but perfect. The flowers... the little butterfly... the words, the poem, the song, the prayer, and the tears. I remember sitting in the car watching you get out and thinking how beautiful you looked that morning... and then hating that you even had to do this at all. You might not realize this, but you carried yourself so gracefully through the whole thing (or perhaps God carried you so gracefully). This is so hard to write about, I'm sure, but so valuable to other mommies and daddies who need to hear from others who have been there. You are beautifully brave. Love you.

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    1. Thank you so much Lauren. And you're so right ... God carried me the whole way.

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  3. Lauren said it best, you are beautifully brave <3

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    1. Thank you Darla ... only by God's grace, truly.

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  4. I think it's great you are writing about this. It was kind of overwhelming, and we didn't even have a service or burial. The hospital provided great information for us though. There were several funeral homes in our area that offered free services for infant and children deaths. So we chose one of those and since Asa was cremated, we only had to pay for his urn (which my dad graciously offered to pay for). I'm sure it's going to be helpful to many grieving mommies to read your experience, Sarah. <3

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    1. Thank you Tara. I'm so sorry you had to make those choices.

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  5. Ok, so I'm sitting in Starbucks holding back tears (maybe not so successfully) as I read this. You are providing some great information, I'm sure, but I also think your heart and reliance on God is so touching to read in this.

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    1. Thank you Sarah ... when I am weak (so, so weak) then He is strong.

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