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Friday, January 2, 2015

Assumptions on Stillbirth Funerals

I got a Kindle book yesterday. Have been reading more over winter break. Since I have amazon Prime, I decided to try the free book borrow feature, and I found one that was a stillbirth mommy memoir. This is apparently a genre. A small genre, but a genre none the less.

The book begins with the funeral. Here is where I need to own up to my assumptions. I jumped to the conclusion that, since they were having a funeral (casket, readings, burial, etc), she was a full-term stillborn momma. She wasn't. She was just like me. Well, not just like me, but like me in duration of pregnancy....two weeks less, actually, which is technically a late term miscarriage instead of stillbirth. No one will ever say that to her, but it's accurate. I don't know why. It's a stupid distinction, if you ask me, and I maintain that mothers be allowed to feel and mourn however they want. But that's not the point...

We didn't have a funeral for Charlotte. I didn't want to. There is no decision more painful and surreal than deciding what to do with the body of your dead child. It was literally a consious step-back moment that I remember from that day in the hospital. How do you even explain that to a funeral home? No one ever expects to make that decision, so it's a very absurdist situation. Or it at least feels it.

I felt like no one really knew her or loved her the way Mike and I did. I didn't think people would understand. I didn't think people would understand how to mourn for her in the way I needed to mourn, so I didn't want to see them screw it up. No one ever questioned our decision.

I found myself jealous of this random writer-woman and her funeral with a tiny casket. Charlotte was cremated. That was my choice. I couldn't understand or handle the thought of having her be away from us. I wanted to keep her with me. The first few days were the hardest, when we waited for all the paperwork to process and her body to be sent to the funeral home for cremation. I just wanted her with me. I brought her cremains to the beach with us when we went to the beach two weeks later. I just wanted her nearby. The closest we had to a funeral was placing her cremains in the silver heart box I picked out and later arranging her shelf on the curio cabinet. No mourners, besides her parents. No casket, just a little box. As a side note, there is a catalogue of urns that the funeral home had of all shapes and sizes, including cremain jewelry: keep your loved one with you (quite literally) every day. Nope. Not me. I considered a tattoo, but that's as far as it went. She's with me beyond physical, I know.

But still...I was jealous of this woman and her funeral. I wonder now if our reticence to have a funeral made it seem like we didn't want to mourn in a traditional sense. I wonder, if we had a funeral, if people might have understood more. I wonder, if we had a funeral, if maybe it would have legitimized or at least formalized our pain that I'm still so surprised people just didn't understand.  I wonder, if we had a funeral, if things might not have been so lonely and disappointing.

I wonder, if we had a funeral, if people still wouldn't care or wouldn't get it. I wonder if people would even come. I wonder if that would be worse.

I don't know if I'll read the rest of the book.

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