Empty Arms – The Heartbreak of Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death

Should her heart break and the grief pour out, it would flow over the whole earth, it seems, and yet, no one sees it.

-Anton Chekhov

My beautiful sister’s first son died while he was being born. He thrived for nine warm and wonderful months in his mother’s womb. He grew into a big boy weighing just over eight pounds. For reasons our family still doesn’t completely understand, he didn’t make it through labour.  His placenta, which helped him grow and develop over so many months, failed him at birth.  It wasn’t able to give him what he needed to make it through the stress of being born.

I remember going through the motions of organizing a committal ceremony for my nephew. His dad and I chose his miniature coffin, constructed simply out of raw pine. I accompanied my mother and step-father to purchase a family plot in downtown Toronto. Our littlest one would be the first buried there. Community members on his father’s side prepared his body for burial. My sister and her partner named their son Hani. We buried him just before Thanksgiving. His gravestone reads “Died October 3, 2003. Born October 4, 2003.”

As a Funeral Celebrant, I feel called to serve families who have suffered the heartbreaking loss of miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.

Your baby was nurtured through many months of fetal life, but never had the chance to take a breath. Your baby was already a member of your family. You had hopes and dreams for a life with your child. A Memorial Service or Committal Ceremony is one step in a long grieving process.   It is a ritual that makes your child real to your family and friends, who may not understand the depth of your loss.   And you may find it helpful, even necessary, to share your sorrow with those you love.

Funeral Celebrant Marcia Thomson, for Modern Celebrant


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