The feeling of losing an infant child is one of the worst kinds of emotional
pain imaginable. You had so many hopes and dreams for your new child,
and you weren't prepared to say goodbye so soon.
While the pain may never completely go away, you can relieve some of the
stress of the situation when you know what to expect.
Requesting an Autopsy
If you want to determine what caused the death of your infant, request
an autopsy through your doctor. The autopsy can take up to 10 weeks, with
initial results at about three weeks. Common causes of infant death include:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Heart or lung problems
- Trauma during birth
- Breathing problems
- Bleeding in the brain
- Preeclampsia in the mother
- Inflammation of the large and small intestines
- Problems with the amniotic sac, placenta, or umbilical cord
The results of the autopsy may help your doctor treat you in future pregnancies.
If the cause of death was genetic, you may benefit from meeting with a
An autopsy isn't required. Some states or hospitals pay for it, but
others don't. You may be able to request other kinds of testing, such
as genetic tests.
Choosing a Burial Option
Burying or cremating your baby can give your baby a final resting place
and a place you can visit to remember and reflect. As with other family
deaths, it is your choice how you want to bury your baby.
If you choose to cremate your baby, you can keep the ashes in an urn or
scatter the ashes at a meaningful location.
If you choose to bury your baby, work with a funeral home to arrange for
a cemetery plot. Many cemeteries have special sections for infants. You
can choose an
infant marker to honor your baby.
Both urns and markers can include the name, birth date, and death date
of your baby and a phrase that honors your baby. Some examples include:
- God's gift to us, our gift to God.
- There is no footprint so small it does not leave an imprint on this world.
- Safe in the arms of Jesus.
- Held for a moment, loved for a lifetime.
- Though her time with us was brief, her memory is everlasting.
The urn or marker could also include an image, such as a religious image
or a picture of something from nature.
If you suffered a miscarriage early in the pregnancy, you may not be required
to bury or cremate your baby. Ask your doctor about your options.
Holding a Service
Many people choose to have some kind of service to commemorate their baby.
This service could be a funeral with dozens of guests or a small gathering
with family and close friends.
A funeral usually takes place at a church or funeral home. At the funeral,
you could have family members and friends share thoughts about your baby
or thoughts about death, life, and family. Singing songs and offering
prayers might also bring you comfort.
If you choose to have a memorial service, you could gather near the burial
plot, in a home, or in another intimate location. As with a funeral, you
might want to sing, pray, or read poetry.
You may wish to inform out-of-town family members and friends of your baby's
passing. Some people post a memorial to their baby on social media or
send out an announcement to honor the baby. However, it's also okay
if you prefer to keep the event private.
Grieving and Healing
The grieving process may continue for months or even years. In fact, the
pain of losing a child may never completely go away.
You may request a temporary leave of absence from work during the initial
grieving process. Some people feel that going back to work helps their
grief, while others may need more time before they're ready to return.
Make sure you are willing to accept and request help during this time.
Your friends will want to help but might feel unsure about what to do
or say. Whether you need someone to talk to or just need to hug someone
and cry, let your friends and family know what you need.
If you are the mother, you may have additional physical challenges. You
may need to recover from a C-section. Your body may begin lactating, giving
you a painful reminder of your baby. Follow your doctor's advice about
physical healing during this time.
Give yourself time to heal physically and emotionally before you try to
have another baby. The amount of time to wait differs for every couple.
Losing a child can be incredibly painful, but with time, you can begin
to feel peace. A memorial can help you remember the impact your baby made
on your life. Choose an
infant marker that honors your baby and comforts you.