Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The first funeral I ever attended - and I had to arrange it

I recently got asked about Albie's funeral. I haven't really thought about it since. At the time I just got on with it, never really thinking about how it was affecting me. 

I had never been to a funeral before, which is clearly a good thing, but it meant I had no idea what to expect. I just kind assumed it was a one size fits all kind of thing and you had no choice in what happens. 

When I knew the outcome of our pregnancy with Albie and we had decided to end that pregnancy I asked the question, 

''What will happen to my baby when he's born?''

It was explained to me that the hospital had services that would organise a ceremony, cremation, whatever I wanted. But it seemed so impersonal. A close friend of mine (Katy) was friends with a funeral director (Jay). I had met him before and he always seemed like a lovely, caring man. It made me feel better knowing he would be looked after properly. So we got in touch. 

Speaking to a funeral director about the death of your baby before he's even been born is indescribable. I just couldn't do it. Katy had filled him in on our situation and my mum rung him to find out the details. You see, Albie had to travel all the way to St George's hospital in London for his post mortem and then he would need to travel back down here again to end up with Jay so he could get him ready for his funeral. I wanted to know the details were sorted and he was going to be alright on his journey. 

After I had Albie and we had spent some time with him and said our goodbyes, he was taken away by a midwife. I didn't see him again until his funeral on 12th March. 

I wanted his funeral to be sorted before he came back from the post mortem so the was less time waiting around. 
Like I said, I'd never been to a funeral before let alone organised one so I had no idea what to expect. Jay was lovely and talked us through the options. 

The main thing I knew I wanted was to put some special things in with Albie. This was non-negotiable. We all wrote him a letter, I can't speak for anyone else but I just wanted him to know how much I loved him. I wrote and wrote about my love for him and how he would always be a part of me. Katy bought him a St Christopher to keep him safe on his journeys along with a teddy. But the most important thing to me was his bunny. We had two. I kept one and he kept one. And Lily had the same when she was born (although hers is a lot bigger). Lily drew some lovely pictures and she wanted to send him her hand and foot prints just like he'd given us his, so Brent, Lily and I all got out the paint and printed out hands and feet for Albie to keep forever. 

When it came to the actual funeral we knew we wanted something really little, just me and Brent. We also knew from the beginning we wanted him cremated. It's hard to talk about someone nobody but us really knew so we decided against anyone speaking and we wanted it to be a time to reflect and say goodbye so we didn't want any music. Brent wanted to carry him in and we wanted to keep the curtains open while we left rather than them closing. It felt too final and I wasn't ready for this all to end yet. The rest was down to me. 
We chose a single flower, a yellow gerbra, to place on his white casket. I made a frame to put up next to him with a short poem and two pictures of him. It was lovely to read and remember him. Brent and I also decided to write each other a letter to read quietly to ourselves. It was lovely to know that we both still felt so strongly about our relationship. How much we loved one another and I knew we'd be ok. We were strong. We had already been through so much and we were now at the funeral of our son who we loved more than anything, but we were here together, supporting each other, loving each other. 

After a while we decided it was time to say our last goodbye. We left the chapel, and we left our baby, safe in his tiny bed surrounded by love. 
We walked through the cemetery for a while, it was comforting and peaceful and that's when we decided that we wanted to bury Albie's ashes. We hadn't been sure what to do with them before but we decided that this was best for us. 

We had attached messages onto balloons so we set off up too beachy head to let them go. We thought they would fly off over the sea...the wind was blowing the wrong direction and they blew over the fields instead but it was still lovely. We watched them for ages just holding each other's hand, not saying a word. A few people had gathered round to watch but we felt so alone in the world. I'll never forget that feeling. 

We then set off again. We had booked a table at a quiet pub for lunch. There, we raised a glass to our beautiful son. Our son we would never see grow up but our son that we loved with all our broken hearts. 

And that was that. The day I had dreaded. The day that I though would be the hardest day of my life. It wasn't! It was lovely. It was just how we wanted it. It was our chance to send our love to the sky. And somehow I felt lighter. I felt a sense of relief. I felt thankful. Thankful for Brent, thankful for Lily and thankful that for only a short time I felt my son, full of life, inside me. Thankful I had saved him. 

We buried Albie's ashes in our local cemetery on 13th May. I chose the spot for his forever bed because it was calm, colourful and felt full of life. 
It's one of my favourite places to be. Somehow, It's not full of sadness, there feels no sense of loss, all that is felt is love. It radiates off every colourful bunch of flowers, every windmill blowing in the wind, every beautiful word written and every candle lit. All that is there is love. 

I miss my baby boy every day but I know he's always with me. His heart is embedded in mine forever and I will keep going for him, for Brent and for my amazing Lily. 

After all, life goes on.