Are you struggling to determine how to honor your baby's short but important life? On this page, you'll find information about what your rights are around the final resting place for your baby's body, and also thoughts and resources for memorial and funeral services.
If your baby is over 20 weeks gestation and weighs more than 350 grams, he or she will have to go through a funeral home. There are many local funeral homes who have offered very compassionate care to Empty Arms families in the past, and many will waive many of the costs for families experiencing infant loss. Please let us help if you are struggling to determine which home to use.
Also, please note, that while you must make arrangements for a funeral home to transport your baby, it is your right to take your baby home for a short while if you wish. Historically, people held wakes at home. If this is your choice, do ask your funeral director how to make it happen.
If your baby is less than 20 weeks and under 350 grams, what happens to your baby is up to you. Legally, the baby is yours. You have several options:
- Usually, the hospital will offer the option to "take care" of the remains for you. You should know that while some hospitals have burial plots where they will bury all miscarried babies, at other hospitals they are considered (and I cringe to write the words) medical waste. If it's important to you to know, find out what happens at your hospital.
- You can use a funeral home and choose to cremate or bury the baby. You would proceed just as you would for any death.
- You can take your baby's remains home with you. Legally, this is your right. If you've sent your baby to the lab to be tested, you may have to jump through some hoops to make this happen. Please, let us help you with any obstacles you may come across.
Memorial Ceremonies and Events
Many families choose to have a ceremony or funeral for their baby. There are many ways that one can go about this, and it's important to remember that nothing has to happen immediately. If you're too overwhelmed to hold a funeral right away, you can have a memorial weeks, months, or even a year later. There's no time table to creating ritual around your baby's passing.
- For some families, a traditional funeral works just fine. Even if you're not a regular attendee at a religious institution, you can always work with a spiritual leader to create something to honor your baby.
- A private, non-denominational ceremony. There are venues locally that are perfect for a ceremony led by someone who's not a religious leader.
- A memorial you officiate yourself. Whether you reserve a chapel or hold it in your backyard, you can create a ceremony yourself or with help
- A tree planting or garden dedication. Many people find that gardening and tending to life is a healing tribute to their baby. Gathering others to honor this physical memorial can be healing.
Empty Arms is grateful to have a connection with Hannah Grace of Grace Ceremonies. Hannah is an interfaith minister who is skilled at helping create the perfect moment in your family's history to honor the little one who has changed you so profoundly. Whether it's ministering at an actual ceremony that you design, talking through ways to memorialize your child, or helping to officiate at a tree planting in your own backyard, Hannah can help you find a way to celebrate your love for your baby in a way that feels just right for you. All of Hannah's work is priced on a sliding scale and her first consultations come at no charge.
Burial and Cremation Fund
Sometimes our families struggle with the unexpected costs of laying their child to rest. We maintain a list of funeral homes that offer reduced cost cremations; please reach out if that would be helpful. Even still, the financial cost can still be overwhelming. We have a specific donor-backed fund for this purpose. Please email Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like additional information about this program.