Funeral Planning After Pregnancy Loss

Angel guardian sleeping on the grave

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Depending on how far along in pregnancy you are at the time of your loss, you'll have several choices about what to do for your baby's final disposition. 

However, at any stage of pregnancy loss, you can and may want to have a funeral or memorial service. Some people do not want to have a funeral. If this is you, honor yourself and your wishes.

There is no "right" and "wrong" when it comes to funerals after a miscarriage or stillbirth. It is best to do what is best for you, not what would be best for someone else.

Why a Funeral?

Funerals can be an important part of the grieving process for people who have experienced a loss. A funeral provides a way to say goodbye and to honor the memory of a loved one.

It may sound overwhelming to have a room full of people to face after losing your baby, but you might also find it easier to see everyone in a short period of time.

A funeral may help you find closure—an important step in your emotional recovery from a miscarriage or stillborn birth.

Although you may have said your goodbyes at the hospital, some people find that a funeral allows them to have a final and satisfying goodbye.

Depending on how far along you were at the time of your loss, and particularly for stillborn babies, a funeral can you you the chance to see your baby one last time.

Even before the event, the act of making funeral arrangements can be therapeutic for some parents.

For example, making arrangements gives you an opportunity to make decisions for your baby—something you may not have been able or allowed to do when you were in the hospital. Funeral planning also helps some people cope with a sudden loss.

Don't Feel Rushed

Take as long as you need to plan. It's not unusual for families to need a week to complete funeral arrangements.

It can help to tell well-meaning family and friends that you want to make all the choices—no matter how long it takes. If you don't clarify what you want and need, they may assume you're overwhelmed and try to take over the planning.

Don't let anyone rush you into a service before you are ready and satisfied with all your decisions. This is especially important when you are in physical recovery and healing after pregnancy loss. You need to be feeling well enough to sit through the service and be well-rested enough to be around your family and friends.

Trust Your Instincts

Many funeral directors are sensitive to the wants and needs of parents after a loss.

For example, if you want to be involved in dressing your baby for the funeral, say so. If you'd rather not, don't feel forced to do so.

You can also ask the funeral home staff to take extra footprints or collect locks of hair for you, if possible.

If you want pictures of your baby at any point in the preparations or at the time of the funeral, speak up. You may want to designate a friend to operate the camera.

Don't let other people tell you it's inappropriate or morbid to have these pictures taken. Many people take photos, even if they were discouraged from doing by friends and family. Photos can be a great comfort to parents later on.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the funeral is your way of honoring yourself and your baby.

If you choose to have a service, it can be as long or as short as you choose. The timeline of the day will depend somewhat on what you wish to include.

Some people find meaning in a Christian reading for the service, whereas others prefer non-religious readings. You may simply opt for a moment of silence.

While you are honoring your baby, funerals are meant for those who are living, not those who have passed. While funeral services are often emotional and can be sad at times, they can also be a chance for you to be surrounded by the love and joy of the people in your life.

Where Should I Have the Funeral?

You can hold a funeral in any place that you feel comfortable. The funeral home will have viewing rooms, or you can make arrangements with your church. You can also have a short graveside services if your baby will be buried.

Some families choose to have the service at their house or in a public place, like a beach or garden. If you do want to use public areas, make sure that the funeral director is aware of your plan (as they are responsible for obtaining any necessary permits).

Honoring Your Baby

A funeral can be a positive experience and can help you through the grieving process after your loss. Whether you had a miscarriage or stillbirth, a special ceremony to honor your baby's memory—even if it's informal and in your own home—can be a healing experience.

Even if you do not choose to have a funeral, there are many other ways that you can memorialize your baby. You may even come up with a tradition of your own to honor their memory.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Elizabeth Czukas, RN, MSN
Elizabeth Czukas is a writer who who has worked as an RN in high-risk obstetrics, antepartum care, and with women undergoing pregnancy loss.