Category Archives: In Memory

planning music for your baby's funeral

Planning Music For A Baby’s Funeral

Music can be such an important part of life. We have a soundtrack of our childhood; remembering the moments we had with friends or the memories of songs when big things like our exams happened.

When we fall in love we have a song to remind us of our love, the songs which become the soundtrack to our weddings. Music has a way of bringing every emotion, just by sound.

I used to love rock music – I still do, but it was my go to genre of music. Marilyn Manson was one of them. In 2011 we were picking songs for our wedding, and then again for our blessing a few months later.

A year later we were deciding songs for a funeral. We decided almost straight away that we didn’t want her to have hymns; although I do wish I had sung her at least one lullaby. We felt that hymns were for older people.

Songs for her funeral

We took a little time to think and to decide; we didn’t really know what would be right, but we also knew that planning a baby’s funeral wasn’t right either. We just went with how we felt as her parents.

Amazing Grace via Bag Pipes (sadly not real ones)

My Love by Sia

Every Breath You Take – By Sting and the Police

Each were perfect for her.

 

Music Changed for Me

I still enjoy rock music, but I have opened myself up to a whole world of different genres. I deleted a lot of my Marilyn Manson collection. I won’t go into details but if you know his music, you will probably understand why.

Other songs I began to hate, while other songs reminded me of the split life – the before and the after. Like Paramore Decode; it reminded me of such an innocent time in our life. Before everything changed.

 

Songs Which Remind Me of Her

Coldplay – Yellow. ‘Her’ colour is yellow, being a spring baby and the yellow flowers.

Bruno Mars – It Will Rain. We had amazing weather during the time she was alive, glorious sunshine in March. But the afternoon of her wake it began to rain and it didn’t stop, making it one of the wettest summers on record!

Joshua Radin – Winter. This song was on a television show I was watching when I was pregnant, of course it was winter we had snow that year too.

The Wanted – Gold Forever. Back to the colour, but the lyrics too.

Ed Sheeran – Photograph.

Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill

Kate Havnevik – Grace

Ben Cocks – So Cold

Aron Wright – In the Sun

KT Tunstall – The Universe and U

Avril Lavigne – Slipped Away

Pink Floyd – Wish you were here.

 

 

 

Discovering Different Music.

Since her death, I have discovered the most amazing pieces of music. Some to bring the first smiles whilst some sends shivers through your whole body.

Lissie – Everywhere I go

Sia – Rainbow (Not because of rainbows after a storm, but community)

Adaline – Say Goodbye

Ingrid Michaelson – Without You

Anna Nalick – Breathe

One Two – Without You

Great Big World – Say Something

Ed Sheeran – Small Bump

Sia – Angel by the wings

P!nk – Beam Me Up

Nick Cave – O’ Children

Sara Jackson Holman – Freight Train

 

Finding any joy in music isn’t easy, because it has such an impact on our lives, some songs which are loved and reminded of wonderful memories can never be heard again.

Planning music for a baby’s funeral is not right. But it is one of the few things we have left to do for them.

Melody’s Memories – Keepsake Box

memory box

There are four different boxes on our house. My older two children have one each, which they chose to put together; they chose what was going into them. They look at them rarely, but when they do they always try to include their little sisters, the girls who never met Melody.

Days after her funeral we were very kindly gifted a wooden memory box, personalised to her to replace the hospitals offering. It is one of my favourite things. Although I love it, I have also hated it; it isn’t something we open often, but it has been made easier by splitting the box into two. Having a shoe box with the photos of her after we lost her and painful documents have been easier to look through her “main” memory box. Both boxes remain tucked away in our wardrobe.

I wanted to share with you her memory box; because it is one of my favourite things of her.

Picture One

memory box

  • In Loving Memory of Our Darling Daughter poetry card, this was one of the few items in the box we were given at the hospital.
  • Child’s Health Record – the famous Red Book; it has one or two entries inside. I’m glad she has one.
  • Inside the little box was a gift from the Mayflowers (the mums who gifted us the box), there is a locket that came in the box too with Melody’s picture inside.

 

Picture Two

memory box

This was her ‘thumby’. Basically it is a dummy which is shaped like a thumb. She wasn’t supposed to have had it at the age that she did due to not having the right sucking reflexes, but she found hers a little sooner than expected was given this as a comforter and a way to teach her to suck ready for when she could take milk orally.

 

Picture Three

memory box

Apologies for the DVD in the pictures, it just gives you an idea of the sizes of some of her items.

  • These are baby grows, each are from 3lb upwards so they each were still too big for her, but they did make her look cosy.
  • The nappy at the top, you can’t buy in the shops, they’re specially made for micro preemies, even this swamped her but she certainly filled them well!!
  • Her first ever hat. So tiny and a little bit stained she didn’t wear it for long.

 

Picture Four

Her siblings, especially her older sister would always write to her, or draw her pictures; this one was on the side of her cot.

“Dear Melody come home soon”

Picture Five

Little Miss Star was a Christmas gift, when her first Christmas was missed. The Goblet of Fire; I was reading this when I had my hospital stay(s) before she was born. The morning she was finally born, my consultant came in and said all he had to say, just before her left her said to us that he wouldn’t be delivering the baby until I had read The Deathly Hallows (the final book if you weren’t aware). I think it was his way of trying to reassure us of such a scary time. A few hours later she was born. I never finished that book.

 

Picture Six

The pink blanket is one she managed to use all the time she was there, it was one of the unit’s blankets. She always looked so snuggly underneath it. Also in this picture is another of her vests, and a teddy which had been attached to one of her balloons, yellow as always.

 

Picture Seven

The one of her certificates she received while in the unit. They give them to all micros who hit 1kg; she had just hit it during the week leading up to her death. Born 670g she struggled to gain weight, simply because she would burn more calories fidgeting than she took in, her weight went up and down a lot; until one day she finally hit her first kilo. In the top corner, I was very pleased to have received a Mother’s Day card from her, complete with her photo and a foot print. I wasn’t allowed to visit on the day of Mother’s Day that year; being told “there’s always next year”. I just wish now that I had visited her.

And finally a dress. This dress is identical to the one which she was buried in. A couple of years ago, as I was putting away my youngest daughter’s newborn clothes which included a coming home outfit. It occurred to me that we couldn’t have Melody’s; so I placed a Facebook message and within a matter of days one of my friends said she had the dress. It may never have been worn by our daughter, but it is just a reminder of what she will wear forever.

 

Picture Eight

Includes all of the above but also.

  • Booties we brought in the hospital while we waited for her arrival.
  • Congratulations cards (her sympathy ones are in the shoe box)
  • Order of Service
  • A baby made of icing
  • A muslin square
  • A baby-grow with monkeys on it, she never wore it but we couldn’t let her sisters wear it.
  • Hats from Australia – her uncle spent the whole time she was alive over there travelling and brought her hats.
  • A nursing bra – crazy I know but she always pouched in there when we had kangaroo care.
  • A baby loss brooch.
  • A gifted personalised keyring
  • Christmas decoration that her older sister made for her.
  • Name wristband, it was attached to her cot, ready for when she was big enough to wear it.
  • Number One Candle from the first missed birthday
  • Finally a PE top and tie, from the first year she should have started school.

There should never be any pressure to keep a memory box or special space within your home. I know I struggled not having a shelf in our house that is for her, but now I have one – I don’t like it, but I can’t take it down because I think I’d have some kind of guilt feeling. For now it will stay.

Having the options for these keepsakes are so important to families, some hospitals provide them it is such a lottery as to whether or not a family will receive one. I was lucky to have met some wonderful online friends who clubbed together to buy us one. We’ll never forget their kindness.

This box isn’t a shrine, just little pieces of her.

 

melody and me

The Lasting Goodbye…Part Two.

13th April 2012.

The alarm bounded out.

But we were already awake; sleep wasn’t one of the options.

We had been dreading this day.
The children were restless, chatting at breakfast eyes wide with wonder.
My husband and I paced silently.

Numb.
What would this day bring?
Flowers were arriving, was this really all for us?
The sun was shining exactly as it did on the day she arrived; now it shone for the day she would be…leaving.
Set on auto pilot, we washed we dressed.

We remained calm, following the children’s examples. How were we going to get through this day? Any day really?
We made our way to our car hand in hand, brightly dressed so she could see us clearly, desperately hoped she could now open her eyes without pain.
We were still too early, clock watching to the last moment, the final second time stood still.
We arrived at the church to a small line of people, I can’t remember the order but there were people.
My legs felt like jelly, like my bones had been removed, my chest felt tight and heavy; yet somehow I managed to keep up right to keep breathing. I wasn’t sure if I needed to be sick or not.

Again we had no choice.
We followed the smartly dressed man into the church. Hands tightly held the four of us, too scared to let go unless we lost one another.

I could just recall the haunting sound of Bagpipes playing Amazing Grace,

I could feel myself detaching.

We were here for someone else. This wasn’t our story.
We continued to walk closer to the front of the church, when we looked forward, there she was a little pink box on another little table.

Only now we wanted more than anything for it to be the big clear box that she had been in 2 weeks before.
One last chance, one last hope that this had all been a horrible mistake, her final chance to let us know everyone was wrong.

The book “Dragonflies and Water bugs” was read to us all, the children concentrated on every word.

My son clung to every word.

My daughter nervously waited to do her part.

She wanted to do something for her sister.
A picture she had drawn, a story she had written. She had a love for her sister that would grow with her forever.
Another song was played, instead of hymns, she was far too young to have hymns, the song had far more meaning.
“My Love” By Sia

The tears hit, the pain knocked like waves smashing into my already broken self.

Would they ever stop?

Would I ever be able to stand from this seat again?
We blew her a kiss and followed her as the smartly dressed man carried her out of the church, to her final journey to the song of Every Breath You Take.

We felt too weak to carry her; we were still too scared we would hurt her.

The blessing was a private moment between my husband, the children and I.

A candle lit as the blessing took place, when all we could think of was her baptism should never have been like this.
We knelt beside her, and gave her a blanket of daffodils, some extra warmth because we didn’t want her to get cold.
The rest of our guests came forward so they could say good bye, and send her some pink balloons.
We had prepared 35 balloons and 35 daffodils.

One per day she was with us, never enough days.

A decision we could never change.

The chance had gone.
11am we released the balloons watching them fly high some together, some drifted; the drifters would be as Melody is now.

We thought this was going to be the worst day of our lives, but really how could it have been. We had already done that part on the 1st.
Flying solo, while we as a family carry her in our hearts.

People may wonder why we continue to remember and share these dates.

Can you remember the age your child said their first word?

Melody never did that.

Can you remember when your child first walked?

Melody never did that either.

The dates of final moments, final memories are all we have of her.

We had no choice in how happy the memories would be this is what we have; we shall continue to build a lasting memory.

Because that is all we have.

We never wanted to say goodbye.

Xxxxx

 

melody and me

The Last Goodbye…Part One

2012

 

Thursday 12th April 2012 I had to make a decision, a decision I had no idea whether I would regret or not. What was right, or wrong?

A painful decision either way to make.

We walked over to the chapel of rest our hands held tight, my husband had already made his choice and was set.

Yet to me, it felt impossible. But in truth it shouldn’t have been difficult; I should have known instantly, whether or not I would see my baby one last time.

Our names were called, and in that moment my decision had been made, I had changed a million times. We rose to our feet I took my husband’s hand; we kept close together and slowly followed the smartly dressed man…

The room was small, softly lit with candles to add to the effect.

A small table in the centre of the room, it was painfully obvious what was stood in front of us. It looked no bigger than a memory box, but definitely bigger than a shoe box.

The next question “Are you ready?” I know took us by surprise. I had almost forgotten that there was another person in the room.

Were we ever ready?

But this was not something we could put off, because we knew that the next day would be too late.

We nodded, holding each other tight, tighter than we felt strong enough for.

Terrified we had made a wrong choice.

The crochet blanket was gently pulled back, the smartly dressed man left.

“Have as long as you need”

But we needed forever, he couldn’t give us that.

We stepped forward slowly, peeking in not knowing what to expect.

A warning, a guide but nobody is ever the same.

There she lay peaceful, make up made her look perfect.

Almost like there was no reason for her to be there, if only.

Surgical tape had slightly embedded into her baby face, and the stillness that was blindingly obvious, no breath sounds no delicate baby snore, just the deafening silence.

We exchanged glances, and questioned

“How was this fair?”

“Why the hell us?”

“What had we done?”

“Was this all my fault?”

We didn’t know if we were allowed to touch her or get too close.

I wanted to cuddle her, but was afraid I would hurt her, although I knew that was now impossible.

We placed our photos and drawings the children had asked us to take, I stroked her face, suddenly remembering that her warmth had long gone, it had been replaced with an icy cold glow. It caught me off guard.

We still hoped that somehow she would open her eyes.

We were willing her to breathe. I held my breath in case I missed her chest rise and fall, in case she was moving. But that rise and fall didn’t appear, stillness replaced that wish.

Talking to her, telling her how much we loved her, how much we missed her already, wanting everything to be just an awful nightmare.

We felt lost, we held on to each other’s gaze, it was then we knew the time had come to tuck her in to her blanket for the final time, to kiss her good night for the final time.

Knowing we would need to remember how she smelt, how she felt, all in one movement.

It was our one chance.

It was our one final chance.

I can’t remember whether her coffin had a plaque, and if it did I don’t know what it said.

 

We lifted the blanket a corner in each hand, tears rolling down our faces we covered her, tucking her in replacing the blanket with each other’s hands walking back wards giving her a lasting Good Bye.

 

For the next day it would be the last……

 

 

melody and me

Melody’s Footprints. Remembering Our Daughter.

I love taking photographs; even more so since Melody died. We have few photos of her, but we do have them, but in her photo albums, there are days missing. Days which I can’t piece together what she did, moments of her life missing, memories which have faded for me.

Photographs now are of great importance to me. I try to take them of my growing children as often as I can; but I always try to capture a moment in every day, albeit small or something huge.

I don’t want to miss a thing.

In the weeks which followed the death of our daughter, we began to find comfort in seeing her name. I have always struggled with signs from her; struggled with the thought that “she is all around us”. I have worked on this over the years, it isn’t something that has really changed, and I don’t think it will.

So, I love seeing her name, it kind of began with our memory box which my online birth group friends brought for us; her name as clear as day on the front of the box, inside the box, is a tiny cushion with her name on too, it gave her presence.

Various social media pages began offering personalised graphic pictures, where they put your baby’s name on a picture, so I began “collecting” these, different designs – some were themed like for Christmas or Easter, some just had a nice or meaningful background; each included Melody.

I can’t quite remember which picture started it off, but I remember we visited a place in Devon the first summer we were without her, there’s a section named “Melody Close”, seeing her name felt like she had been included in our day out.

From then we began writing her name in the sand. Every beach we visited we wrote her name, close friends began to follow suit, places we had never heard of or would dream of visiting. Having the imagination I have, it is almost like she is having her own adventures, traveling the world, going to places we’d never dream or afford of going.

By our first October, Melody was soon included in the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Wave of Light, her name placed by candles alongside many, many other babies’ names. I was a beautiful thing to know she was remembered in this event. The following summer I placed a status on my Facebook, asking if people would write her name in the sand at the beaches they visited, it was a way of giving her a footprint to walk in the sand; she never had the chance to feel sand between her toes, this would have been the only way.

Many pictures came through; it was touching to see the many places she was being remembered, for the moments her name was being written, she was being thought of. Sad as it is as time as moved forward, the moments of thought can lessen. As her second birthday approached, we didn’t know how we would ‘celebrate’, we found the second birthday harder than the first. Taken from a friend’s idea for her daughter’s birthday the year before, we asked people to write her name, not just in the sand; but in any kind of way, they could think of. There would be no cards, no party or her choosing a birthday cake.

#melodysfootprints

Our friends and family came up with the most wonderful designs and ideas; there were so many and no two were the same. It means so much to see people had taken a moment out of their day; to do a little something for her.

We are several years into this journey, and over the course of the years the photos don’t come as often. But the ones which arrive mean so much to us. We can’t physically make memories with her, but we can somehow make her memory last. When the days in which it feels all is fading her name appears; someone has taken the time to remember her.

We fill scrapbooks when we have time, rather than photo albums.

We have several which we love; the children are often the first to want to include her name in a place we were visiting.

She has been taken to Florida, Indiana, France, Cornwall, Australia, Scotland, and Devon to name a few.

She was remembered by a couple we have never met on their wedding day; this one landed a spot on our wall in our living room.

Here are just a few.

We named her after a character in the Doctor Who series; when she was born we knew we had picked the right name.

We just didn’t know she would end up travelling on her own.

I don’t want the only place her name is written is on her headstone.

Her name should be surrounded the beauty she deserves.

#melodysfootprints

If you’re reading and would like to take her with you, we have given her a hashtag – #melodysfootprints

melody and me

Why I don’t like to Visit

I must admit I have visited her on a weekly basis during the past few weeks, more because I would be walking past the cemetery, so it wouldn’t have been right if I didn’t pop in to see her.
But generally, it isn’t a place I like to be.

Visiting

We go to visit around her birthday, her anniversary; we give her a carnival theme in September, which changes to Halloween and then Christmas.
We visited her a lot in the beginning, at the time it felt right, it felt like it was something we needed to do; like a guilty feeling for not spending time with our daughter. But as time moved on, the more difficult it became to visit; I’ve never found the spiritual side of this loss, I never felt that she was always around me… I’d completely lost her. To me she had literally moved from one box to another, only her new box was this ugly thing that is now buried 3ft underground.
I don’t like visiting her because I know where she is; I know and can imagine where she is lying. No amount of what people tell me, that she isn’t there, I know she is….I watched them lower her into the ground.

Ugly

It probably is a form of torture, imagining the totally ugly side of death, of her death. But there isn’t anything exactly beautiful about having a funeral, a burial for your child.
I used to feel guilty about so many things, about how I chose to repair myself; not visiting on a daily basis or talking to her for hours on end. She could once hear me when I spoke to her she would respond to me, now – well you know.
I’d have nightmares in the beginning about her final resting place, awful horrible nightmares; most rarely appear now, I don’t think they will ever go away.

Goodbye

When she was alive the word ‘Goodbye’, couldn’t get past my tongue, it was a word in my head that felt so powerful, that I felt scared to use it, every evening when we left the unit or every time during the day, I’d say “See you later.” Or “See you tomorrow.” Goodbye always seems so final, her time spent in the unit she was doing well, so I never really knew why I was so frightened to use it.
Then I had to say it, I had to say this final word, as she slipped away I had to say it, amongst the “I love you.” And “please don’t go”. Goodbye had to now roll off the tongue.
When I, we visit her at the cemetery, I now have to say it, I have to say goodbye to her, I have to walk away, to leave her there, to turn my back on her every single time.
It isn’t how it was meant to be, walking away each time, even now still hurts, she’s still dead, she still should have been here.

Love

Visiting her on the surface, it seems okay, I take photos of her flowers, of her new toys…I still like to buy her things. But the inside it kills me. This wasn’t supposed to be our life. But it is – she is where she is. I don’t have to visit her to show that I am her Mum. Doesn’t mean I love her any less, I just have to try and live every day for her, make each day count, even the ones where we have Pyjama days.