“A person is a person no matter how small” – Dr Suess
This week is baby loss awareness week (9th – 15th October). Baby Loss awareness week is held across the world for parents, friends and family to acknowledge and remember all the little babies who have died before they got to experience life.
As well as bringing awareness, it is also an opportunity to break the silence on this still taboo subject of pregnancy and infant loss. It’s a chance for people to talk openly about the subject of and raise awareness of baby loss and pregnancy loss.
Pregnancy and infant loss is the unbearable heartache for 1 in 4 parents in Australia every single day. That’s a frightening statistic, yet it is something that is rarely discussed. Lets help break the silence. Every baby loss is someone’s much wanted baby. We imagine that baby loss, is an uncommon occurrence, but it happens every day, and chances are it has happened to someone you know and love. Regardless of that baby’s age, parents who have experienced their loss of their much wanted baby, have lost their hopes and dreams for their little one.
Many years ago, women were told to go home and forget about the child that died. It was brushed under the carpet, never to be spoken off again.
Thankfully we have come along way.
Organisations such as Heartfelt and Cuddle cots provide grieving parents priceless memories and an opportunity to spend time with their baby.
For the last 3 years, I have worked with many families who have had to bear the unbearable loss of their much loved precious babies. A funeral can be a very important and meaningful way to share in grief and say goodbye.
It can be hard to know what to say or do if someone you love has lost a child. f you know someone who has experienced infant loss, don’t be afraid to say their child’s name. And allowing them the freedom to grieve and express themselves openly, in whatever way is best for them, will be the best gift you can ever give.
Remembering all the beautiful babies whom I have had the privilege of honouring.
Sleep tight little ones…….
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” Dr Suess
As a funeral celebrant, last week I conducted the funeral of a 44 year old wife and mother of 4 kids who sadly died much too soon.
During her beautiful service, we played 3 audio visual tributes with music and photos, so many of the photos displayed were of Nadine and her children.
This got me thinking about which photos my family would use given the same situation, as I don’t think there would be enough photos for even one photo tribute.
As a mother of 2 children myself and a keen photographer, I have 1000’s of photos but sadly very few with me in them.
As mothers we are a big part of our children’s lives but in very few photos.
And I am not alone…. I know lots of mums who are the family’s unofficial photographer, and who take lots of photos of the family on various occasions but often find a reason not to be in the photo.
We are our own worse critic and can easily come up with an excuse “I will take the photo”, “I look too tired” “I’m in my old clothes” “I need my hair done” “I feel frumpy”
Not every photo needs to be perfect. Social media has made us a little obsessed with making sure that every picture is perfect. And I am guilty of deleting photos because I don’t think I look good in them.
(This is the perfect example – I had just washed my hair and its still wet).
As Nadine’s children sat there watching their lives with their mum flash before them, they didn’t care that she didn’t have make up on, or perhaps wasn’t looking her best. All they could see was how much she loved and adored them. Memories that they will treasure forever.
One day, we won’t be here and the least we can do is leave our children some photographic evidence that we were there with them too.
It can be hard to savour the moment when you think there will be many more. We think there will be a next time – but what if there is no next time.
We really need to make an effort to be in more photos, do it for our children and how you want them to remember you.
Last weekend I was invited by the Melbourne Writers Festival 2018 to appear in two shows in this years programme.
The theme of this years festival was “A matter of life and death” and the programme included a wide variety of topics including Magda Szubanski attending her own funeral.
The ACMI Cube was transformed into a funeral parlour with a focus on topics of mortality.
During the first session I was invited to present was titled the “Final Page” and I co-hosted along with two lawyers on writing your will and penning your own eulogy.
During the session, I discussed the value of writing your eulogy and how this can benefit those left behind.
Photo Credit Dying to know Day.
During the second session, which was also held in The Cube at Federation Square, I was invited to be on a panel along with holistic funeral director, Libby Maloney, and Rabbi Noam Sendor, to learn about different Rites and Rituals for the dead.
We shared our experiences and opened the floor to an discussion about some of the practices around death and the dying process.
Both sessions opened up some rich thoughts and great questions.
I feel extremely privileged to have been invited to take part in such an amazing and wonderful event.
Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant
Music plays a very important part of a funeral service. It can be very emotive and it usually helps to set the tone of the ceremony.
There are no right or wrong music choices – even if you think its not appropriate for a funeral, if it represents your loved one, then that’s all that matters.
But deciding on song choices can be very difficult. Often families do not know where to even start to decide on the music.
Some of the things to consider which may help make the choices easier include?
- Do you want recorded music or Live Musicians?
Live music can include from family members, musicians, bagpipes etc….
Some of the very talented musicians I have worked with at funerals over the years include.
Connor Taylor Pianist
Scottish Bag Piper
There are a number of other aspects to consider. These include
- The tone of the service. Do you want the service to be uplifting and celebratory or more reflective as this will help determine the song choices.
- What style of music did your loved one enjoy? Was music important to them? Did they enjoy music from a particular era? Who did they like listening to?
There are no rules and music can be played at any stage, but as a guide we usually use music during the following stages of the service.
- Pre-ceremony – unless music was very important to your loved one, the Funeral Director or Celebrant will often have some music that can be used as background music.
- Entrance music – usually used to signify that the service is about to start
- Reflection music – this can be used with a slideshow of photos or quiet reflective time during the service
- Farewell music – this piece of music can determine the mood on how you would like the service to end.
Should you need any inspiration, I have a comprehensive list of funeral songs available as a starting point.
Fiona Garrivan Funeral Celebrant
Today marks 3 years since I conducted my first funeral. I will always remember it as it was for a little beautiful baby girl who was born sleeping.
What an incredible 3 years it’s been. I never imagined when I became a celebrant, that this career would take me on this path.
It is the most rewarding and humbling experience to remember those who have died and support those who grieve.
My families often remark that I don’t look like a someone who works in the funeral industry. And thanks to the support of all the industry partners I work with, we are working together to do death differently and with dignity.
I am fortunate enough to work with some of the best people in the industry – who do this job with real heart and compassion.
And I feel eternally grateful to each and every family, I have the privilege of looking after during such a difficult time in their lives.
Sleep peacefully baby Winter.