Holding a Child After Death

3:25:00 PM

When I was pregnant with Thomas, I often thought about his death. Could I give birth to my son, stand by his side as he died and then hold him close? Could I arrange his funeral? Could I say goodbye and watch as he was lowered into his grave? I wrote about some of these fears in The Viewing. And I also mentioned them in my diary...

23rd November
… The staff were disconnecting non-essential tubes and wires and Thomas was being placed in our arms for the first time and to die. His heart failed before his lungs and he died at 3 pm – 28 ¼ hours old. We all held Thomas and we all cried. The photos tell the story of our anguish. Then Thomas was taken, all remaining tubes etc were disconnected and he was dressed. We were able to hold him and photograph him. He looked so different away from all the equipment – so beautiful, looking just like Imogen with her nose and other fine features. His little hand, in the photographs, shows clearly all the needle marks. What suffering for a little baby. Babies are meant to know warm milk and be cuddled and held close. They were never meant to undergo such pain.

… I realise now that I never looked at Thomas’ ears… Why didn’t I look at him more closely when I had the opportunity? I never saw his eyes open, never saw him move or heard him make a sound…

… I never thought I could watch my baby die or hold a dead baby in my arms or arrange a funeral. But I have done all these things, things I’d rather not have done but things I had to do out of love for our baby. Although Thomas was dead, he was my baby and it was easy to hold him and cuddle him.

He looked different at the funeral director’s… The coffin was at first distressing. Thomas was in the white coffin in the chapel room and only his little face was showing. I cried because he didn’t look like my baby Thomas. However, Charles, the funeral director, took him out of the coffin and placed him in my arms and I felt better…

3rd December 
… I have been sorting out photos ready to order reprints. It worries me that the photos taken at the hospital look so different from the ones taken at the funeral home. What did Thomas really look like? I’m not sure now. Why didn’t I look and look and look at him while I had the chance?

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  1. The looks on your boys faces are absolutely heart breaking- especially the little guy on your shoulder. There are many things that make me tear up lately, but the sorrow of your small children gave me a good cry.

    I am so sorry that all of our babies, have to go through this loss as well.

  2. Sarah,

    Yes, the photos captured perfectly the sorrow of my children. The son on my shoulder was 11 at the time. He was the most affected of all the children. During pregnancy, I begged God to spare our children the sorrow of losing their brother. I didn't think they would survive. But they did. And now Thomas holds a very special place in their hearts.

    Yes, tears come easily. I can remember so clearly...

    Grief affects the whole family. With prayers for yours.



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