Funeral Service after a Stillbirth

The death of a child at birth is one of such mixed emotions.  A new baby is expected, a dead baby is born.  A new life is anticipated but is not delivered. It should be a time of great joy and becomes a time for great sadness.  Because of this it has become increasingly recognised that it is very important for those involved to have the opportunity to mark the life and death of their baby, and give thanks for the baby’s brief life in the mother’s womb.  It is also important for the mother and father to mark the fact that they are parents, even though the baby is no longer there.  If a child is born near to term, or at full term, most hospitals today will allow the parents, if they want to, to spend time with their baby. Photographs and hand and foot prints will be taken as keepsakes and to help the family have ‘proof’ of their child’s brief life.  This will be the only time after birth that the parents will have with their child, so it is very important that the time is a positive and helpful experience.  The parents decide that they want a funeral or cremation and it is important that as much time is taken with the planning of this as would be taken with the planning for someone who has lived longer.  Many parents will name their child and it is important that the name should be used during the service. 

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE LITURGY 

Welcome 

We come here today to give thanks for the life of N. Sadly his/her life was all too brief, but that makes no difference to us or to God. N was your precious child and God’s precious child.  So we shall give thanks for N’s  brief life, we shall hold out to God our sense of loss and confusion, our sense of anger and disappointment, and we shall spend time showing our love and concern for each other and ask for God’s healing light to shine upon us and help us to find peace.

Opening Responses        

Lord, we feel so lost and overwhelmed.
Lord, hear us in our pain and confusion.           

Lord, our arms are empty.
Lord, hear us in our pain and confusion.

Lord, we had such hopes and expectations.
Lord, hear us in our pain and confusion. 

N was both our precious child and your precious child, Lord, and he/she has died.
Lord, hear us in our pain and confusion.                                                          

Bible Readings      

Mark 10.13-16 Jesus shows his love for children
Romans 8.38-39 Nothing can separate us from the love of God

Other Readings – see Readings and Reflections for Funerals                

Prayers                                

Thanksgiving for the baby that has died
The time with N after he/she was born was so short, but that in no way diminishes how precious he/she is to us and to God.  For the past 9 months he/she had grown and moved, and had taken on an identity as part of the N family. So we turn to God in all our pain and confusion and ask him/her to welcome N home to rest in his/her loving arms. 
Lord, we feel emptiness and sorrow.
Let us know and feel your love.

Prayer for those who mourn
Lord, as the waves of grief wash over N and N as they look into the empty cot, into an empty void, and as they have to answer questions about where their baby is, give them the knowledge of your love for them, and your hope, and your comfort.  We pray they will be surrounded by a loving family and many friends as they journey on together.
Lord, we feel emptiness and sorrow.
Let us know and feel your love.

Prayer of Grandparents
Lord we hold out to you all N’s grandparents, as they grieve for their grandchild.
All their hopes and expectations for the future seem to have gone. The pain they feel for themselves is mingled with the pain they feel for their own child, as they watch and wish they could take that pain away, but know they cannot.
Lord, we feel emptiness and sorrow.
Let us know and feel your love.

Prayer for healing and peace
Lord, we hold out to you all who have gathered here today. May this time of grief and mourning lead to a time of healing and peace. May those who have suffered such deep loss know the comfort of friendship and love. May they be strong for each other and together go forward knowing they are loved by God at all times.
Lord we feel emptiness and sorrow.
Let us know and feel your love. 

The Dismissal                    

Let us go from this place in faith and in hope knowing we are not alone,
blessed by having shared this time together.
May God’s blessing be upon us in times of sadness,
may God’s blessing be upon us in times of joy,
may we be aware of God’s love in all we do and say,
and may the blessing of God…

Hymns and Songs – see Hymns and Songs for Funerals                                               

Recorded Music – see Recorded Music for Funerals         

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