Tuesday, 16 January 2018

One Last Time

We went to visit Holly Rose at the funeral director's this morning. When we first met up with Anthony, at Gillotts (our funeral directors, who have been so wonderfully supportive), he asked us if we would want to visit Holly one last time, before the funeral. I answered honestly, that I would always want to see my baby's face again... but not if she looked "altered" after the postmortem, or if she looked distressing in any way. That isn't how I would want to remember her. So I trusted him to make the decision on our behalf, and let us know when she was safely in their care, whether he would advise us to see her again. We duly took his advice and went to see her this morning.

I'm not going to lie; Holly didn't look distressing, but she did look a little changed, and truthfully, she no longer looked like "herself." As my partner said, she just looked more "distant"... However, I am really glad we went. I suppose accepting that she's really gone is part of the process, and looking at her today, I knew that she was really gone. In some ways, that makes it easier to let go.

We sat with her for a while, and played her "Holly's Carol," which I've recorded especially for her funeral. And I left a hand-written poem with her in her casket. It's a poem I wrote seven years ago for her "sister," my ectopic pregnancy, who I lost via surgery at ten or eleven weeks pregnant, and I always believed was also a girl... (Yes, I realise this will also be news to many of you reading this. Nobody really talks about such things, but I lost another pregnancy before we had Rowan who I have equally, never forgotten). I felt that I wanted to acknowledge and honour both my lost babies - one of whom never even got the chance to be recognised, and putting the poem in with Holly was my way of saying goodbye to both of them. I have shared this poem many times since writing it seven years ago, with other women going through a similar loss. It was written for "Ivy" (my first pregnancy, who named herself seven years after the event, following Holly's birth). Every word remains true, and applies to Holly Rose, too.

If you had lived...

They say that some things are just not meant to be,
But nevertheless, you were special to me.
You were my hopes, and my future plans,
I imagined my world in your tiny hands.

In my thoughts, I had held you,
Pictured who you might be,
And I felt that I knew you,
Though you never knew me.

For weeks, you provided my secret smile,
And I'm proud that I carried you 'round, for a while.
I like to believe you are safe, up above,
But if you had lived - you would have been loved.

Her eco-woven casket is really, truly beautiful (I am not sure these photos do it justice). I am so glad we chose it. It was important to me that it was an eco-friendly one, so that Holly can depart the world as she entered it - owing nothing, and with a clean slate. I will be able to say that she has only ever contributed positively to the world that she was part of for such a short time. But aside from being eco-friendly, it looks so like a Moses basket; very sweet, and so tiny. It's beautiful. It's lined with a gorgeous, soft cotton lining, and it really does seem like my baby girl is just sleeping, wrapped in her knitted blankets with her teddy. She is wearing a tiny babygrow and vest that was her brother's; nothing fancy, but I wanted her to be wearing something of his, and I'm really glad we visited her, so I was able to confirm for myself that she has been well looked after, and has all the things with her that I wanted.
  • Her teddy bear (we were given two in a memory box by SANDS when we left the hospital. One stays with her, and the other we kept).
  • Her blankets (hand-knitted, and again, given to us by SANDS).
  • Her brother's tiny baby clothes (I have kept the ones that she wore in hospital, but provided another set for the funeral directors to dress her in).
  • My hand written poem, which I placed in the casket with her, for her and her sister, along with a note that I've photographed so I can remember what I wrote to them in years to come.

On Friday, she will have a holly wreath for her casket (made by my Mum before Christmas, to hang on the door... it contains ivy, too). I have managed to keep it fresh, and will replenish it with a rose to match her floral arrangements, which I'm doing myself.

Above photo taken in the hospital (not at the funeral directors),
of Holly Rose with her little bear.

I really hope that nobody finds these photos distressing. It isn't my intention to upset anyone. Perhaps it may seem strange to share images of her casket, and talk openly about her death, and her funeral arrangements. Part of the reason I share these things is not just for my own benefit (although for some reason, I do find it comforting to write about her, say her name, and share her photos), but also by putting this blog in the public domain, there will (sadly) be other parents in a similar position... Parents who never expected to find themselves arranging a funeral, or choosing a casket in which to bury or cremate their child. Who probably never considered whether or not they would want to view their baby at the funeral directors. (I know this to be true, because until a few weeks ago, I was one of them). Perhaps somebody somewhere, may find these posts helpful when making their own difficult decisions, and for that reason, I am putting my thoughts out there.


  1. Holly Rose looks so beautiful!

    Thankyou for sharing her here. I feel honoured to know more about your lost daughters (both Holly and Ivy) and how much they remain loved and remembered in your heart.

    Lots of love to you and your family,

    Coco x