The Funeral

When Lentil died the hospital asked whether we wanted to arrange our own funeral or if we wanted them to do it for us.  We knew that we wanted to arrange it ourselves.  There was so little that we could do for Lentil that we wanted to make sure that we got his funeral and resting place just right.  I immediately thought I knew where I wanted Lentil to be buried.  We’d driven past a sign for a natural burial ground lots of times previously and I had often thought that that would be somewhere that I’d like to end up.  I’ve always said to Paul that when I die I want to be a squirrel, on the day that Lentil was born and died a squirrel came up to the door at the hospital and put both it’s paws on the glass while Paul was in the corridor making a phone call.  I know it sounds silly but we both found it very emotional.  I like the idea of a person becoming part of nature when they die so a natural burial ground seemed perfect.  We also decided that we wanted to buy a family plot so that we would all end up in the same place.

We decided to go and have a look at the burial ground and we were a little disappointed.  It was much less well established than I had imagined, I thought there would be full grown oak trees and it would be awash with squirrels but this wasn’t the case.  The burial ground is in it’s infancy, there are saplings but largely it looks like a field and there wasn’t a squirrel to be seen anywhere.  We spoke to a local funeral director who suggested a number of different options so we decided the only thing to do was a graveyard tour.  This is not something that you expect to find yourself doing and we found it incredibly hard, it was emotionally draining.  Choosing somewhere to bury your child is something that no parent should ever have to go through.  We had to limit ourselves to visiting one burial ground a day as that was more than enough to cope with.

After touring the local area we finally decided that we wanted to stick with the original option of the natural burial ground.  I’m not very keen on gravestones and so I liked the idea of a natural burial ground with unmarked graves.  I liked the idea of Lentil becoming one with nature and I think I find graveyards a little, I’m not sure of the word, not sterile.  All the gravestones and the graves that are either full of things or forgotten looking;  I think they just make me feel sad.  I wanted Lentil to be buried somewhere where we could visit with Lentil’s younger brothers and sisters (if they come along one day) and have happy family times rather than somewhere that feels sad.  I also felt less worried about the woodland being less developed than I thought it would be.  I like the idea of the woodland growing from it’s infancy with Lentil, I like the idea of watching it grow and develop over time.

Our funeral director was fantastic, he was always available to answer any questions we had and he only charged us the trade price of the casket.  We didn’t have to pay for anything else.  He was really lovely and carefully guided us through the decisions we needed to make.  He found us a lovely celebrant to conduct the ceremony at our chosen burial ground, we met with her and she immediately put us at ease.  We talked to her about Lentil and shared some poems and a song that we wanted as part of the funeral.  She then went away and organised everything else.

I wanted to do something for Lentil at the funeral but I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to speak at the funeral.  Paul was adamant from the start that he wanted to speak at the funeral but again was worried that he wouldn’t be able to.  I decided to write a poem for Paul to read, I have no idea how he found the strength to read it on that day but I am so proud of him for doing it.  He was so determined he wanted to read it for our boy.

Lentil, our gorgeous baby boy
From the beginning you filled us with joy
At the very first scan you looked like a fish
That you were healthy was our only wish
You showed us your hands at scan number two
And the sonographer was even impressed by you
We both had a cry and got quite sentimental
About seeing our gorgeous baby boy, Lentil
Then we started to feel you moving around
Responding to food and touch but not really to sound
Maisy’s bark never did make you jump
But you had a good wriggle when she snuggled your bump
At scan number three you were feeling quite shy
They measured your head, your tummy and your thigh
Everything looked so healthy and good
You were growing just exactly as you should
We talked to you, we read you books
We didn’t care if we got funny looks
You definitely took after your dad and your mum
You couldn’t wait for the tea and chocolate to come
Your feet were always ready for a good tickle
It breaks our hearts that we’ll never hear you giggle
At scan number four we could see your face
And we just couldn’t wait for our first embrace
We loved to feel you wriggle and kick
Although a name we still struggled to pick
We asked you to tell us if you were a boy one day
In your response there was no delay
You gave the biggest kick we’d ever felt
And for our boy our hearts continued to melt
We were so lucky to have a fifth scan
Able to see our grumpy looking little man
Finally it was time for your arrival
It never crossed our minds you would struggle for survival
When they told us your heart had stopped beating
We couldn’t believe your life could be so fleeting
You looked so perfect, quiet and at peace
All we could feel was love and disbelief
Lentil, never think your life went unnoticed
In our hearts we hold you the closest
We’ll always be so proud of our Lentil Bear
We’re just so sad and it seems so unfair
That we couldn’t spend our lives watching you grow
And showing how much we all love you so
Even though we feel sad, we will not stand and cry
Because it isn’t really here that you lie
You are the squirrels who play in the trees
You are the branches that sway in the breeze
You are the rainbow shining through
You are the birdsong and the sea of blue
You are the graceful bird in flight
The twinkling stars that shine at night
You are the dawn as each new day starts
You are forever snuggled safely in our hearts.

It was really important to us that Lentil’s funeral was a celebration.  It can be very hard to see beyond the unfairness and sadness of a situation when a child dies, especially when that child hasn’t really had a chance to live yet.  We wanted to celebrate the joy that he brought, the happiness that was caused by him, the impact he made on us and the moments we shared with him.  The song that we chose to play at the funeral was Have you ever been in love by The Divine Comedy, it really captures the feeling of happiness that we had and the love we feel for Lentil.  I also listened to it during labour so it seemed really appropriate.

The day of the funeral was beautiful, we were worried that it would rain and would end up being rushed but it was perfect.  We had a bouquet of native flowers to put on Lentil’s grave and petals for everyone to put into the grave on top of the casket.

I had really worried about the moment when Lentil would be lowered into the ground, it wasn’t as bad in reality as I had thought it would be.  I always find that part of a funeral hard but somehow it was a bit easier with Lentil.  I found myself thinking ‘it’s the only way he can grow, he needs to be buried’. I find the idea of Lentil becoming part of the flora and fauna of the woodland really comforting.

Paul and I had some time at the burial ground on our own so that we could say goodbye privately and we’ve been back a few times since.  It’s a beautiful, peaceful place and I’m really glad that we spent time making sure that we chose the right place for Lentil.

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