This is not your typical Mother’s Day Story or Tribute

This is not your typical Mothers Day story or tribute.  It is a real story of love, tragedy, sorrow and grief.  Sadly this isn’t a story at all, it’s a reality, my reality.

I went to school for funeral services, it is a two year program. One year in school and the second year is a paid internship year that you work in funeral services and also complete assignments.  To graduate from the program and get your license you must then pass a practical examination and final exams for school and then you have to write board exams.  Two days of intense examinations.

During my time as an intern I had to deal with many families and every situation was always emotionally heightened given the circumstances.  I often had to dig deep with in myself to deal with the weightiness of what it means to be a funeral director on a daily basis.

The hardest time was when I had to help support a family through infant loss.  Their daughter passed away at 21 days old.  She was born with a congenital birth disorder.  The family knew before her birth and they were prepared, as prepared as one can be for such a thing.

I remember so vividly the feelings that I had when I got the news that I would be working with a baby.  It stirred and tugged at my spirit in so many ways.  It felt like the weight of a thousand mourning mothers resided inside me.  We are told as funeral directors to always remember that the burden of loss is not ours, that the grief is not ours.  We are to support families during their time of need but to not let it weigh too heavily on our own lives.  This is a great sentiment as it is a challenging industry.  As a funeral director you are constantly surrounded with grief, sadness, loss and mourning. I was not meant to be a funeral director, I don’t know how to not carry the ‘burden’ of loss when sitting next to a mourning family or I suppose it could be argued that I was meant to be the greatest funeral director of all.  But it took a toll on me.

I never met with the baby’s family.  I went to the Sick Kids Hospital to pick her up after the autopsy was performed.  In infant death autopsies are almost always performed even if the cause of death is suspected before hand.  Usually we use a stretcher like you see in an ambulance but because the baby was so little we used a special carry case.

From the moment I placed her into that case I wanted to protect her.  I didn’t want to let anyone else near her.  I wanted to be alone with her, selfishly, feeling that I was the only one that could give her the tender care that her mother would give to her if only she was allowed to be in the room.

She was so small and so beautiful.  Her family was of the Baha’i faith.  At the core of this faith is the belief that there is unity in one God, unity of religion and the unity of mankind.  This faith does not believe in embalming unless deemed necessary by medical practitioners or by the law.

The family provided three linens to swaddle the baby in, along with a pin to fasten the blanket over her heart and gems and beads and jewels to place around her.  I placed each one just so taking the up most care on the placement along side her.  I valued and hated each piece as I placed it.  Conflicted with the overwhelming desire to make sure things were perfect for both the baby and the Mother and a deep rooted lack of understanding at the ways of the world.  Each bead placed with a woe of why?  I then placed her in the smallest of caskets made for the smallest of girls.  I think I placed a piece of me in there with her as well.  Actually, I know that I did.

So while my children jumped into my bed this morning placing beautiful kisses and gifts gingerly around me, I am reminded of this family, that I never met, that I never got to tell how much care and love went from me to them during their most devastating time of loss.

Motherhood is such a gift.  Embrace the time that you have with your children no matter how much or how little of it you have.  Make the time matter.  Make the time count.

This Mother’s Day I only want the cherished gift of time.  And maybe a relief from the house work.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours.

70 thoughts on “This is not your typical Mother’s Day Story or Tribute

    • Hi Jennifer, I really thought that this was a good story for Mother’s Day, at least for adults, life is fragile and sacred and I believe you drove that point home. That job is just one of those that nobody wants to do, at least you gave it a shot – you are braver than me. Of course I went to war, but I didn’t plan on that. I foolishly believed I could go 4 years in the military and get out to go to college on the GI bill! But anyway, I think the point is that we are richer for these experiences and they help us spread our joy of life and happiness for knowing just how sacred life is. Thank you for sharing what must have been a hard story to share and I hope that you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

      • oops I hope I got your name right, or maybe I miss understood. Sorry if I did. I see it says Mrs Mommy on the side. Forgive me if I said Jennifer in error! Oh and thanks for stopping by my blog. I like yours and I will come back for more. I lost my mom at a young age and I grew up with two sisters so I seem to identify with mothers and women in general pretty good, at least I hope. Of at least I do my best to try anyway! Looking forward to next post!

  1. What a precious gift you gave that family, caring for their baby as if she were your own. Enjoy your day with your own precious children.

  2. I worked with children who were dying. It was so very hard. I felt it was an honor to give my best to them, and in return I received untold blessings at the oddest of times. Their stories stay with me–35 plus years later. My life has been graced through my work with people who were suffering. Take Care of You and hug your children–barb

  3. Beautifully written, as a hospice nurse I too understand that the grief belongs to the mourners but of course the residual falls to those of us called to assist in whatever way we do.

  4. This is so lovely and heart wrenching…it really exemplifies the love of a mother (something I didn’t really fully understand until just over a year ago). Thanks for this!

  5. Pingback: News Break!!…HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, STUFF IT TUESDAY, PAY DAY THURSDAY,TWITTER etc. | Writings of a Mrs

  6. How tragic and something I could not even begin to imagine. Written with great sensitivity and reminds all of us how lucky we are to have our family around us.

  7. It would take a very strong person to work in that industry, especially with young children.good on you for sharing your story. It made me go and kiss my kids while they sleep!

  8. Hi! Thank you for liking my post and visiting my blog. My sister is also in the funeral services and she has told me many stories about taking care of families who have lost infants. It’s a very hard job to do, but she does it with great care and as you wrote she makes sure that everything is done out of respect and love for each family. Thanks for being one of the elite and doing a wonderful job.

  9. Jennifer,

    Thanks for the “like”. I was a Hospital Chaplain for a number of years. I vividly recall the death of a small child. What was particularly sad was that is was needless. She had been allowed to ride in the back of an open-bed truck. Need I say more?

    Life is indeed precious and we should treasure every moment with our children even when they’re “stinkers”.

  10. After having lost 3 baby’s of my own, one that I couldn’t bury because of how he and I were mistreated at the doctors office, my other 2 I miscarried early on in the pregnancy….it makes my heart melt to know that there is someone out there that will treat parents and their loss, so compassionately, like you did. I wish my son had that compassion, I would have a place to go to honor him! Thank you for having a caring, and loving spirit.

  11. As a mom of a baby who was due on Mother’s Day and made his debut on Valentine’s Day instead, was not supposed to live a week and we spent our first Mother’s Day in a NICU where he turned blue and I couldn’t even hold him – I think this story is completely honest and heartfelt on Mother’s Day. Its supposed to be a day of love and pampering, but for so many moms who are in a hospital hoping their child makes it through the night and especially those who have lost, its a beautiful tribute.

  12. Very powerful and moving piece. I am in grad school to become a counselor and we are learning the same things about detachment and not carrying the client’s pain too close but as I read this I know there will be many times when it is not easy to do that. How do you contact the pain of another and not feel it? It seems to me that honoring this family as you did is a powerful thing.

  13. I lost an anencephalic baby who only lived for 3 hours and resonated with your story.
    Glad you liked Tail to Tail. Do you get that it is for 4-6 year olds to learn the sound “CR”? I still have to try it on my 2 and 4 year old grands.
    Jeanne Poland

  14. Thank you for sharing your experience so beautifully. As a mother who lost her daughter at age 22, it helps to know that there are compassionate and loving ones around us, doing their best to provide comfort and nurturing, like you were with that family’s child. They might not have met you, but I am sure they could feel the love and care you brought to their baby’s body.

    I was blessed to be able to clean and care for my daughter at home, and am so grateful that I could take care of her body, with the same love that I brought to her in life.
    Thank you for reading my blog and leading me here!

  15. Wow. You liked my post. I decided to check you out. I happened to click on this post. And here I am. A Baha’i mama, with friends in this very situation. This is so, so touching for me to find. Thank you.

  16. Oh my…..What a special person you are. I didn’t fully appreciate the funeral directors job until this January when my father passed away.

    I can also appreciate your wanting to protect her. I don’t know if you have read my post One More Time but I didn’t want anyone to touch my father except me.

  17. I’m glad this it the post I selected to read when you liked my blog. It speaks to me more than I wish it did.

    As a mother who has buried her child (our oldest, to a drowning accident when he was trying to save a college classmate’s life), I know too well the agony these sweet and devastated parents have known . ..and will know all their lives. After this impossibly painful loss, the early encounters with strangers (like you, a funeral director) can do much to help the bereaved fell the only thing that can possibly help, and that is nonjudgmental love. You must be a loving person, or why would you choose your job? Why would you then take time to write about these strangers, their child. their evisceration? I can only imagine they felt your kindness and warmth, and that, though you may not know it, goes far to strengthen the crushed soul.


  18. I cannot imagine doing that job… I can’t even imagine ‘thinking about’ doing that job! But I say Thank You, from the bottom of my heart, to people like you who have the heart to do it. This week is the 10 year anniversary of my little sister’s death (she was 33 with 3 small children) and her passing was sudden and unexpected… the funeral directors were so kind and amazingly helpful as we slogged thru this unknown territory… I hope God gives you the grace to shed the burden of other peoples’ grief so you can have joy in your own journey.

  19. Very well said, and very true! I did “okay” when my children were little, but I want a “do over” so I can do it better! Even now, with them grown and having children of their own – I want more time to spend with those grandbabies, some of which barely know me! I hate that!

  20. I grew up in a family of funeral directors. My grandfather and father and an uncle owned the family business. I knew early on I was not cut out to join them. I can understand every word that you wrote, having been around similar circumstances from early on. I have the upmost respect for you and your family is blessed to have you!

  21. I often wondered how funeral directors were able to do such an important but harrowing job. What an incredible way to help us all remember how fortunate we are to have our children with us. How fortunate that family was that you would carry their child in your heart.

  22. One of our daughters is a Funeral Director while another is an ICU Trauma Nurse. Our “embalmer” was always torn apart when a baby or toddler was brought in. Even more so when she was pregnant.

    Our “nurse” has signed up for a NICU opening and will occasionally work that floor.

    Being a mother myself I treasure all 8 of our children – combined family – and thank God daily for the adults they have become. I always try to remember to tell them each I live them when I see them or talk on the phone.

    Thank you for this post. I’m sure the parents of that precious girl knew she had been cared for with loving hands.


  23. Being a Mom who has lost a tiny baby, this resonated with me. Thank you for your care in this little one’s case. I often wondered who cared for my baby in the “in between” and if they’d done things right. I was too sick to know at the time. Children are to be treasured.

  24. When I was eight years old. I lost a baby sister to spinal bifada. She ws only one month old. Thank you for reading my post. It takes a special person to do what you do. You are that special person, because you care.

  25. Such a beautiful tribute! How blessed are the people who you care for at that tragic time! Thank you for liking my post, and thank you for your beautiful spirit!

  26. Pingback: This is not your typical Mother’s Day Story or Tribute | Be Me | Live Free

  27. Thanks for liking my post on the cost of online writing courses. I think you might like to check out a friend and fellow bloggers site The Laughing Mom. She’s the mother of a young child and sees so much humor in life and we can all use a laugh now and then.

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