The loss of anyone loved is difficult, but the loss of a pregnancy can be particularly hard and painful. An early miscarriage is deemed as a loss before 12 weeks gestation, a late miscarriage can occur after the 12 weeks and a stillbirth is given to a loss after 20 weeks gestation. Losing a pregnancy at any stage isolating and can leave the parents feeling lost and misunderstood. But you are not alone, there are over 2000 stillbirths in Australia every year. The grieving process of any loss, but particularly one that occurred in the later stages of pregnancy, can be helped by a physical funeral or memorial service.

Create memories

Whether you lose your pregnancy in the later stages or have a stillbirth, you are still a parent. The loss of the dreams and hopes that you developed as your baby grew can be eased a little by creating memories of your baby. This can be done by:

  • Making the birth a loving experience.
  • Naming your child.
  • Seeing or holding your baby.
  • Taking a cast of your baby's hand or footprint.

Creating memories of your lost baby is entirely up to you. Everyone experiences grief differently and you are no less of a person or parent for not wanting to see or hold your stillborn child. Ultimately, you need to do what feels right for you.

Have a funeral service

In some parts of Australia, a funeral for a baby stillborn after 20 weeks gestation is legally required. The hospital should be able to help you find a funeral director to make the plans.

If your baby was lost before 20 weeks gestation, then you can still choose to have a funeral service.

The funeral can take place in the hospital or your local place of worship, and can be treated as any other funeral. Some parents feel that making the funeral a celebration of the child and as special as possible helps with the grieving process.

When planning the funeral, you can choose to:

  • Bury or cremate your baby.
  • Where they will be buried or what to do with their ashes.
  • Who will be invited to the funeral. You may want to keep it private or invite close family and friends.

Create a memorial

If your loss is deemed a miscarriage rather than a stillbirth, you can forego the funeral service and hold a memorial instead. This could involve gathering with your family to mark the occasion by planting a tree or special plant in your garden or local green space (if you can get permission), or by lighting candles.

Losing a pregnancy is incredibly painful but the grieving process can be made a little easier by making that child a part of your lives and celebrating it through creating memories and holding a special funeral or memorial.

For more information, check out funeral directors such as David W Bull.