Friday, January 31, 2014

This Happens to Other People

There isn't a single week that goes by without newspapers printing sad headlines. Headlines of deadly accidents... rare diseases. These things happen in life, and we're all very much aware of it. We know it happens. But it happens to other people. People who are meant to exist only in headlines.

For the rest of us, life is supposed to be reasonably predictable. The drive home will be safe. You will get over that cold. And your children will outlive you, bring you joy, and be the greatest legacy you could leave behind.

Seemingly healthy babies do not die. 

On December 19th 2013, and in the days that followed, Kayleigh and I were forced to consider questions that we simply could never have fathomed having to consider. How could we have? Losing a baby after a perfect pregnancy is simply not something that happens.

The first difficult question: "Would you like there to be an autopsy?" 

I can absolutely understand why some parents would opt not to have one. "You want to do... what... to my baby?". For us, even while we were still holding our daughter, we knew we needed to have answers. If we could not fix what happened, maybe we can learn something that will be useful next time.

The second difficult question: "Would you like to cremate her?". 

It's hard to understand how people decide where to draw a line - but for us, this was an option we could not even consider from the outset. We had recently done our wills, and when discussing the question, we were both okay with cremation - in theory. But to be holding your newborn baby, and asked to consider whether her body should be destroyed? It was simply not something we were able to say yes to.

"Would you like there to be a funeral?"

In hindsight, I am glad we did. But it wasn't an obvious choice. "Why should we?" we asked "No one even had a chance to know her. What is there to remember?". The outpouring of support, though, played a good part in convincing us that we were far from the only ones grieving. Offering a place for our amazing friends and colleagues to show their support was good for all of us. A moment of togetherness, in honour of our daughter, is a beautiful memory to have.

"Where should she be buried?"

There is a cemetery a short walking distance from our house. But even when we found out that they could do a burial in the winter, it wasn't as obvious a choice as it might seem. The cemetery is right along our daily commute- would we be okay being reminded of Anya every single working day? We discussed it, and decided that, really, the last thing we would want to do is forget. A reminder - any reminder- of our beautiful daughter is something that we cannot turn into a negative. Including her grave.

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