Planning for the big day

Photo by Audrey Johnson, courtesy of SXC.

Photo by Audrey Johnson, courtesy of SXC.

In 4 months Aidan will be turning 5 and Anthony and I are busy making plans. We’re asking ourselves all the usual questions…

How many guests?
Venue – where and how big?
Self-catered or hire a caterer?
Serve alcohol, yes or no?
Open or invitation only?
Helium balloons – yes or no?

Yet we aren’t planning Aidan’s birthday party, we’re planning his funeral. On the advice of his palliative care team, we are locking in details for Aidan’s final party so that when the time comes we aren’t swayed by emotion and rushed into decisions we aren’t entirely comfortable with.  I know it’s a wise decision but certainly not one any parent should have to make.

For the other parents in our situation, how far have you gotten in your plans?


5 thoughts on “Planning for the big day

  1. We had no planning prior to Emily’s death, as it came rather quickly. I have thought a lot about the funeral these past couple of years, and I have no regrets. I am happy with all we did, and I cherish my memories of that special day. I do have three pieces of advice for that day. First, get someone outside of the family to take pictures. We didn’t think about this; but Patricia’s friend just did this on her own and we are grateful that she did. She stayed in the background of things and snapped a whole bunch of pics during the funeral and the burial. I am grateful she did this. Secondly, make a recording OR TWO. I say two, because the Funeral Company made a recording for us, but when they delivered the CD we stored it away for some time. When we finally got around to listening to it, we realized they had missed one of the songs. This was a special song sung by Patricia and many of her dear friends. It was/is the song that we sing to our children at bedtime. When I called the Funeral Company to see if they had a digitized copy of the services, they had recently upgraded computers (or something like that) and their archives did not go back a full year like we needed. I am sad that I don’t have a recording of this part of the funeral services. So, you might want to be redundant in your efforts to record. Designate these jobs to others. People will be happy to help you and they will need things to do as a way to express their love for you. Giving these jobs (not just the two I listed, but many others) to others will give you time to be with your immediate family during the crazy time immediately following your child’s death. My third piece of advice is to take the time to record your thoughts, feelings, and impressions about this time in your life. Though tragic, I also believe that death is a sacred event in a person’s existence. It may sound weird to some, but I consider myself extremely blessed that I was able to join my dear wife in holding our child on our arms and sing to her as she passed from this life to the next. Few parents have that opportunity.
    I cry as I type this: Remembering Emily, and pondering the fact that you are thinking about Aidan’s funeral. I wish you and the family all the best as Aidan continues his valiant march through life; whether it be just a short while longer, or many more years.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Aaron. I had not thought of any of these things. I guess I still don’t know what will help me in my time of grief. I think it’s amazing that Patricia sang the song you sing to the children at bedtime, that is so special. I wish I had a talent like that. You’re right about being there with them till the end. I think being able to hold him in his last moments will be so beautiful, sadly I am scared he will die in his sleep and I won’t get that chance.I’m so glad you don’t regret any of it, that is all i really want.

  2. Hello this is mum to Julia nanny to Finn and omg mother in law to Dan Penfold pore Dan he he!
    Sending you all love, Hugs and the biggest smile. Keep being brave keep living in the moment because that is all there is for all of us however for you all it is everything. I will put you all in my meditations.
    Hugs Christine

  3. Pingback: Why planning is one regret you won’t have | Parenting in Limbo

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