One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was about planning Aidan’s funeral in advance. To some people it seemed a morbid thing to do but for Anthony and I it was a way of ensuring Aidan got the send-off he deserved.
For parents like us, we won’t get to plan our child’s graduation party or assist with wedding preparations. The funeral is the final party, the final gift to our child, and it needs to be right.
I have heard countless stories from families who live with the regret of being forced into a ceremony they weren’t happy with or not saying goodbye the way they had wanted to. I was determined that we weren’t going to be one of them.
So, as mentioned in my previous post, Anthony and I sat down with the palliative care social worker well over a year ago to discuss the hard topics – did we want Aidan to die at home? Would we have a religious ceremony? Would he be buried or cremated?
We didn’t plan every detail. We just made sure we were on the same page with the important stuff. It gave us a chance to be really open about how we felt. It was hard and emotional but not near as bad as it would have been had we done it the week after Aidan died. Once we knew in our heads what we wanted, it enabled us to share these wishes with our families and medical teams, which proved invaluable in Aidan’s final hours.
Over the years, I also begun gathering prayers and poems we liked. I didn’t spend hours on it. If I found something on the net or in a book, I tucked it away in a folder. Some we used, others we didn’t but they were there if we needed them.
There is, however, a fine line when doing this so it doesn’t boil over into an obsession. I learnt this the hard way when I found myself constantly listening to sappy radio stations and taking in the words to every song in an attempt to find the ‘perfect’ funeral song. I was so focussed one day that I drove through a red light, wrote off my car and came crashing down into a crying and crumbling mess.
For parents in a similar situation, I say don’t be afraid to plan. Don’t be afraid of what others might think. It may seem odd to those who don’t understand but you will be glad you did. The feeling of knowing we gave Aidan the best farewell we could have given him is one of the few comforting things during this turbulent time.