Friday, June 25, 2010

Age: 0

Dear Stevie,
Dad and I finally went to pick up your ashes today. They have been ready for us to come and take home since May 14th, but I just didn't want to do it. I feel like a horrible person. What kind of mother leaves her daughter's remains at the mortuary for six weeks? I'm sorry I didn't go get them sooner, but I know it's not like I left you there for six weeks. You were not sitting on the shelf in that plain front office all that time, waiting to be picked up. You left this earth the day your little heart stopped beating. It's the same way I felt in the hospital. One of the nurses asked me if I wanted to keep your body in the room with us. I found that so strange and said, "no, take it out of here. That's not Stevie. Stevie's gone."

I'm sure I'm in the minority here, and I don't want to offend anyone, but I'll just go ahead and say it: your ashes don't mean that much to me. As I was handed the little white plastic box that held your remains, I expected to feel some sort of connection to you. But I didn't. I opened the lid and examined the quarter-cup or so of ashes inside the zip-lock baggie. Nothing. I sat with your ashes on my lap in the car and thought about how weird it was that they were once contained inside my body, in a different form of course. Still nothing. We stopped by Target on the way home and I just left that little white box sitting on my seat in the car. We got home and I said, "so what are we supposed to do with these?" and put that little white box on the bookshelf in the living room.

I don't like seeing that little white box. I find no comfort in it. I have no desire to have it near me. It is just a sad and somewhat creepy reminder to me that your perfect little body was burned to ashes. I'm still not sure what we'll do with those ashes. Probably scatter them somewhere, mainly because I really don't want them in our house.

Today was the second and probably last time I will ever get to sign my name as your mother. On the cremation receipt, on the "relationship to deceased" line, I got to write the word "mother." The first time I got to write that word was when I authorized the hospital to perform your autopsy. It's just not right. I should be filling out forms at your first pediatrician visit and signing field trip permission slips for you someday, not signing over your dead body to the morgue and picking up your remains. No one should ever have to write the word "mother" next to "relationship to deceased." Ever.

I was looking at your cremation certificate, and the place where your age is listed really struck me. "Age: 0," it said. I guess I have never seen an age written out as just "zero" before. Why couldn't it say, "age: 25 weeks, 5 days," or "age: 6.5 months gestation." Zero implies that you never lived at all. That you never existed. And we both know that's just not true.

I may not find comfort in your ashes, but I find it knowing you are not in that little white box. You are running free, playing and skipping and jumping and dancing. And you are in my heart forever.

I love you so much, Baby girl.

Always and forever,


Courtney said...

No offense taken at all. We opted not to cremate our boys because I knew I would feel the same way towards their remains. Nothing wrong with cremation in any way shape or form it just wasn't for us or what we wanted. We opted to lay our sons to rest in a cemetery. They are now all together ... forever but they too left as soon as their tiny hearts stopped beating.

I couldn't sign anything at the funeral home, my husband did and I remember Jason signing "Father" next to relationship and it broke my heart into a millions pieces that he had to do that twice.


Julie said...

what got me was the cremation certificate that asks for the social security number. on that line they had written, "N/A 25 weeks gestation." i HATE that my son was an "N/A."

i don't feel any special connection to kenny's ashes either, but we will not scatter him. when i first saw the urn in person i burst into tears because it was so small. just the thought that all that's left of my beautiful perfect boy fits into that tiny container.

Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay said...

You're right. We should never, ever, EVER have to sign off as a mother to a deceased child. When I read your words, it took me back...10 months ago...and how I absolutely hated having to do that. I took so much pride in signing my name as Ayden's mother when he was alive, but after he died, I found it so cruel.

You're so brave for writing this. I love your honesty. For some reason, some people are shocked by honesty when it comes to this type of situation. I find it helpful to be very honest...helps me process, and reading the words of others going through the same situation helps me process, too.

Take care of yourself...

Emily said...

The real reason I probably have a strong connection to Aidan's ashes is because of the urn they are in. It's a very plain square wooden urn but it has his name on it and we picked it out for him (it's the only thing I ever bought him). I feel conected to pretty much ANYTHING that has his name. We got a piece of mail from the government with his name on it and I had my husband take a photo of it. It was the only piece of mail we'll ever get with his beautiful name written on it. If I just had a plain white box with his ashes I'm not sure I would feel as strongly about it...but maybe I might...I guess it kind of goes along with my energy theory. Some of the carbon of Aidan's body remains in those ashes. Those carbon molecules belonged to the food that I ate and digested that helped him to grow. Sciencey-me just can't help but really DIG that. But yeah, I could see how you would feel that way.

Kristin said...

Emily, I think your energy theory is a beautiful thought, and I hope this didn't come across as though I think those who do feel a connection with their baby's ashes are silly for feeling that way or something. I just find it interesting how we all grieve differently and find comfort in different things. Maybe we will look at getting a nicer container to put the ashes in. I didn't even think of looking at urns and no one at the funeral home ever mentioned it.

Kelley and Chris said...

We raced to pick up Jackson's ashes as soon as they called to tell us we could. I just couldn't wait to have them here with me. I thought it would bring me comfort. Instead, it made me sick to my stomach. I cried and cried, I think because I didn't feel the connection that I thought I would. Probably for the same reason you don't. I won't be able to scatter them. Even though I don't feel that connection, it's all I have. I never bought an outfit for him or even took a picture of my baby belly. So it's really the only tangible thing I have. And it sucks...

Andrea said...


I understand your feelings, I opted not to keep my father's ashes at my house because it made me very uneasy. However, after some time passed, I slowly grew more okay with the took time.

Perhaps you can look for an urn that you like. My precious friend, mother to triplet angel girls, found a beautiful urn on line that she liked. It took her 1 yr to do this, so take your time and do what your heart tells you to do. There is no right or wrong way.

Thanks for always being so transparent, so honest. I only wish you did not have to endure all this pain :(

Sending you a BIG HUG

Maggie said...

No offense taken at all! Hard to offend in the babyloss community. I think we have plenty others offending us! ;) I remember my husband had to sign the release form when she went for her autopsy and I think he had to sign it "Father". Ugh. Breaks my heart we have to do all of this for our babies. I wish it was all different. Sending you many big hugs today!!!!

Brie said...

Denise's ashes are that way to me...Her little white box sits on a bookshelf in our office..and I have to wonder, if any of our friends or family have ever looked at that box and wondered what was in there...and what would I say, if someone were to pick up the box, and open it? "Yep, that's my daughter"..Sorta morbid, but we just haven't gotten the guts to go spread her ashes yet.

Kerri said...


It took my mom over 40 years to bury my older brother's ashes. I think she never knew what to do with his little box.

One day it will come to you what feels right. Whether it takes a week or 40 years.

Love to you.

Mrs. Mother said...

No offense taken at all. I always felt like I was a little different from most deadbabymommas because I didn't hold her very long or keep her in the room with me. I just couldn't. I held her long enough to cuddle her to me, kiss her, tell her I loved her and goodbye. I just couldn't take anymore than that.

Her ashes were a different story. My aunt called one who volunteered to do it for free. I was so grateful. When I went to pick up the ashes, they were in a Ziploc bag in one of those Glad containers. I started crying in front of the nice man who owned the funeral home. He told me to go and pick out any urn that I wanted. I picked one, and he put her in it. For several weeks, I carried her around in my purse, and I know that's morbid. Right now, she's in a mini curio cabinet hanging on my wall. I was going to scatter her ashes over my granny's grave, but I have decided I want to be buried with her when I die.

Anyway (I can get long-winded), we all have reactions to certain things that differ. we aren't all the same and shouldn't feel bad or guilty for those feelings.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of Life Gem? In a way it is creepy but it is also kind of beautiful.

Anonymous said...

<3 We all do this differently. No need to feel bad about anything you feel, although its easier said than done. I never took Valentina out of her swaddling to see her hands and feet and body... I feel awful about that. I also feel awful that we only spent a couple of hours with her in the room and not the whole night etc.

Kristin said...

Those Life Gems are awesome! If I had an extra $3,000, I'd order one in a second! :)

Violet1122 said...

I used to work at a mortuary (doing paperwork & record keeping) and I can tell you six weeks is nothing. Don't feel bad at all about that. I used to see cremated remains (many times they were babies) that were waiting there for months, even years in a few cases. Many times, people would delay picking them up because it was the last "thing" they had to do for their loved one. And the family didn't want to be without "things" to do for the deceased.

Not that I'm saying you felt that way! But I just wanted you to know you shouldn't feel bad about waiting to pick up that little box.

I'm so sorry you don't have little Stevie with you right now. It's so unfair.

daega99 said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Many, many hugs and prayers to you.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby girl. Wishing you all the best.

Melissa said...

You are not alone. My son's ashes, according to my husband, are in a box in the garage somewhere. I didn't even go get them. I had enough of the funeral home and the clearly uncomfortable but polite enough very pregnant receptionist or whatever at the place the first time we went.

The ashes mean nothing to me. That isn't my son; neither did his body as they turned off the life support. He was already gone; that's why we turned off the machines. When I tried to touch him, I got incredibly grossed out, and almost threw up, right on the spot. How is that for your "last" contact with your beloved child.

Cassie said...

My good friend and coworker went through the very same thing you are going through. She lost her baby Emily Marie at 30 weeks due to two large blood clots in the umbilical cord.

No one should ever have to go through what you went through. You are in my thoughts and prayers. You are so strong, your Stevie Joy is so very proud of you.

YOU are an amazing mother. Never forget that.

Kelly Jean said...

Oh darling, Stevie understands. You're right -- or I should say, I feel as you do -- that Stevie is not in that box, the moment her eyes closed she was no longer in that body. She's carried in your hearts and that's all that matters. <3

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