Marking the Grave
“We’ve planted many plants on Louis’ little grave and bought pottery toadstools and a pot teddy. He’s also got a windmill that seems to wave when we visit him. We write things for Louis and take them up to him. It’s no substitute for having a baby at home, but we’ve made it look nice for him.” (Louise, mother of Louis)
If your baby is to be buried ....
If your baby is buried in a churchyard or municipal cemetery, you may wish to mark the grave with a headstone. Bear in mind that there may be restrictions on the type and size of memorial or headstone you can put up, the wording and use of photographs on memorials, the type of planting allowed on the graves, and the placing of toys and other items on graves. Many churchyards and cemeteries do not allow kerbs around graves in order to make it easier to maintain the grounds. It is a good idea to check into these details before you decide where you would like your baby to be buried and it is very important to do so before you order any sort of memorial. You could ask your funeral director for information or you could contact the incumbent clergyman (the priest or vicar in charge) or cemetery authority directly.
There is no need to make decisions about a memorial right away. You can take time to think. Some parents order a memorial to be erected around the time of their baby’s first birthday. You will need to decide on the type of stone, the size of the headstone, the inscription and any other ornamentation you would like. A monumental mason will be able to help and advise you. You can find out the name of an established local firm of monumental masons by contacting the National Association of Memorial Masons (see resources section for contact details). Their web page on choosing a memorial, http://www.namm.org.uk/choosing.htm, includes some helpful information.
If your baby is to be cremated …
Sometimes there are no ashes left after a baby is cremated. If there are ashes you may choose to mark the place where these are scattered or buried. Different crematoria have different kinds of memorials available. Some crematoria have a “columbarium” which is an area where ashes are placed within a wall or left in an urn in a niche. The ashes are marked with a plaque. At other locations, you may be able to plant a memorial rosebush or tree within the crematorium grounds. If there are ashes, these can be scattered nearby. The planting is marked with a small plaque.
If you choose for the ashes to be buried in a churchyard then there may be restrictions on the type of plaque or stone you can put up. Some churchyards allow only small plaques with the name and date inscribed on them.
Books of Remembrance
Almost all crematoria have a Book of Remembrance and, at some, an entry in this book is the only form of memorial that is allowed. Your baby’s name and date of death will be inscribed in to the book. Usually you can write a short epitaph as well. The Book of Remembrance is opened to the correct page on the anniversary of death so that you can look at the inscription.
Donations to Charity
You may wish to ask friends and family to make a donation to charity in memory of your baby. Your funeral director can collect these donations for you, providing receipts to donors and making up a list of donations received. Some charities connected with the loss of a baby are listed in the contacts section of this website.
There are charitable organisations aimed at creating new woodland around the country. These organisations will plant a tree for you in memory of your baby and will provide you with a certificate
“Edward was ... cremated and his ashes have now been buried back in Australia. He has a lovely elm tree to watch over him and lots of young people around, for it in our old College garden. It is a good place for him, one where life goes on.” (Sarah, mother of Edward)
If you have ideas for memorials we could share on this site, please let