Days before the funeral
The days leading up to the final farewell are hectic, confusing, loving, busy, complicated. In short, everything at once. You may want to let people get to know your baby, but everything has to be arranged but you also want to rest from giving birth and at the same time you don’t like lying alone in bed.
The law stipulates a maximum of six days between the death and the funeral. You can determine the latest possible date of the funeral is here.
On this page, we have listed a few things that need to be arranged here, and that can provide you with some guidance. But the most important thing is: listen to your own feeling. You only get one chance to do things the way you want, and to create the memories you want.
Because you don’t have any memories yet, you could use these days to make memories. You dreamed of a future with your baby and those dreams have suddenly burst apart. Yet you can still try to arrange the things that are still possible. Several possibilities for making memories are listed on the Help Card Making Memories.
Taking your baby home or not?
As welcoming the baby can be just as important as saying goodbye to him, many parents choose to take their baby home with them. This gives you all the time you need to get to know your baby. You can go to him at any time of the day, you can read aloud or sing, you can easily show your baby to the people around you and you can take care of your baby yourself (e.g. take a bath, rub baby oil or put on clothes).
If you decide to take your baby home, you can transport him or her in your own car. This can be done in your arms on your lap, in the maxi-cosi or in a carrycot. You can also choose to have the funeral carer take care of the journey home.
“In the beginning we were very anxious about taking Amy home or holding Amy, but we did it and this helped us in going forward. After all, you make sure that the love for your baby is at the centre of the time your baby is with you. Looking back on such a loving time makes mourning a lot more bearable for us”.
Tessa and Joost, parents of Amy*
Of course, your baby needs to be cooled when at your home. This can be done with a special cooling mattress that the funeral director can install. You can put your baby in his bed, but the dresser, playpen or basket is also possible. If you don’t want to use a cooling mattress, you can also use cooling elements. However, you will have to replace them every few hours. The funeral director will keep an eye on your baby for the next few days and take care of him or her when necessary. Don’t hesitate to pick him or her up, cuddle and kiss him or her. However, it is important to return your baby to the cooler on a regular basis.
A whole new method is the water method. Your child comes out of the amniotic fluid when born, so therefore keeping him in water is the most natural situation for him. Particularly for small children who have died in the first and second trimester of pregnancy, this is a nice way to have your baby with you until the funeral. Your baby will have a nice light colour in the water and will look relaxed. You can read all about it at www.watermethode.nl.
Take a look at our photo book here. All parents have given their permission to place these photos. It is not permitted to distribute the photos from this album, other than after our explicit permission.
Thanatopraxy is a way of temporarily preserving a body. This is done by injecting a liquid into the body. Because of the liquid, there is no longer any need for cooling. With light embalming the fluid will stop the decomposition process completely in the beginning so that your baby remains beautiful until the funeral. Over the course of days, the fluid will lose its effect and the natural process will continue.
Unfortunately, thanatopraxy is not possible for premature babies (the water method gives a much better result) and for babies who have died in the abdomen and whose skin has been damaged. Read the blog about how Juliette said goodbye to her Félice and her positive experience with light embalming here.
Arranging a funeral director
You are free to choose whether or not to have a funeral director to guide you. Many parents who choose a funeral director want to have specialised funeral care. The death of a newborn baby requires a different approach than usual, and there are different options and possibilities than in the case of a deceased adult. In the Netherlands, there are specialised funeral organisations that focus specifically on deceased children and two organisations that focus specifically on welcoming and saying goodbye to babies who have passed away during pregnancy or around birth. You will find specialised funeral organisations here.
Many parents say that they want to keep everything low-key. This is understandable because nobody knows your child yet, so it feels contradictory to let people say goodbye to someone they don’t know. However, you can also choose to let people get to know your baby. If people have seen and perhaps even held your baby, it will be easier for you to talk about it later and they will understand your feelings better. It is important to inform the people around you who you don’t want to visit about what has happened. This will prevent you from getting all kinds of well-meaning messages asking how you and the baby are doing.
Because you don’t have any pictures of your baby at all, apart from ultrasound pictures, it is important to capture as much as possible. You can do this yourself, the people around you can also help with this and there are Foundations that come to take professional photos free of charge.
Moving images have a different impact than photos. We therefore advise you to make some videos in addition to photos. You could then make a remembrance film of this footage later on.
You can, of course, do the filming yourself, with your own camera or mobile phone, but you can also leave it to professionals. Take a look at the left side under farewell film for the possibilities.
You have become the mother of a beautiful child, but you are also a woman recovering from giving birth. It is therefore important to get the right help during this period and to continue to take good care of yourself. You are and will remain in recovery for the time being and it is important for you to have the standard checks, rest and regularity in the coming days. The maternity assistant can also help in taking care of any siblings. Explain the situation to the maternity care organisation so that you get an experienced maternity nurse.
The maternity nurse will not only be able to support you spiritually in the coming days, but can also take care of your baby when you decide to take him or her home. She can tell you what your baby will look like after a night, help you change clothes or take a bath and take care of your baby’s visit.
In addition to standard checks, she can also give advice on the engorgement (breast congestion) that may occur and will keep a maternity book. Often, maternity care organisations have a special separate maternity book, with the baby’s standard checks missing so that you are not confronted with these empty pages if you want to read the report of the baby’s birthdays at a later time.
When your baby is stillborn, you automatically get a few hours less than parents
with a living baby. The reason for this is that the baby needs less care and you do not need to be accompanied when breastfeeding and caring for your baby.
“My maternity nurse kept a diary with short observations of the days Stef was with us, from her perspective. This diary is still very valuable to read back on”.
Geke, mother of Eva and Stef*
Your baby can lie in his bed for the days until the funeral, but for the funeral or cremation you will have to choose a basket, box or wade. There are many organisations that make baby baskets and crates, but you can also make something yourself or buy something yourself. Any form of ‘outer shell’ is good, as long as the contours of the body are not visible. Thus, you can also wrap your baby in a cloth.
Birth announcement card
Many parents prefer a birth announcement card to a mourning card. You might even have picked a nice birth announcement card. In that case you can change it into a birth announcement card. You would like to announce the birth of your child, but unfortunately you cannot avoid mentioning that your child is no longer alive. If you had not yet chosen a birth announcement card, the funeral director has many examples to choose from.
If you are holding a farewell service and want to mention it on the card, then you should hurry somewhat. We advise you to use a so-called ‘funeral envelope’ in this case. That way, the cards reach your friends and family much faster. However, what you can also do is invite people digitally (via e-mail or Whatsapp) to the farewell service and afterwards, when there is no more time pressure, think about the card at your own pace.
After the farewell service it is also nice to be able to be busy with your child again. It is also nice to get lots of cards (or messages) after the farewell service.
You can also think about sending a thank-you card.
Buried or cremated?
One of the first choices parents have to make is the choice between burial and cremation. Read more about what it means and what the difference is. Maybe this explanation will help you make your choice.
Filling in funeral
You will also use these days to fill in the day of the funeral. Who is going to speak, what music are you going to play? On the help card you will find more things to think about when filling in the funeral. Read more about the funeral here.
Within three working days after the birth, you must register the birth and death with the local authorities. You may do that yourself, but you do not have to. You can have someone from your family or friends do it for you, or you can even ask your funeral director. Read more here.
With most funeral insurers, unborn children are co-insured free of charge on the policy of the expectant parents after a certain week of pregnancy. This can be either the mother’s or the father’s policy. If your baby was stillborn or died shortly after birth, you can report the death to the insurance company. They will then tell you what the insured amount is. Your funeral director can also call you about this. If your baby was born alive and did not die immediately, it is important to add your baby directly to your policy. Your baby is automatically insured for a while, but with some insurers this period expires after 30 days.
We list the policies of a number of major insurance companies:
Ardanta will reimburse the full amount insured.
Dela will reimburse all costs as covered by the service insurance up to a maximum amount of €2.921 (2021), regardless of the length of pregnancy.
If you choose to have the funeral arranged by Dela itself, the package of services will be reimbursed.
Monuta will reimburse from 20 weeks of pregnancy onwards. The payment depends on the type of policy and when it was taken out. In the case of a package of services, this package will lapse but a percentage of package value will be paid instead. In the case of money insurance, a percentage of the monetary amount will be paid out.
In case of pregnancy up to 20 weeks there is a standard compensation consisting of a box, storage and use of Monuta mourning centre.
In the event of death after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Yarden will reimburse € 2,500.00 or the highest insured amount of one of the parents.