Joe’s Toes

There are emails you don’t want to get, and this one from Marie and Keith is one of them. 

On 8th February 2014 you married myself and my husband at Dundas Castle. It was a beautiful ceremony and we were thankful we chose you to conduct it.

This is a really difficult email to write and everything is very fresh and raw for us. I was hoping you could give me a little more information about funeral/blessing services you do? It would give us something to think about and to consider our options;

 On 15th of February this year, one of our sons, Joe, was stillborn. Tommy is Joe’s twin brother and is currently in SCBU at the Borders General Hospital (both boys were born at 32 weeks). We have been advised that we have as much time as we need to start considering how we would like to say goodbye/celebrate Joe, especially as Tommy is in hospital at the moment (he is making progress every day after a very very scary start). 

April can be a dreich month in the Borders. The hills were invisible behind a wall of low cloud when I went to see the family, and it hadn’t got any brighter by the time we said goodbye to Joe at the Borders Crematorium.  Conducting the funerals of children and babies is never easy, and I found Joe’s ceremony more than usually challenging, but I got through it and I was glad to spend some time with the family back at the house afterwards. 

That was almost eight months ago, so I was very pleased to learn from ‘a little bird’ that Marie had started to write about her experiences and what she’s learned from them: talking about parenting after loss, the effects of having a poorly baby in SCBU, twin to twin transfusion syndrome and all that comes along with that and promoting the fund they set up in Joe’s name in collaboration with CHAS. 

Being a busy mum, Marie admits she hasn’t really had the time to post to her blog recently, but she does have lots of mini-blog posts on her Instagram page and her Facebook page

 Joe’s Toes is intended to help bereaved parents of stillborn or neonatal lost babies. They are already halfway to their target of £5,000 and I hope your response to this post will take them a little further.

I asked Marie and Keith to tell me how they feel now, looking back on Joe’s funeral, and this is what they said.

We actually don’t find it painful to think about at all. Yes, it was tough, but to an extent it gave us the chance to celebrate Joe in a way that had been difficult after his and Tommy’s birth because of the rare situation we were in. It was 7 weeks after his birth that the ceremony took place, but for us it couldn’t have happened any other way. We wanted to be in a place where we could focus on Joe the way he deserved and the ceremony certainly did that. We were always assured that there was no rush.

We were so grateful for the time you spent to come and meet us again, the time you took to learn about our family since you married us, to learn about Tommys start in life and the circumstances behind the loss of Joe. It was incredibly comforting that you took the time to write the ceremony for us, for Joe, using all you had learned. You had listened to everything, even points we said not even realising we had said them. You also guided us in making the ceremony what it was, giving us ideas in a time where thoughts were elsewhere and awry. It was comforting that there was no pressure at all for us to write something so difficult, yet we were always given the option to contribute as much as we wanted.

The fact that you had married us, gave us real comfort in knowing it was all in hand. And it was. The ceremony was beautiful and a completely perfect and fitting way to celebrate him. The beauty of the service, we found, is that we weren’t saying goodbye per se, it was a celebration of everything we were, his family were and what he could have been and it was a ceremony bursting with love. The focus was on Joe and our family and on Joe and our family only. It encompassed everything we believe as a family; love conquers all! And finally in terms of the ceremony, with the want of not sounding sadistic, it was very comforting to see how Joe’s death and hosting his service had on you too. In a situation where we nor anyone knew our baby, it is incredibly comforting to know he affected more than us as a family. That his legacy lives on. 

Because of everything the ceremony represented, it gave us some closure. Of course we will always grieve the loss of our much loved son, but knowing we gave him the ceremony he deserved and the ceremony that we wanted was, and still is incredibly comforting. We wouldn’t have changed a thing.

With Much love,
Marie and Keith

This is Tommy. He’s a big lad, like his daddy. Don’t you just love his t-shirt?

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