Sunday, 18 January 2015

In the midst of life, death ~ a baby dies

~ Article updated on 9th August 2015 ~

The line which divides life from death is so slender, and particularly so at birth.  Most often all is well and another little human enters the world alive and kicking.  But things can go wrong, sometimes when least expected.  People whose business it is to make all-important decisions sometimes make mistakes.  

And so it was that a new little person, a new and perfect little daughter, longed for by her parents, her arrival eagerly awaited by her extended family, struggled unobserved against impossible odds and died just a few hours before her expected delivery.  In a stark reversal her death preceded her birth, a shocking and devastating loss.  

She was and is, however, a much loved part of that extended family - named, loved, admired, her likeness drawn by her grieving father, and the little brother who had looked forward to having a new little sister.  

Those assembled to be present at the joyful arrival became a funeral party, with no detail overlooked.  Relatives and friends brought around their own babies and little ones, who were passed around, admired and treasured.  

The love that illuminates the connections between ourselves and those we truly love, sometimes with those we have never even properly met, endures despite physical loss and separation.  As this little girl's uncle says of her, "She is a part of us, and always will be."  

And so I have chosen Dido's song "White Flag" as my tribute.  Although the song is about the songwriter's love for a man, it describes the enduring quality of true love, and acknowledges the imperfect world in which we live - and the shadows of the might-have-beens.  This dear little girl should be here with us now, and she isn't.

I am reminded to appreciate the little things: the taste and heat of a good cup of tea; the quality of my own breath and heartbeat which keep on keeping on; and the capacity to spend time with those dear to me who are here now; also the ability to crawl around in my garden trimming, weeding, cosseting my plants, observing the insects and spiders as they go about their business, aware of the birds chattering in the trees overhead.  Arguments and grievances both large and small are still there but not the main thing.  I am here now, and I have what I have, to make the best of, so I had better get on with it.

God speed, little one.

The more this subject is talked about the more it becomes apparant that infant death occurs much more often than one would expect.

Maori singer and entertainer Stan Walker has the name of a daughter he lost through miscarriage tattooed on the side of his neck, "Ataahua", meaning 'beautiful'.  I am a big fan of Stan's.

Here is musician Ed Sheeran singing about loss of a child through miscarriage.  Although this loss was experienced by a close friend rather than himself he sings about it as if he were the parent.  It's beautiful.

For those seeking information and support the links below may be worth a look.  Both organisations recommend making memories of the baby, taking photographs, keeping mementos, and so on.  While it may be hard at the time this makes total sense.  The opportunity to do so is of such short duration.
  • Sands New Zealand - an organisation which supports those whose babies have died at any stage of gestation or early infancy.
  • Now I lay me down to sleep (NILMDTS) - a serivce for the photographing of the infant - precious memories for family.  The video shown below is published by their site.  It's definitely worth watching - very sensitive and helpful: loving parents...

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