Planning Your Unborn Child's Funeral? What Should You Consider?

If you've been given the devastating news that your unborn child has medical issues that are incompatible with life, you may be shocked and wondering what comes next. All the normal celebrations of pregnancy -- baby showers, maternity photos, and weekly progress pictures -- can quickly seem trite and meaningless as you find yourself forced to refocus on planning a life without your child. Should you pre-plan your infant's funeral or wait to make arrangements until after he or she arrives? Read on to learn more about some of the factors you'll want to consider when going through this difficult and heartbreaking situation.

Should you pre-plan your infant's funeral if he or she is expected to die shortly after birth? 

You may fear that by pre-planning your infant's funeral while still pregnant, you're essentially giving up on his or her chance to live. Alternatively, you may be tempted to put off making arrangements for fear of "jinxing" the outcome of your pregnancy. However, the arrangements you make with the funeral home or cemetery are likely to be revocable under certain circumstances. This means that if your child does defy the odds, you should be able to have any deposits refunded. It's generally a good idea to begin planning your infant's funeral (or at least consult with a funeral director) well before you're scheduled to give birth so you'll have a better idea of how to proceed when the moment arrives and you're deep in the throes of grief.

What funeral arrangements can you make before your child is born?

There are a number of local and national organizations designed to dispatch professional photographers to hospitals to capture the precious moments parents spend with their children who are stillborn or who die shortly after birth. If you'd like to have this tangible memory of your child after he or she is gone, you may want to contact one of these agencies so that a photographer can be on standby for your child's birth. You'll then be able to display these photographs at the funeral or visitation, giving your guests an opportunity to say goodbye and providing some closure without the need for an open casket. 

You may also be able to meet with a funeral director and pick out the burial items you'd like for your child -- from the casket and headstone to the guestbook or flower arrangements. The more of these items you can select before your child's birth, the smoother the transition from birth to funeral will be and the more time you'll be able to spend in the company of your child and other family members (rather than traveling around to make arrangements).