Matthew's Pictures

July 25, 2009

Walking with You~Naming Our Babies

This was last weeks topic for Sufficient Grace Ministries' "Walking with You," but I missed out, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to tackle this weeks question on grief.

Matthew Alexander Harden

I had a tough time naming Matthew. My hubby and I take turns naming the kids, so it was up to me this time around. I knew he needed a special meaning behind his name, which is why I chose Matthew for his first name, which means "Gift from God."

His middle name is what I struggled with the most. I even went through the 10,000 name baby book from front to back (the boys section, that is) and only came out with a list of about 5 middle names. I chose Alexander because I loved how it sounded with the rest of his name, and the meaning suited him as well. Alexander means "Man's defender, warrior." Though he didn't survive long after he was born, he will always be a warrior in my mind. He made it through the pregnancy while in the 1 percentile for amniotic fluid. I worried SO much during the pregnancy that with such little fluid his supply from the placenta would get cut off if he sat on his cord, but my little warrior made it.

July 10, 2009

Walking with You ~ A Precious Goodbye

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. This week, we are sharing about saying good-bye and experiencing the memorial service or funeral if applicable.

I have decided to join Walking with You so that I can re-capture those times before and after Matthew. Memory fades, and I want to remember everything I can about my little boy.

Where do I start with this? I was planning Matthew's funeral months before he even died. Quite honestly, there were good parts and bad parts about it. No one should ever have to plan a funeral before their loved one dies, but it happens. It gave me the opportunity to plans things out and not feel rushed. I can't imagine having to plan everything within a matter of days. It's such an important event to plan out and show remembrance for our son. I know people have to do it all the time without much notice, and I don't know how they do it. You are so emotionally disraught while having to deal with funeral sales people and florists, pick out music, write an obituary, etc.

We tried how we could to make light of our situation. The first thing we picked out was the music. The same music on my Playlist is the same music we had at his funeral. I listened to it many times before he even died. Abbie would hold the speaker up to my belly so that Matthew could hear the music. I sang it to him, and it was almost like he was already gone, but he wasn't. It all just seems so out of place.

We also visited the cemetary where he would likely be buried. They drove us around to the different areas, we looked around, and found an area that we thought would be a nice resting place for our son. We wanted to think on it, so we decided not to purchase anything until after he passed away.

I wanted to find him the perfect outfit since this would be the only clothing I would ever get to buy for my baby. I found a company online called Little Things Mean A Lot.
They were very kind, helpful, and had beautiful clothing at a reasonable price. We ended up going to a boutique about an hour away where they carried that line. I wanted to select a christening gown as well for him to be baptized in, so that I would have something to take home with me that he had worn.

There really was not much else we could do until afterwards, so we just waited and enjoyed our time with him.

After he was born and died, I spent three days in the hospital. I knew after coming home, I would have to finish the planning. It was horrible. Instead of being able to grieve for my child, I had to make all of these plans. The funeral home was the worst of it. And it wasn't just the experience of what we had to do, but it was the people we had to deal with. When we had visited them just a few months prior, they told us that Matthew's spot would be free, we would just need to pay for preparation and their services. Well, when we went in after his death, they said their rules had changed, and now we would have to pay full price for an adult sized spot. What!? All I could do was cry while trying to talk to the salespeople. I was so angry and felt so taken advantage of. We had to leave because the stress was just too much for me to handle. After talking it over with my husband and family, my grandmother suggested that we bury him in one of their plots, which is right across from the original place we had chosen. My Aunt Marsha had died from cancer almost 10 years ago and was moved there. So my grandparents went ahead and purchased two spaces right next to her. They had decided not long before that they would be cremated when they died, and really wouldn't need both spaces. So he had a place, with family. We are soooo grateful that my grandparents were able to help us out, and that Matthew wouldn't be alone, though we know truly he is not alone, but it was important to me to have his body in a nice place.

One thing I really struggled with was a funeral program. The ones at the funeral home were nothing special, and none of them stuck out at me as being for a child. I spent HOURS on the computer looking online for programs we could order, download, create, whatever. No such luck. I called a dear friend of mine who happnes to be a graphic designer, and she was so willing to help out. I knew what I wanted it to say, and what I wanted it to look like. She had it done within two days. Again, another person we were so grateful to have helping us out.
*If anyone knows of a website or a person who makes funeral programs for babies, I would love to have that info*

We settled the rest of the details and waited for the funeral day to come.

When the day was there, I didn't want it to be. I was antsy, and very emotionally cranky, to be nice. I wanted everything perfect. During the service, I didn't want to be there. I really couldn't wait to get out of the little chapel. I saw my baby beforehand, and he looked different. Sometimes I wished I didn't looked at him again, because for a while, that was how I remembered him. We had many people there, around 50. It felt good to have lots of people to share in mourning the loss of our son, even though most never got the chance to meet him. They knew how special he was to us.

After the chapel service, we moved outside to the graveside, following the hearse carrying Matthew's body. They had a tent setup, and everything really looked very nice. Something I can look back on and laugh, is that there were two large, white birds nearby while the Pastor was saying his final words. The birds were poking their beaks to the ground, perhaps looking for worms or bugs. Josh taps me and points to the birds, and our daughter, Abbie. Abbie was copying the birds movements. It really made light of the situation. I think most people noticed, and it was so very cute. She was walking funny, bending over and putting her nose towards the ground and pulling it back up again, with her "wings" at her side.

After everyone left, we decided to stay for part of the internment. This was all very new to us, and we didn't know if we really wanted to watch or not, but we saw them place the casket into the ground. I think I needed to see that. To know that's right where he was.