I loved my teacher. She was a young woman, patient in her manner of teaching, and just starting her family. She was pregnant and on certain days, one could see that standing in front of her students, hour after hour, was very uncomfortable for her. She would put her hand on the small of her back. She would transfer her weight from one side to the other. She would pace and sometimes, unable to tolerate it; she would have to sit down and rest. One day, my darling teacher was showing signs of discomfort, and she excused herself from class. As we awaited her return, the bell rang for the next hour of courses, and so my classmates and I transferred to our next subjects. Within that hour, the news of her miscarriage was all around school. My sweet teacher had lost her baby in the girls restroom of my high school. Although it was only the middle of the year, my teacher never returned to class.
As a funeral director, I am honored to help families traverse the worst week they will ever experience – the week they suffer the death of, and lay a loved one to rest. Impacted by my high school algebra teacher’s experience, I made a decision early on, to provide free funerals to families suffering the loss of a baby. In the funeral profession, there are expenses within funerals that are called “Cash Advance”. Cash advance items and services are those that the funeral home must hire on behalf of the surviving family to accomplish a complete service. Because these are the expenses of another business, the funeral home cannot offer them at no charge. They must negotiate on behalf of the survivors to lower these fees or eradicate them all together.
Almost a year ago, I was providing a funeral for an infant. There was a visitor in my funeral home that day, and she asked if she might contribute something to help ease the suffering of the young mother and father. I accepted her offer, and she provided a lovingly handmade blanket and quilt set for both mother and baby. As she instructed, I swaddled the baby in the blanket and just before lowering the sweet babe into her final resting place, I removed the companion quilt covering her tiny body and offered it to her mother. The babe was then lowered into the grave, and the men of her family gently returned the earth back to its proper place.
I had not expected such a peaceful experience. The burial of a sweet babe is by far the most difficult service a funeral director has to provide. Witnessing mothers and fathers leaving cemeteries sobbing, and with empty arms, is heart wrenching and unbearably sorrowful. The blessing my visitor gave this family with her quilt set was generous indeed. This heartbroken mother and father left the cemetery differently than any other parent’s I had served previously. Their hearts were broken, their cheeks were stained with sorrowful tears, but their arms were not empty; they carried a lovingly handmade quilt that matched the one in which their sweet babe was swaddled. This simple act of kindness from the heart of my visitor changed the last parent-child experience this mom and dad would ever share with their baby. They did not, as so many had before them, leave the cemetery empty-armed and empty hearted. Yes, their hearts were broken with the force of sorrow that cannot be matched by any other, but they carried something very precious. They carried a sweet companion quilt, which moments ago, comforted and protected their child for her last moment passed with them on earth. She rests now, in the earth, swaddled with her blanket, for comfort and safe keeping. Her mother and father cuddle and breathe in the fresh scent of their babe lingering on their companion quilt. It is a gift from the heart of a woman willing to care. One who wanted to help them recover, connect with their child, and ease their pain.
This mom and this dad will forever yearn for their child. The accomplishments that parents enjoy watching as their children grow up are forever beyond their view. They will endure heartache all the days of their lives, but in the quiet moments, when all is still, and their hearts drift back to the day they laid their sweet babe to rest, they will have a beautiful handmade quilt to hold to their hearts, as they breathe in the fresh scent of their babe lingering within its fibers. This sweet little quilt is a precious gift to give. It is also a precious gift to receive in the midst of the worst experience known to humanity – the loss of a baby.
My quilting visitor and I experienced such compassion through this experience. With gratitude, we have formed a non-profit to provide these services to mothers and fathers across our nation. Our organization is called “Heaven Sent, Corp.” In cases of infant loss, Heaven Sent, Corp. will solicit free to low cost funeral or cremation services for surviving parents within the family's geographical location. We work with area funeral homes, hospitals, churches, quilters and other non-profits to produce a free blanket/quilt set to compliment the negotiated accompanying services.
As I watched this mother and father leave their babe swaddled deep in the earth while clutching their quilt to their hearts, my mind drifted back to my high school algebra teacher. My life changed that day. I realized how precious a little life within the womb was to the family anxiously awaiting its arrival. I hope that someone was there to offer my dear algebra teacher such a sweet gift at the loss of her innocent babe. This has been my prayer since high school, and it will forever remain the same for all parents who lose their sweet, anxiously awaited, and precious babies.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
If you know of a family in need of infant services, please feel free to contact us, or share our contact information.
Heaven Sent, Corp.
421 Loop 236
Queen City TX 75572
If we have not yet established a relationship with a funeral home within your local area, we will work immediately to solidify one. The services provided by Heaven Sent, Corp. are cost-free. We endeavor to engage your local funeral home into providing their services cost-free as well.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.