What no parent should ever have to do

It’s not something any of us want to think about. I faced it once, 4 years ago, when my then-1-year-old had inexplicable black outs and seizures over the 18 months following her 1st birthday. As a parent of children with profound special needs, it’s a constant, if hidden, companion to us. What if the unspeakable happens?

A friend and wonderful author on special needs parenting, Jolene Philo, posted this resource yesterday to help families grieving the loss of their child. Nobody wants to talk about it, but someone you know may need these resources. Please pass it along to anyone you know who this can help.


No one wants to talk about planning a child’s funeral. For those of us without experience in the matter, the topic is uncomfortable. We avoid it at all costs. For parents who have lost a child, it is a searingly painful time, and they need resources and support while going through it.

Planning a Funeral

When our son was fifteen, he asked us to help plan his funeral before he went through a very serious surgery. The whole story can be found in Chapter 18 of  Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide for Raising a Child with Special Needs. (The release date is October 1, but it’s already available for pre-order on Amazon. Go figure!)

While writing the chapter on planning funerals for kids, I found a few good resources, but not nearly as many as for other chapters of the book. Thankfully, several parents graciously (and tearfully) shared their stories for the benefit of others going through the same thing. I am in awe of their willingness to unwrap their pain so others can find healing.

Meet Melissa

In March of this year, a few weeks before the manuscript was due to the publisher, I spoke at a MOPS group in River Falls, Wisconsin and met Melissa. During her pregnancy, she and her husband learned their second child, Julia, had a birth defect not compatible with life. While waiting for her November 2010 due date, Melissa combed the internet for information about planning an infant’s funeral.

An amazing woman, don’t you think? Well, that’s not the half of it. The day before the MOPS meeting, Melissa learned she had breast cancer. Even so, when we talked after the meeting, she offered to send a list of the resources she located. A few weeks later, even though she was going through chemotherapy, she emailed the list before the book deadline. Told you she’s amazing.

Check Out Melissa’s Finds

Some of the information sent by Melissa is included in Different Dream Parenting. Some of it is listed below. The rest will appear in a post on April 27. If you know a family facing the death of a child, please pass the information on to them if you think they would appreciate it. Melissa and other parents interviewed for Different Dream Parenting found funeral planning to be a healing act of parenting, something they could do for their child.

Enough Already

The mind can handle only so much at a time. Rather than giving you everything to absorb in one fell swoop, I’ve divided Melissa’s wonderful resources into two parts. So come back on Wednesday, April 27 for more. While today’s resources focused on the funeral, the remaining ones are concerned with grief resources for families. Not a happy topic, but oh, so necessary.

In the meanwhile, if you know of other resources please share them in the comment section. And would you join me in praying for Melissa and her family as she continues treatment for breast cancer?

We’re lifting you up, Melissa!


Reposted from A Different Dream for My Child

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