It was obvious to us that we needed to either bury or cremate Aster on the Friday, as she had been dead for a couple of days already. We chose to cremate her and made contact with the Karori Cemetery directly. It has a small chapel that is often used for stillborn and newborn funerals and it seemed the natural choice for us as well. We organised the funeral for Friday afternoon. Our good friends took on the task of ringing other friends to let them know about Aster’s death and to invite them to the funeral.
On Thursday evening I was allowed to leave the hospital and take Aster home with us. It had been touch-and-go for a little while as my post-natal health was causing some concern, but finally we were given the all-clear. I vividly remember leaving the hospital in the dark with Aster all wrapped up in blankets and hopping into the car with no car seat. My younger brother had arrived in Wellington by this time and drove us home and we joked about being pulled over by the police for not having the baby safely in a car seat. This is one of many memories of us sharing some laughter during a bleak and distressing time. Maybe it is a survival or coping mechanism –whatever it is called – I am pleased that my memories of Aster’s farewell are couched in some laughter.
Things seemed to fall into place beautifully, which made things easier for us and also cemented in my mind the notion of the ‘ripple effect’ of little Aster’s life. So many people spoke of being affected by her death, either to me, to my mother, friends, or other members of my family. I felt heartened by the fact that Aster’s little life had meaning beyond my realm and I continue to feel heartened six years later by people’s recognition of her as our daughter and not a baby that never lived.
From Vicki’s story in Sasha’s Legacy, a guide to funerals for babies, published by Steele Roberts, 2005