Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Saying our final goodbye - our Little Man's funeral

Wednesday, August 26th 2015 | St. Michael’s Church, Baulkham Hills |11am | Father Hoekstra

I hardly slept the night before the funeral, I felt anxious and unprepared but at the same time as if I was living in a really bad nightmare – this could not be happening to us.

When morning came, we started to get ready straight away. I was feeling completely broken. I would literally wash my face, then cry, do makeup, then cry, do hair, then cry, get dress, then cry. I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t believe what we were doing today. You never really expect to ‘bury’ your child, or live life without them. You think that once you are pregnant, you will have a baby and your family will live happily ever after. I wasn’t ready to live my life without my son, and I would never be ready to farewell him.

We had opted for the funeral home to pick us up from our house so that we could travel with Sebastian to his funeral. I know it sounds ridiculous because they would have taken him 30 minutes out of the way, just so we can do this. But you would never turn up to any celebration separately from your child. We were not going to allow our son to be in the presence of family and friends for the first time, without us holding him and being a family.

The car ride was completely silent. Sebastian’s blue coffin sat in the back of the car, in the middle seat in between James and I. The entire trip I just stared at the coffin in disbelief, sobbing. I ran my hands up and down the coffin in an attempt to hug him for the final time. I knew what he looked like inside as I had seen him yesterday, I knew how comfortable the coffin was and how warm he would have been. I knew he was covered with a blanket made with love from my aunty and that his little toy bunny was keeping him company. I knew he was safe. But I couldn’t help but feel sad and sorry that he was in a box, and that family would never meet him in person, or that he would once again be taken from us to be cremated. As James and I held back tears I tried to remember everything about the coffin, it had little blue angels attached to the side and the name plate disappointingly said “Baby of Lauren – Sebastian”, why didn’t this acknowledge James as his Dad? Why did they do that? How completely unfair to put that on a plate on top of his coffin and sit it next to James on the saddest day of our lives. I wanted James’ name on that coffin. This made me angry and I apologised to both James and Sebastian that his fatherly figure, who loves him as much as I do was not acknowledged.
[above]: everything Sebastian was buried with/wearing, including the blanket my aunty made that matched the one I was given.
[below]: one of the Angels from Sebastian's coffin

When we arrived at the church, our family and friends were already inside. My beautiful cousin, Kylie, was standing at the door as she handed out the sweetest ribbons she had made for everyone to wear, she helped us with ours and went inside.

We were given instructions on where to sit and were told to take our time. James wanted to carry Sebastian down the aisle, and that is what he did. The coffin fitted perfectly in James’ arms and as I clutched his left arm, we walked down the aisle. I held another Blanket that my aunty made as well as a teddy bear that James had purchased for Sebastian when we first found out I was pregnant (the same bear that sat in his cot at the hospital).  The song Faith Hill - 'There You'll be' was playing and as we commenced walking, I couldn’t look at anyone, I just hung my head and sobbed uncontrollably. I cried so much that I could hardly breathe.

When we got to the end of the aisle, James placed Sebastian on the table. It was very pretty, had a white tablecloth and a large blue, glittery ribbon around it. Family and friends had already placed flowers at the bottom. It was beautiful, as beautiful as a coffin on a table could be. 

I covered the coffin with Sebastian’s baby blanket (it says "our little angel, Sebastian James"), and sat his teddy in front of it. My mum rested a bouquet of blue flowers on top as well as another rabbit teddy she had stumbled upon that morning when picking up the flowers.

To be honest, I cannot remember much of what the priest said. In some ways I wish we had it filmed so I could remember it. I know we prayed and the priest talked about babies who are taken too soon and now rest with Jesus as an angel. He read a little poem that we had put on the remembrance books, “an angel wrote down in the book of life my baby’s date of birth. Then, she closed the book and said ‘he is too beautiful for earth”.  I found his words comforting, I know it’s silly, but it was nice to hear someone tell my friends and family that our boy was in heaven, someone that wasn’t me.

It was then my turn to read a letter to Sebastian, it was a shortened version of the letter we had wrote to him before we knew he had passed, but were expecting it to occur at any time. The full letter was written on nice paper and signed by both of us and placed in his coffin. I didn’t think I would be able to read the letter, I had cried the entire time throughout the short service, and I could hardly breathe, let alone talk. We had planned that if I was unable to read the letter, then my mum or the priest would do so for me. James knew he wouldn’t have been able to read it without crying either. As the time to read the letter was getting closer, I was preparing (or trying to signal to the priest) to not be able to read it. However, when the time came I just stood up and read it. I don’t know what came over me, I was a mess just seconds before and suddenly I could speak. Some have suggested that Sebastian knew how much I wanted to read it to him, and he wanted to hear it from his Mum’s voice, so he had given me the strength. I like to believe this as well. James stood next to me with his arm wrapped around me. As I read the letter I would remember each feeling we felt as we wrote it, I did have to fight back tears and stop myself from losing control, and as I looked at the faces of my family and friends I just felt incredibly sad- Sad that we were all in this church for a devastating reason, sad that they did not meet the amazing boy we are crying over, and sad that our baby was taken too soon.

(I have posted my letter in the next blog, for anyone who would like to read it).

Once we finished reading the letter, we walked back to our seats. I could not walk past the coffin without acknowledging our little boy, so I leant down and kissed it before I returned to my seat.

We prayed some more and then joined together to sing Elizabeth Mitchell - 'You are my Sunshine'. The same song I had been singing to Sebastian on the last week he was alive. This was my mum’s idea and I was so glad she thought of it. It felt so perfect to have it sung to him one more time and not just sung by me, but by everyone in the church. I couldn’t get every word out as I stared at the coffin and cried, but I tried to sing. That song was so important to me.

When the funeral was coming to an end, we had one more song play before James would pick the coffin up and we would walk out of the church. The song was
Bears of Hope - 'Live among Angels' and it as given to us from the midwife when I delivered him sleeping in the hospital. The lyrics were beautiful so we had them placed inside of Sebastian’s remembrance book also. My favourite line from the song was “I know that heaven must be so beautiful because of you…whenever I see beauty I believe it is a kiss, a kiss from you”

I collected the blanket and bear from the coffin, and linked my hand in James’ arm as he carried the coffin out of the church. I sobbed. I couldn’t stop crying. It was over. We had to hand him over again to a stranger and our son would be gone forever.

Family and friends joined us outside the church, some people comforted me but I had to stand near the car, I didn’t want to miss one second of being in his presence.

We were all given a blue balloon to release. And as the car slowly moved down the driveway with our little boy resting in the back of the seat in his coffin, we walked behind it. James and I were saying to each other “this is it, he is gone”, As Sebastian was driven out of the driveway, James and I just let go of our balloons, and our family and friends who stood behind us also let go of theirs. I looked up for a second to see them all released, it was beautiful. But I could only look for a second, I turned my head back towards the car and watched as it drove Sebastian down the road and around the corner, we both said our words through a whisper, I remember James saying “goodbye little man”. He was now out of sight. I hugged James and cried. He was gone. Our beautiful baby was gone.

I turned back towards all our family and we were inundated by hugs. I am so glad everyone came to the funeral, I would not have been able to get through that moment of Sebastian being taken out of our sights without them. The comfort of being in the arms of loved ones and hearing their words, or  just crying with them meant so much to me. We were hurting, our hearts were broken and our loved ones knew how to keep us together. We are so grateful for everyone who supported us on that day and leading up to it. It would never have been as beautiful as it was without everyone’s contribution.

After thanking all our guests, we made our way to Castle Hill Country Club. James and I had originally thought we didn’t want to do this, but we are glad we did. It took our minds off our little boy who would be being cremated at the same time in the local cemetery. We put on a brave face and it wasn’t long until family and friends managed to get us to smile. In fact, I didn’t want to be there at first, I wanted to be in bed curled up in a ball and crying. But my cousin, Kylie, showed me a photo she had taken during the balloon release. You can’t see any balloons, but you can see a little blue orb surrounded by a softer purple orb. This was all the proof we needed that Sebastian was watching us as we sent the balloons to heaven.

The picture made us feel at peace, and gave us strength to get through the afternoon. When we finally did leave the venue, we again saw two rabbits – ‘a kiss of beauty’ – like the song had said.

We arrived home to a beautiful bunch of flowers, a gift from a dear high school friend and her mum, which made us smile.

However, as it got dark the silence in our house became deafening, there are no cries from a baby, our phones would not ring and we just laid on the bed, numb. It was all over, but our arms were still empty, we just wanted to have Sebastian home with us, even if it was his ashes.
[Below]: Sebastian's remembrance book and the ribbons that Kylie made. The butterfly was attached to one of the flowers from my cousin. Some people didn't realise that on the second page was Sebastian's footprint.

 Links to the songs & lyrics from Sebastian's funeral (strongly recommend listening to them)


  1. That photo of the sunshine breaking through the clouds with that lovely little ball of blue light still amazes me <3 <3 <3

    C. Huang

  2. That photo of the sunshine breaking through the clouds with that lovely little ball of blue light still amazes me <3 <3 <3

    C. Huang

    1. Me too! I love it so much. I often wonder if there he is near me again since then _ I like to believe he is :)