When we were given the opportunity to see Sebastian again at the funeral home, I was excited! I had not planned on seeing him again, and to be honest I did not think I would be given the opportunity. So to have it on the table as an option, I was not going to miss it! Even now as I look back on this afternoon to write about, I can’t help but cry. You just don’t appreciate the love you have for someone until they are unfairly taken away from you. The pain is real, but I am blessed to have been given this time with him, something I will never forget.
I understand that some people would choose not to see their baby again, as seeing a lifeless body that has started decomposing can be incredibly difficult to deal with, especially as you are already grieving and most likely have a wonderful memory in your mind from the last time you laid on eyes on your baby. This is how James felt. He didn’t want to be confronted with or left with an image of Sebastian of his body no longer as it was when he saw him in the hospital. We had great fondness to how he was, and we will never forget that great big smile he had on his face. I completely understood where he was coming from and we accepted that we each had different ways we needed to deal with it. So, as James stayed home sitting amongst all of Sebastian’s belongings, I headed off to see my little man.
Both my mum and dad came with me for this event, they had similar ideas to James and were preparing for the worst when they did see Sebastian. But their desire to support me and ensure that I would get to and from the funeral home safely outweighed their own hesitations. They put their feelings of grief for their grandson on the backburner as they supported me to say goodbye.
We arrived at the funeral home and we were taken straight into the ‘viewing room’, where a large table was against one side of the room. It was covered in a white cloth and had some candles burning. In the middle of the table was Sebastian’s tiny blue coffin laying open with its lid against the wall behind it. I wasn’t prepared for this, I guess in my head I was picturing him in the same hospital cot he was in 8 days ago. I walked over to the coffin and peeped inside. He was wearing everything that we had packed for him, he sat in the middle of a beautiful white satin sheet and was wrapped in the blanket my aunty had made for him, along with her gift of a white beanie. He looked so precious and to me he was still perfect. The funeral director told me that I could pick him up, and with excitement I did straight away. She left the room and I sat with him on the lounge with my parents next to me. I talked to him, cradled him and kissed him. I had been waiting for this moment and it was so worth it.
(Below: This is the inside of the coffin without Sebastian in it (bunny from dad and step mum at the hospital, blanket made by my aunty, and the letter we wrote for him with a little box containing the shells we collected))
Despite his appearances looking different, I could still see that it was him and I honestly did not care that his body had changed. He was a lot smaller than he was 8 days ago, and his body was flatter due to the autopsy (you can read about this in a later post), his skin had started to peel in some sections and his body was covered so we couldn’t see what his remains looked like. I couldn’t help myself though, I had to see his little hands and feet one more time. So, I unwrapped him and had a look. His body was so different and due to the decomposure he had plastic wrapped around his body to help preserve him. It was a little confronting to see, but I insisted on taking photos and making sure his feet were warm, my mum then wrapped him back up.
His face had been ‘painted’ with makeup by the funeral home and his mouth that once had a cheeky smile was now sealed closed (by internal stitches I am assuming) with his tongue only peeping out a little, his little eyes lids were slightly parted and we could for once look into his eyes with admiration. I understood why the funeral home had to colour him to stop me from becoming upset with the way his body had changed to, however I honestly didn’t mind what he would look like and if anything, I think it allowed me to grieve better as I could now see that he was really gone and that ‘no I can’t just have him preserved and bring his body home how it was in the hospital’. So it was an important step for me to accept what had happened and to come to terms with it a little better. But I was still a little angry that the funeral director had tried to talk me out of this moment just a day ago. This was our son, our creation and I would love him and adore him no matter what he looked like…did she not understand that!?
My parents each had a turn at holding him and talking to him. They each got a photo holding our little boy, which they treasure. However, they eventually left the room and left me to have time with my son. I thought about what I would say and I continued to hold him for as long as I could. When I eventually returned him to his resting place, I would sit with my chin on the edge of the coffin and stare at him whilst weeping. I needed to tell him everything I could think of and let him know again that I loved him and even though his Dad was not there, he loved him too and that we hoped he would understand.
(Below: me talking to Sebastian)
This time I would be expected to walk away from Sebastian and leave him behind with more strangers. I hated this feeling and even though before we left I had gone into another room to cry and be with my parents whilst I watched his coffin through the hallway, from the room opposite to where he was, I had to go in one more time and say goodbye. We all did it, we did it together and we took turns. I felt OK with leaving and this time my final words were “I love you, sweet dreams baby boy”
We left and as my mum drove me back to her house, we drove around to the front of the funeral home where I stared into the window of the room Sebastian was in. I softly said one more goodbye to him and with a glimpse of hope reminded myself “I will see you tomorrow baby boy”
When I drove home from my mum’s house that afternoon, I cried. I actually sobbed. I was so incredibly sad that he was gone, it had become real and I was missing him like crazy, but I couldn’t help be grateful for seeing him again. I would never regret this day and even though I know he is with me in spirit and looking over me, it was the last time I would see his body in this form until we meet again one day in heaven.