Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Precious Goodbye

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.

This 4th week, we are sharing about saying goodbye and experiencing the memorial service or funeral if applicable.

By the time Carleigh made her arrival, every detail of the funeral arrangements had been planned. We had 4 months to prepare. (Click here, here, here, and here.)The only thing we did afterward was go over the order of the service with our pastor.

Carleigh was born March 28 and we had her first visitation on the evening of April 3 and a visitation the morning before her service on April 4. We had lots of family and friends travel to come see us and Carleigh. I was glad to see so many had made the trip. It really meant a lot to me.

I got to the funeral home that Friday evening long before we expected anybody to arrive. I wanted to spend as much time with Carleigh as possible. When I got there I realized I had forgotten Carleigh's fuzzy pink blanket and I was upset. I needed her fuzzy pink blanket to hold her in. My dad went back to our house and got it for me. I felt so much better once she was wrapped in it.

Slowly people, friends, coworkers, church members, neighbors. I held Carleigh the entire visitation except for the few times Anthony held her and the times my cousins Amber and Jayme held her. There were tears, both from me and from others, but for the most part the atmosphere was light. My mood was generally good because I was so happy to see my little girl again and the sorrow of the moment rarely broke through my joy. Leaving her there was a little difficult.

Saturday I got around early again so that I could be at the church to have some time with her before everyone arrived. I set up a table with some of her keepsakes to share with everyone. Once my arms were empty of these things I went straight to my daughter and picked her up. She never left my arms until I had to put her in the casket after the service.

The service was very good. (Ashley took pics for us and we videotaped it.) We had a few family members share some things and we watched a slideshow of Carleigh. I was much teary-eyed throughout the service. Afterward family and friends filed through to where we were and said their condolences and left the sanctuary. Soon it was just our extended family. After they had said their goodbyes to Carleigh, Anthony and I walked our daughter to her casket and spent some last moments with her. I didn't want to put her in there. I wanted to walk out of that church and take her with me. But I knew what I wanted wasn't feasible. So I laid our daughter in her lavender and white casket. I kissed her over and over and told her I loved her. Anthony did the same. I covered her up with her blanket and gave her more kisses.

Then I had to close the casket.

I managed to do it and then I turned around and walked away. Anthony and I walked right out of the sanctuary and out of the church. We waited by the hearse to wait for her. My brother-in-laws carried her out and put her in the back. Then we got in the limo and headed out to the cemetery. Kyndra kept things from getting too emotional on the ride there. She was smiling and having fun. Oblivious to all the pain and sorrow.

At the cemetery we gathered around her plot and our pastor said a few words. Then everybody just stood around. Nobody moved. We all just stared at her little casket. It was quiet except for the 2 horses beside the cemetery that came to the fence to watch us. People started coming up and hugging us one by one. After a while sitting there I finally stood up and told Anthony it was time. We walked back to the limo and went back to our church for a meal.


I guess what I would tell parents is don't be afraid to speak up about your wishes and desires. Don't worry if people don't agree with them. At that time, it only matters what you want. I'm sure some people question why I would hold my daughter the entire time. I loved it. I knew I would never get those moments back and I wanted to spend them with her in my arms. Before long they would be empty forever.


Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.


Alyson said...

Being able to write about something so personal as this takes A LOT......I am in awe of how much strength you have.......

Thanks for sharing <3

croleyc69 said...

I think it sounded like such a wonderful service & I know w/ my Dad we planned his out months ahead of time. It helped so much. Carleigh was so loved & I can't wait til the day the Lord comes back to get all of us. Carleigh's journey woke me up I was going thru a bad time & then I ran across you in the group we were in & I'm so glad. Holly you are a amazing MOMMY. I'm so glad I met you online. HUGS :)

JmCw said...

The hardest thing ever to me is seeing a small casket. My friends baby passed away at two months and it was so sad seeing him there. You are an amazing person thank you for sharing!

Just Breathe said...

Thank you for sharing these moments with us. I can't imagine what you had to go through. It sounds like it was a beautiful service honoring your daughter.
I admire your strength. God Bless

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Beautiful...I clicked on some of your links and read your visitation and service. It sounds like you were able to do things as you wished. I'm so glad you were free to spend that time with Carleigh. God has blessed you with such strength and grace...a beautiful trust in Him. And a positive spirit of joy that just will not be squelched. This post really blessed me tonight. I am so heartbroken as I stop by each of our friends on this has been a really difficult walk this week. And, I feel lifted after reading of your time with Carleigh...I hope that sounds like I mean it to...and not insensitive. I know that your pain was and is great as well. And saying good-bye is heartbreaking...unspeakably heartbreaking. But, there is something so redeeming in this post. Thank you, sweet friend...for all of the ways you bless all of us. And thank you for sharing your heart with us. I loved the scripture you shared as well.

I love you, sweet friend. And I'm so grateful to have met you...

April said...

OH beautiful Holly. I know each you write about those moments with Carleigh they must be therapeutic and heart breaking at the same time. I think rereading your posts and possibly rewritting your story down will keep every moment a fresh memory. You are so strong and your daughter is so very proud of you!

Ramona said...

Holly, your memory walk just brought tears to my eyes, and yet this posting was exactly what I needed right now! Thanks so much for sharing.

Jennifer Ross said...

I think it is absolutely wonderful that you held your daughter the entire time! When I first read it in the beginning of your post, it touched my heart. That's what you do with babies, you hold them close.

It sounds like everything went well for you with the service and burial. That is good, because nobody want to have regrets about that. You can't ever do it over.

Thank you for your comment on my blog.
God Bless.

MommyIvy said...

Thanks for sharing Holly.

Anonymous said...

Holly, you have told about this day in such a beautiful way.I grieve for you and I am so sorry you had to tell Carleigh goodbye here on Earth until you can say hello to her in Heaven.Carleigh's life has blessed mine and I know she had a great purpose here.
Prayerfully, Sarita

HappyascanB said...

Your strength continues to amaze me, Holly. I know that God carried you through such heartache and pain. I pray putting the day in words was helpful in your healing. You certainly have a way with words. What a blessing to think of how many people Carleigh touched with her short life.

Joye @ The Joyeful Journey said...

Holly, I'm so glad that you had the funeral service you wanted for your little Carleigh. That is such a blessing. You moved forward with such strength and conviction. You are such a wonderful mamma.

The verse you used in Philippians is beautiful and speaks to my own heart.

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

Holly, thank you for sharing so much about your day. I can see you holding Carleigh close. Just a way of showing your love for her. I get it.

Cheryl B. said...

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ give you strength - and endurance - and perserverance.

Jessica said...

Holly if you only knew what other people really thought when they read any of your posts about Carleigh. I am going to spill my heart and truely tell you. I have been reading for a while, and boy did it break my heart to read about you having to set up services before Carleigh was born. I cried. When I read your birth plan I was inspired! This is your child, who should have say other words. No matter if your child should live or pass, you should have say in everything. The day precious Carleigh arrived I was amazed by your words. So well wrote out for the world to read. No greiving mother I personally know has ever handeled a childs passing like you. Now I am not saying it was not hard for you, or that you healed over night, but your courage and strength to know that everything would be normal again (normal in the sense that will never be forgot course) is so inspiring! So now I am going to say, with all of my honestly, I thought it was out of order of what "everyone else" does, for you to have so much contact with with Carleigh after her passing, but then I thought about it, and I would want the same respect as that to be able to record those memories as there will be no more once you lay her down. Now after reading this I understand that even more. That's all you had at that moment. Why disconnect. I love reading all about your family and Carleigh and I do believe anyone greiving a loss would gain strength through reading your blog! Thank you for sharing!

Holly you should stop by Looking for Blue Sky today as she is in need of prayer and your words always drift into hearts easily!
God Bless!

Holly said...

hugs and more hugs...such a beautiful service. May our Father keep you strong

Shannon said...

I have no words of comfort to give. I just wanted you to know that I read your entry. Thank you for sharing another painful part of this painful journey.


The Mommy Chef said...

I am so sorry about your beautiful baby girl. Thank you for sharing your story. Being able to write about your daughter shows just how strong you are. Bless you.

Lucy and Ethel said...

Your blog was on my BlogFrog community leader assignment list, but there was definitely a bit of angel intervention involved.

I, too, have an angel baby. Jeffrey was diagnosed at 8 weeks with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and earned his wings at 5-1/2 months.

It sounds like you were able to plan Carleigh's send-off celebration as you wanted... a fitting tribute to a precious little gal.

I look forward to learning more about Carleigh and you!


Emily said...

Holly, your strength and grace in that moment amazes me. I could never close the casket on my child. I can't imagine how that must have hurt...

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