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After Your Miscarriage

Saying Goodbye

​​​​Choosing a way to say goodbye can be stressful, but it’s important. Many parents find that saying goodbye in a meaningful way helped them to grieve. Take your time and think about what’s best for you and your family. You may want to find a personal way to honour your baby like a ceremony, memorial, burial, or a private moment of remembering.

Things to Think about for a Loss Under 20 Weeks

  • Do you want the hospital to care for the remains or do you want to make private arrangements?
  • Do you want a funeral or a memorial service? If so, where and who do you want to invite?
  • Do you want a burial or cremation?
  • How do you want to recognize your baby’s life?
  • Do you want poems, readings, and/or music at the service?
  • Do you want to videotape the event (e.g., burial, cremation or memorial)?

Private Burial Arrangements

You can choose to make private arrangements for your baby. Ask your health care provider for information about how you (or your funeral service provider) can pick up the remains. If you’re taking the remains home with you, ask your funeral service provider or your nurse about safe handling.

Handling Your Baby’s Remains

Generally speaking, you can decide the manner of burial of the remains, so long as it does not cause public offense. Where a fetus completed 20 weeks gestation or weighed 500 grams or more, a burial permit is required. If you are burying the remains on your own, you should seek legal advice to make sure you are not offside any laws even if it is on your own property. (There are things you may not have thought about; for example are you close to a water source?) If you are transporting the remains or are storing or creating a memento with the remains instead of burying them, there are further public health and infection control measures which must be considered.

If you have questions, please contact us and let us know so that we can provide you with further health and safety information.

Funerals or Memorial Services

You don’t need to have a body or remains to have a funeral or service or to attend a hospital service. Many hospitals and programs offer memorial services for pregnancy losses at no cost (e.g., Silent Hopes Memorial Service in Calgary). Some parents choose to have their own private gathering.

“Holding our baby’s memorial was one of the toughest things we have had to do. Now, it’s one of the most special memories we have.”

Cremation

  • Usually costs less than a burial.
  • You can bury, keep, or scatter the ashes (you need permission from most public lands before ​you scatter ashes).
  • You may take remains with you if you move.
  • No casket is needed, just a small container.
  • You can have the ashes made into memorial jewelry.

Talk to your funeral service provider for more information.

Burial

Burial can be in the earth (interred), or above-ground (in a columbarium). If you chose to have a private burial in a cemetery, there will be costs because you’ll need to buy a plot of land and pay maintenance costs. If you can’t afford a burial or cremation, talk to your funeral service provider about organizations that may be able to help.

Choosing a Funeral Home

For a listing of Alberta Funeral Service Regulatory Board Listings go to http://www.afsrb.ab.ca/listings.asp.

Current as of: August 18, 2017

Author: Women’s Health, Alberta Health Services