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After Your Stillbirth

Making Arrangements

Your healthcare team will talk with you about what you want to do for final arrangements for your baby. These plans for the care of your baby will need to be made within 1 week of delivery.

Some of your options are:

  • take your baby home for a short time-if you do this you’ll need to arrange with a funeral home to pick up the baby from your home
  • have the baby go to the morgue at the hospital - your baby can be picked up there by the funeral home

When a baby over 20 weeks gestation is stillborn, provincial law requires the baby receive appropriate burial or cremation. We recommend that you contact the funeral service provider of your choice.

Although it may be difficult to make arrangements for your baby it can also be a healing experience. If you have decided to take your baby with you from the hospital or clinic area, it can be a special time of bonding. You will need to work with your doctor, the nurses, and the funeral service provider to do this.

If you wish to take your baby with you directly from the unit or care area, you will need to fill in some forms. Some of these include a death certificate (signed by the doctor) and a burial permit. Before you leave the hospital, you’ll need to identify a funeral service provider to assist you with care of the body.

The hospital Admitting office can also give you more information about where your baby will be and when you or your funeral service provider can pick up your baby. This may depend on whether or not an autopsy will be done.

Choosing a Funeral Home

Choosing a funeral home is the first step in funeral or memorial service planning. Funeral homes provide personalized care for a funeral or memorial service. Professional services include meeting with a funeral director, use of funeral home or crematorium facilities, and preparation of the baby’s body for burial or cremation. They can also provide support with cremation or burial arrangements.

Families may choose a funeral home based on preference, experience, or referral from a friend. Funeral homes will arrange to move your baby to their location. If an autopsy is being done, the funeral home will arrange to move your baby once this is completed.

Information about Funeral Homes in Alberta is provided on the Resources page.

Burial

  • costs for burial may be higher because of a required plot and maintenance
  • can include earth burial (interred), or it can be an above ground burial (entombed in a crypt within a mausoleum)
  • it’s recommended that you involve a funeral service provider, to be sure the remains are buried according to provincial legislation

Cremation

Cremation is when remains are placed in a special chamber and exposed to heat and flames. Ashes are then returned to the family for scattering, burial, or keeping in an urn.

  • usually costs less
  • allows for the option of burying, keeping, or scattering your baby’s ashes (To scatter your baby’s remains you’ll need advance permission from most public lands.)
  • a casket is not required – just a simple combustible container
  • you may take the ashes with you – in case of a later memorial service, a move, or if you’d like to have ashes included in a piece of jewellery or art work

Ask the funeral service provider for more information as some services may be free of charge.

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