Where he found the strength to think and research I do not know, but I remain ever indebted with love and admiration for his clear-sightedness when he could barely speak. He found undertakers who could have been my family, certainly very good friends. They seemed to understand us, and rather than bring a process to us that others have followed, they brought ideas, and with that, healing. They collected Oscar from the hospital and I did not want to see him again. I had made my farewells while he was still just warm and I had no desire to see him again cold and dead. Gently, so gently, they asked me to reconsider and when Jon said he was going to go, I went too, with reservations. How wrong I was!

Our beautiful, beautiful boy lay in a casket for kings, woven from willow, looking as he had.

He did look like he was sleeping, which was scary, but oddly reassuring, and we spent a long time together or alone in turns talking to him and making our final farewells. Jon made life-changing promises to him, and seems to be keeping them. The last leaving was hard, too hard, and we found we kept needing to return. It was suggested that we close the casket, and so by gently wrapping him and closing the lid we were able to finally say goodbye and let go…….”

Jane Stevens is a mother, a wife and an artist. Jane’s first-born son Oscar died on the cusp of manhood, having lived his whole young life with a congenital heart condition. Jane’s essay describes Oscar’s life and death and his funeral with honesty and dignity, and offers a picture of a life beyond grief so often missing from accounts of the death of a child.