It is one thing when somebody dies in old age, after a good life but it is truly devastating when a baby dies, or is born dead. It is the stuff of nightmares so we are very grateful to Claudia and Tim who have very bravely shared their experiences with More to Death.
Six weeks before the due date, parents Claudia and Tim were informed their unborn child did not have a heartbeat. Claudia was induced, knowing she would be giving birth to their stillborn child at 34 weeks.
Linda, Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Doula was with Claudia at Warwick hospital.
“Linda stayed by our sides throughout our entire stay in hospital, providing so much support – physical, emotional and practical.
We managed to spend two days with our little Lewis following his birth and we have so many positive and happy memories of our time with him, thanks to Linda”.
Linda contacted David Abel at Sleeping Angels and arranged for David to meet Claudia and Tim. Early in the conversation, Claudia spoke of her grief and the stark reality of the situation..
“He was born dead!” says Claudia.
That said, Claudia doesn’ t have an issue with the term ‘sleeping babies’ which is often used in the situation of a stillborn child and is most probably going to include it on Lewis’s plaque at Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground).
Community midwife, Karen, provided outstanding support for Claudia.
“Karen comes to visit me every couple of days. We sit and chat about Lewis and about how I am feeling. It’s really helpful to be able to chat to someone who has been with us on this journey. Karen has provided us with fantastic emotional support, and has become such a dear friend to us”.
Lewis was born on May 1st and his family were able to spend many hours that day loving him and getting to know him – he claimed a special place in all their hearts.
Following a postmortem examination at Birmingham hospital, Lewis was taken into the care of David Abel at Sleeping Angels.
Sleeping Angels offer a free professional service to bereaved parents.
Sleeping Angels assist and advise on all matters relating to the funeral service.
They provide a specialized funeral celebrant who can give additional support to the family and then write and conduct the funeral service.
Claudia and Tim were taken to Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground, where they met the owner, Emma. They chose the final resting place for Lewis.
Babies are transported in a Sleeping Angels funeral vehicle, an ice blue Renault which is decked similar to a hearse internally without the appearance of a formal/traditional hearse.
When the little one is collected from their resting place; either hospital or home, a body bag will be used only as a very last resort.
Lewis was cared for and prepared for burial by Sleeping Angels. When parents choose to have their little one at home, non-invasive measures are taken to accommodate the parents’ needs.
A cuddle cot (cold cot) allows parents to spend an additional few days with their baby at home, should they so choose.
The photos shows the beautiful wicker coffin supplied for Lewis.
On the day of the funeral, Lewis was taken, sitting between Mummy and Daddy, in a green jaguar car provided by Sleeping Angels.
“The funeral service that David wrote and delivered for Lewis was so beautiful and heartfelt – just perfect. For a day that I was dreading, I actually have wonderful memories.
It really was the most fitting, bespoke service for our beloved little boy. We couldn’t have asked for more from the day”.
A memorial service will be arranged for Lewis at a future date.
“The service provided by Sleeping Angels has been amazing. David took the time to visit us at home and also took us to see Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground, and possible places to hold a future memorial service. The service that David put together was just perfect – unique and personal to our little boy. We were able to travel the last ever journey with Lewis, with him lying in between his mummy and daddy, resting in the most beautiful willow casket.
“We feel that Lewis had the very best of care at Sleeping Angels and were very touched that he was never alone, and that the love and time was taken to read him stories and sing lullabies to him throughout the night. The ‘quiet’ room is set up so beautifully, with toys and butterflies on the walls, and a moses basket, just like a nursery at home.
“Since hearing the most horrible news that we had lost our precious baby, all I think about is my little Lewis, and I can’t escape this at night either in my dreams. However, the only night I didn’t dream about it, was the night before the funeral. I believe this was because I knew Lewis was safe and being looked after at Sleeping Angels.
So much warmth and kindness has been shown to us and it is incredible that this has been offered to us for free”.
As Claudia writes, everything mentioned above is provided absolutely free of charge. Sleeping Angels have a transparency policy. Nothing is hidden. If there are any fees to be paid they will be declared sooner rather than later. An example might be buying and planting a tree if the burial is on a woodland site.
Sleeping Angels is able to provide this service due to generous donations from families and local businesses.
Sleeping Angels are NOT funeral directors, but can do everything a funeral director does without being the men “in black”.
They cannot and should not be compared with corporate funeral directors for six reasons:
- They are a Community Interest Company, which is a special type of limited company that exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders.
- All profit is invested back into the local community.
- The intention is to remove concern about money – their service is free.
- They rely on generous donations and grants to fund everything they provide.
- They can be there for you before, during and following the death of your little one.
- Parents may spend as long as they desire with their little one in the ‘quiet room’. This is far more than a chapel of rest. It is decorated as a nursery with butterflies all over the wall.
The vision for the future of Sleeping Angels is for a nationwide Celebrant led funeral industry. Bereaved families should be made aware of the choices available to them.
David would very much like to hear from funeral celebrants who might like to explore the possibility of working with Sleeping Angels in their area, in the future.
Only celebrants operating from their heart and soul, and not motivated by money, should contact David.
The nature of this specialized vocation generally involves additional time being spent with the family that is reflected in remuneration.
At the moment sleeping Angels serves families in North Oxfordshire and surrounding counties. Milton Keynes will be the next branch to open with plans to become nationwide in the future.
With a long history as an ordained Minister and Independent Celebrant, David was well established in performing firstly celebratory ceremonies and then, later, heartfelt funeral services in a personal and heartfelt way.
Before retirement, David was leader of two rural churches. He decided to pioneer a new organization helping couples ‘tie the knot’ in a less traditional way. This proved to be a welcome alternative to church and registry office ceremonies.
His style of funeral also changed: no longer restricted to the ‘Order of Service’ experienced in the church he started writing personalized, heartfelt funeral services that truly reflected the life, character and belief system of the deceased.
David became so busy with his new life as an Independent Celebrant, he formed FOIC – an organization to train celebrants in his style; funeral services that meet the needs of the majority of the population who prefer not to have a funeral in church (religious) nor that of a humanist service (non religious).
Writing and officiating tailor made funeral services with little religion or no religion is his passion.
In an attempt to make a significant difference to parents heartbroken by miscarriage, stillbirth and baby death, David established Sleeping Angels Funeral Services CIC.
Being a Community Interest Company, registered with Companies House, all profit is reinvested back into the local community.
David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org