A Different Kind of Babysitter

August 30, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Posted in funeral, traditions | 9 Comments
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The doctors asked if we wanted an autopsy of Jake’s body.   Our first question was if there could be anything determined from the autopsy which would further explain Jake’s death.  The answer was no.   Our second question was would anything from an autopsy benefit other babies or medical research.  Another no.   Jake had been through so much.  We did not want him to go through anything else.  So our answer was no autopsy.  (Years later I was heartbroken to learn that parents are not always given the option to decline an autopsy for their child – but that story is for a later post. . .)

We left the hospital several hours later.   Again, I did not want to leave without Jake.  Realistically, I knew that he was no longer there – just his 2 lb. 14 oz. body.   I was preoccupied with where he would be taken.   I did not want Jake to be alone.  He had never been alone.  Jake was inside of me for 26 weeks.   Once he was born he was surrounded by numerous doctors and nurses.  Before we left we were assured that he would not be alone and that Jake’s body would be brought to the funeral home that afternoon.  

At 11 am we went to the funeral home.   We discussed arrangements and picked out a casket.  Turns out there is only one casket Jake’s size.  So once again, we did not have to make a decision – Jake made it for us.   I asked and Jake’s body was not there yet.

Next we had a 1 pm appointment at the cemetery.  We were shown an area called Baby Land.  It is the section of the cemetery for babies and young children.  It just felt wrong for us.  We were taken to the other side of the cemetery on a small hill.   It was so peaceful and pretty.   Evan and I knew this was where we wanted Jake to be buried.

We finalized the arrangements.   Again, I asked where Jake was and if I could go see him.  I know this sounds morbid but I just could not bear the thought of him being alone – even if it was just his body.  We were told that he was at the funeral home and we were allowed to go see him.

Matt, our contact at the funeral home, met with us again.  He told us about Shomerim.

“Shomerim are watchers or guardians of the soul. Jewish tradition requires that the deceased not be left alone prior to burial. “Shomers” and “Shomeretts” therefore sit at the funeral home in close proximity to the deceased, reading psalms and assisting them in making the transition from life to death. This activity is considered holy.”

I felt myself breathe again.   Kevin, the shomerim, sat with Jake and read psalms to him.  Jake was not alone.


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  1. Another beautiful post lanie. Xo

  2. Beautiful! Love, Kristen

  3. There is comfort in feeling that there no matter what he is not alone.

  4. This is heartbreaking for so many reasons. I too have been to a cemetery to pick out a plot for someone who, like Jake, should never have died young: my brother Charlie. You were heroic in doing this and picking what I am sure is the perfect place for both of your beautiful boys who have passed, all in the acute throes of grief. You really are a champion mother.

  5. keep writing lanie.

  6. I remember that time so clearly . . . keep writing Lane, your posts are so poignant and full of love . . wonderful!

  7. Lanie,
    I just learned about your blog and read all your posts to date. Thanks so much for writing this–I’m learning so much I didn’t fully know about what you’ve been through.

    You have tremendous wisdom, evident throughout this. Even the wisdom to know when you have no words of wisdom.

    I hope writing this is helping you, too.

    Happy belated birthday to you and to Jake.



  8. I know exactly what you mean about not wanting Jake to be alone. I had my husband autopsied and it broke my heart for him to have to endure that. Even though I knew he wasn’t “there”… I just wanted him to come home. The funeral director did not know if I would be able to see my husband, but in the end I was able to see him one last time. I’m so grateful for that. I was able to kiss him, hold his hand, touch his cheek. I did not have my husband embalmed, enough was enough. He was creamated and he is now home here with me. I know we all have difficult decisions to make when our loved one passes. Nothing is morbid. Nothing is wrong. Whatever brings us peace is the right thing.

    I am holding you in my heart and wishing us both peace.

  9. Lanie,
    I cannot even begin to understand your pain, but reading your blog has given me some idea of the pain you and your family have experienced over the last few years. I cried through the entire reading. No one should ever have to experence losing a child, nevermine two children. Your story made me feel as though I was right there with you; I could see it all happening as I read. The account of the Shomerim was very touching and very inspiring. I have always been facinated by the Jewish faith as there are so many things about it that I can relate to. I have studied Kabala and Talmud. I know it sounds strange for a Christine to be interested in those things, but people seem to forget that Jesus was a Jew and believed in them; as do I.

    Please continue to write your blog, I look forward to reading more. Take care of yourself, Evan and the twins. Hope your Mom is well. I too am holding you and your family in my heart and wish you much peace and happiness.

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