During my pregnancy, I felt the natural desires to prepare for my baby’s birth and to do everything possible to “serve” her prior to her birth. In a normal pregnancy with a healthy baby, these preparations are somewhat obvious—preparing a nursery, buying clothes and other supplies, etc. The preparations are different when a baby has been diagnosed with a condition “incompatible with life”. Mike and I did make some of the “normal” preparations. We bought some clothes and a car seat and a stroller. More often than not though, I desired to do something specific to serve Hope. Oftentimes, this involved preparing in my mind for her death and funeral services.
Several times during my pregnancy I found myself planning for Hope’s funeral. I knew from the beginning that if she died, I would like to speak at her funeral. I felt that because her life would most likely be short, Mike and I would certainly be the ones to know her best. I wanted to share with others what I had learned about Hope and what I had learned from her. My experience with my daughter taught me more about the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ than any other experience in my life. I desired to share with those around me the things that had brought me such happiness and peace amid such difficult circumstances. I took many of my remarks from the journal I had kept during the pregnancy. Mike also shared a beautiful message at Hope’s funeral of love and of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
• Marinda’s talk
• Mike’s talk
Along with the program for the funeral, we distributed a handout with some facts about Trisomy 18. Many of our friends and family members commented that this was very helpful to them in understanding Hope’s condition.
During my “advance preparations”, I also chose some of the music that would be shared. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as in many other churches), we have a general hymnal as well as a Children’s Songbook. A few weeks prior to Hope’s birth, I sat at the piano mindlessly thumbing through the Children’s Songbook. I played a childhood favorite, When He Comes Again. I told Mike that if Hope passed away, I wanted that sung at her funeral. Our parents and siblings did a beautiful job at singing the comforting words and melody at her funeral service. After her passing we chose two lovely hymns (Families Can Be Together Forever and I Believe in Christ) from the hymnal for the congregation to sing at the opening and closing of the service.
In addition to what I have already mentioned, my father (Hope’s grandfather) gave a beautiful talk on the surety that Hope’s life continues and that she has returned to the presence of a loving Father in Heaven and Elder Brother, Jesus Christ! He quoted my 3-year-old niece who summed it up so well. She said that “Hope is being babysat by Heavenly Father and Jesus until her mommy and daddy come to get her.” Our bishop also gave some beautiful and comforting remarks.
Hope was buried close her great-grandfather who preceded her in death in a lovely cemetery.