Summary: Funeral sermon and liturgy suggestions for a full term stillborn boy.

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{All liturgical material used was from the United Methodist Book of Worship service for a stillborn child, and service for the loss of a pregnancy. I scoured the internet and other resources looking for help. The UM BOW was by far the best resource. This baby boy was born dead at term. The parents had been trying to conceive their second child and suffered an early miscarriage before becoming pregnant with this child. The older brother is not quite 3. All four grandparents have been very involved and supportive. I blessed and named the baby when he was born. The family took a lot of photos before they turned him over to the funeral director, so they had a photo book, plaster casts of his hands and feet, and the blessing certificate (provided by the very gracious nursing staff at the Catholic hospital – I wish I had thought to bring something with me). Music for the service was selected by the parents. Pre-service music was a Disney CD of favorite lullabies which was played softly enough in the background that it was okay. For a closing song they used the original soundtrack recording of “Somewhere Out There” from one of the Fievel movies. It was incredibly poignant and I would recommend its use again.}

2 Samuel 12: 15b-23 (I read only v. 23b because the story is really about God’s punishment for David’s sin in taking Bathsheba); Psalm 139: 13-16; Matthew 11: 25-30. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 at committal.

I can think of no tragedy as great as the loss of a child. It is overwhelming. I watched all of you coming into the funeral home, and each of you did what I did. There was another flood of tears as you opened the door, and then you stopped and braced yourself, shook your head, blew your nose, and took a deep breath. Each of us needed to re-group before facing this service. It has been simply awful.

Logan was planned for, loved and cared for these past many months. Nurtured in Angie’s womb, and nurtured in the hearts of many. So many expectations and anticipations were cherished in the hearts of his parents, grandparents and friends. I know Cade was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his brother and imagining all the things he would teach him about Sponge Bob Squarepants and building Lego towers. Our hopes and dreams for an unborn child fill our hearts to overflowing. Yet the hearts that have been overflowing with love, joy, and anticipation, are now overflowing with tears.

It would be irresponsible for me to stand here and tell you that everything is going to be okay, or in any way imply that there is anything good in this. God did not promise that our lives would be easy or free of tragedy. God promises that we will always have God’s love and strength. God’s promise in the reading from Matthew is that we can turn our burdens over to Him. God’s promise is that we can grow back stronger and better even when we have seemingly been pruned back to the ground. God’s promise is forgiveness and eternal life. But God never promised us a bed of roses in this life. I take heart from the story of King David’s loss of his firstborn. David wailed, fasted, and beseeched God to let his child live. But after the child was dead, David went to the temple to worship God. David washed and ate. When asked how he could behave like this, he said, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” We can have that same confidence born of our faith that we will indeed be with Logan in eternity. And Logan will be in your hearts here for the rest of your earthly days.

Logan’s death is not due to any lack of love on your part, and it is not due to any failing on God’s part. Logan’s death is simply a tragic part of life that has hit you straight in the heart. The question really is how and where you go from here. Your grief will be with you forever. For now, your grief surrounds you like a cloud that makes visibility near zero. The cloud will lighten, and you will see through it more and more as time passes, but it will never disappear entirely. You have been struck with the worst tragedy we can experience in our lives. God knows. God knows because in this season in which we celebrate God coming to us as a baby in a manger, we know that God knows what it means to lose a beloved child. But today we have a question not of clouds, but of rainbows.

Do you allow this tragedy to immobilize you or to drive a wedge in between you and the ones you love? Or do you take your tragic experience to God, the great Healer, turning the pain over to Him and allowing His love to bind your hearts back together and forge a stronger link of love with each other? Today is always the time to tell the ones next to you how much you love them. We never know what the next moment will bring. This is the very moment to reach out and shower your love on each other. Now is when to cherish each precious second with Cade – giving him all the love you have for Logan so Cade has double. This very moment is the time for Travis and Angie to tenderly reach out to each other and share each other’s pain.

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Steve Gallimore

commented on Nov 7, 2006

This is a wonderful sermon to help parents get through and get on. It was a great help to me and to the family in preparing to live and come out of the cloud of darkness that surrounded them. Thanks for sharing this message of hope Jane.

Mark Surbrook

commented on May 24, 2012

Thanks for these remarks. So appropriate! I found them so helpful in preparation for graveside funeral for a baby.

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