NOTE: Daniel and Kelly speak to this question on Episode #21 of The Abel Speaks Podcast. You can listen on Apple, Spotify, or your app of choice.

Daniel Crawford:
Welcome to the Abel Speaks Podcast, where we speak to commonly asked questions by parents who have received a life-limiting diagnosis for their child. We’re Daniel and Kelly Crawford, and we’re glad that you’ve joined us. All right, welcome back to another episode of the Abel Speaks Podcast. And so our question today is around a heavier component of the journey, but the question is, if and when it becomes necessary, how do I go about planning a celebration of life service for my child? So any just big topic, any initial thoughts?

Kelly Crawford:
Yeah, this is something we talk about all the time, and it is just something that no parent ever thinks they’re going to have to do for their child. And it’s just so outside of the norm, outside of just the traditional life and death process, and so it can feel super heavy and super overwhelming. And so the reason also that we call it a celebration of life is that we really think there’s value in celebrating the life of these babies, even if their time on Earth was really short. It’s just a way to honor our children and the life that the Lord has given them, even if that life looks different than we had hoped or expected.

Daniel Crawford:
Yeah, and we talk often. I mean, a foundation pillar of our organization really is that idea that joy can and does coexist even in the midst of sorrow and sadness and loss. And so this is just a tangible picture really of that. To move into some of the practical sides of this, and so we, as a ministry, this is a service that we provide to the families we walk with, a 10-page PDF document that touches on a number of topics, but for the sake of this just short podcast episode, what would you put in front of people for consideration today?

Kelly Crawford:
Yeah, as a ministry, we offer the 10-page PDF, but we also will walk with families as closely as they would like for us to in the actual planning of the service. But the two biggest questions that typically come up are do I need to plan the celebration of life before birth or should I wait to do it after? And as we often say, there is total freedom to do it however you want. We’ve seen families plan the service before, that makes them feel prepared, they feel like that’s something that they can do while they’re waiting for delivery and waiting to get to meet their child. And so if you’re a really type A person, it might bless you to just get the planning done.

Daniel Crawford:
And you may not ever need that plan, but you at least have the peace if you’re wired in that way to know, “Hey, that’s no longer something that I have to be stressed about. We have a plan if and when we need to carry that plan out.”

Kelly Crawford:
Correct. And then for some families, it’s like, “I don’t want to even think about needing that.” And so they wait until after delivery. And if and when they need to start thinking about planning a celebration of life, then they will do it post-passing. That’s actually the route that we took, and that was good and right for our family. So we’ve seen parents do it both ways. And there’s no right or wrong decision. This is also something where friends and family can really step in and help you, whether that’s reaching out to a funeral home or helping get the flowers for the celebration or whatever elements that you want, friends and family really want to help, and this is a good opportunity for them to do that.

And then the second question is usually when do we have the celebration after passing? And again, there’s total freedom in this. We’ve seen families have it three days after passing, we’ve seen families do it two weeks later, two months later, all the way up to a year later. And so there’s no right or wrong. Whenever you feel ready and that would be a blessing to you to get to spend that time with friends and family to celebrate your child’s life, then that’s when the right time is.

Daniel Crawford:
So yeah, on that note, just of that consideration of timetable of when you want to have a service in your child’s memory, one variable in the equation, the decision that you will have to make, would be burial as opposed to cremation. And so the cremation route gives you all of the options that Kelly just laid out, whereas if you move towards a burial, that would limit and shrink that timetable a little bit. And so just wanted to add that. There’s a section in that PDF resource that we provide to our families that compares and contrasts and just helps people process that decision. And so with that, any other just final thoughts in considerations that you would leave people with on the topic today?

Kelly Crawford:
Yeah, we like to tell parents just that that can be a really sweet day for us. I remember leading up to Abel’s celebration, I was dreading it, and even the morning that we woke up. But walking into the sanctuary, seeing so many of our friends and family and people that got to meet Abel and spend time with him, and just getting to praise God for his life was the biggest gift to us. And just to get to hug all of our friends and family and see them laughing with us at some of the funny photos of him, but also weeping with us at the sadness that he wasn’t here anymore was… It’s hard to put into words what a gift that was to us. And we really look back on that day with really sweet memories, and it comes to mind the faces that were in the crowd that day.

And so just to hopefully encourage you guys, even if the planning of it’s really hard, and even if the day you wake up, it feels daunting and overwhelming, it really can be a sweet day and a day that feels holy and that you can really feel the Lord’s presence, and just sweet things. It’s one of those, I hate cold weather, I hate rain. And we had his celebration in February, and I remember praying that it would just be warm and sunny that day, and it was 72 and sunny, and it’s just a sweet way for just the Lord shows up and provides the little things. He knows us so well, intimately and personally, that He will provide what you need on that day. So it really was a joyful day for us to celebrate Abel’s life.

Daniel Crawford:
Yeah, and it almost sounds too trivial to use the word bittersweet, but just that mix of emotions because there is, there is a weight and can be a dread almost as you think about that and leading up to it. But to just share from our experience, which you just did beautifully, there really is sweetness and joy and celebration in honoring and remembering and celebrating the child that the Lord has entrusted to us. And so that wraps up this episode of the Abel Speaks Podcast, and we will see you next time.

Hey friends, thanks for listening in. We hope this content has been helpful. At Abel Speaks, we exist to support families who have chosen to carry a child with a life-limiting diagnosis. And we want you to know that the foundation of that support is rooted in relationships. And so if you are a parent in this circumstance, and by all means, continue listening in, but we’d really encourage you to reach out by sending an email to support@abelspeaks.org. Again, our heartfelt prayer is that this episode has served you in some way and that we might have the opportunity to serve you further in the future. The Abel Speaks Podcast is produced, mixed and edited by the team at Sound of a Rose.