When we lost our little one at only 9 weeks' gestation, we wanted to honor his life with a funeral, knowing his soul lives with God for eternity.
“I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat …” Those words came crashing down on me like a bucket of cold water. It wasn’t possible. I couldn’t believe that our son, clearly visible on that monitor in the ultrasound room, had already left us.
Shocked, I asked the doctor, “Are you sure?” She told me that she was, and also explained that it wasn’t my fault. “There was probably a chromosomal malformation,” she said.
I burst into tears. “But how long ago did it happen?” I asked.
“About two weeks … I know it hurts. It feels as if you’re mourning a death,” she said.
“Of course, what else could it be?” I wanted to answer, but I was too upset from hearing the news.
That child, our third, had arrived a little unexpectedly. Our first two were still very young, but we’d taken seriously the promise we made on our wedding day, when the priest asked us, “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God?” A gift is welcomed: It is neither demanded nor refused. Since we had no serious reasons to postpone a pregnancy, we liked to be surprised by the Lord.
Certainly, however, we didn’t expect this kind of a surprise, that He would call a child to life just to take him away from us after only two months, at nine weeks’ gestation. I kept crying for quite a while; they encouraged me to take some time to calm down and to call my husband (because of the pandemic, he wasn’t allowed to accompany me to the hospital).
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Talking to my husband helped me shift my gaze from looking down to looking up, from an incomprehensible death to eternal life. I told him,
“My love, we believe our child has existed and still does. God already loved him. He’s already in Paradise praying for us. And this death must have meaning; we just have to understand what God wants now …”
At that moment, I saw the truth very clearly: If our son was loved by us and by the Lord, I had to behave now as I would’ve done with any other child of mine. The doctor had given me two options: to let the child be expelled from my body naturally, or to undergo an operation—an option which the doctors considered better to avoid, if possible, as it would involve surgery, with anesthesia.
I didn’t want my son to slip away practically without anyone realizing it. He deserved care and respect, right up to the end. “I want to have the surgery and ask for a funeral for the baby,” I said to my husband, and he immediately agreed.
Before I told the doctor my decision, I started to wonder if I was being unreasonable. Who would ask for a funeral for a baby that had died at just nine weeks old in his mother’s womb? And I have to say that, talking to the medical staff, I was even more discouraged. Having a funeral seemed impossible!
They said there were tests that had to be carried out on the fetus, and it was difficult to take it out of the hospital because it was considered only “organic material.” So initially I settled for a compromise. I agreed to let the hospital chaplain come in to give a blessing to my little boy on the day of the operation.
My husband didn’t give up, though. He insisted that we could choose how to say goodbye to our baby, and he called the funeral home. It was the undertakers who told us that a funeral was legally possible. They researched what had to be done, and got all the necessary permissions from the municipality, the health district, and the hospital ward. They worked for 3 days on our behalf so that our desire could be fulfilled (without charging us anything, except the precious wooden box in which they would place him. They gave us the entire funeral service as a gift!). I underwent the operation and everything, providentially, went according to plan.
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The funeral ceremony took place on Saturday, June 13, the anniversary of Servant of God Chiara Corbella’s birth into Heaven. It seemed to us a beautiful coincidence, given that we are very close to her and her way of looking at life.
My husband often said to me, “You speak too much about Chiara; in my opinion, the Lord will ask something similar of you sooner or later …” In my heart I thought, “Let’s hope not,” but then I added, “Whatever you want, Lord, just give me your grace.” I can testify that this cross was not lacking in grace; on the contrary! I clung to God, as in few other times in life.
On the day of the funeral, in front of the little white coffin of our son (we called him “Andrea,” the Italian form of “Andrew”), we were deeply moved. It was all so real: He had a first name and a last name. He had a body, as small as a walnut, but destined for Resurrection on the last day, just like ours. We had already given him life! It was touching to see that white coffin two yards from the tabernacle. It seemed to me an immense gift that my son was before Christ, instead of in an incinerator.
A few days before I had discovered that Andrea was no longer alive, I had asked the Lord to show me how much he loved unborn children. It was incredible that he had decided to answer me not with a page of Gospel, with the phrase of a saint, or with an inspiration, but with the very life of my son.
It was a short life, “with flaws,” but already absolutely unique, precious, and unrepeatable. If I loved him—I who am only an imperfect person, with many limitations—how much more could God love him? “You’ll see that next time it will go better,” people told me, trying to console me. But, in what sense should it go better next time?
Losing a child is an immense and deep pain that never leaves you; I know what I’m talking about now. Yet while we were saying “goodbye” to him, I realized that our child had not been a failure or a mistake of nature we should forget; he had existed and always would always exist. God had created him for eternity.
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