May 05, 2010

The funeral service

I've decided to share Ianto's funeral service with you all. It's taken me close to two hours to type this up, so I hope you enjoy. I'll be marking spots where I want to comment with red numbers, then add my comments as footnotes.

I know there's bound to be a few spelling mistakes, so if anyone picks one up, let me know in the comments and I'll fix it.

Because it's so long, I'm going to break it up here, and make it so you can only read it by going to the post's page (click on the title of the post to continue reading)

Funeral service

The angel in the book of life
Wrote down sweet Ianto’s birth
And gently murmured as she closed the book
"Too beautiful for Earth”

On behalf of Scott and Tenielle, and my colleagues here at Ern Jensen Funerals, I warmly welcome you today as we gather together to honour a very precious little boy, Ianto Jack Reid, and thank you most sincerely for joining us.

My name is Robyn O’Connell from Silver Celebrants and I feel very privileged to have been asked to conduct this service for you.

As we begin I am going to invite Scott and Tenielle to come forward and light this candle for Ianto which symbolises the love we have in our hearts for him, it signifies the times we laughed in anticipation for his arrival and the times we cried and of the care and love we feel for him.

Ianto, this candle is a sign that your light will always shine and we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you.

Tenielle would like to share with us All Those Months written by Margaret Cordukes.

Your little heart beating so strongly all those months is silent.
Your little arms and legs moving so vigorously are still.
Milk falling like tears from your mother’s breasts will never nourish you.(1)
Your little eyes will never sparkle, your little voice forever silent.
Your mother holds you in her arms, timidly kisses your soft cheek,
Caresses your tiny fingers and whispers your name with tears.
She dreams of holding you, of watching you smile and grow.
Her love is always with you, although you will never know.

When death comes before a child ever has a chance for life, when that life should have been flushed with hope and filled with dreams, it is very difficult to accept, it is beyond our understanding. And now, life will never be quite the same again.

Today there is much sadness in our hearts, for this precious little child who never got to experience life as we understand it to be. For those of us who are older, we question why, why we still live and this wondrous child has to die.

For extended family and friends, one of the hardest emotions that we have to deal with as human beings is to watch someone who we know and love go through so much pain.

There doesn’t seem to be anything we can say that will soften the sorrow, or lessen the loss. Words don’t seem to reach aching hearts, but death does draw us closer to each other. We can look after each other and support Ianto’s family not just now, but in the difficult times ahead.

With the death of someone so young, friends and family may expect them to bounce back quickly, try to forget the past. But they can’t forget, nor should they. For their child has died; a child who had become a very real presence in their lives.

With his short life, Ianto has already touched so many; look at the people here today, his spirit already having touched each one of us. The great philosopher Viktor Frankl once said: “Sometimes the unfinished are among the most beautiful symphonies.”

To those of you who are here to support Ianto’s family, I offer the following thoughts. When faced with death, many of us worry about the right words to use – but there are no right words. There is no “right” way to act. Just be yourself, speak from the heart, or if words fail you, a hug works just as well. There are so many ways of showing love, understanding and support, just simply being here for them today already says so much.

We understand that things sometimes go wrong. We understand – but we still hurt. We know that everyone has been wonderful, it is no-one’s fault – but we still hurt. Beside the hurt, however, there is love – and an abundance of it.

Sometimes, we have regrets, you know what I mean, the “what ifs” or “if onlys.” This is the time to lay aside any regrets you might have and honour the spirit of Ianto himself, he loved you and would not have wanted you to carry that into your future.

Without even having to be born, Ianto already knew of the love that surrounded him, the love from his mother Tenielle, who will cherish every moment of that pregnancy and remember every movement so easily. Tenielle writes:

It is hard to think of words that can describe how I am feeling. All I can think of is how soft Ianto’s skin is. We had him in the hospital room with us from the moment he was born to when we had to leave, and I was just entranced. I kept fussing over him on Monday, stroking his skin and telling him how much I loved him, how proud I was of him and how lucky I felt that he chose me to be his mummy.
I see those few days as part of his life, even though he hadn’t been born alive. Even as we were leaving, he showed how much of a joker he was going to be – I was crying my eyes out when suddenly my pants fell down under my dressing gown! I’m sure it was Ianto’s way of telling me “don’t cry mum”... My sweet, soft boy. I feel blessed that I got to spend that time with him – to touch his face, imprint it on my memory.

The love from his father Scott, who was already making plans for the new arrival in his family, who wrote:

There is so much that I was looking forward to when you were born! Bathing, playing, showing off your beautiful pictures to everyone I could.
You were definitely going to be into sports, that much was confirmed for us one afternoon when I put my ear to your mum’s tummy and you kicked my head!
Nothing now will ever come as close to how I felt when we were told that there was no heartbeat in your little body. All the hope that I still had from thinking the doctors were just doing it wrong slipped away as if it had been pulled out of me in a tug-of-war.
I will miss you forever and think of you every day! And as much as it hurts not to be able to have you smiling up at me in your arms, I will always be proud to call myself your father.

When someone so young dies, it’s hard for us to express our feelings and so today, Tenielle and Scott are having two beautiful reflections and some very special music.

Long before an infant is born, they are a real little person; an integral part of their family. Tenielle and Scott had already created a picture of their baby. They wondered whether they would have a boy or a girl, although they were convinced he was a girl! They wondered who would it look like? Will it have hair?

They had only just started talking about having a baby so we can only imagine their surprise when they found out Tenielle was already pregnant! There were great celebrations and I’m sure you shared in the numerous excited phone calls with their wonderful news. Already preparations had started in anticipation for the baby’s arrival.

When pregnancy begins and babies start to grow, that picture we talked about becomes clearer. Together this family shared in the first signs of growth; seeing scans on a regular basis, in fact the person doing the ultrasound at only five weeks said it was the earliest he’s ever seen a heartbeat.

Ianto would often cause his parents concern when they had not felt him move for a couple of days, then as if to allay their fears he would just about have a football match to let them know he was okay. Each step along the way played an important part in the bond between Ianto and his parents.

Sometimes, the unexpected happens, a problem is detected, more hurried phone calls but this time not with good news. Dreams are shattered and our fears are realised that all is not what it should be. At thirty-two weeks, Tenielle and Scott were told there was no heartbeat.

The news was devastating to everyone, but none more so than to his parents, Scott and Tenielle. It is indescribable, the feeling to be told that your child has no chance of survival. This is not how it is meant to be, your child is meant to see you die, not the other way around. Parents not only lose their child, but they lose their hopes and dreams for that child.

So on February 28th, 2010, Ianto entered a family that adored him and a world that welcomed him at the Northern Hospital. Although tiny, Ianto was to make a big impression, weighing in at 1.53kg he looked just perfect. Tenielle and Scott are just grateful that they were able to have some time with their precious son and tell him how much they loved him.

Ianto’s spirit left this world but not before, like a butterfly kiss, he touched so many lives.

His little soul has touched us all
He didn't need to stay
His spirit touched each one of us
Before it sailed away
We all know souls arrive on earth
with special roles to fill
And his has fully played its part
His memory guides us still
He had a very special soul
He stayed but just awhile
So if, or when, you’re feeling sad
Recall him with a smile
For then you will know inside your heart
The reason why he's gone
And never feel too empty that
His role down here is done
His spirit touched each one of us
No other ever could
Forever will we cherish him
The way we know we should

Ianto knew of the love of his grandparents Leanne and Gavin, Kerrie and Bob, Terry and May; and great-grandparents Margaret and Ted, Valerie, Moira. Extended family like uncles, aunties, cousins and friends who all wanted to be able to give to him the same love that they had for his parents. He will be greeted by his great-grandparents who have gone before him who wait with open and loving arms.

Many of Ianto’s family have written tributes to him and I’d like to share some of those with you now. From his grandparents Leanne and Gavin:

We were the happiest grandparents ever, but when Tenielle and Scott told us there was no heartbeat at the ultrasound, our grandson was gone, we were in shock, our hearts were broken.
We were glad to meet you, sweet little Ianto. We will see you again someday. We love you our little angel.

From Nan (Kerrie) and Grandpa (Bob), Auntie Dani and Uncle Dave and Jeff:

Ianto. We’ve all heard so much about you while you were enjoying every moment inside mum’s tummy. We were all convinced, especially Tenielle, that you were going to be a great acrobat, as you continuously did back flips and kept us guessing your sex.
Although fate decided to gently take you from us, you’ll always be remembered as a little angel. You were so perfect and beautiful and most importantly so precious to us all. We will shed tears in your memory, but know you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, precious one, and please shine down on us. We love you baby Ianto, more than you’ll ever know.

From grandparents Terry & May, and great-grandmother Valerie:

Ianto, there’s a line from a favourite movie of ours that goes: “Every star is a window to heaven.” Now every summer evening, while there’s a snag on the barbie, or a chook in the Webber and a stubbie on the table. We will be watching out for you, as your star will shine the brightest and the night sky will never be empty again.(2)

His uncles Gavin and Brent:

We were filled with joy to know we were going to be uncles, the things we would do together, but now we will wait. Until we meet again one day.

There never has been, and never will be, anyone in the world like Ianto, and he will live in your memories not just at special times but always. He will forever remain a part of the life of everyone whose lives were touched by him and his family.

Ianto, without even being born, taught us many great lessons, among them, he taught us life is precious, and to love and be loved.

We are going to listen to a song called Smallest Wingless and I would ask that when you hear this song again, let it not remind you of the sadness you feel today, but rather let it remind you of those precious lessons that Ianto taught us and think about his family and the love they have for each other.(3)

There was so much hope for Ianto, so much care for him, so much love for him. And, while we say goodbye to Ianto today, we also say hello to the new kind of lasting love that is the meaning of Ianto’s life. Because love changes its form, but it does not die.

You who are Ianto’s family are deeply sad right now. That is as it must be. Try to remember that sadness comes out of love, and all love is complete in sadness. Sadness, then, is a kind of terrible privilege.

We are now going to take Ianto to his final resting place at Fawkner Memorial Park, you are more than welcome to join us for a short burial service and then join Ianto’s family at [address]. If you would prefer, you are welcome to go straight there.

I would ask you all to stand.

Burial service

Friends, we gather to say our final farewell to this precious child. Perhaps if he were able, he might want you to know this:

I look down on you the family that I love
From a heavenly place somewhere up above.
I see your tears, I feel them too
Although you may not be aware
That I am watching you.
You see, I’ve never left you
You know I’m in your heart
And while I’m no longer on the earth
We’re never far apart.
So when you feel that breeze
Just go past your ear
Know it’s me telling you
That I am still quite near.
Although you cannot hear me
I still want you to know
That my love for you has never changed
Even though I had to go.
Just close your eyes and think of me
And I will give you strength
To make you smile and laugh again
I would go to any length.
I loved you then as I love you now
And I watch over you constantly
Because I am still your blessed child
But my spirit now flies free.

Friends, it is time to say our final farewell to Ianto, in this life we are given not many gifts, some we are allowed to keep for a long time, others like Ianto, not long enough. But each gift has the power to enrich us and make us better human beings. So as we say farewell to Ianto, let us send him with our love and thank him for the lessons of love he has left us.

Tenderly and reverently we give the body of this precious little child Ianto Jack Reid, to mother Earth from which all life comes and to which all life in the end returns. With great love we bid him farewell.

We grieve that Ianto never reached his potential; he has made an inedible imprint on our hearts that will remain forever.

Babies change everything they touch, especially those that leave so soon. We would all have loved Ianto to stay with us, we all feel cheated by his absence but out of our pain let us brew a balm, a calming, healing balm, filled with the one element we have, to endure everything – love.

Thinking of Ianto, in token of our love for the young life that has ended, let us leave this place with quietness of spirit and resolve to support each other with love and concern, and care for the family he has left behind.(4)

1: I changed the line "falling from your mother's breasts" to "falling from my body" as I spoke - it didn't seem right to be talking about my breasts at my son's funeral.
2: I still get utterly furious when I read this. How dare they reference alcohol and barbeques at a baby's funeral? This is a perfect example of why I'm adamant none of our kids spend too much time with that horrid man.
3: I'm not sure she listened to the song beforehand - it's a bit hard not to listen to it and get sad about Ianto, since it's specifically about stillbirth/premature death
4: I've told you all about the problem we had with the balloon release at the burial - there's another section in the service booklet about that. She wrote something specifically for that, but I won't include it since we never got to do it on the day. Maybe at the next release we do for him, I'll read the words out like Scott suggested we do on his due date...


  1. Sounds like it was a beautiful service, definitely brought tears to my eyes reading it. Sorry about the comments that weren't necessarily very appropriate to be read out in the service. And I'm so very sorry that Ianto was taken from you far too soon xxx

  2. my condolences. this is so heartbreaking and I can not even begin to imagine what this has been like for you and your family. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  3. Such a beautiful service. I think about you and baby Ianto often. xoxoxo

  4. I just wanted to come by and wish you a Happy Mothers Day, today is such a hard day for those of us who are Mummy's without our babies here... Many (((HUGS))) Sounds like you had a beautiful service for your Sweet Baby Ianto.. Take Care love Abby


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