By Gerard and Lisa
This article is about our daughter, Miriam, who was miscarried 8 years ago and what we did. We are writing this in response to the many people who have said to us ‘I wish I knew I could have done that’.
On Tuesday evening the 8th of April 2003 we were 12 weeks pregnant when Lisa started to spot. It stopped within half an hour. This does not always mean that there are problems but we were worried. We had an appointment to see an obstetrician that was still three weeks away. When the spotting began again in the early hours of Wednesday morning Lisa rang our G.P. He suggested ringing the obstetrician to get an earlier appointment. He also told us that Lisa would probably go on to have a miscarriage and there was nothing we could do. The obstetrician was unable to see Lisa but gave us a referral to have an ultrasound.
We had to wait until Friday morning before we could be fitted in for the ultrasound. The news was not good. Miriam had no heartbeat and judging by her size had probably died three weeks earlier. The obstetrician saw us and gave us the option of going to the hospital for a curette or going home to wait for things to happen naturally. We took the second option.
After the ultrasound Gerard went to see our parish priest, Fr Albert, to discuss funeral options. We knew from friends that we could have some kind of memorial service and burial. Upon reading the rubrics for the Requiem Mass Fr Albert, who never had experienced a case like ours before, found that there were prayers within the ritual for an unbaptised child. That afternoon we chose readings and prayers for Miriam’s Requiem Mass.
The next morning, at 4:45am, nature took its course and Miriam was ‘born’. After a conditional baptism we gathered her remains and wrapped them in a white hand towel, placed the towel in an ice-cream container and put it in the fridge.
Saturday was a busy day. We told the children as they awoke about their little sister and answered the questions they asked as best we could. The funeral arrangements were finalised with Father and it was set down for Monday. He also organised a child’s plot at our local Catholic cemetery.
Gerard went to the shops to buy a ‘coffin’ for Miriam. Where do you go to buy a coffin for such a small child? He finally found an appropriate box in a kitchen shop. It was a wooden box intended to sit on a kitchen bench. He then went to a hardware store and bought some nails. Flowers were also ordered.
Sunday was Passion Sunday and we spent it with friends performing in a Passion play. It was good to have the support. Afterwards friends helped us to dig the grave.
Monday morning consisted of getting everything ready for the funeral. We picked up the flowers and prepared the coffin. We placed Miriam in her white hand towel into the box with Lisa’s rosary beads. A Miraculous Medal and crucifix, which Gerard usually wore, were nailed to the top and a wooden crucifix glued onto the side. We then each hammered some nails into the lid to close the coffin. This was a very difficult and healing thing to do.
The Requiem Mass was beautiful with friends supplying the music and family and friends supporting us. Miriam was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery with each of our other children participating by throwing dirt and flowers onto the coffin as it was buried.
Each time we drive past the cemetery, which is every workday for Gerard, we remember our daughter and sister.
We often say to each other that while what happened to us was sad, God was good to us in the way it happened. We don’t know why it happened but we continue to trust in God’s plan for our lives.
Each family will cope with a miscarriage in their own way. We hope that by sharing our story, others will learn of what may be some of their options.
Today is Miriam's birthday. Please pray for Gerard, Lisa and family