Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Choosing a Headstone

No-one ever thinks they will be in a position where they are required to choose a headstone for their child. Of course, we all know babies, children and young adults die, but the thought that our offspring will die before us doesn’t cross our minds, after all it goes against the nautral order of things, against all our expectations about the circle of life. A baby or child dying is the sort of thing that happens to other people.
We are the other people. Our baby dying happened to us.
Today we had our first appointment with the lovely funeral director who looked after Anabelle to discuss the process of ordering a headstone for her garden. It is a relief in all honesty that the funeral director also happens to be a monumental mason, having to employ somebody else would have just added to the enormity of an already distressing thing to decide; he knows our situation, he remembers us and our daughter. I don’t suppose you forget the deceased baby and the parents that entrust them to your care do you.
It felt surreal almost today, back at the chapel of rest where we last saw Anabelle. Of course, we were in the offices, not the chapel, but for a moment as we parked outside I had to compose myself. I felt nervous and sick and had to take a few deep breaths before we went in.
I’m nervous because this really is a mammoth task. It is important. We have to get this right, no, more than right; this has to be perfect for Belle. This headstone will mark the place where our daughter’s little body is buried and more than that needs to reflect how much we love her, how much she matters to us.
Months ago we were given booklets to look through. It has taken months to build up the courage to look through them properly. In fact, after the initial flick through, they have just been sat inside Anabelle’s memory box untouched. Untouched, because the reality that we had to choose a headstone for our daughter instead of new clothes and toys leaves me feeling sick. It is all too huge.  In the last couple of days the booklet has been taken out and given a more serious consideration.
In this one booklet there are literally hundreds of designs, many stone types and colours to choose from. There is even a whole section of it dedicated to stone designs more appropriate to honour children.
Choosing the design was actually the easy bit. From the start hearts have been important to us and Anabelle. Her nursery was planned to include hearts in its theme, it seemed only appropriate that her garden would carry this theme too. Adapted from one of the stones in the children’s section of the booklet, Anabelle’s headstone will in the shape of a heart, sat on a cloud.
That bit is decided.
We’ve also decided today it will be made from rose white granite.  A black headstone was in no way appropriate for our daughter. I was worried what the options would be other than black or marble (which doesn’t weather well), I needn’t have worried – there in the office was another booklet with a multitude of colours to choose from.  Rose white granite was the obvious choice; it is a soft delicate colour, perfect for our girl and turned the other way around white roses mean something to us. A white rose is our flower, it was the theme of our wedding and it is ‘nice’ to have a little something else to connect to her, something else that makes her special.
Style, colour and design decided.  
What is more overwhelming is deciding the wording; the words that will be forever etched upon that heart declaring our love for our daughter.  Where do we even begin? The love that we have that is as vast as the universe contained onto a small stone. How can it even begin to do her justice?
It doesn’t have to be set in stone yet (pardon the pun) but we have written down a general idea of what we might like it to say; it is personal to her and us, but somehow it doesn’t seem quite enough. I don’t think it would ever seem enough. We’ll never stop trying to find ways to honour our daughter’s existence and impact she has left on our lives forever.
A headstone is just a small piece of it.


Anonymous said...

you'll find the words

Anonymous said...

You always write such lovely pieces in your blog about your beautiful Belle. The words you eventually decide on will be perfect, simply because they come from her mummy's and her daddy's hearts x

Nanny Davies/ julie said...

the words will come.
you and jon love Belle so much, you will find what you need in your hearts.

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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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