Graveside service for a stillborn.
We’ve talked elsewhere about a way to approach services for an infant or a stillborn child. Now, what do you say at the grave of a stillborn baby? A person who was moving in the womb and then wasn’t. A person who was part of a story that parents were writing and dreaming and decorating for, and then that story stopped.
I’m not sure what you should say. But I thought it might be helpful to tell you what I said once. This is not long. We don’t need long at this moment. Preaching can happen at other times. We need to acknowledge the pain, declare hope of the resurrection, and together, ask God for help.
This is not where you dreamed this story would go.
It’s the problem with being story-tellers. When we start creating, we are often surprised with the direction. I can’t tell you why we are here, with one child in your arms and another in your hearts. And I cannot begin to tell you what this means. And so I won’t.
I heard last Easter that our calling is to declare the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not describe it or defend it.
And so, In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commit to Almighty God our sister ____
and we commit her body to the ground;
earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
[This is a standard kind of committal prayer.]
The Lord bless her and keep her. The Lord make his face to shine upon her and be gracious to her, the Lord lift up his face upon her and give her peace. Amen.
Out of the depths we cry out to you,
O Lord let your ears be attentive to our cry for mercy.
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are worshipped.
Our souls wait for you, more than night watchmen wait for morning.
We put our hope in you, Lord because you have unfailing love and full redemption and we need to trust in that now. Amen
[This is prayed from Psalm 130, with a little adaptation to actually be praying.]
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face upon you and give you peace. Amen
[I know that the blessing of Aaron is here twice (Numbers 6:24-26). But once it is a blessing for the child, a statement of what is happening. The second time is a blessing for us. Hence the shift in pronouns.]