Until recent times, a stillbirth or the death of a baby was something most families experienced. As a consequence, the bereaved parents obtained strong community support. They derived solace from the fact that relatives and neighbours had gone through the experience, and were able to help. At that time, the parents, who were generally young, often suffered extreme financial hardship.
The routine burial of babies took place in common or pauper graves, in cemeteries throughout the country. It's still not unusual to place many babies in each grave. It is not always permitted to place memorial stones over such graves. This common grave form of burial persists in a few parts of the country as the only option for baby burials. Some families purchase a "private" grave for the burial to ensure that they can place a memorial.
As a consequence of medical and social improvements, a stillbirth or baby death is a rare experience in modern times. Consequently, bereaved parents can feel isolated and need good advice and support. As part of this, it is essential that the funeral satisfies their needs. The development of more sensitive options is required to ensure that parents can grieve properly and do not suffer unnecessary psychological harm.
Baby funerals generally fall into two categories. Firstly there are funerals arranged through a hospital and secondly there are those privately arranged by the family. This item considers burial facilities in cemeteries but cremation is also a funeral option. Churchyard burials are outside the remit of this Charter.