I have received many inquiries since I began my journey into bereavement support through creating my Bereavement Keepsakes so I figured an interview with the mortician who collaborated on this idea with me and two other doulas (Olivia Stephens, Forget Me Not Doula Services, @forgetmenotdoulaservices and Jenn Taylor, Doula in Reno, @doulainreno), would be a great place to start!
If you are unfamiliar with what a Bereavement Keepsake is I'll give a simplified explanation now: A Bereavement Keepsake is the process of preserving fetal remains of an early-term miscarriage into something that can be cherished for years to come. In other words, it's the cremated remains of an early-term miscarriage. After cremating the remains, I place them into two separate glass jars. One is then sealed with wax while the other is left unsealed so jewelry can be made at a later date or buried under a plant/tree.
This is a service that I provide to women who have experienced either a spontaneous miscarriage or planned abortion. The reasons behind the loss are of no importance to me. I simply believe that everybody should be able to honor a soul regardless of how it was lost.
My Bereavement Keepsakes are available to women who are local to me as well as across the country. At the end of this interview, you'll see how I do that.
One last thing before we begin. I create Bereavement Keepsakes with and without fetal remains. For the sake of this discussion, I am referring to my Bereavement Keepsakes with fetal remains.
Now begins the interview.
Myself: Will most funeral homes cremate an early-term miscarriage? Why or why not? And what's the determining factor?
Melissa: It is hard to speak for "most" funeral homes. Some may be willing and some may not. Some may have a fee associated with the cremation and others may not when it comes to early-term miscarriages. Depending upon the gestation will determine whether or not there will be anything to even return to the family. Anything under the 10-week gestation timeline is most likely to have nothing to be able to return to the families as the tissues are too soft and will be evaporated by the high heat of the crematories. Myself: When will most funeral homes begin to cremate miscarriages?
Melissa: 12 weeks in gestation is a timeline that most funeral homes will be willing to assist with the cremation as we should be able to have some form, be it a very tiny amount, of cremains to return to the grieving families.
Myself: What do most funeral homes consider to be an early-term miscarriage?
Melissa: Anything under the 20-week gestation and 350 grams is the state's guide to early-term miscarriage and sadly the fetus is at that point (according to the state) considered medical waste. This means families can choose to do nothing with the miscarriage and allow a hospital to discard of the fetus in a medical waste manner. Or they can choose to bury/cremate. There is no permit required by the state of Arizona for these cremation/burials but medical documentation showing the timeline of gestation is required. After 20 weeks or older, or 350 grams, the state now says this is a potentially viable pregnancy and a permit is now required (to include a death certificate) for burial or cremation.
Myself: What is the best method for packaging and shipping an early-term miscarriage so that I can process and cremate it?
Melissa: For packaging/shipping an early-term miscarriage it is best to have an airtight/leakproof container where the remains are in a saline solution. If they are not in a solution and only frozen a small amount of dry ice can be used.
I hope this has given you a deeper insight into early-term miscarriages and the options that are available when it comes to handling the remains. If you wish to know how I create my Bereavement Keepsakes there's a step-by-step guide available for purchase on my site under the "Bereavement & Termination" tab.
Thank you all for joining me in this discussion and, as always, remember, nothing outside of you has control over you, mama.