Foetal and infant cremains

Once again, distraught Mums have been in the news, agonising about the disposal of their baby’s cremains.

A mother who was told she could not make funeral arrangements for her miscarried son has hit out at hospital bosses.

She lost her son Alfie at 18-and-a-half weeks pregnant in March 2012. She and her husband were then told by hospital staff they would have no say in what happened to his body because he had been born below a 20-week threshold.

The foetus was taken away by nurses at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire and the couple were left to grieve, believing he would be cremated with other babies who had died in the womb.

 But three years the mother, who lives in Highfield, Hemel Hempstead, has discovered the remains were in fact buried in an unmarked mass grave in the Tring Road Cemetery in Aylesbury, a few miles from the hospital where he died.

She said: “It was absolutely horrendous. When the lady told me over the phone, I just cried.

“We’ve had no grave to go to or to lay flowers at, and that is something that would have really helped us.

“We had a plaque made up for the Forget-Me-Not Garden in Gadebridge Park, but all this time he’s been in Aylesbury.”


There must be some sympathy for the community or hospital service since so many Mums will be distraught at the time of miscarriage or stillbirth and just want everything cleared up and taken away to avoid further distress.  Who wants to think about or complete a form to discuss disposal at that time?  So the hospital and community midwives cannot do right for doing wrong, yet face criticism when it bounces back sometimes years later, splashed across the local and national press, as if they are the de facto villain of the piece.

Perhaps this is more about sensibilities that practicalities. The use of terms such as “disposal”, “waste”, “clinical waste” and “incineration” are bound to cause distress to some, perhaps many.  We must wonder if the whole issue was to be reviewed, with improvement and change in the approach to bereaved parents, avoiding what may later being seen as a degree of secrecy and introducing a lot more calm and quiet sympathy.

But NHS Trusts and/or undertakers cannot store remains for years, at no cost to the parents, just in case someone decides to arrange a funeral, memorial service or formal burial,

An open and honest approach must be essential, and in this case it seems that was lacking.  But for the Trusts, ‘rock and a hard place comes to mind’.



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