Monday, September 20, 2010

Post Seventy: Babe in Arms.

People often ask me what the hardest part of my job is. I re-contemplate this, and most of the time I answer that it's being alone in a room for an extended period of time. I think I lie to save myself the explanation of the ultimate bummer and the ensuing emotionally charged conversation. I quite enjoy being alone to listen to whatever I want. I just don't like seeing children die.

Most people would understand that it's pretty horrible, but it seems as though it only gets harder and harder the more cases I come across. One of the first bodies I ever saw was a thirteen year old boy, but he was very very sick so I could see that death for him seemed natural. I am challenged however when a baby or child looks perfect, untouched, and sleeping. They are taken in the still of the night, and that to me is pure heartbreak.

I have posted before that I make an origami crane for little lives that are lost. I think it's just as much for me as it is for them. It was in the mortuary that my first maternal feelings surfaced, and I (very sadly) learnt how to perfect a cotton nappy on dead babies. I cuddle and sing to them for as long as is appropriate. Sounds creepy, but I think it helps. I sometimes feel like because their folks can't be there Aunty Sar has to step in to make sure the baby is safe until it leaves my care. Finally, I leave them all in the watchful care of a responsible looking dead old lady...surely if their little caspers are around the old lady ghost will take charge and make sure stuff is going smoothly and the kids aren't running amok?

I guess what I'm saying is that I hate it, but I love to help. Someone's got to do it, I can, and I will be there. (Creepy Aunty Sar and her zombie kiddos.)

Peace. x


  1. You say some very amazing things, Sarah.

  2. Yikes Sarah! I'm an avid reader of your blog and this post has got me thinking.... I'm so glad you love your job and are so good at it. Keep making those cranes. Love your work!

  3. This might sound a bit odd so sorry if it does. Would a deceased baby need a nappy at all ? (Assuming that you've done the things that only you do)

  4. You know Eddie, eventually everyone needs a nappy! Gas builds up, and everything that's in needs to get out... I think I like putting nappies on them anyway, just because it's natural and part of the whole baby aesthetic, y'know?

  5. Sarah, the compassion and care you show is very comforting. My mum passed away recently at a young age and after I become curious as to what happened to her after we bid her farewell. After hearing occasional horror stories in the news about lack of care and hygiene in mortuaries I was scared to think that my mum was not surrounded by caring and loving people. But after stumbling across your blog you have filled me with hope and nice thoughts that maybe someone treated my mum as you treat the people that fall into your care. Just thought I'd let you know what this little old blog has done for me!

  6. I'm so glad I have renewed your comfort! Stories such as yours make it all worth it on my end, but I am sorry to hear about your mum passing away too soon.

    It's sad that what happens after we die is shrouded in such public mystery. I would never ever treat a deceased person unlike my own family member or friend, and to be honest the whole industry in Brisbane feels the same. It's all about Karma Karma Chameleon right?


  7. when i was nursing we put nappies on or helped mums and dads to put them on there babies who had died, beacuse that is how babies look, as a mum worst part changing them, to a parent who's has died wishing they could do it for ever.

  8. You do a beautiful thing. Before I became a mum myself, i worked with terminally ill kids. We had one tiny baby who passed away. Her dad carried her down to the mortuary (in the children's hospital) himself, and sat with her until the sun came up. It broke him to leave her there, alone.

    I can only imagine the comfort it would bring to him, had some one wrapped and held and sung to his baby girl.

    It's not weird. It's human, and it's lovely.

  9. holy shit, that line about you cuddling and singing to the babies hit me like a punch in the face and I immediately burst into tears. (Yes, me, the one with a lump of coal for a heart). What an unbelievably amazing, caring, generous, thoughtful and eloquent person you are.