Teresa Spencer

‘The right goodbye’: Meet the funeral director who has dedicated her career to helping baby loss families

This baby loss awareness week, a Nottinghamshire funeral director who has supported hundreds of families through the loss of babies and young children has spoken about her experiences over the years.

Teresa Spencer, a funeral director at A.W. Lymn The Family Funeral Service with three decades of experience in the industry, discusses how the bereaved can be supported during the difficult period.

Speaking from the family business’s Ruddington funeral home, Teresa said: “We know that for each and every family we support, it is our sole purpose to make them feel as looked after and cared for as possible during what is the most difficult and traumatic time in their lives. That is never more true, or more important, than when I am looking after a family who has lost a baby or a child. It’s very difficult. All our baby funerals are very difficult.

“You need to be able to give that little bit of yourself because it’s very important to make sure the families are able to have the right goodbye, and also that it is the way they want to say their goodbye.”

A.W. Lymn conducts between 20 and 30 funerals for babies every year, with some directly referred from the hospital and others contacting the funeral service directly.

For many families, Teresa is the first port of call. Working at the company’s Ruddington funeral home, she says planning and conducting the funerals never gets any easier.

She adds: “After each funeral, I have to have my quiet time. If it ever felt like it was getting any easier, I’d know I was in the wrong job.

“It’s so important to connect with the families. The baby is their everything and you are thinking of that child all the time throughout the service.

“We try and make things as easy as we possibly can for the family, for example, we can see the family at any of our funeral homes, or even go out to their home if they wish.

“We don’t want to add any unnecessary hurdles for them.”

Teresa started working at A.W. Lymn in 1991 in Hucknall, before moving to Ruddington. She has specialised in funerals for babies since 2000.

When families come to A.W. Lymn, they are then invited to discuss what they want for their baby’s funeral, with options such as balloons at the funeral, or teddies in the coffin.

Teresa explains that hospitals give parents and the baby a teddy each, with some families choosing to swap them before the funeral, so the baby is buried with the teddy that has the parents’ scent.

As well as this, chapels can be re-arranged to suit the needs of the bereaved, such as bringing the baby closer to the family.

A.W. Lymn marks baby loss awareness week, which runs from October 9 to October 15, with a display in unity with those who have lost babies and children, which features in the windows of its 27 funeral homes across Nottinghamshire and south Derbyshire.

The display includes two lanterns, one pink and one blue, which will be placed in the window and have been put together in collaboration with Forever Stars, an East Midlands charity dedicated to supporting families who've suffered a stillbirth or infant loss.

Other buildings in Nottinghamshire which will mark baby loss awareness week include Nottingham Council House, Theatre Royal, Nottingham Castle, Wollaton Hall, Queen's Medical Centre, Greens Windmill, Trent Building at the University of Nottingham, City Hospital Nottingham and Bramcote Crematorium.

A.W. Lymn has cared for the bereaved in the East Midlands region for over 115 years. The fifth-generation family business operates 27 funeral homes throughout Nottinghamshire and South Derbyshire with quality of service at the heart of its ethos.