If you're ever asked to give a eulogy for a baby who has died of SIDS, you will want to keep in mind you are memorializing the short life of an infant who died very suddenly. Family members and close friends are probably still in shock and very grief-stricken over the monumental loss, so choose the words used to eulogize this child wisely.
What Is SIDS?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected and sudden death of a child under the age of one. The death occurs when the baby is sleeping, and following the passing, the cause of death remains unknown. However, there is emerging evidence that SIDS might be associated with defects in an infant's brain, specifically in areas that control breathing and arousal from sleep. This type of child loss usually leaves the parents feeling extremely vulnerable and guilty, as no explanation of the infant's death is usually found.
Facts About SIDS
Before you start writing your eulogy, here are a few facts to consider. Understanding the basics of SIDS can guide you in crafting a heartfelt but knowledgeable tribute for a family that suffered a recent and devastating loss.
- 1 in 1,000 babies pass away each year from SIDS.
- Most babies who die from SIDS pass away between one and four months-old.
- More than 90 percent of SIDS cases occur in the first six months of an infant's life.
- About two-thirds of all infants who die from SIDS usually have a risk factor involved.
Writing a Eulogy for an Infant Who Died of SIDS
After you are asked to present a eulogy for an infant who died of SIDS, take some time and look at pictures or watch videos made of the child. If you are especially close to the family, think back to all the wonderful times you spent with the baby while they were alive. Make sure to jot down all memories because you do not want to forget anything. Capture it all: the smiles, giggles, and even the cries. Write down some memories that you have shared with the parents. Consider your relationship with them before and during the pregnancy, after the baby was born, and other special times spent together. Some other ideas on where to begin writing the eulogy include:
- Speaking with other close family members and friends about the baby
- If applicable, talk with the family's pastor or funeral director. It is very likely they have experienced a baby's funeral before.
- Look on the internet for ideas of sample eulogies such as a eulogy for a son and a eulogy for a child.
Other things to keep in mind when writing a eulogy for an infant who has died of SIDS include:
- Express your condolences to the entire family, mentioning each member by name, including any surviving siblings.
- Do not speak on anything negative, as this is not the place nor time to do so.
- Plan to keep the speech between five and ten minutes long.
- Allow yourself time to research, write and practice the speech.
- Once you decide on the tone, stick to it and don't wander.
- Break up your eulogy into three parts: beginning, middle, and end.
- Make sure you and your personal grief are not the main focuses in the speech; keep the eulogy focused on the child and the family.
- Remember, this is not a biography; even though this is for an infant, keep it an account of the child's short life, citing many personal experiences.
- If you cannot complete the eulogy for emotional reasons, make sure you pass it off to a trusted friend or relative. The person presenting the tribute should do their best to remain composed.
What Not to Say During the Eulogy
Writing a eulogy for a baby is a highly personal experience, and while you will want to keep it authentic and heartfelt, some things should not be included in your speech, including:
- A reference that the baby is in a better place or that the passing was due to God's will.
- Referring to the child as "it" or "the baby;" Always use the child's name.
- Jokes and anecdotes that are not appropriate. Read the room and tailor your tone.
- Do not tell the family to move on. They will be grieving their loss for the rest of their lives.
- Do not mention that the parents can have other children; they only want this baby right now.
- Anything negative that will make the parents feel guilty for their loss.
- Similarities between this infant's death and any other death; do not compare losses.
Final Thoughts on Infant Eulogies
When delivering the eulogy, keep your words simple and impactful. Don't make this a long speech, but rather think of it as a conversation between you and the congregation. Ensure the parents have a clean copy of the eulogy and make copies available for other family members to keep. Infant loss is devastating on all levels, and while your eulogy cannot bring a baby back nor take the pain away for the parents, it can offer some sense of closure and peace to a grieving family.