This blog is an uncensored look into my soul. I am writing this as part of my healing process, but am leaving it public so others can follow me through my journey.

If you'd like to start from the beginning, click on the beautiful, adorable picture of Hailey on the right hand column.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Funeral

Hailey's Funeral Program: Click Here

We all lined up in the hallway of the church and Hailey was wheeled out in front of us. Her "bed" was closed and at that moment it hit me that my baby girl really had died. We were really having a funeral for her. This really happened to me. Well, I lost it, to say the least. The tears just started streaming, then flowing, then pouring, uncontrollably.

I walked next to Sean and clutched the outfit Hailey had on the day she passed away. We entered through a side door in the front of the chapel. I tried to look out over the crowd, but really couldn't see much through my tears. I was trying so hard to be strong and not break down into hysterical sobs, but there was no way I could control the tears.

We slid down to the middle of the front row and I just sat back in my seat, feeling like this was all a dream. I couldn't take my eyes off Hailey's "bed." I was just waiting for the lid to pop open and Hailey to jump out with a huge smile on her face. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

I honestly don't even remember the order of things or exactly what was going on half the time because I was literally in my own world. It was beyond surreal. My thoughts were jumbled and chaotic. This is the best recap I can give...we had an opening prayer and then Sean's father got up to speak. His talk was beautiful.

Dan's Talk: Click Here

The next thing I remember is EmmaJane, my visiting teacher from church and good friend, getting up to sing. I cannot even put into words the beauty of her voice and the song she sang. All I remember is hearing Hailey's name in the song and just losing it emotionally. The waterworks came on again, full blast. I will also try to get the words to the song.

After her singing, my sister got up and spoke. She did a great job (probably because she stole those Tums from Hailey!). Lexi walked up with her and stood by her side the entire time. I was shocked that she did that, but had to laugh when she corrected Kim on one of her statements about Hailey. Honestly, I don't even remember the comment or the correction, but it was Lexi being honest about Hailey's "not always perfect" behavior!!! Kim's talk was very light and had many funny memories, which gave us a brief break in our grief.

Kim's Talk: Click Here

There was another beautiful song in there somewhere, sung by the young women I teach at church. I was so honored that these young girls were willing to take their Saturday afternoon and be there to support me. They loved Hailey and Hailey loved them. Every Sunday after church, Hailey would run up to show the girls what she had made that day in nursery...that's going to be missed greatly. But, it was such an honor to hear these beautiful young women sing.

Next, it was time for Sean and I to go up. I heard from many people how shocked they were that Sean and I were willing and able to get up and speak at our own daughter's funeral. I see it as more of an honor. How could I not? This was my baby girl. I had to let everyone know who she was to me, how amazing she was, and what her life meant. I also wanted everyone to hear my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the miracle of hope and peace that it brings with it. I am not a preachy person at all, but this was important. This was what was going to save my family and I from this great loss and keep us moving forward. So here I was. It was the weirdest thing because I wasn't nervous at all, believe it or not, I was actually excited to speak. If Hailey was there with us in spirit, I wanted her to see her mommy up there telling the world how much I loved her and how her passing away would never be in vain. I wanted my baby girl to be proud of me, her mommy.

As I looked out over the audience, I was literally stunned by the number of people there. (About 800)! Yes, that's right...800. I could not believe the impact my baby girl...MY baby girl...had on so many lives. Wow! There's not much else to say here, except to attach my talk for those of you who were unable to make it or who would like to read it again. (Sean's talk was written more in shorthand, so I won't be posting it. Unless he decides to translate. He did a wonderful job though!)

My Talk: Click Here

After some final thoughts from our Bishop, a closing song, and prayer, it was time to take my baby girl to her official place of rest. The pallbearers walked out of the row and picked up her "bed." I have to say that I was so proud of my dad for being able to carry his granddaughter. She was everything to him and I know it took all his strength to be able to do that for me. I was honored to have each of those wonderful, upstanding men carrying my daughter in her little "bed" to her beautiful resting place. They were each chosen, individually, for the importance they hold in our lives and our family. So I'd like to say a special thank you to each one of them.

When we were getting ready to leave the church I was surrounded by family, friends, friends of friends, old co-workers, old high school friends, parents of Lexi's friends, etc., etc. I'm not going to name any particular names, in order to respect everyone's privacy, but I want each and every one of you...those who I personally saw and spoke to, and also, those who came and slipped out unnoticed how honored and grateful I am that you were there to support not only myself, but my husband, daughters, parents, sister, in-laws, and so on. Each one of you made a difference by being there and those of you who were unable to attend, we know that if there was any way you could have been there you would have. So I thank you as well, for the cards, thoughts, prayers, flowers, calls, etc. Never did I ever imagine how loved we were. We saw people we haven't seen in years there to support us and heard from people we didn't even know personally. Literally, each one of you made a difference to us. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Upon arriving at the cemetery, which we now refer to as "Hailey's Place," I saw her little bed there with the beautiful flowers laying on top and was again overcome with grief. Although I truly believe that she chose to go, it doesn't always make it easy to accept.

We gathered around and Sean's Uncle Charlie (Sean's mother's brother) dedicated the grave for us. It was so beautiful and peaceful there and I could really feel the spirit. After the dedication, three of my dear friends lead a balloon release in Hailey's honor. (The balloons were biodegradable for all you "green" folks!) Kelli, Wendy, & Alicia had balloons made with Hailey's picture on them and the caption, "It's a beautiful day." The balloons were yellow for the family (Hailey's favorite color) and white for everyone else. They played the song from Peter Pan, "You Can Fly," and when it says, "Off to Neverland," we all released our balloons!!! It was so awesome!!! I received countless compliments on that release. Thank you girls. I love you.

We decided not to stay for the lowering of Hailey's "bed." That was a memory I knew I couldn't handle. I have to say though, as I end this entry that I feel good saying that the funeral and burial of my beautiful 3-year old daughter turned out to be one of the most beautiful events I've ever experienced. It's definitely one that I would have NEVER chosen to experience, no matter how many lives were touched, but since I had no choice in the matter, I am so happy that it wasn't depressing and hopeless, but instead, as Hailey would have said, "It was a beau-ful day."


  1. Wendy...what a beautiful blog...we were so sad we were not able to make the funeral. What a heartbreaking experience...I really LOVED your thoughts and words of hope. I seriously cried through the whole thing. I am so glad to see that you had so many people there for you. We hope all is well. Please let us know if we can do anything for you.

  2. Amazing..... simply amazing Wendy. You make me truly see that there is in fact HOPE out there. Much love for you and your family!

  3. Wendy, I think about you so often every day. I just want to hug you. Thank you for doing this blog. It has really given me a glimpse of what you've gone through. I had so many questions. I wish so much that I could have been there for you in CA. It was hard not being there. I'll talk to you soon. Keep up your strength. You are truly inspirational.