Following Pregnancy Loss

This page is intended to provide information and support following a pregnancy loss. For information about the death of an adult visit Grief Support Following the Death of a Loved One on UofMHealth.org. For information about the death of a child, visit Grief Support Upon the Death of a Child on MottChildren.org.

Final Arrangements Planning

Please accept our most sincere condolences on the loss of your pregnancy.  We hope the following information is helpful to you as you make decisions in the days ahead.

Families choose final arrangements following the loss of a pregnancy in many different ways and families vary widely in how they experience pregnancy loss. For some it is the death of a son or daughter and the loss of a future. For others, it may solely be the loss of a pregnancy. It could feel like something in between. There is no single path for families to follow and we want to support your family’s preferences as we are able. While we need to follow legal and hospital procedures, our goal is to be as supportive as possible with the choices you feel are most right for you.

The following are options to consider for final arrangements following a pregnancy loss.  Please know that at times there are limitations to what options are available given the gestational age of the pregnancy and how the loss occurredWe understand that it may be difficult to make these decisions.  Our medical and social work staff and our Women’s and Children’s Bereavement Program are available to help answer any questions you may have.

Choices for Arranging for Burial or Cremation

You and your family have options to consider. 

Funeral Home:

You may make private arrangements and work with a funeral home of your choosing, having cremation or burial based on your personal beliefs and wishes. Many funeral homes provide discounted services to families when making arrangements for an early loss. Funeral Directors also often know about local resources and may be able to provide direction on seeking this financial support.

Cremation:

You may make private arrangements and work with a funeral home of your choosing, having cremation or burial based on your personal beliefs and wishes.  Michigan Medicine works with a local funeral home to provide cremation at no charge to the family. These cremations are supported for pregnancy losses after 12 weeks gestation and older.  Cremations at earlier gestational ages generally do not provide cremains.  If you are interested in learning more about this option, you may speak with your social worker or contact the Children’s and Women’s Bereavement Program by calling 734-615-3122.

Burial:

You may make private arrangements and work with a funeral home of your choosing, having cremation or burial based on your personal beliefs and wishes. Our Mott and VonVoigtlander Memorial Garden is located at Arborcrest Cemetery (2521 Glazier Way, Ann Arbor, MI  48105, 734-761-4572).  Simple burials in the memorial garden are offered at no charge to families during their regular business hours Monday-Friday.  Simple burial means that the cemetery staff prepares the burial plot, places the burial box in the plot and covers the plot but there is no ceremony for the burial. 

Some families who choose to be present may recite a poem, read a spiritual piece or say some loving words.  Some families also choose to leave mementos at the burial site.  Families are not able to select the location as burial plots are pre-arranged. Burials can occur with or without family present and a temporary marker is placed at the burial site.  While there is no charge for the burial, some families choose to have a permanent marker, which is a cost to the family arranged directly with the cemetery.      

If a baby was non-live born, arrangements can be made for a direct burial from the hospital without having to work through a funeral home. If a baby was live born, a funeral home must be involved.

Pathology:

If you do not wish to make private arrangements for cremation or burial through a funeral home, the hospital can arrange for a cremation though pathology for a non-live birth only. There is no charge for this plan. However, if you choose this option, Michigan Medicine will not be able to return to remains to you. 

For additional information on things to think about when deciding on arrangements, visit our Remembering Your Pregnancy page.

Medical Information

Fetal Examination

A fetal examination/fetal autopsy is the examination of the fetal remains to determine cause of the loss or other complicating factors of the pregnancy and is completed after the surgical intervention to remove the pregnancy or after the delivery of a stillborn fetus. Depending on the gestational age of the pregnancy and the way in which the loss occurred, a fetal examination may be required. The preliminary results of the fetal examination are generally available within a few weeks following the loss and are most often reviewed with the provider at a follow up appointment.&

Genetic Testing

Some families are presented with the option to do genetic testing following their pregnancy loss. This decision is personal and can be difficult for some and provide closure for others. Many women want to understand why the loss occurred and search for a reason. Mothers in particular often blame themselves for the loss, even though the vast majority of these losses are not due to anything the mother did or did not do.  Speak with your medical providers about cost for these tests as they can be quite expensive and are often not covered by insurance.
 

Contact Us

The Office of Decedent Affairs (ODA) is part of the Michigan Medicine Department of Social Work. The ODA is the centralized point of contact at Michigan Medicine for ongoing questions and concerns before, during, and after the death of a loved one. The Children’s and Women’s Bereavement Program is part of ODA. 

To contact the Office of Decedent Affairs, call 734-232-4919 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You may also email the ODA office at SocWk-ODA@med.umich.edu.