When your baby dies, it’s important to create memories. Everything you do to remember your baby or receive as a gift for your baby becomes a unique and very special memory. Because you either have no time with your baby (stillbirth, miscarriage) or very little time (infant death), each memory is precious. Sometimes when there are few tangible mementos, creating traditions is more important (like an annual balloon release). Finding many meaningful ways to celebrate your baby’s short “life” leads to a healthier and more complete healing.
NOTE: At the very beginning, the initial shock of losing a child can keep us from thinking through all the things we may like to have later as memories. Let the nurse, hospital staff or a relative or friend help with that by taking the steps to create a memory box. This is done by most hospitals now so that there are photos and hand and footprints.
Those who have never lost a child may see this “obsession” with making memories and keeping traditions year after year as crazy or morbid, but I assure you we are not crazy or morbid. It helps us process our grief more positively, stay connected with our baby, and always remember them as a part of our family.
The following are some ways to make those special memories to honor and cherish your baby’s short life:
Buy/make a special Christmas ornament for your tree. You can do this once or every year.
Decorate a frame if you have a special picture/sonogram of your baby.
Plant a tree or flower garden.
Purchase something decorative that will remind you of your baby- angels, cross, butterfly, ladybug, bluebird, hummingbird. Many times a theme will emerge. Some people find themselves seeing a butterfly or ladybug, etc. at moments they are thinking of their child and so collecting them gives them peace.
Put up a stocking for them at Christmas. Maybe family can leave notes in it for you to read later.
Decorate a box to keep your mementos in.
Make an album with all that you have and all that you remember about your baby.
Buy memorial jewelry – angel babies, mother/child, etc.
Cross-stitch a baby announcement with their name on it.
Hold onto that special stuffed animal you had purchased for them.
Have a special “stuffed animal” made in their honor – Build-a-Bear or Molly Bears.
Create a memory shelf or shadow box. Include pictures, locks of hair, hand/footprints or casts, booties/clothing, cards or miscellaneous gifts, and memorial service cards.
Make a quilt out of special clothes/blankets. Put their name on it.
Start a Tradition
Give a memorial gift of flowers, books, or money to a charitable organization in memory of your baby.
Find music that soothes your soul. It will help you heal and remember your little one.
Light a candle at the holidays for your baby. Or, read a poem at a special service.
Add a memorial “tag” to your Christmas letter/card: “We’re missing our baby very much this Christmas.”
Purchase a Christmas gift for a needy child.
Write a letter to your child every year.
Offer your services at a hospital (if you are able).
Have a family photo taken. Include a small stuffed animal as a memory of your baby being a part of the family.
Release a balloon/butterfly at a special ceremony. (like a Walk-to-Remember)
Visit your baby’s grave. Take flowers or decorations on their anniversary date.
Have a birthday “party” to celebrate and remember your baby each year. This could include a small cake. It will also help subsequent children remember that they have other siblings.
The key here is to do what makes you feel the best. Nothing is too weird or crazy. There are so many different ways to remember our little ones in heaven. Pick the ones that are right for you.
List those memory-makers that you’d like to try. Did they become family traditions?
Buy a memory box and keep all the memories you make or receive in it. (Sitting and going through it can be very cathartic.)