Having your baby die at any point in gestation or after is something horrible to even comprehend. And yet millions of families are living with these memories. While after awhile they are not constant, they are there. Our minds often turn to loved ones lost at family centered times of year or during special remembrances. Family celebrations may conjure up pictures in your mind of "what if" holidays or as due dates and birth or death dates come and go.
"What if our baby had lived. She would be two this year and opening gifts and playing with boxes."
"I can't imagine being the mother to a 13 year old now..."
"Wonder what it would have been like to be the parent of a little boy."
Here are some ideas to help you remember your lost babies at this or any time of year.
Ways to Remember
- Name your baby.
Consider giving your baby a name. If it feels right or good, do it. Don't let anyone else tell you how to grieve. It doesn't matter how far along your pregnancy was or whether or not you knew the sex of your baby. This is something you can do, even years later.
- Save something from the experience.
One of the nicest things I've saved was the card and the ultrasound photos that I had mailed to my husband who was off defending his dissertation. It had actually been lost in the mail, and returned to sender. We received it about 2 weeks after we had had a D & C. On the cover of the card was a fat, giggling baby, rolling in flowers. It's a rather popular picture, and every time I see it now I think of that baby.
- Create a Ritual.
This was particularly helpful to me during a subsequent pregnancy. It went right along with our family Sabbath and was a special prayer form our family to say thank you for the time we had with the baby that was growing and that we were anxiously awaiting the birth. It involved a small candle and prayer. The candle stayed unlit until the very first Sabbath after the birth of that baby.
- Hold a service.
Have a memorial service for your baby. Again, no matter how long you had your baby, it's still a part of you and recognizing this publicly can be very healing. It can also allow your friends and family a chance to learn to express themselves and help you.
- Send announcements.
I've received some of the most beautiful announcements. The first one I received, I was shocked and amazed. The mother explained that she was relieved not to have to tell everyone in person, and yet it was a public way to announce the birth/death of their daughter and ask for community support.
- Buy something special.
For my last pregnancy loss, we knew nothing of the baby, and the pregnancy ended so early and violently, we had no mementos or even ultrasound pictures. I was out shopping and ran across a small rock. It was smooth, but not polished. It felt good and heavy in my hands. It had a simple message inscribed: Remember. Now it sits on my desk. (See also Gifts for Pregnancy Loss.)
- Make a donation.
You can donate anything, time, gifts, or money. One of the sweetest things I've heard of is parents returning to the hospital where their child was born and giving a special blanket to the staff to be given to a baby born either around the anniversary time for that baby or for another grieving family.