With 15 October set aside as International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Katie Shozi offers eight ways to acknowledge your baby.
My rhododendron plant is in full bloom. Which means it is the anniversary of the loss of my first child. Four years ago. I was 12 weeks pregnant and preparing to announce my secret to the world. Then I started bleeding in my work bathroom.
Physically the miscarriage was painful. I remember it being more painful than the birth of my subsequent children. This of course is not true, but it was a traumatic pain, rather than a positive pain, and that made all the difference.
It was followed by a mountain of grief that I felt was mine alone. No-one else had carried my baby, and few knew it existed. How could anyone share this grief for a baby they did not know?
The most challenging thing for me was the culture of silence around miscarriage and the feeling that my baby didn’t ‘exist’, or wasn’t a real baby in the first place. I carried an emptiness for longer than I felt I could justify.
The most healing thing was to acknowledge that my baby was real, name her and remember her. So, if you too have a baby in heaven, here’s a few ideas to acknowledge this little life.
Name him or her
I am so grateful that someone told me my baby deserved a name. You don’t need permission to do this, but for some reason I felt that I did. If it was an early loss, pray and ask God if it was a girl or boy and then give him or her a name.
Hold a memorial service
Invite your closest family and friends. Do it in your own way. It could be big or small, you could release balloons, read messages or prayers to your baby. We had ours at home, but it could be anywhere you like.
Write a letter to your baby—or many if you want to. Write a poem, or your story. Publish it on social media if that is healing for you or one of the many websites that publish these stories.
Two books that helped me through were—Empty Arms by Pam Vredevelt and Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow by Teske Drake.
Plant a tree or flower
For us it’s a rhododendron and it flowers in September, the month we lost our baby. We put a little plaque on it. And, every year when I see that red flower appear—I remember.
Choose a keepsake
This could be anything from a pendant with your baby’s name and birthstone, to a soft toy made out of clothes you’d collected for the baby or a beautiful sand artwork with your baby’s name (theseashoreofremembrance.blogspot.com.au).
Take time to remember on special days
Your due date is a hard date, and so is the anniversary of your loss. But there may be other hard dates too. Plan something that gives you peace and do it on these days. It might be a walk in the bush with your partner, or taking some time to write, or buying a special flower.
Know that it’s never too late
Perhaps you lost your baby some time ago. And at the time you just wanted life to get back to normal as fast as possible so you did little to acknowledge it. That’s OK. There’s no time limit. Even if years have passed, if you want to, you can give your baby a name now. Or you can light a candle and join with other bereaved parents on October 15 in remembering their babies. Between us, we have so many babies in heaven.
Katie is a freelance writer and Australian mum of two little girls who writes at Coffee With Katie (coffeewithkatie.blog).