Holidays like Christmas can be especially difficult after a pregnancy loss or child loss.
When Christmas comes, you constantly think about what might have been. For me, this was supposed to be my son’s first Christmas. It would have been full of all those fun things like cute “My First Christmas” outfits, a family Christmas card photo, a new stocking just for him, and opening up cute gifts full of baby items.
Even in the sadness, I’m grateful this holiday season for the family and friends who are helping us honour and remember our son.
Throughout the year, and especially at holidays and significant dates, it can be healing to do something to honour a baby who was lost in a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Here are some ways you can honour a baby lost in miscarriage or stillbirth. Before doing any of these, I must caution you, if you aren’t the parents of the child, please consider them first and foremost. What would they appreciate?
10 Ways to Honour a Baby Who was Lost in Miscarriage or Stillbirth
Talk About the Baby Using Their Name
Lost babies are often named by their parents, especially when the baby is stillborn. My son has a name. I’ve shared it with family and close friends. And when they use his name, it brings warmth to my heart along with the requisite tears to my eyes. I love his name. So much. And I love hearing it. He was a real person. Names are important and signify value and life. My son may not have lived outside my womb, but he lived.
Unless the parents say otherwise, talk about their child with them and use their name. Don’t let this holiday go by without recognizing that child’s existence and the fact that the celebrations and family get-togethers are missing someone very important.
Get a Christmas Ornament in Honour of the Baby
Buy it or make it. Get it for yourself or gift it to the parents. A Christmas ornament is a great way to honour a baby’s first Christmas, even when they aren’t here. It’s simple. It’s unobtrusive. Parents can choose whether or not to hang it on the tree. It can be hung up year after year.
So far, we’ve received three beautiful ornaments in honour of our son. They are all completely different and completely lovely. One is a glass heart that is artfully cracked all over it. It’s beautiful in it’s brokenness. One is a cross with our son’s name engraved across it. It symbolizes the hope that we will see our baby boy again one day. One is a colourful snowman with his first initial and year of birth on it. It’s joyful and bright. They are all on my tree and they will be on my tree every year.
Gift the Family Something that Represents their Entire Family
We’re part of a small group through our church. This group of people have become some of our closest friends and have been an amazing support for us throughout this journey of grief and healing. One of the many amazing things they have done for us is commissioning a gorgeous little sculpture of our family.
This is such a beautiful way to honour a baby who was lost too soon, and to recognize that even if a child isn’t here on earth, they are still very much part of the family.
Write a Heartfelt Note to the Parents
It can be difficult to know what to say. You don’t want to accidentally say the wrong thing. But you also feel like you need to say something. So write it down. Write the parents a note or a card expressing your love for them, your desire to support them in any way you can, your grief over the loss of their child, your understanding of how difficult holidays can be with that loss looming.
We’ve received beautiful cards from friends and family near and far. I have kept them all. And will probably keep them forever. I’ve even kept the notecards that came with flower deliveries. Some have a lot of words. Some only have a few. But they are all dear to me.
Taking the time to write a note and pop it in the mail makes a significant impact.
Light a Candle in Honour of the Baby Who Was Lost
This simple act can have a big impact. You can do it as a family or on your own. Light a candle and sit with it for a few moments. Spend that time reflecting, praying, or meditating on the experience of the loss and how it has affected your family.
Gift the Mama a Piece of Jewelry in Honour and Memory of Her Baby
A memento that can be worn every day to keep that baby close can mean a lot. It can be subtle like a heart or the baby’s birthstone, it can be a little more obvious like angel wings or a pregnancy or infant loss symbol. A necklace or bracelet can be a kind and sweet gift.
Get a Tattoo in Honour of the Baby
As wonderful as a piece of jewelry can be to have a physical something that represents your baby with your at all time, a tattoo is a permanent addition to your body just as the loss of a child is a permanent addition to your identity.
In September, six weeks after my son was stillborn, I got my first tattoo. In honour of both my angel babies, I now have two hearts on my left wrist.
I know of other mamas who have tattoos of their angel child’s footprint, their birthdate, hearts, poems and more.
Donate to a Charity in Honour of the Baby
There are charities that help children, that help babies in the NICU, that help mothers take care of their children, that help people through grief. If you’re not sure how to let the parents know that you love them and their child, consider donating in their child’s name to a charity they care about.
Bringing joy to others really does help with the grief. As I wrote about earlier this year, Grief, Jealousy and Joy are all intermingled when a baby is lost in miscarriage or stillbirth.
Ask the Parents How You Can Support Them During this Holiday Season and How You Can Honour Their Baby
All of these ideas may be wonderful to some pregnancy-loss parents and not-so-wonderful to others. If you’re ever unsure how you can support someone, ask them.
If you want to honour them and the memory of their baby at a holiday function, give them the option to say no. We received one of our Christmas ornaments at a family Christmas gift opening. After all the gifts were opened, one final gift appeared. We were told that we could open it then if we wanted or we could take it home and open it in privacy, but that it was be a gift that would likely us cry. There was no pressure to open it in front of the group. It was a very kind way of giving.
If the Parents Prefer, Don’t Mention the Baby
This is perhaps the most important item on this list. In everything that you do to honour a baby lost in miscarriage or stillbirth, in everything that you do to support parents who have lost a child –> always defer to the parents. For some of us, talking about our children is healing and while it often brings tears, we appreciate it and it helps us. For others, it’s too painful. The reminder hurts to much right now. For some of us, the physical mementos and notes are lovely and bring us hope and healing. For others, they hurt too much too look us. The situation and context are also important, some functions may be better suited for honouring the baby than others.
Before doing or saying anything, think about your friend or family member and what they need – not what you want or need. And, if you’re not sure, ask them.
Thank you for seeking out ways to honour a baby who was lost in miscarriage or stillbirth. Thank you for acknowledging that child’s life.