One thing that has been bittersweet in our family is the simple act of remembering our girls. We are constantly trying to keep their memories alive. We try to celebrate them and remember them as often as we can. Because our boys never met their sisters and Asher was only 18 months when we lost Jorai, they have no grasp on their sisters passing let alone that they ever existed.
When someone loses a baby before or shortly after being born, there is initially a huge support system that will surround you and cry out for you. But as the days turn to weeks and those weeks to months and then years, the majority of those supporting you, will fizzle out. And unfortunately, the days you need their support the most, you may get very little. A minuscule gesture of receiving a birthday card or a simple email on our children’s birthday has often been overlooked.
If there is one thing I can urge you, please don’t take this personally, please don’t take offense. I have struggled with it and honestly it gets me nowhere. So this is my advice. Honor your child. Remember your child. Don’t count on anyone else to do it for you. And don’t expect people to remember them. Help family and friends remember your child. Talk about them. Keep their spirit and memory alive in your household and in your family and friend’s household.
Below are some of they ways that we keep the memory and spirit alive in our family as well as a few other cool ideas.
Celebrate your child(ren)’s birthday. Create a yummy dinner and dessert to celebrate your child(ren). Just as you would for your living child. Talk about your child and share their story again. Buy them a present or ‘send’ them a card. Make a donation in their name to your favorite charity or buy them a memorial stone. Each year, choose to do something special in their memory.
- Release Balloons:
Having a balloon release is a beautiful way to celebrate and remember your child(ren). You can attach letters from them or a note describing your child with a request for the person who finds it to contact you so you can track where they drifted. Pick a special place to release the balloons and have your family and friends be apart of the celebration.
- Plant a special tree or garden:
Planting a tree or creating a special garden is such a special way to remember your child. It also gives you a special place for you to sit, visit and remember. Flowering trees are a beautiful choice and if you plant a garden pick flowers and bushes that attract butterflies. Don’t forget a cute bench or wind chimes. Use your imagination and if you have surviving children, let them be apart of it. Maybe let them create their own memory stone for the garden or to rest near the base of the tree.
- Honor your child in your town:
Most towns have places to honor the life / passing of a child. For instance, at our zoo there is a memorial garden that you can order tiles that line the walkway. Each tile has the name of a child.
Or adopt-a-highway to honor your child. Let your family and friends be a part of the clean-up/celebration.
Create a garden at your church for others to remember not only your child but other children who have gone to Heaven.
- ‘Send’ your child(ren) a letter:
Write letters to your child. Keep them in a special place or in a memory box. Siblings could write their own letter to their brother or sister.
- Light a candle:
Buy a special candle to light on special occasions and/or when you want to remember your child.
- Day of the Innocents:
On November 1st, celebrate Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”) sometimes called Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”). It’s celebrated the day prior to Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”). This Spanish celebration, honors those whom have passed before us. We use this day to celebrate our daughters lives by placing their pictures in a “shrine”, having special treats and remembering them with our family. We use the week to remember our girls as well as other family members that our sons were never able to meet. There are all sorts of fun ways to celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost.
- Create an on-line blog or resource page:
Reach out to others who have gone through this same tragedy. There are so many different things you can do. Whether you simply talk about your pain and healing, you create your own resource page or you create a memorial you can give to others…Creating an on-line blog or resource could be such a comfort to others from all over the world.
- Donate to your local hospital(s)
Contact your local hospital(s) and see if there is a want/need for bereavement supplies. Some ideas are teddy bears, molds for hand-prints, a special frame, candles, special clothes, blankets, knitted hats…
- Be a resource/comfort for someone else
Be a resource in your community. Be an advocate. Become a certified pregnancy/labor doula to help those deliver after a loss. Let your community, your church, your friends know that if they know anyone who is going through the loss of a child and could use your support, that you can be a resource.
This is my opinion, and only my opinion. When I first lost Jorai, I was devastated. No one, other than those who have faced this before me, knew my pain. I was a faithful believer in Christ and though my faith stood strong, I struggled. I struggled with why. Why did this happen to me? Why did she have to go? Why so soon? Why couldn’t I have gotten to know her? What did I do to deserve this? Who would take a child from a mother like me, yet give to those who abuse or neglect their children. I struggled. Really struggled. And then we lost Selah and my life went reeling. I was destroyed. Without the love of my husband, family and friends and I think most of all my son, I really don’t know where I would be. I knew Christ was there, holding and loving me through my pain as I tried my hardest to push away his arms like a angry child. My faith shook. It never crumbled, but it shook. And after a long journey of reconciliation, my losses, for me, boiled down to this. Loss sucks. It’s painful and hurts like hell. It feels as if you’ve been plucked from joy and thrown into a dark bottomless pit. But for me, there were only two choices I could make. I could succumb to the pain and let not only my son suffer in my anguish, but my daughters memory die along side my joy. Or I could do something. Anything. Anything to honor my daughters. Anything to keep their memory alive. I know that they’re in Heaven kicking it with Jesus, having a grand old party and just waiting for their family to join them. I know I will see them again. But until then, I want people to remember that I had two amazing daughters. They were beautiful and they were loved. They existed and they will forever be apart of our family. Their names were Jorai and Selah. And they are missed. Because of this, I chose to honor them.