Grieving the loss of an unborn child can be particularly difficult. No one else had the privilege of knowing your baby and, therefore, many of the rituals of grief (i.e., sharing pictures or stories of how the lost loved one touched other’s lives) cannot be engaged. Because no one else knew their baby, parents often try to take this journey of grief alone.
What follows are suggestions for how to honor your lost child and facilitate your own grieving process. Do not consider this appendix to be a recipe to be followed directly, but as a collection of ideas to take what best applies to your situation. Some families who lose their baby may chose not to utilize a service like this one. A small group or church family should be considerate of the family’s wishes when offering to help in this way.
The suggestions recommended below will be incorporated in the memorial service outlined at the end of this appendix.
Name Your Baby: This will be important for not only the memorial, but for the on-going grief process. This will allow you to reference your child in future conversations (which is healthy). Without a name, you and others will be more likely to begin to live as if the loss never happened within a matter of weeks. Parents may change the name they intended to call their child without feeling as they are dishonoring their baby. The goal in naming the baby is to accept the loss as real, not to say that nothing has or can change.
Write a Good-Bye Letter: With many losses we see death coming and get to say good-bye. With miscarriage there is both surprise and your child would not have been able to hear your words. A letter allows you to put your initial grief into words which can be heard by family and friends at the memorial. It allows you to process these early experiences of your grief and to feel more understood.
Memorial Box: This is not a casket, but a place to keep some precious things (i.e., blanket, small toys, birth/death certificates, ultra sound pictures, good-bye letter, notes from friends, your grief journal, etc…). A memorial box can allow your child to always have a place of remembrance in your home without the “enshrinement effect” that comes with having a room devoted to your lost child.
Get a Grief Journal: You will have many thoughts and experience many emotions in the coming months. You may fear forgetting what you are thinking and feeling, because it is all you have left of your baby. A journal is a healthy place to capture those thoughts and emotions. One option many mothers have found helpful is Mommy, Please Don’t Cry by Linda DeYmaz. This journal also serves as a place to gather your thoughts so that you have an answer when friends, family, or small group members ask, “How are you doing?”
Don’t Rush the Memorial: Planning and conducting the memorial is an important part of the grieving process. It confirms that this is a real loss, one to be acknowledged by those who love you, and that there is a journey of grief ahead. It is during the planning and conducting of a memorial that denial can wear off and a network of friends be established to support you in the weeks and months ahead.
Plant a Tree / Garden: Often with a miscarriage one of the difficulties in the grief process is that there is nowhere to go and grieve or to place flowers on your child’s birthday and other special occasions. Planting a tree can provide you a place to go and remember. It also provides a visual reminder of the passing of time and personal growth as you see the tree mature. If a family chooses to plant a tree or garden, this would determine the location of the ceremony and would need to be in a place where the property would not be sold or outside a home from which the family planned to move.
Create a Time Capsule: It can make the memorial seem more like a real funeral if there is something to bury. With the planting of a tree, you might also bury a time capsule with a copy of your good-bye letter, toys you had purchased, medical bracelets/papers from the DNC visit, a list of the dreams for this child you are surrendering to God, or other memorable items.
For the rest of this article and ceremony click here: Memorial Ceremony for an Unborn Child
This resource is taken from the upcoming seminar:
TAKING THE JOURNEY OF GRIEF WITH HOPE
Part One: Saturday December 8, 2012
Part Two: Saturday December 15, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm or 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703