Losing a child is hard. Plain and simple.For those who don’t know me or don’t know me well, I’m incredibly sentimental. I love piecing together intricate scrapbooks and photo books. I thrive in moments where our little family can carry on tradition during holidays and birthdays. Photos fill the walls of my home. You get the point.
One of the hardest pieces for me about losing Tinleigh, especially in the early stages of our journey, was that I didn’t know how to commemorate her presence here and I certainly didn’t know how I was going to weave her into our lives so that she forever held a presence in our family. For me, someone who holds onto all of these things so dearly, this was devastating. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts this month, we were fortunate enough to have an amazing loss doula in Jennifer Hicks and she helped us navigate this and make sure we gathered memories, keepsakes and ultimately set us up to carry on honoring Tinleigh in our day to day lives. I know some loss families have been able to cling to some of these things and other families don’t even know where to begin which is why I thought I’d put together a list of ways that you can honor and remember your sweet little one.
First off, I do want to say that we were fortunate enough to have about 10 days to plan for Tinleigh’s birth. We learned about her condition prior to her passing away and we chose to honor her and make memories with her in the days leading up to her passing. We also chose specific ways to honor her during and after her birth and then also to memorialize her going forward. I’ve put together a list of ideas and I truly hope you’ll find them useful.
- Photographs and Photo books: We had actually already hired our maternity and birth photographer and we chose to proceed with getting maternity and family photos taken. These can be incredibly special to commemorate the physical time you still have with your sweet one. We also chose to have a birth photographer and videographer join us for her birth and the moments we shared with her afterwards. These photographs are some of the most precious tokens I have to remember my Tinleigh. I found it incredibly therapeutic to put together a photo book for Tinleigh in the days after her birth.
- Hand and Feet Prints and Other Keepsakes: Our doula assisted us in getting hand and feet prints and let me tell you, I got as many as I could. Our doula brought a ceramic picture frame and little heart shaped keepsake box that we were able to put her feet prints on. She brought clay that we were able to get feet imprints. In addition, I had her stamp hand and feet prints on paper so I’d have extra copies. If possible, I also encourage families to get a lock of hair. Tinleigh’s hair hadn’t come in yet but for those babies that are born with hair, this is something you may want to hang onto. This may not be for everyone, but we also asked our doula to assist us in getting a placenta print. We have one from when our son was born and I wanted on for Tinleigh too.
- Scrapbooks: I loved putting together Tinleigh’s scrapbook. You may be wondering what is in it and I can tell you, I’ve honestly put everything that I’ve received for her in this book. It starts out with her early dating ultrasound. I’ve included business cards for our midwife, doula and massage therapist who saw us through our time with her. Our anatomy scan results and hospital bracelets are incorporated. In addition, we’ve received numerous cards since her passing and birth and those are all included as well.
- Birthday Cake: Another tradition we started when our son was born was my sister made a birthday cake to share after he was born. We did the same for Tinleigh. After she was born, we all shared cake and celebrated her birth.
- Plant Something: We actually chose to keep Tinleigh’s placenta and plant it with a tree. We decided on a weeping cherry blossom tree and it is planted in our backyard straight out from our kitchen window and I love that I can look out there every day and be reminded of my girl. In addition, at her memorial, we chose to have guests paint rocks that go around her tree which means so much to me. I also love that as the tree grows, I’ll be able to incorporate wind chimes or other memorializing tokens in her honor.
- Plan a Memorial: One of the hardest decisions we had to make was whether or not we would have a funeral or memorial for her. A funeral immediately following her birth really didn’t sit well with me and it seemed much too stuffy for such a sweet innocent baby girl. However, I knew I wanted to have some sort of memorial or funeral eventually and I highly encourage loss families to do the same. We actually held Tinleigh’s memorial nearly nine months after her passing at the start of Spring and I’m SO glad we did it this way. We decided to do something a bit more uplifting. I planned a simple tree dedication ceremony that took place in our backyard and it was an absolutely perfect Spring day. That was one of my favorite days of my life and I was able to enjoy it since I had the nine months to truly process my grief and what I ultimately desired for her.
- Make/Create Something: The day before Tinleigh was born, we were walking around Hobby Lobby trying to grasp at things that felt comforting to us and I came across a bible verse that very much screamed Tinleigh. 🙂 At that point, I told my husband I wanted him to create a sign that would hang in our home with this verse on it. He actually did so while I was laboring with her and that made it much more meaningful for us.
- Memory Wall: We have chosen to dedicate one wall in our home specifically to Tinleigh. It contains our favorite pictures of her, the sign my husband created, her footprints, and a candle that we can light in memory of her.
- Acts of Kindness: One way we have chosen to spread her legacy, is by creating and using random acts of kindness cards. For us, it feels right to be able to spread kindness in Tinleigh’s name.
- Celebrate Birthdays, Anniversaries, and other Holidays: While Tinleigh is no longer physically with us, we have continued to celebrate her in many ways. For her birthday, we have Mexican food (that’s what I craved the most when I was pregnant with her) and make her a cake and do a big random acts of kindness ripple amongst our friends and family. On her due date, we also commemorate that with Mexican food and dessert. At Halloween time, we carve a pumpkin for Tinleigh. In our family, we have a tradition of everyone getting a new ornament for Christmas. We have decided that Tinleigh will get a snowflake ornament (since she was due during the winter time) in her memory. These are just a few examples but there are so many ways in which to do this.
I know it isn’t easy to decide how to honor your baby that has passed on. And I’ve only listed a handful of ways in which to do so. Some of these may be a perfect fit for your sweet little one and some may not. Ultimately, I want to say that your baby is worth honoring and worth speaking his or her name. It’s okay to want to keep them included in your family forever because they ARE a part of you and your family forever. Hold them tight – you don’t have to let them go.