When a momma loses a baby to miscarriage the amount of emotions she experiences is overwhelming. For the first few weeks it often feels hard to breathe; like time has stopped. Getting through each moment is hard enough, let alone each day. But slowly, she inches her way forward through this silent grief.
I call it a “silent” grief because our society does not do well with early pregnancy loss. We feel judged for grieving our babies; if we do share publicly about our losses we are worried people may think that we’re just seeking attention and being overly dramatic. But we’re not. Losing a baby early in pregnancy comes with so much heartbreak. We barely have any memories and it’s confusing even to us why we feel so unbearably sad over a baby we never met.
It often seems that just as we begin to “turn a corner” in our grief, we are faced with our empty due date. It’s impossible to forget when your baby was supposed to enter into the world and it ushers in heartbreak all over again. We survive through our due date, and then just a few months later we are met with our baby’s birthday; or the day we lost our baby. My anniversaries of loss are much harder for me than my due dates, but it’s different for every mother. Either way, we find ourselves wanting to acknowledge the life we were blessed and privileged to carry for a short time, but don’t know how.
It’s often something we prefer to “celebrate” privately, partially due to fear of people judging us for still being sad. But how do we celebrate someone we never met? How do we pay tribute to a baby we never got to hold? Are we overreacting? Should we just let the day pass without acknowledgment? I don’t think so— I think it is healing to celebrate our baby’s life. But many mommas are unsure of how to do so, so I’ve compiled a list of ideas. Some are my own ideas and some are ideas I’ve seen and read on social media.
If you have a due date or other hard date approaching, I pray you find the perfect way to honor and celebrate your precious little one from the list below.
- PLAN AHEAD: Plan ahead of time. Give yourself time to grieve in the days leading up to a hard day/anniversary as well as on the day itself. Remember that if you want people to acknowledge you on this hard day it may be best to remind them of your expectations so you are not let down. Even if you don’t stick to the plan you’ve created I think it helps to have a plan in place that you can look ahead to. It helps keep anxiety at bay when you know what to expect.
- GET AWAY: Plan a mini vacation and get away for a few days. It can be healing to escape your everyday life. We unintentionally had to go out of town (for my husband's work) over the first anniversary of loss for our first baby and it ended up being exactly what I didn't know my heart needed.
- GET IN THE WORD: Read God’s Word. Seriously. I know you may not want to, but it is the best way to start a hard day like today. If you’re unsure where to read, perhaps try: Psalm 23, Psalm 34, Psalm 61, Psalm 91, Psalm 121, Lamentations 3, Isaiah 25-26, Isaiah 41, Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 1, 2 Corinthians 4, Philippians, or Revelation 21.
- JEWELRY: Order a piece of memorial jewelry. I think it is one of the most comforting things to have a necklace, bracelet, or ring that you can wear everyday and hold your baby's memory close.
- TREAT YOURSELF: Maybe there's something other than jewelry that you've been eyeing such as a mini swaddle blanket, stuffed animal, ornament, sign, book, artwork, etc. Go ahead and order it for yourself.
- GARDEN: Plant a tree, flower, or plant in honor of your baby. Depending on the season, consider picking something that blooms around the time of year of this hard date.
- STEPPING STONE: Buy a kit to make a garden stepping stone and decorate it together in honor of your baby. You can include your baby's name, the date, or a quote that is special to you. You can pick stones that match birthstones. The act of using your hands to create something for your baby is so healing.
- WALLOW: Spend the day at home in bed eating junk food and binge watching a show. Obviously this isn't something you should do everyday, but sometimes we just need a day where we shut out the world and indulge in some guilty pleasures.
- NATURE: Spend the day out in nature. I personally love to just get lost on country roads. If I lived near the ocean I’m sure I’d wind up at the beach. Try to wake up early to watch the sunrise or carve out time in the evening to sit and enjoy the sunset. There is something special about watching the sun rise and set; it slows down time and allows you to reminisce.
- PAMPER YOURSELF: Schedule a spa day. Go with your mom, a friend, by yourself, or even with your husband. Sometimes we just need to feel cared for.
- REFLECT: Visit a place that is special to you and your baby such as a cemetery or perhaps a park you went to often while pregnant or shortly after finding out your baby had died.
- CANDLE: Light a special candle in honor of your baby. I have a candle for each baby and only light them on hard days such as due dates, loss dates, and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
- CARE PACKAGE: Put together a care package and take it to your doctor’s office or the hospital where you had your D&C and leave it with instructions to give to the next mother who has a miscarriage. Helping other mommas in their grief has been one of the most healing things I've done. You may be surprised by how much it helps you!
- THANK MEDICAL STAFF: Put together a basket of snacks and take it to your doctor’s office, the Fire Station if you called 911 when you miscarried, or hospital where you had your D&C as a thank you to the nurses and other medical staff.
- BLESS A NEW MOMMA: Create a newborn care package and take it to the Labor & Delivery ward where your baby would’ve been delivered to bless a momma who has recently given birth. Include a letter to the momma explaining that this gift is in honor of your child who should have been the same age as her’s. Tell the nurses to give it to a deserving first-time momma.
- WRITE: Write a letter to your baby. Perhaps buy a special journal and use it specifically for writing letters to your baby on hard days. Or if you have a blog, consider posting the letter on your blog.
- RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS: Do a random act of kindness in honor of your baby. Buy the person’s coffee or meal behind you, tape money to a vending machine, hand out flowers, etc. Make a printout explaining that your random acts of kindness are in honor of your baby.
- CAKE: Bake a cake with your family and celebrate your baby’s memory. This can become a sweet yearly tradition to share with your family as it (hopefully) grows.
- DONATE A CAKE: Go to your local bakery and ask to pay for a current birthday cake order.
- SHARE: Post a tribute to your baby on social media if it is something you want to share publicly. Not everyone likes to say anything publicly, but I find it hard to let the day pass without acknowledging my baby. Acting like it's a normal day just doesn't sit well with me. If you feel nervous, you can simply post a pretty picture of something you did that day and the caption can be left blank, or maybe just put the date as the caption.
- NAME: If you haven’t already, name your baby. It is healing.
- DONATE: Make a donation to a charity in your baby’s name.
- RELEASE: Release a balloon or sky lantern in honor of your baby. If you’d like, attach a tag for the person who finds your balloon or lantern explaining what this day means to you. [And yes, I know balloons are terrible for the environment and that sky lanterns are illegal in some states/regions. Do your research and choose what is best for you and your heart.]
- BUTTERFLIES: Do a butterfly release.
- FLOWER DROP: Drop flowers in a stream and watch them float away.
- PAPER BOATS: Write a letter to your baby, fold it into a paper boat, and send it floating away.
- FLYING WISH PAPER: Write birthday wishes to your baby on this special paper. Once you've written your note or special message, you roll the paper into a tube, light it with a match, and it will "jump" into the air and then float back down as ashes. You can collect the ashes and keep them in a special jar and add to them each year.
- PHOTO BOOK: Spend time making a photo book in honor of your baby. You may be surprised by how many photos you have from your pregnancy even if they aren’t photos of you or your baby, yet still remind you of when you were pregnant or during your loss. I made a photo book because I had a coupon for a free photo book several years ago. I had no idea how healing it would end up being for me. Taking time to select photos, write captions, and design the pages made me feel like a momma because mommas with living children do that sort of thing. It was one of the most motherly things I ever did for my babies. I now have a photo book for both of my babies gone too soon.
- SERVE: Take a meal to someone who is also suffering or find a way to be there for someone else who is also grieving a loss. They may be going through something very different from a miscarriage, but suffering connects us and when we find someone else suffering it helps us to not feel quite so alone.
How do you celebrate and honor your babies who have passed away? I'd love to hear in the comments. Be blessed, sweet mommas <3