(Topic: Weighted bears, grief, grief recovery, infant loss, also Halloween!)
|Our Molly Bear, one weighted bear option|
This is another shareable post! Please feel free to share the link to this blog or this post specifically.
In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I am focusing on topics that will help friends of families going through the loss of a baby, geared toward making common topics accessible to people outside the “loss community”.
Previous posts in this series include:
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month (an explanation)
What can I say? Ideas on how to talk to a grieving friend
Wave of Light
A brief glossary of pregnancy and infant loss
How Common is Pregnancy Loss?
Please feel free to share any of the above links or today’s post to anyone you think would benefit from it.
After an the death of a baby, the mother often has a physical reaction to the loss in addition to the grief and mental health issues that can often result.
One of the common physical symptoms is a feeling of lack, emptiness, wrongness, or too-lightness in the areas of the arms, wrists, and hands. This is due to the expectation of having a baby to hold, but it goes beyond just a mental lack, it truly is a physical ache or emptiness. Whether or not a particular mother has this, or if so, whether she finds it disruptive, can certainly vary, both in presence and in degree.
For me, personally, I have found this symptom to be very uncomfortable and nerve-wracking to experience.
|Getting some extra snuggles before a plane trip (weighted bears look weird on X-ray, so it’s safer to leave them home)|
One of the methods that people have come up with to deal with that empty/lack/ache is to hold something heavy – even something as simple as a bag of rice, or a hot water bottle (I have one with a tiger cover, which means something to me, so this was a super helpful option when I couldn’t have my bear).
That evolved into creating weighted bears, and, more meaningfully, weighted the same as the child you lost. There are several groups that make them, each with their own guidelines, but they are often not-for-profit and try to keep the costs to the loss parents either zero or very low (such as shipping costs).
There are several groups that make bears weighing the same as the baby. I don’t personally endorse any one over others. I will list all of the ones I’m aware of. The reason I personally have one from Molly Bears is simply because that’s who I heard of first when I originally got one!
Weighted bears are a representation, or a form of avatar, for the child who died. In many families, the bear will be present at family gatherings and in family photos, holding the place of the baby. Imagine that you had a dear relative, like a grandma or an uncle, who passed away. Maybe at Thanksgiving you might set his or her place, and put a picture of that relative on the plate. Similarly, many people’s bears are in a place of “representation”, and not a toy. However, also look at how the mom and dad are behaving around the bear.
In our case, the bear has his own name (beyond the name of the child he represents), and his own imaginary personality (something like Calvin interacting with Hobbes, or Christopher Robin with Winnie the Pooh). So in our case, he’s a bit like a toy, a bit like a family member, and a bit like a place holder for our son Charlie. He’s family in two ways: as a representative, and as his own “Person” (as Pookie, our bear). So to me, a picture with me, hubby, and Pookie is just as valid as a family picture as one with me, hubby, and little Charlie – especially since we can never get more with Charlie.
Note: Here’s how Pookie got his name: Charlie’s full name is Charles Peacock [+last name], and we nicknamed him Charlie – based on his first name. The company we got the bear from uses full names, so they named the bear Charles Peacock Bear… which is fine, but I wanted to make a distinction about when talking about the bear vs. the baby (not everyone does, many would just say “Charles Bear” and that’s fine!). So based on the middle name – Peacock – we came up with Pookie!
Not everyone dresses their bear, but I do! Pookie Has his own dresser and everything 🙂
He has a yellow rain hat (currently misplaced, which is driving me crazy), and people would call Pookie Paddington when he wore it – Paddington’s hat is not yellow except in one stuffed animal version – the hat should be red if you look at the original book. Since people kept thinking of Paddington, though, Pookie decided to be Paddington for Halloween this year! Pictures below 🙂 Enjoy!
|Pookie and his pumpkin! Also the new tiger toy he picked out at Ikea.|
|Pookie reminded me that I’d promised he could wear his pumpkin pajamas last night! The white parts glow in the dark!|
|There he is, all set! Ready for travels and adventures, with his jar of marmalade 🙂|
|My little PaddingPook!|
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Resource list: Visit my spreadsheet at www.tinyurl.com/infantloss