(Topic: Holiday traditions, memorials)
At first I thought I’d write about our personal traditions (which I will still include at the end!) but I realized there are so many good resources out there that I wanted to share. In this post you will find 5 great resources with their own lists of ideas on how to honor and remember your baby during this upcoming holiday season. Most are from some of the really big support and grief organizations, so take a look at what else they offer too!
- Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an organization in which professional photographers volunteer their time to take photographs of babies who die in a stillbirth or in the NICU. They have a Top 5 list for how to honor your baby this holiday season, which you can download. I believe one of their suggestions is their keepsake ornament, which is pretty large (usually about 4″ across) but usually really nice. We’ve gotten one for the last three years!
- Star Legacy Foundation hasn’t published a list yet this year (that I’ve seen) but they do great research about stillbirth prevention (as well as doing great grief support), and host a yearly conference. On their website and at their conference (as paper stars hanging from the ceiling) they list and remember any baby that has had their name submitted.
- Still Standing Magazine shared this list of ways to honor and remember your baby. Still Standing is a great blog/magazine/e-zine, and frequently also reposts some of their older articles on FB too. They have some great material and also occasionally accept submissions from loss parents.
- Unexpected Family Outing (a life-after-loss blog) published this list a few years ago, of ways to honor your feelings and your baby during the holidays.
- Return To Zero: Hope is an organization that was founded after the film Return To Zero came out. I have yet to see this film but have heard it’s extremely good (and touching), and focuses on life after infant loss. Their Hope organization is active on Facebook, and published this post with ideas for the holiday season.
Obviously our own traditions are the ones that, over the last few years, we have found work for us. They may or may not be a good fit for you, so just see what feels right. I hope these ideas help!
- Lighting a candle (possibly with a picture next to it). This is a nice way to have a deceased loved one “present” without making it a huge topic of conversation. I recommend a long-burning candle so you don’t have to worry about checking on it, just making sure you put it out at the end of the evening. We have a specific candle in tiger colors that we use for Charlie.
- For us, having Pookie (our weighted bear in Charlie’s memory) present at family gatherings is a great way to have Charlie represented. He’s also fun for other family members to hold! Not everyone is comfortable considering him a “character” (like Hobbes, or Pooh) but some of my family are, and they’ll have him on their lap sometimes even if I don’t! It makes me feel like my son is included in the love.
- We hang a stocking for Charlie every year (which I made for him!). It shows his place in the family. Honestly we hang one for Pookie too, because he’s become a representative part of the family on Charlie’s behalf (he often gets an ornament, board book, or small tiger or bear toy).
- We try to get Charlie a gift every year, always a new Christmas ornament and sometimes a small tiger-themed item, and I put it in his stocking, wrapped! It’s unwrapped by me and my husband, which is a nice family moment. Also, my husband doesn’t always know what I’ve gotten, so someone is still surprised and delighted!
- As you might imagine, sometimes I find more than one ornament that I like, plus we have now started getting the NILMDTS ornament (like I mentioned above in #1 of the first list), so the number of Charlie ornaments is adding up! Last year, for the first time, we decided to do a tabletop tree just for Charlie. I really liked the way it felt. It was a little 2-foot tree, we gave it its own strand of lights, and every ornament on it was a tiger, a bear (for Pookie), or a memorial ornament with Charlie’s name on it. Actually, there are one or two exceptions, such as gifts that were given to us in Charlie’s memory, which we consider “his” as well. It was truly lovely, and I hope to repeat it this year – so you see that even several years later, we still see what feels right and try new things.
As always, feel out what feels right to you, and communicate openly with your spouse or loved ones so you are on the same page. (This can include not attending certain gatherings if you need the space, for instance, or asking for a picture to be included, etc.)
May these holidays land softly and be gentle to your soul.
To subscribe, find the “subscribe by email” note in the left column and enter your email there. Links to posts will be emailed directly to you whenever I post them! Nothing else gets emailed.
Resource list: Visit my spreadsheet at www.tinyurl.com/infantloss