Who is Pookie?

Pookie when he first arrived at our house. He’s not quite as stiff or as fluffy anymore!

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.

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 have to travel without my bear).

That evolved into people creating weighted bears that are 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). You can find some options listed in my resource spreadsheet.

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 (of Charlie), 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!

Given that Pookie has such a complex personality and position in our family, he comes along to many events and trips – so you’ll notice that he has many travelogue posts and comes up even in many posts that aren’t specifically about him – much like children would for someone with live children.

This message was originally for my sister when she was injured. But if you are feeling sad or bad in any way, I can assure you that Pookie is such a sweet bear that he wishes this message to be for you, too!