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Loss is a very present reality in the world of giving birth and raising children. The statistics say one in four women experience a miscarriage. I’ve experienced one and it was heartbreaking. I remember the same out-of-body reaction I had when I got in a car accident. Something had been set in motion that I couldn’t control and I came out on the other side changed.
How do you remember a pregnancy? How do you remember a baby lost at 5 weeks (like mine) or at 18 weeks (like my friend) or a stillbirth, an infant, or a child? An embryo that did not implant during an IVF treatment? A friend of mine recently went through a failed adoption — don’t tell me that her mother’s heart wasn’t breaking. All of these dangling pieces of our family trees. Where do they go?
I asked a few momma friends how they remember their lost ones. So many responded with stories of their loss(es) and how they memorialized them. Here are a few of their suggestions coupled with my own.
Many mamas shared that they wear something, whether it be a necklace, a bracelet or a ring. It might be a birthstone, an engraved birthdate, a picture, or even a tiny urn for ashes. There are many artistic and personalized directions this kind of keepsake could go.
“I wear an urn necklace with her in it. Its my fidget spinner. For probably a year I carried her Urn in my purse…It’s a heart. Says always on my heart,” says loss mom Kira F.
Here is an urn necklace with many positive reviews. (Amazon, $21.99)
Here is another idea for a mother that has lost her baby in early pregnancy from Glassberries on Etsy. These beautiful glass necklaces are shaped as blueberries or raspberries, representing early stages in pregnancy. (Etsy, $53)
Holidays are tough for many. It’s a time to be with family, which can remind us of who isn’t there to celebrate with. Many mamas either made, purchased, or were given an ornament to commemorate.
“I have special Christmas ornaments for each loss. the holidays were always the hardest for me so an ornament was tough in some ways, but also gives me a reminder to reflect and remember,” says Laura R.
You can purchase this ornament with your child’s name and date of birth along with an inscription on a maplewood snowflake. (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, $17.00)
3. Jizu statues
In traditional Buddhist teachings the Jizu statue is believed to be the protector of children and the unborn. He smuggles them to the afterlife in the sleeves of his robe. The practice is moving through the west offering closure to many women who are experiencing loss.
Dannie S. says, “I have a Jizo statue for each loss. They were supposed to go in the garden but I haven’t quite found the right spot. They are still in the house with me. In time they may move outside…”
You can purchase a Jizu statue for your house or garden. (Amazon, $10.99)
A mama who lost her first son at 37 weeks and her second son two weeks after he was born started this program. She turned her grief into this nonprofit program to help other grieving mothers. You can request one for you or a friend who has experienced a loss.
Ashleigh R. said after receiving a bear herself, “I have had these [bears] sent as a surprise to three of my dear friends whom have had miscarriages as well.”
The bears can be sent at no cost, but donations are appreciated. (Project Bear, $3-$20)
5. Memorial ash beads
This stunning bead caught my eye when another angel mama shared how her Aunt makes them. These beads are hand-made with love and compassion for the grieving families. Their unique properties are formed when a tiny amount of ash is added to a glass bead mixture. You can see more of her work at Memorial Ash Beads.
The artist, Theresa Ostertag says, “I always ask for a (copy of) picture of the person (if available) to look at, and something written down that the family would like to tell me about the person. This helps me with my process while making the beads… I know how much it can help with the grieving process.” (Memorial Glass Beads, $25-55)
So many more shared how they grieved their losses from photography to tattoos to weeping cherry trees. I came to marvel at all the beautiful and unique ways these angel parents remembered their babies. To grieve is to remember and that is a beautiful thing.
How do you remember your loss?
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Images by Amazon, GlassBeads, Now I lay Me Down to Sleep, Project Teddybear, Memorial Ash Beads, iStock