By: Jennifer Haake
How do we celebrate the little boy who never took a breath? I wish I could give you all the answers. Every family has their own traditions and finds what they are comfortable with. How do we celebrate our boy?
Each fall we take family portraits. Since Charlie passed away, we have held a sock monkey in our photos. At this point one of his sisters designates herself as the Charlie monkey keeper. For his birthday we gather at the cemetery with cupcakes, candles, and balloons and sing a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. We attend the Angel Ball and the Share Walk for Remembrance and Hope and designate those our Charlie Days! I like to include his sisters whenever possible. As they have gotten older, I have found they do their own things to include their brother.
And lastly, for a boy who never took a breath, he has been remembered by friends and family all over the world. Each time they travel to a beach they will write his name in the sand and send me photos. He has had his name written in the Maldives, Hawaii, Florida, California, Ireland, Greece, Bora Bora, the Bahamas, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Australia, Oregon, and the Canary Islands, to name a few.
Charlie would be 11 ½ today. It took me a long time to figure out the best way to make memories with him without him. I understand from one grieving mother to another grieving mother that part of the loss so profound is the worry that he/she/they will be forgotten. So, what do we do? Some suggestions: include your baby(ies) in your family photos via a picture/stuffed animal/frame with their name printed, have a birthday party and let there be cake! Commit to acts of service in your baby’s honor (I volunteer for Share when I can), get a tattoo, fundraise, adopt a child at Christmas that is around the age of your child, or find something that fits you and what you can manage. Celebrations of your babies are as unique to you as your grief journey.
About Jennifer Haake
Jennifer is a parent companion with Share. She found Share when her son, Charlie, was stillborn in 2010. Jennifer lives in the St. Louis area with her husband of 17 years, Derek, and their three daughters. Volunteering for Share is a family affair. Derek serves on the board of directors for Share while the girls can always be found passing out water and helping out at the Walk for Remembrance and Hope.