By Rose Carlson
Parents who have experienced the loss of a baby often struggle to find ways to comfort their grieving hearts while they also search for ways to cherish and honor their baby’s memory. It can be healing to find things and places to focus on when you are unable to think of nothing more than your aching, empty arms. Just as every bereaved parent grieves differently, they also find peace and solace in different ways. Some parents have a meaningful place or a special symbol they connect with while others find comfort in things they do in memory of their baby.
Many years ago when I experienced four early losses, nothing was typically done then to commemorate my babies. I, like many others, had no place to go, nothing to remember those little souls by. While my babies aren’t buried anywhere, I do have two places that have become very meaningful to me, that always bring some peace to my heart all these years later.
One of my places the local park where an Angel of Hope stands, surrounded by engraved bricks in memory of children who have left the world too soon. For many years, I didn’t have my own brick, but the Angel was still a special place for me because I knew through my role at Share how meaningful it is to families who have bricks placed there. I do have a brick now, and my best friend has one as well. We placed them together, and whenever I am there, I feel a calmness settle upon me. I always take my camera, and I have many wonderful photographs from each season…some of showy flowers, pink dogwood blooms and colorful butterflies, others of spectacular fall foliage, and still others of pristine snow-covered bushes and trees. There is a wooden bench down one of the paths where I often sit and reflect on things that are weighing heavily on my heart, and many prayers have been said on that bench. I have tied balloons to the Angel’s hand when friends go through their own losses. The Angel of Hope has become my place.
The other place that brings me solace—a place I feel connected to is the cemetery where Share provides a quarterly burial service for miscarried babies. Part of my job with Share is planning and attending these services, but it doesn’t seem like a job to me. At each service, I meet parents and hear stories that touch my heart and make me feel grateful that Share exists for these families. A monument marks the spot where the tiny babies are buried that says, “Our hopes and our dreams lie here,” and each time I attend a service, I think about how much something like that would have meant to me all those years ago.
As I know the Angel of Hope and the cemetery are my own special places where I find peace and solace, I wanted to know how other bereaved parents have found solace and comfort since the death of their baby. I asked several parents, and as always, I was humbled and honored to be given a glimpse into their lives and hearts.
- The kids and I go and visit Olivia at the cemetery- we change her decorations with the seasons and for holidays. My husband has planted certain plants in our yard for her. That’s where he loves to spend his free time.
- We still send up balloons on Beckett’s birthday, and we have three small display suitcases with his items in them and a small scrapbook of photos. For me, the photos have brought the most peace to me. There are also certain songs I associate with Beckett. I ALWAYS notice when I hear his songs, in the car, store, wherever, and it always makes me think of him.
- When I felt like I was ready to move forward, I found it therapeutic to make myself a bracelet with special beads and charms that I picked out. It was in remembrance of my losses and ectopic pregnancies.
- I like to go to my baby’s grave and sit with a book or my bible and read. I sometimes read to him and other times just sit quietly. I have taken each of my children and we have spent time at the grave together. My daughter takes my granddaughters, and they clean up around their uncle’s headstone. They want “his home” to be special.
- Five months after my son was born still, I had a miscarriage. The following fall, my 5-year-old daughter, husband and I designed a beautiful garden in our backyard. We planted blue hydrangeas for our son, a pink rose bush for our daughter, and a butterfly bush. We made a steppingstone with each of our handprints in it along with special rocks and shells we had from different vacations we took as a family. Each spring, we pick out pink and blue/purple annuals for the garden. We also hung a hummingbird feeder. We enjoy spending time tending to our garden with our now 3 living children, and it is the most peaceful spot. I love looking at the garden through my kitchen window, and I love sitting in the grass having picnics next to it. Whenever I am having a bad day, that is where I want to go, no matter the season or weather.
- I know that some people think it is crazy, but I love to go into my baby girl’s room. In the months before her birth, I painted a mural of a field of flowers and butterflies on the wall and spent a lot of time picking out the perfect things for her room. It is painted a sunny yellow, and I love her room. It brings me so much comfort to sit in the chair that I should be rocking her to sleep in. I feel close to her there.
As you can see, there is a need in each of us to find a place or tradition that honors our little ones and makes us feel some comfort, a measure of peace, or a closeness to them. We hope you find the meaningful places and the solace that comes with times you spend thinking of your baby or babies. If you have a special place or tradition, please share them with us and the community in the comments below. Perhaps your places of comfort will inspire someone needing a special place of their own.
About Rose Carlson
Rose is the Program Director at Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support. She came to Share in 2002 as a volunteer and eventually joined the staff in 2004. She has a BS in Psychology with a minor in Sociology and her personal experience as a bereaved parent brings an invaluable perspective to her work. Rose does much of the research for Share materials and has published articles in several professional journals throughout the country.