Keeping a Child's Memory Alive After Pregnancy or Infant Loss
October 17, 2023
When a parent loses a child, grieving can be a very difficult and personal journey. Finding a way to keep their memory alive is an important part of the healing process.
When the loss happens before or shortly after birth, it adds a complicated layer to this already tough situation: how do you honor the memory of someone who you didn’t really get a chance to know?
The answer to this isn’t easy and it looks different for everyone. It’s important to take the time you need and honor your child in a way that is meaningful to you, says Allison Remy, MSSA, LISW, CGP, the Joanie and Tom Adler Endowed Director of Parent Bereavement Programs at University Hospitals.
“With the loss of a pregnancy or infant, you don’t have the same amount of memories as you would with other loved ones,” says Remy. “But it still hurts tremendously, so thinking of ways to remember them can help you feel closer to them.”
Big and Small Ways to Honor Your Child
Remy says that parents shouldn’t feel obligated to do something big or elaborate to remember their child. Even small gestures or tokens can have a big impact. Some of the ways that a bereaved parent can remember their child include:
Make a physical reminder. It can be helpful to have a physical reminder of your child – such as a memory box, quilt, or piece of jewelry. Making these things can also be a helpful and therapeutic activity. Having something tangible to hold or look at can help you feel connected to your child, says Remy.
Plan an activity in their honor. An activity to remember your child can it can be as simple as taking a walk, meditating, listening to music or planting a tree. This can be dedicated time that you set aside to think about and remember your baby.
Get your loved ones involved. Ask family and friends to write a note or letter in honor of your child and then set aside some time to read them. Or ask your loved ones to perform random acts of kindness in your child’s memory.
Use your baby’s name. Saying your baby’s name often can help you feel more connected to them.
Additional things you can do to help process grief as well as keep your child’s memory alive include:
- Honor anniversaries with a special activity
- Art therapy
- Pursue a new hobby
- Talk to a counselor
Another opportunity for parents and families to honor the memory of a lost child occurs in every year in October during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Every October 15, the International Wave of Light honors all babies who have been lost, as part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
A book Remy likes to recommend for parents dealing with loss is “Healing a Parent’s Grieving Heart” by Alan D. Wolfelt. It contains dozens of ideas, both big and small, for parents who are grieving.
University Hospitals Parent Bereavement Program is working to build a safe community for people who have endured the loss of a pregnancy or child by providing support and resources for grieving parents and families.