5 Heartfelt Ways to Honor Your Loss

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Image adapted via Flickr/ peddhapati

Saying goodbye is never easy, and it's a heartbreaking reality for families who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss. When we plan for our baby, we never plan for what we will do if the unthinkable happens–we want the bad outcomes to be unthinkable. We shouldn't have to think about it, but for many of us, it's a reality.

If you've experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss, grieving is complicated, because for many, perinatal grief is not understood. When someone we love dies–a family member, friend, or pet–it's common to have a funeral and other memorial traditions in place. But it's not always applicable for people who have experienced perinatal loss.

{ MORE: The Real Stages of Pregnancy According to Moms Who Have Been There }

If you've experienced loss, and you're looking to honor your child, but don't know how, here are 5 heartfelt ways you can honor their memory and begin some healing:

Plant a memorial tree or garden

For me, having a tree that was placed in honor of my child who died in the second trimester was the perfect way to honor him. There is something about watching this living tree thrive and grow each year that comforts my heart. It gives me a tangible thing to throw some love on, to nurture, and it's a good conversation piece when I need to speak his name.

Hold a memorial

If your child died before you were able to have a baby shower or before you were able to celebrate their homecoming, holding a memorial gathering in its place is a great way to honor their too-short life. You can donate any items that were purchased for your baby if that will bring comfort to your heart and use the gathering to share the love you had for your child and gather with others who loved your baby just as you did. A celebration of a short life, but one that brought lots of love as well.

{ MORE: She Thought She Had Prepared for Everything, But You Can't Prepare for This: Oliver's Story }

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Image via Flickr/ weemeeuw

Donate in your child's honor

Donating to causes that honor your child can be a wonderful way of sharing with the world their impact to do good. Some parents choose to donate money or services to the NICU where their child was being treated, to the hospital where they received care, or to an organization that has helped in great ways. I honored my multiple miscarriages by using my story and voice to help break the silence of perinatal grief in hopes of helping others. It has been very healing to my heart and helps me feel like their too-short lives mattered.

Get a tattoo

Tattoos are forever, and the great thing about them as a way to honor your loss is that tattoos are usually great conversation pieces, which allows you to share your story. I have a tattoo for each of my losses, and by looking at them, you may not understand why I have 12 cherry blossom tattoos on my body. But hearing the story–my story–they all make sense. There are many different symbols you can use, from your child's name, footprints, image, or other symbols like flowers or butterflies that can really help you honor their memory, and it's a way to keep them close.

{ MORE: New Findings Reveal Cause For Miscarriages }

Create a scrapbook

There is something about having all the memories in one place of your child that brings comfort–at least for me. Creating a memorial scrapbook that you can pull off the shelf and look at whenever you want to feel close can be very healing. You can keep it tucked away safe, or you can keep it on the shelf where you can grab whenever you need it. Include everything from your pregnancy, letters to your child, and any ultrasounds, photos, or clothing that remind you of the good times.

{ MORE: Moving Forward After Miscarriage }

What are some of the ways you've honored your loss? Share in the comments!

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5 Heartfelt Ways to Honor Your Loss

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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1 comment

  1. Profile photo of Rebecca Rebecca says:

    My first pregnancy was lost tragically. I never got to know the sex of the baby, but in my heart I knew she was a girl. Because I was only 15 at the time of the loss, I was not given the time or patience of anyone to grieve the baby. I love all the ideas listed and because my 3 children are tattooed on my body I thinking about honoring that baby in the same way. It has been 8 years since the loss and I still have not healed from it. I feel taking the time to grieve is more important than you know.

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