My husband and I just got back from the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts where we attended a memorial ceremony for children who have died. On the island at the base of the Edgartown Lighthouse sits a memorial site paved with stones engraved with the names of children of all ages who have passed away. We discovered the site last year while we were visiting, and purchased a stone paver for our stillborn twin sons. The paver with the names of our boys was recently placed at the site and this was the first time we attended the memorial service there.
The service was incredibly emotional. I wasn’t quite prepared for my reaction,considering we lost our sons eleven years ago this month. As we approached the lighthouse and were given a map of the placement of our stone, my eyes filled with tears. After a bit of searching my husband finally found the stone and as I read our sons’ names I was overcome with emotion. Here at the base of this lighthouse, now sits a marker of their existence that will remain for many, many years to come.
I was surrounded by other parents all of whom, like us, were searching for the name of a child who was once a part of their lives, and now gone from this earth forever. As each parent sought out their stone, their reaction was similar to mine. First they seemed relieved to have found the stone, then came the tears. Some placed flowers on the site, others placed smooth rocks or shells found on the beach nearby.
Nothing will bring back our children but in the words of one of the speakers that day, the lighthouse will always be there, a physical reminder of our children we can visit for years to come. The lighthouse and pavers will never go away. I took comfort in those words, and thought about how true they were.
Even though our children can never be with us again physically, we can create reminders of them that can bring some semblance of comfort in the weeks, months and years to come. I have always found that memorial services bring me great comfort, as they allow me to grieve publicly with others, as does visiting my sons’ grave site. After my sons died I planted gardens in the front of our house and place a rock with the following inscription “We planted this garden and left room for the angels to dance”.
There are many other ways we can memorialize our children. Here are some ideas:
- Plant a tree, bush or flower that will bloom each year. If you are really ambitious you might try planting a small memorial garden.
- Have a place in your yard or home that you can go to remember your child like a bench or a quite place to sit and remember them.
- If you don’t already have one, create a memory box with some items that remind you of your baby (this can include ultrasound pictures, special mementos like a lock of hair, piece of clothing, photographs, anything physical that connects you with your baby).
- Create a scrapbook of ultrasound pictures, pictures of you pregnant or pictures of your baby if you have any.
- Write in a journal about your pregnancy and/or about your child (this may be difficult if you just recently experienced a loss, but may be cathartic if you like to write). Keep your journal in a special place with other mementos.
- Wear a special piece of jewelry that reminds you of your baby.
- Many sites on the web about miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death offer places for you to write about your baby and post pictures if you have any.
- October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. You can find the official site at www.october15th.com. There you can find information about memorial services around the country.
There are certainly other ways you can memorialize your baby. One of the greatest things I have done is volunteer work in my children’s honor. The work has helped me keep my sons’ memory alive, and I feel good knowing that something positive has come from their short lives. Do whatever it is that helps you to feel closer to your child. We all need that physical connection in some way to the children we have lost to bring us some sense of comfort and peace.