Celebrations of Life

For Families with Perinatal Loss

It is so important to acknowledge and celebrate this precious life that you shared in- if only for a short glimpse. I was once told of a belief that humans have 3 lives here on earth:

  • The first life begins in the moments that your parents began to hope for you, to carry you safe under your mother’s heart.
  • The second is the time that a person walks the world until you pass into…
  • The final life.. The time you remain alive through the sharing of your memory amongst those who love you and still remain here on earth.
  • Your spirit doesn’t finally leave the earth until the very last person who knows your story either dies themselves or stops sharing it.

So in essence, everyone has the power to keep the flame of someone’s legacy alive and burning by simply sharing their story. What an amazing gift. However the irony of this gift is: it is as powerful and purposeful for your life and healing as it is for theirs!
So here are some simple yet profound ways that we have found to celebrate the memory of your beautiful little one~ Pick and choose~ one may speak more to your heart than another. Oftentimes just the process of gathering the memories and creating a place of honor for them is healing

  • Holding a Naming Ceremony: This can look like a million different things..
    • A ceremony of just the two of you going to a beach or a river and writing the name onto a piece of drift wood or tree birch and floating it down the river..
    • Or it may appear more like memorial service held for an adult who has passed away. A time where a few family members read poems, share songs or feelings. It may incorporate the traditions of your religion, including any of the parts of a funeral.
    • You may choose to have your ceremony be a celebration of life: with pictures and music appropriate for an infant.
    • We chose to draw upon a Jewish custom and on the anniversary of our son’s death, we unveiled the completed headstone on our son’s grave. We included just immediate family members and we had each person bring a message to our son and something that his life had taught them over the year of reflection since his passing. It was nice closure and a wonderful way to be at the gravesite but not in a sad way, more in an uplifting way.
    • It may consist of etching the babies name into a piece of glass that a large candle sits on and ceremonially lighting the candle. This could be the candle you use later on to light on your child’s birthdays or for special occasions.
  • Create a Keepsake Box to honor your child’s memories
    • Some hospitals now put together a small one for families when they are discharged, you could use that as a great starting point.
    • I also have one available HERE on etsy for people to use, which contains all you need for ideas of things to gather. It works the best if you can have it at the time of birth..but that isn’t necessary.
      • Boxes can be anything that touches your heart and honors your child’s memory:
        • Jewelry boxes
        • A small toy chest
        • A shadow box
        • A sports container
        • A decorative lunch box
        • A large glass vase
      • Things to include
        • Your child’s name, written or printed on nice paper
        • Birthdate
        • A photo
        • Footprints or Handprints
        • Their hospital bracelet
        • A small stuffed animal or something from their nursery
  • A Remembrance candle..I have seen many variations on this..all beautiful in their own way.
    • Some people choose to use the candle from their wedding ceremony and light it in honor of the love that created their precious little one
    • Some people chose to include this lighted candle in each of their family pictures as a symbol of their little one for years to come.
    • Some people use their baby’s baptismal candle, if they have one and light it each year on their birthday and sing as a family.
  • A Remembrance Capsule. This is a variation of the Keepsake box. For some families they were given very little to bury and feel that they really need the closure of a burial. So some families find it very healing to gather a few keepsakes and have each person in the family write a private letter to their little one..sharing their dreams for their life and their feelings of grief at the loss. Then they go to a place of quiet peace and deep meaning for them and bury the box/capsule. This is a nice way for even the littlest family members to feel involved if they can draw a picture or create a piece of art that can be buried alongside everyone’s gifts to the baby.
  • A Memorial Scrapbook. Creating this keepsake can also be very healing for families. Many times, in years to come you will be glad you took the time to gather it all together so you can revisit pieces of the journey as the years go by. You can include:
    • Ultrasound pictures
    • Pictures of the nursery
    • Cards or notes received when you discovered you were pregnant
    • Mementos from the things you did or the holidays you celebrated while you were pregnant
    • Any planning that you did while you waited for their arrival
    • Your birth plan
    • A listing of the names you thought of using
    • A narrative of your journey through pregnancy
    • Mementos from the hospital stay
    • Cards you got during the stay
    • Any keepsakes from a funeral or memorial service
    • Photos
  • Planting a tree or shrub to honor your child and to create an area in your yard to sit and reflect with him or her. Depending upon the climate where you live, I have found that most people enjoy plants that are flowering, so they can see the life cycle from bloom to leaves changing colors in the fall. Another great plants that works well to honor little ones is: a pussy willow. It is a great symbol of the darling child-like joy in the spring. If you don’t have a yard you can also use a large house plant to grow and nurture as a remembrance. There actually is a house plant called: babies’ tears. It has very small leaves on a vineing plant and can be a beautiful gift for a family after a perinatal loss.
  • An engraved frame to hold a snapshot of the baby or of the ultrasound