I remember the first couple of weeks and months after saying goodbye to my precious Jonah at 30 weeks gestation due to a heart condition as extremely difficult and filled with so many ups and downs, I felt like a marionette doll living someone else’s life, because there’s no way that much sadness could be…
When a brief life ends, there are few tangible items left behind to conjure sweet memories. Those precious mementos that our babies may have touched carry priceless value for a grieving parent. We long to feel them in our arms, to smell them, to see them again. Anything we can hold in our hands as a reminder that our babies lived brings comfort to our aching hearts.
My dear friend and fellow comfort companion, Nicole Fortune states it simply…
“The stuff matters.”
Related: When Fraternity Boys Become Champions of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness
I often wonder about the value of the Comfort Bears and other Dreams of You memorial items we give to bereaved parents and siblings at Sufficient Grace Ministries. After all, no bear or memory book…no eloquent words of hope…none of it can mend the broken heart of a grieving parent. No amount of stuff can bring a baby back. In all honesty, I’ve confessed before, that if anyone would’ve handed me a Comfort Bear after I heard those fateful words, “I’m sorry…there’s no heartbeat,” I would’ve thrown the Comfort Bear across the room! I didn’t want a stinkin’ bear. I wanted my baby. Some mothers do throw their bears…in the moment of raw grief. But, later…when they long for some shred of evidence that their baby was here…they hold tightly to that bear. Images of Comfort Bears, weathered from the tears of grieving mothers, pour into our office. Other photographs show children playing with the bears, as they miss their siblings in heaven. Comfort Bears sledding with big brother and sister. Comfort Bears in family pictures, representing the babies carried in our hearts. Bears dressed in clothes intended for baby brother or sister. Bears filled with recordings of baby hearts beating with the rhythm of life.
Sometimes, it is a bear. Other times, it is a bracelet, a blanket, a wrap or gown made with loving hands for a baby that the most of the world would never know. Anything we can hold that shows a treasured life lived here. Because our babies lived. Our babies matter.
The stuff matters.
If I could be completely real for a moment, about twenty years after saying goodbye to my sweet babies, I spend most of my time creating tangible memories for other moms as a Comfort Doula for SGM. Most days, I give little thought to the cloth packages handed to me as I was wheeled from the hospital bed out into the world where I would have to learn to live in a place where babies die. A place where my babies died. Such a tiny package to encompass the weight of an entire life.
Last week, as I was going through tubs of my mother’s tea sets, packed carefully away for the last decade, I found the small teddy bear with the blue bow tie, that once laid in our Thomas’ casket. Then, I saw it…the clay imprint of his tiny foot. I’ve created so many clay imprints of tiny baby feet for other mothers and fathers, I had forgotten that I had my own. I opened the clear plastic container protecting the clay, and rubbed my fingers over the imprint. Suddenly, I longed to touch something that had once touched him. I stopped, soaking in the way the bumps felt against my hands, feeling the ache I keep safely tucked away…just like the tea sets and the teddy bears. Tucked away so they won’t be disturbed, and so they won’t open the broken pieces of my heart. It was almost twenty years ago. But, it was also only a moment ago. The tears spilled over the rims of my tired eyes, dripping down this worn face. I felt the wound opening fresh and raw, the familiar ache of missing washing over me. Again.
Related: We Speak Their Names
Because they were here. They lived.
He was here. He lived.
And, even twenty years later….
The stuff matters.
If you are a parent who has experienced the loss of a baby or child, you can request a Dreams of You Comfort package here.
If you are a birth professional, you may order Dreams of You items at cost by clicking this link.