Pregnancy had prepared me to be a mother. My priorities changed, my body changed, my sleep cycles changed, and my mind changed. Samuel became the center of my universe. My dreams for his life were my focus.
Then, he died.
It felt like I would burst from all the mothering energy I had inside me with no where to go. My body, my heart, and my mind could not figure out there was no baby to raise. Nothing about me could figure out what to do because the death of a baby is so far beyond comprehension. There is no “off” switch to being a mother.
But death does not mean you are left without options for parenting the child who died. No, it’s not at all how it should be. No, it’s not how you had planned it. But it’s all we have when our baby is gone. You are still a mother. And you can still mother your baby. There are so many ways you can put love and energy into your beautiful child, even after death.
Here are some ideas:
Creating a special space in your home. We have a table in our great room that’s just for Samuel’s things. It holds the beautiful little box that contains his ashes, a special candle, and a collection of photos, trinkets, stuffed animals, and toys. We decorate the table for special days, holidays, or any time we want to do something special for him. It helps us feel close to him. I mother him by purchasing him special things for his table, and changing them as I want.
Carly Marie has some beautiful ideas for creating a sacred space. Read about it here.
Decorating your child’s grave. Since we keep his ashes at home, we don’t have a gravesite, but I’ve seen photos of other babyloss families who decorate their child’s grave and it’s always so beautiful! You can put up pinwheels, decorative signs/banners, toys, trinkets, flowers, etc. Each holiday, you can buy items that speak to your heart and place them around your baby’s headstone.
Love bubbles. Blowing bubbles to your baby filled with words of love. This is a super cute idea I heard a few months after he died. It can be a great way for children to take part in remembering your baby, too. I created a full tutorial for this on my blog. You can read it here.
Reading to your baby. We read to Samuel all the time while he was alive. It’s comforting to me to read to him still. You can read to your baby’s grave site, or while sitting next to his urn. You can read to a teddy bear, or anywhere you feel comfortable and connected to your baby. Reading to a photo of your baby can be good, as well.
Crafting/ hobbies. There are endless ways you can make special things in memory of your baby. I’ve made frames, signs, jewelry, stepping stones, birdhouses, pottery, paintings, journals, and many other things. Find what feels right to you. Hobby stores have tons of ideas if you don’t know where to begin.
Lighting a special candle. We have a beautiful candle holder just for Samuel’s special table. I light a candle in it whenever I want to send him some love or feel close to him. If you have a desk at work, you could bring a battery-operated tea light to have on while you go about your day.
Snuggling a weighted (or, any) stuffed animal. A few weeks after Samuel died, I made my Samuel Bunny. It’s a stuffed bunny that weighs exactly what Samuel weighed. I hold it while I sob. I hold it while I sleep. I hold it while I rock in the glider Samuel and I used to enjoy together. You can order yourself a weighted bear from Molly Bears, or make your own, or use any non-weighted stuffed animal of your choice. Anything in your arms can help ease the perpetual empty feeling and help you envision the time you would have cuddling your sweet baby.
Singing to your baby. Maybe you sang your baby a special song while pregnant. Maybe you have a song you planned to sing to her every night before bed. Maybe it’s a song you heard a lot that reminds you of your time with him. I like to imagine that Samuel can hear me when I sing to him. Singing is a great way to mother your baby.
Creating a memorial garden. Make it as big or little as you’d like. Find beautifully colored flowers, plants, and decorations to make it a lovely and peaceful place for you to remember your baby. Doing the work of planting, arranging, growing, and tending your garden is healing to the soul. If you don’t have outside space, you can make a smaller garden inside, using planters or a window box.
Planning/attending remembrance events. Some mamas like to organize things. Others don’t. Do what feels right to you. Both are ok. You can organize a walk in your community, a gathering of other loss families on a special date, or find something local to attend by searching online. Gathering together with people who understand is validating and healing. A great way to put that pent up energy to good use.
Giving back in your baby’s memory. Many loss mothers feel called to help other loss families. Helping someone else as they walk this path can be healing to both you and the person you support. Some mamas create organizations, some create Facebook pages, blogs, or websites. Others collect items to give to hospitals, churches, or other organizations. For Samuel’s second birthday in heaven, we collected books from friends and family to donate to our local library. Find what feels best to you and put your energy there.
Honoring yourself as a mother. Give yourself the time to heal your heart. Don’t allow others to push you. Find time alone to cry, to scream, to vent, to release and to remember. All mothers need time to themselves. You do too. Give yourself permission to take a break. Pamper yourself and recharge. Maybe you enjoy yoga, maybe you like going for a spa day, or maybe you need some time to read a good book in a quiet place. Whatever it is that refreshes you, find the time to make it a priority. Part of being a mother is knowing when you need time to yourself. Setting aside your grief for an hour is not abandoning your baby. Do what your heart needs.
This list could go on and on. There are almost endless ways you can parent your baby after death. And just like traditional parenting, the ways you parent will change with time. Above all else, find what feels best to you. Do what your heart tells you. And never allow anyone else to dictate what is right or wrong for you. You’re the mother. You know best.
When I put effort into mothering Samuel, I always feel better. My mothering heart needs an outlet, and so does yours.
What are the ways you mother your baby?