If there is one thing that can bring a bereaved parent right back into the storms of grief, it is their baby’s anniversary and/or birthday. Questions of how to best mark those important days pop up on Facebook and in support groups endlessly, as we all muddle our way through life after loss. But sometimes the way we wish to honour our babies on those days differs from the most common suggestions. And that, my friends, is just fine. Follow your heart; you know what you need.
To the Mama who doesn’t post about her baby’s birthday on Facebook, I see your bravery. In our social media dominated world, not posting about such an important day can take real courage. Non-bereaved friends and distant acquaintances may take your silence to mean that you are “over” the death of your precious baby, but they are wrong. How can you get over such a tragedy? You are, however, getting through it. And for that, I salute you! Posting to Facebook or Instagram is such a common way to honour our babies. I know it can feel like it is something you “should” do. It’s not though, dear Mama. You do as you need. We understand.
To the Daddy who could not take time off work and had to be away from his family on their baby’s anniversary, I want you to know you are not forgotten. Your grief is just as real, just as valid, as the Daddy who is able to be with his family for every one of the hard milestones. And when everyone around seems to focus on how your partner is, I want you to know that your grief is seen by us. The strength you show by going to work, even when that is not what you desire to do most, is noticed. Thank you for all you do for your family.
To the Mama who just wants to hide until those difficult calendar days are passed, I wish I could hand you a blanket and send you back to bed. There’s so much talk about how it’s brave to get out of bed each day, but sometimes it’s even braver to stay in bed. If hiding and space are what you need, then I hope somehow you are able to do so, dear Mama.
To the parents who couldn’t mark their baby’s birthday as planned because their living children needed them more, I see your pain. I know it tears your heart in two when you cannot meet both the needs of your living children and the needs of your heart to honour your child gone too soon. I see you as you weep, uncertain if it’s okay to be so upset when you know how lucky you are to have those living children. And it is okay. It is not wrong to want to honour your dead child. It’s beyond acceptable to grieve when your plans to do so are disrupted. I see your love for all of your children. And I’m so sorry they aren’t all in your arms.
Bereaved parents, you are loved. Your babies are loved. And I hope you are able to mark the important days in whatever ways are best for you.
Photo Credit: Carolyn V / Unsplash
Larissa is wife to Marcus and mama to four, including one precious girl lost to stillbirth. She writes about her daughter and life after loss at Deeper Still.