Shortly after I lost my son Jacob, someone asked me, in a kind caring way, if I would want to remember and talk about him or try to move on (it was more artfully phrased than that). Without a doubt, my answer was REMEMBER HIM! But I was troubled by a nagging question: How do you remember a life that was so, so very short? I knew so little about my sweet son, so there wasn’t a lot to remember or talk about.
As time went on, I found what felt right to honor Jacob. I want to share this list of my favorite ways to honor and remember an angel baby, some of which I’ve used and others I’ve admired other parents for doing. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, so please comment with other ideas you have or ways you have honored your sweet child!
- Incorporate the baby in family pictures. I’ve seen this done by holding a framed picture of the child or a representative stuffed animal like a Molly Bear.
- Light a candle at a family event. You can light it quietly by yourself or share what you are doing and ask your family members to engage in prayer or a reflective moment.
- Make a charitable contribution in the baby’s name. Donate to a cause that can benefit future families who will walk a similar path, such as a hospital NICU, Molly Bears, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, the March of Dimes, the nonprofit I co-founded Alive In My Heart, or another organization dedicated to caring for babies or honoring babies gone too soon.
- Participate in a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep remembrance walk or similar event.
- “Adopt” a child. I have heard of families “adopting” a child around the age their angel would be to buy gifts for at the holidays through Toys For Tots or a similar organization. For me, this would still be too painful to think of what Jacob would want for Christmas then buy it for another child, but I greatly admire those who honor their angel this way.
- Start a blog or write for an online magazine. It has added meaning to Jacob’s life every time someone has told me my writing touched or helped them. While most of my writing now is for this publication, I also have a blog, Carrying Jacob.
- Perform random acts of kindness. I have seen many bereaved parents perform random acts of kindness like donating comfort items to local hospitals for future grieving families in honor of their baby. Others ask friends and family to perform random acts of kindness in honor of the angel baby at his or her birthday.
Since losing Jacob, I have felt that each time I honor him I build a legacy like the one he would have built himself if he stayed here on Earth, and that makes me feel like he is still with me in some way. There is nothing more healing for my heart.
I hope this article has provided some inspiration for how you might honor the child you are missing. If you are struggling to find the right way to honor your child, be gentle with yourself and give it some time. Perhaps spend some quiet moments by yourself thinking of your child, putting the question to prayer or meditation, and seeing what comes into your mind. Trust your instincts — you cannot go wrong by following your heart to honor your baby.
Elizabeth Yassenoff lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Erik. She writes for Still Standing and on her blog to honor her firstborn son, Jacob Dale, who passed away three hours after birth due to unexpected complications during labor. Elizabeth is a co-founder of Alive In My Heart, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides connection and resources to bereaved parents in the Columbus area, and she is studying to become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. Jacob’s baby sister, Ella Jane, was born August 11, 2017 and has brought a lot of light and healing.