After suffering the loss of our son due to a miscarriage at about 20 weeks, it became very important to my husband and me to do something tangible to honor the memory of our child.
I didn’t want to pretend that he didn’t exist; I didn’t want to keep him a secret. That would have made the loss even greater for us. I understand that to others, he wasn’t real yet, but to our family, he was already loved and adored and we will miss him every day. Going through this experience made me question: how do you honor someone who didn’t get to be a part of your life? It’s not something you think to prepare for, however, I found myself naturally seeking ways to keep his memory alive.
I wanted to share what we’ve done to honor our son and keep his memory with us.
Being almost 20 weeks along allowed for us to know the sex of our child and therefore we were able to name him. We use his name, Travis James, when we talk about him in our home which helps to validate his presence in our lives. Regardless, I want to say that the loss is the same no matter if your child has a name or not; whether 6 weeks or 20 weeks, it is a great loss no matter what. That child will always deserve to be remembered and honored.
The hospital helped us start the process of memorializing our son by giving us a memory box to go home with. In it, they placed the blanket that was wrapped around him, the hat they tried to place on his head (he was so tiny, it ended up being too big), the ink print and imprint of his tiny feet, a few photographs, and a poem called The Dragonfly. Once we got home, I added the sonogram pictures and the positive pregnancy test I’d given to my husband on our anniversary to tell him we were expecting. I actually had to dig the test out of the trash because I’d thrown it away in anger following the news that we’d lost him. But after going through the labor and delivery, I decided I wanted to keep it because it felt like proof he was real.
While at the hospital delivering our son, they gave us the option of taking him home for private burial or facilitating his cremation. Because neither family has a local plot for him to rest, we decided to have our son cremated. This has allowed us to search for and obtain a beautiful urn worthy of our baby boy. No matter where we are in the future, our son will always be with us.
Jewelry is something that has always been very special to me and it often represents something going on in my life at the moment. It was natural for me to turn to jewelry to memorialize my baby. There are quite a few options of jewelry pieces available that can be used to keep your baby near to your heart. For instance, it is easy to find artisans who make hand stamped, personalized jewelry that can display a date, name, or even a symbol to represents your child. I was able to get a piece with angel wings and a saying that was special to me, and my mother had a hand stamped keychain made for my husband as a gift.
I also created a beautiful one of a kind locket with a picture, saying, his name and birth date that I wear often. Lastly, on the night of his birth, I laid in bed watching a pearl party and had an oyster opened to be made into a ring. Now, every time I look at my ring, I think of him. While these are just a couple of things that I’ve done to memorialize my son, the possibilities are endless. If there is a symbol that you associate with your child, like a butterfly or flower, having something with that symbol on it that you can wear as a daily reminder would be a beautiful tribute.
As tattoos have become more commonplace, I have seen that art form used to memorialize the loss of a loved one. Having a tattoo for my son was something I felt led to do. I have seen miscarriage tattoos of angels, angel wings, footprints, and ribbons. Each person who has one of those tattoos on their skin has chosen something that’s special to them to represent their baby. For me, I chose a dragonfly with a ring of forget-me-not flowers around it. I learned within a day of my sons passing that his sign to me was the dragonfly, so I had it placed on my forearm to keep him near. I reached out to my friends to locate a tattoo artist who was proficient in the style of tattooing I was looking for and we discussed the design. The artist was very empathetic to my desire to get the tattoo done quickly and fit me in months ahead of his already scheduled clients, which meant a lot to me. Every time it catches my eye, I remember my son and smile. It’s almost like a piece of him is with me all the time.
My husband and I are in the process of turning a small area in our home into a space for TJ. I have been collecting items that bring me joy while remembering him so that they can be assembled into a space representing the love we have for our angel. In the space, we are going to keep the memory box that the hospital created for us, his urn, his picture, the few mementos we’ve had personalized, and a tea light candle holder for us to light whenever we need to. Our beautiful boy was a very special part of our life and while he’s not physically here with us, it will be comforting to have space to turn to be with him.
I have a friend who has had two miscarriages and celebrates the days her sons went to heaven. She calls it, “Happy Heaven Day,” and her family has cake, talks about what they think their boys would have been like, and remembers them as part of their family. My husband and I have talked about doing this for our son as well. We’ve also thought about giving our children birthday and Christmas gifts from their brother as a way to keep him alive for them, too. September 3rd will always be a sacred date for us as the day we held our son. It will never pass us by without us thinking of our sweet boy.
While our life will never be the same as having our beautiful boy alive with us, we have found comfort in the effort we’ve made to keep him with us. I think of TJ every time I look at the stunning pearl ring or locket that I wear, when I see the keychain dangling from his daddy’s keys, as I hold his urn in my hands and run my fingertips over the engraved inscription, when I hold his tiny blanket, and when I see the incredible tattoo representing him on my arm. The love we have for our son will be visible in the many ways we honor him as we strive to keep his memory alive.