sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
Parents grieve following a miscarriage not solely for unfulfilled desires but for the death of a child they longed to hold, nurture, and guide. In the second episode of the EPLA podcast, Dr. Marguerite Duane discussed recognizing the humanity of our lost children as an important part of dealing with that death.
We do things to remember loved ones who have passed away, so it makes sense that we would find ways to acknowledge and remember the loss of life within the womb. Parents and family members can remember these children in many ways, there is no one right way. For those searching for something they can do, here are a few ideas.
1. Name the child
Consider naming your child whether you know the sex or not. Some families use gender-neutral names when they don't know the sex of the child but still want to give him or her the dignity of a name.
The name might have special meaning or be a family name. Sometimes, naming the child can add heartache to an already devastating situation, so if it’s too hard, parents should not feel obligated to do so. But few things emphasize the humanity of a lost child like giving him or her a name.
2. Tell other children about their siblings
Just as you would tell your children about a deceased grandparent they never met, talk to your living children about their lost siblings. Dr. Duane explained how it meant a lot to her to know of her two brothers lost to miscarriage. Your children may feel the same way.
Most families will be able to have healthy children after miscarrying. While the family will never be completely whole in this lifetime, they can celebrate the short life lived by the missing family members.
If you already have older children this conversation might be really difficult as you sort through your grief while caring for them. Depending on the age of your children there are different ways you can approach this conversation. There are many great books and articles out there to help you navigate this process.
3. Hold a day of remembrance every year for lost children
If you’ve had multiple miscarriages, it might be difficult to remember past due dates and other dates of note. But just as we celebrate birthdays, consider taking a day to celebrate the children you’ve lost. This day may be more somber, a day to visit the graves of your children. Or, you might want to celebrate the short lives of your little ones with special food and activities. Regardless of what you choose to do, holding a special day of remembrance will accentuate the humanity of those children.
4. Frame ultrasound pictures
In our homes, we hang pictures of loved ones; miscarried children can have that honor as well. These pictures let guests know that a child was lost and that while that little one isn’t there to love on, he or she is loved.
5. Write letters to your lost children
I love to write notes to my wife. It causes me to reflect on the joy she is to me. When my children learn to read, I anticipate writing them notes as well. This kind of intimate communication is unique to people.
Writing letters to your miscarried children may help you express your emotions in a detailed way, but it’s also a great way to recognize their humanity. Addressing them directly in written form, as some do when grieving a lost spouse or parent, will be an intimate way to connect with your lost child. You might even read them to family members if you have an annual day of remembrance.
Part of remembering miscarried children is recognizing their humanity. By doing so, we give those children dignity as human beings, a gift that will emphasize their worth and our love for them.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University