When you lose your parents, you become an orphan. When you lose your spouse, you become a widow or widower. There is no name for losing a child. The grief is indescribable, yet it’s the circle of life for a child to bury a parent (although not when they are young). It’s not “natural” for a parent to bury a child.
I have had more than my share of experiences with losing loved ones. My brother and sister-in-law buried their son when he was 13. Watching them bury their child was gut-wrenching. When I flew home from the funeral, I brought a suitcase full of his clothes to make quilts for family members. Even though I cried most of the time while I was making them, I knew they would honor his memory and the family members that received them would be comforted. Later, in the span of 4 years, I lost my mother and both her parents (whom I was extremely close with) and my uncle. My mother passed away first. Watching my grandfather bend over the casket and kiss his child goodbye broke my heart. He felt he should have gone first. No parent should ever bury a child no matter how old they are. The whole time was a whirlwind of emotions. I felt like I was on a roller coaster and I just wanted to get off and have everything stop – even if just for a few minutes. Life kept going on and I felt like I was in quicksand. Needing something to physically hold onto, something that reminded me of my loved ones, I made a bear out of my mother’s nursing cape, the one she got when she got her nursing degree. I still cherish that bear 8 years later. When my grandfather passed away, I used one of his shirts to make a special pillow. Hugging it wasn’t the same as hugging my grandfather but it helped me think of his impish grin when I would tease him about needing to shave, and that made me smile. Losing my grandmother was hard. She was the matriarch of our family. I made an ornament to hang on our Christmas tree in her memory. When my uncle died, I got shirts he had worn and was able to make memory pillows for several family members.
Because I personally know how helpful it can be to have something physical to hold onto when you lose someone you love, I began making gifts for others that have lost a loved one. I’ve always thought that every mom should have something to hold, like a pillow or blanket, when she can’t hold her baby. When parents lose a baby to miscarriage, they never forget but they often don’t have anything tangible to touch or look at to honor their child. Parents are often encouraged to name their baby so embroidering the name on the memorial makes it extra special. Some parents experience early miscarriages and don’t name the child. In that case, no name is added and the gift is just as special for the parents.
October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Be kind to everyone you meet. Chances are they have had or know someone who has suffered a loss. Kindness never hurts.
Anne from Kidderbug Kreations