Sunday, November 30, 2008

National Children's Memorial Day

National Children's Memorial Day happens every year on the second Sunday of December and is observed internationally to honor the 80,000 children who die each year. Families around the world light candles at 7 p.m. in their corresponding time zones. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe. This remembrance ceremony provides the world with lit candles for an entire 24 hour period in order to honor the children we have lost, the children who lived and died, and who, even in death, continue to matter.

This year National Children's Memorial Day will be held December 14th

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Box Angel

The story behind this angel statue is told in the book "The Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Evans. In the book a grieving woman mourns the loss of her child at an angel statue in a Salt Lake cemetary. There have since been over 80 Christmas box angel statues placed around the United States. They are dedicated as places of love and healing for all those who have lost children. Many of them have candlelight vigil ceremonies around this time of year. It is customary to leave a white flower behind. If you look closely at the angel statue there is the word 'hope' hidden in her wing.

To check if there is an angel statue near you, visit the site Christmas box angel locations

I will be giving away copies of The Christmas Box book- check back for more details later in the week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Personalized Ornaments

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas and not everyone likes the term 'angels' but I found some ornaments I wanted to share with you

From Things Remembered:
Engraved Angel Ornament only $7.99

Holiday Moments Angel Ornament $14.99

Memorial Tree Ornament $14.99 The quote says “"Even Though We Are Apart, We Will Keep You Forever in Our Heart."

Memorial Heart Locket $19.99 Can add their name, dates and a photo. The outside reads “We never lose the one we love They live on in our hearts”


Lots of angel ornaments that can personalized:

girl angel ornaments

multiple angels These are called ‘daycare angel ornaments’ but they are basically a tree with either 3, 5 or 7 angels that can be personalized. This would work for multiple losses- the tree with 3 for triplets, possibly

boy angels

ethnic angels

Christmas from Heaven John Mooney wrote "Merry Christmas From Heaven" in 1989, after the death of his mother in August. His only intention was to present it to his family that year at Christmas. He knew it as going to be a very difficult holiday season without her. The words, and the comfort he and his family needed, came to him after a prayer one night. As he wrote, he thought of the words his mother might say to each one of them.

From Oriental Trading (if you want to buy multiples to give to family members)
resin angel ornaments

battenburg trimmed angel ornaments

Making a stamp from your baby's footprints

If you are lucky enough to have a footprints image from your baby you can get a custom stamp made. I found this site: You can send your scanned image or send it snail mail. If you get the order in by noon they ship it out the same day. Prices are very reasonable at less than $30 for a 5"x 2" image on an art mount stamp.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sending Christmas Cards

How do you include your baby when signing your Christmas cards? Do you sign their name along with the rest of your family members? Do you use a special symbol or stamp? Do you send cards out at a different time of year? Skip them altogether?

This is a question that comes up often. I'd like to hear your suggestions on what you do. Thank you for sharing your ideas of how to handle this difficult time of year.

Edited to add links:
I went on an internet search to find stamps or footprints that might be used in cards- how frustrating to wade through so many other items to try to find something that might work! I've added links below to the best ones I found. I am not associated with any of these sites, nor have I used them before, so take this for what it is- a list of sites that carry stamps or punches that might be useful when sending out your cards.

pink hand and footprint stickers

blue hand & footprint stickers

footprint stamp

star stamp

butterfly stamp

heart punch

dragonfly punch

star punch

footprint punch

butterfly punch

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving- a way to remember

A year ago I went to the SHARE conference in St. Louis, MO and it was amazing. I presented a workshop on Family Traditions: Making Memories that Include Your Baby. One part we talked about holidays and how to get through difficult holidays.

One of the HARDEST holidays I think is Thanksgiving. For my family it usually involves a big family dinner, lots of little kid cousins running around, new babies being passed along for everyone to hold, and the most obvious empty spot in my heart and hands as my baby is not here. And the fact that it is darn hard to be THANKFUL about it. Even though it has been 6 years, it is still a reminder as I see the cousins born the same year as Gabriel and I watch them getting bigger and think of what he should be doing right now.

One idea given at that workshop by someone attending is: while everyone is sitting around the table for Thanksgiving dinner, have a toast to remember all family members who are absent from the table. I absolutely LOVE this! It is always a challenge to come up with ways to remember our babies, and often our attempts are awkwardly received by family members. Well, here is one that has individual meaning to each of us, and can easily be done without having to feel sad or awkward around your grouchy uncle or grandpa who may not want to deal with, or be reminded about a baby. Love this idea!

If you have ways you remember your children on Thanksgiving, I'd love to hear them- feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you do.

I'm wishing you all a gentle day and holiday season. peace- emily

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Parable of Immortality by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
Gone where?
Gone from my sight . . . that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
there are other eyes watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .
" Here she comes! "

Friday, November 7, 2008


If you haven't been to the messageboards at SHARE I'd like to invite you to check them out. They have been an incredible source of support for me. Even after 6 years I still visit daily. At first it was to get support, but often now I find I'm at a different place and am looking to see who I might be able to help. No matter what I am feeling (angry, anxious, crazy) it is so helpful to know I am not alone.

Check them out at You can just go read stories, or post your feelings and questions. It is a moderated board so it takes a while for comments to show up, and that also means it is a safe place. I post under the name 'babybug' there.

I hope today is gentle for you
peace- emily

Thursday, November 6, 2008

SandWritten Names

For Gabriel's angelversary my sister wrote his name in the sand near her home on the North Shore of Hawaii. I love how it turned out! I've had several people ask her to do this for their babies, too. If you'd like us to write your baby's name, go to to send a request.

peace- emily

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

World's most insensitive commercials

Does anyone else hate the new VW commercials with Brooke Shields accusing people of getting pregnant just so they have an excuse to buy a VW? I have so many friends that either can not get pregnant or have lost their baby and are missing them. This commercial has got to be one of the most insensitive commercials I have seen and I cringe when one comes on.

A close second is the 'Have a happy period' advertising slogan currently being used by Always brand maxi pads by Proctor & Gamble. Idiots.

Scrapbooking Sonograms

All information I have read has indicated that sonograms are highly unstable. They are printed on thermographic paper and will eventually turn completely black. There is no way to preserve the actual sonogram. But, you can make a copy at the copy store (white paper is archival quality) or scan it into your computer and print it out. Or, take the sonogram to a Kodak Picture Maker and print it out on photo paper. You may want to take the opportunity to enlarge it.

We are working on some frames for scrapbooking sonograms. If you would like to be notified when these are ready please email me at nickwilberg @

Suggestions for Layouts/Journaling Prompts

Pregnancy Pages: include doctors visits, pregnancy tests, sonogram pictures, how you told your husband/partner, surprise? or long await +, morning sickness, cravings, weight gain, proud papa, mama, getting ready for baby, decorating the nursery, maternity clothes, 'old wives tales', baby showers, advice you were given, boy or girl?, telling grandparents.

Problems/Complications: these pages won't be happy happy but it can be very healing to write all this down. If you'd like to keep it more private, consider putting your journaling in an envelope in your scrapbook. This is a part of your baby's story and deserves to be told. Everyone's loss story is different but this might include testing, finding out, family reactions, hospital visits, nurses/doctors, what helped most, what didn't , friends and family, living children, waiting for baby, preterm labor, advice given, difficult decisions, sadness, grief, shock, anger, searching, regret, love, venting

Meeting Your Baby: You may or may not have had a chance to hold or see your baby but you may be able to include layouts of footprints, handprints, who your baby looked like, your thoughts of how you spent your time with your baby

Memorial Services/Funerals/Ceremonies: memorial services, clergy, beliefs in afterlife, religion, symbols, flowers, balloons, music, memorial gardens, your baby's headstone or urn, do you have a special spot in your house or where you feel close to your baby?, balloon releases

Changed Forever: support groups, walk to remember, friends met, traditions, kindness projects, awareness, how has your life direction changed?

Your baby's family: include pages about mommy, daddy, brothers/sisters, aunts/uncles, grandma/grandpa Possibly ask family members to write letters to your baby to include here

Support from friends and family: include cards, flowers, messages that you received

Inspirations: signs from your baby, symbols that remind you of your baby, did you buy a special item of jewerly that reminds you of your baby?, include poems, words to songs, inspirational quotes

Anniversarys and Special Dates write down how you spend these special dates. Maybe start a tradition of writing a letter to your baby each year

Scrapbook Your Baby

Scrapbook your baby
How do you create a scrapbook for a child you never got to know? Maybe you experienced a miscarriage and early pregnancy loss. Maybe your baby was stillborn. Maybe your baby’s short life was spent in the NICU unit of your hospital. Often when families experience the loss of a child there are very few, if any, momentos.

However, it can be very healing to create a scrapbook for your child. Your baby did exist! And no child is ever forgotten who has a family to remember him or her. No matter if you got to hold your baby or not, if you have photos or not, it is important to capture your baby’s brief life in a scrapbook similar to any other scrapbook a mother makes for her child.

If you experienced an early pregnancy loss:

From the first moment you found out you were pregnant you started creating memories. Gather anything that reminds you of your pregnancy and your baby. This might include your pregnancy test results, sonogram photos, pictures of you while you were pregnant (whether or not you knew you were pregnant or if you ‘looked’ pregnant.) Write down your feelings you had when you found out you were pregnant. How did you tell your partner? Did you have morning sickness or strange cravings? Was your pregnancy a surprise or a much anticipated effort? Write down anything about this early part of your pregnancy. Was there a nickname you called your baby? I encourage you to name your baby even if you did not absolutely know the gender of your baby.

If your baby was stillborn:

You likely have more memories about your pregnancy if your child died later in your pregnancy. Did your baby kick a lot? Have hiccups? Was your baby restless, did he or she respond to daddy’s voice or a particular type of music? Did you prepare a nursery room or buy special items while preparing to meet your baby?

You may have other memories created while in the hospital, or you may not. You may have been fortunate enough to have photos of your baby. You may have handprints or footprints. You might have a special outfit the baby wore or a blanket your baby was wrapped in. You may have cards or flowers received while you were in the hospital. Write down all the memories you have, regardless if they are difficult to remember. You can enclose them in an envelope to place in your scrapbook. It can be very healing to express these feelings and know they are ‘remembered’ in a safe place.

If you have few hospital momentos, it is still possible to create some items to recognize your child. You can request a “Certificate of Life” from SHARE ( You can put an obituary notice in the paper. You can make announcements to send to family and friends including your child’s name and birth and death dates. You can write a letter to your baby and put it in your scrapbook. Is there a particular poem, scripture or song that has special meaning to you? Do you feel inspired to write a poem or song for your baby?

Memorial Services or Graves:

Did you have a service for your baby? Who attended? What poems were read? You can take pictures of your baby’s grave or urn. Even if you did not have a memorial service it is never to late to do so. You can have a small family service on an anniversary date. You can write letters to you baby, or kiss a balloon and let it go.

Later on:

No matter if you have momentos or not, it is never enough. You were expecting a lifetime of memories and photos, not just a tiny book with a few items. However, you will find that although your child was with you just a short time, you are changed forever. You may want to record how your baby changed you. You may have met friends at support groups you would never otherwise had known. You may find your direction or purpose in life has changed. How are you different for knowing your baby?

You can scrapbook how you spend anniversary dates. Did you attend a Walk to Remember? Is there a special piece of jewelry your purchased to remind you of your angel? Is there a service project you have done in honor of your baby? What do you do to feel close to your angel? Is there a special song that has new meaning?

I wish you peace as you create your baby’s scrapbook and remember his or her life.

With love, Emily

Photography Tips

Photographing Angels
By: Angela Farley
Questions or comments: or

(A brief overview of taking pictures of stillborn babies and infants who have died)
NOTE: Some sections are intended for caregivers

It is my hope that this overview will help you to create and preserve a valuable memory for a family that they will cherish for a lifetime.

The best pictures you will get for parents will be using natural light. Be aware that fluorescent lights will give a greenish appearance and incandescent will give a warm orange hue to the pictures. A flash creates a harsh, flat light that can ruin pictures intended to be soft and gentle making them appear unnatural. Be aware of shadows that may be present due to the natural light, your angle to the natural light, or persons standing near the baby.

For the best natural light pictures with no flash use a 400-speed good quality film (Kodak, Fuji, or Polaroid). 400-speed film is an excellent choice for low light situations.

Developing the prints:
Most hospitals use instant cameras, but for those who use standard 35mm cameras here are a few tips on developing these special prints. You can develop the pictures for the family yourself preferably a one-hour photo lab. NEVER send the photos out to be developed as this can take a long time and you run the risk of the film being lost. Another option is to simply give the parents the roll/rolls of film for them to develop at a later date.

We think it is best to have verbal consent from the parent’s of the child, along with the disposition of the photos documented in the patients file. You can obtain consent by suggesting to the parents that the process of photographing their baby is helpful for capturing memories that will fade over time. Advise the parents that they can take the photos home with them or they can be stored in a confidential file that they can obtain later on. Of course you will need to let the parents know exactly how long their pictures will be available. It is best to discuss this preferably before the child’s birth (if possible) to allow for tender pictures to be taken right from the moment of delivery. Most of all be supportive of the parents and do not judge their decision, allowing them to change their mind at any time.

Talking to the parents:
Explain that you would like to take some special pictures of their beloved child. Ask the parents if they have any special poses (some parents who have surviving children would like the child posed the same way as the others for continuity in family picture displays). Find out if they have any special toys, blankets, or clothing they would like in the photos. Suggest that the parents be involved as much as possible in the photo session reminding them that you can never have too many pictures as this will be the only time they will be able to parent this child. These memories will have to last the family a lifetime. Most importantly, be relaxed and unhurried letting the parents have time to touch and view their child as needed, as this is obviously a very emotional time for the family.

Some pose suggestions:
1- Baby loosely wrapped in a softly colored fuzzy blanket (babies wrapped tightly in blankets will give the impression of a “mummy-like” image)
2- A close-up of baby’s face, hand, foot, or parents finger in baby’s hand (parents stroking the baby’s face or other area of the baby)
3- Baby on its tummy with hands by its face
4- Mom and/or dad cradling baby (only family photo they will have)
5- Special family members cradling baby (grandma/grandpa, special aunt or uncle, surviving child/children).
6- Baby undressed showing full body (showing that the child was not merely a face wrapped in a blanket).
7- Mom and dad looking down at baby laying on bed or in bassinet
8- Parents dressing baby.
9- Any feature that the parents comment on especially if they mention a feature that looks like a family members (he has uncle Steve’s ears).
10- Baby in the arms of a staff member, nurse, or doctor (some parents have the belief that the staff has qualms about handling their deceased child- this photo will relieve this fear) (this is also good for parents whose child may have lived for a time in the NICU, and a good way to remember a special staff member who cared for their child).
11- Pictures of the Chaplin baptizing the baby.

Taking care of the pictures:
Storing the pictures for parents who choose not to get the pictures until a later date is crucial as these pictures can never be replaced. Most families will take the pictures with them when they leave the hospital but of those who decide not to, well over 60% will return within a year for them.
1- Write the name of the patient and/or child on the back of each picture (or roll of film if using 35mm).
2- Store the pictures in a cool dry place (perhaps in a filing cabinet or in a drawer where the camera is stored)
3- Date the pictures/film with when they were taken, the date they are to be held until, and parents phone number (to make sure that film or pictures are not disposed of before the date the parents were informed they would be available until. The phone number may be useful to call the parents to remind them that the pictures are available)
4- Store the pictures/film in an envelope to make sure they all stay together and to allow for the patients confidentiality.

Taking pictures before, during, and after the death are all precious times and should be photographed. A lot of parent’s whose children lived for only minutes will cherish any photo you are able to get of their child before he/she died whether it is good or bad. Taking the baby's picture as soon as possible after a stillbirth delivery will give the best result. The medical facts show that if you wait until later the face will begin to darken from bruising and as a result of natural process of decomposition. Many parents I have spoken to stated that the pictures they have that were taken hours after the delivery show eyes becoming droopy, puffier, dark bruising, and sometimes even skin peeling. Don’t feel rushed but do keep in mind the sooner the pictures are taken the better the final result will be for the parents.

Photos you don’t like:
No matter how many pictures you have taken in your life you will occasionally get ones you do not like. This is a definite advantage to using an instant camera. With 35mm you should take a few shots of each pose so the parents will have some to choose from. If you are in a situation where you are only allowed take 1 or 2 photos any picture you take will be better than none for the parents. If you find yourself in that situation perhaps ask the parents if you can use their camera to take more explaining you are limited in the number of photos you are allowed to take (most people will bring a camera with to the hospital or you can suggest that they purchase one from the hospital gift shop).

Difficult pictures:
It is possible to take pictures of babies who have died quite a while before they were delivered and babies who have birth defects at delivery. The parent will want pictures of both the baby’s “good and bad” features. For example, a parent who has a child with anencephaly will probably want a full face picture along with a few where the birth defect is disguised (this can be done by simply putting a hat on the baby). For a child who has bad skin peeling you can take more pictures focusing on the non-damaged area like a hand, ear, or foot or by turning the baby’s face. Another way to make pictures easier for the parents and their family to view is to consider using a roll of black and white film, which will mask any discoloration the baby may have.

Trick of the trade:
To create an even softer appearance to the picture you can take a piece of nylon or pantyhose and stretch it tightly across the lens area of the camera this will make the picture appear soft and hazy. Depending on the type of camera you are using you can secure the piece of nylon with a rubber band around the lens.

Step-by-step final checklist:
1- Camera is loaded.
2- You have a clear, clean, and uncluttered background.
3- Promote relaxation and even enjoyment of this special time allowing the parents to parent this child.
4- Make sure baby is clean (if possible) with hair brushed etc.
5- Make sure any toys or special items that the parents have requested be in photos are easily accessible.
6- Ask family members to help.
7- Position baby.
8- Check lighting. Is it natural? Are there shadows? (white poster board can be used to reflect light to any shadowed areas).
9- Look in viewfinder.
10- Remember what you see is what you get. Do not be afraid to get closer.
11- Check to make sure the baby is in focus.
12- Take the picture (don’t rush. Parents will often think of other poses while you are taking the photos).
13- Suggest to the parents that they can and should take some photos at the baby’s memorial service (they can also have another family member do this).
14- And MOST importantly – be proud of the fact that you are creating memories for a family that they may not have had otherwise.

Mother's Day

Every May we set aside a special day to honor mothers. For many, Mother’s Day is a day filled with flowers, cards, and special brunches out with their families. And yet, this day can be painful for a mother who is grieving the loss of her child. Every year in the United States there are approximately 2 million women who experience pregnancy losses due to miscarriage or stillbirth. Nearly 28,000 infants will die before their first birthday. And approx 14, 500 children will die before their 14th birthday, another 33,000 before their 24th birthday. These are sobering statistics.

A child without a mother is called an orphan, but our society has no word to describe a mother without her child. Often these mothers are forgotten on Mother’s Day, especially if it was their only child that died. Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of what they are missing. It can cause them to question- ‘Are they mothers if their children are not with them?’

It is often assumed Mother’s Day was a holiday invented by the card companies as a stroke of marketing brilliance to sell more cards. And yet it started as so much more. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe (author of the poem The Battle Hymn of the Republic) was distressed by the devastating effects of the Civil War, and called for a formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace. This crusade was taken up by Anna Jarvis, whos mother had been working to improve sanitation through what she called Mother’s Work Days. Later, the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1907 as a ‘memorial day for women’ in West Virginia. The custom eventually spread to 45 states, and the first national Mother’s Day was finally declared in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson.

It is fitting that on this day that begun with mother’s mourning their sons we remember ALL mothers- those that have their children with them and those that are missing their children. Happy Mother’s Day to all of us.

Family Traditions: Making Memories That Include Your Baby

Family Traditions: Making Family Memories that Include Your Baby

By Emily Wilberg presented at SHARE retreat July 2007


Look at a strong family and you are likely to find one with strong family traditions. Whether it is activities that the family always does, the everyday routines or ways they celebrate holidays and special occasions, these family rituals bring a sense of belonging, familiarity and routine to family members. In strong families, members become more committed to each other when they spend time together and create bonds. Traditions provide a sense of continuity, understanding, connectedness and love that strengthens family closeness. Family traditions are also opportunities for families to have ‘good times” and establish memories. Rituals touch the hearts of family members in a positive way and help members feel good about themselves and each other.

Family traditions reflect relationships between family members and how the family interacts with the community, culture or religion. Traditions help form the story line for a family’s unique history with each generation adding or deleting certain traditions that enhance the family story.

THEY MAKE YOU FEEL PART OF A GROUP: Provides a sense of belonging- a common language, common memories (Story- Christmas morning the kids all line up on the stairs to wait to go down to the tree. They did this when they were together as adults because it just felt like the “right thing to do”)

In times of uncertainty, families can strengthen their emotional defenses and relieve tension by creating special rituals and family times Gives you something in common. Something familiar and predictable in a hectic and ever- changing world. Family bonds are weakened by busy lifestyles. There is a tendency to entropy (lose energy and coherence over time- like a gas dissipating until it is all but gone)- traditions are the glue to cement you close.

Importance of traditions crosses economic, cultural and religious lines. Christians celebrate Christmas, Muslims celebrate Ramadan, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and across the globe families celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.




Remember family members that are not with you- (Grandma’s recipe, or family away at college) Your babies were with you just a moment but changed your family forever. They are still part of your family.

Our society doesn’t do a very good job at allowing us to remember. As soon as someone dies we are supposed to get over it, and move on. Some people think we are strange, or morbid. Grief is a very personal thing. You need to do what is right for you and your family. This doesn’t mean it may be right for everyone in your family, too. You have to allow each other the space to grieve as they need to. Invite spouses, grandparents, siblings to participate but give them permission not to if they can’t. Try to not get hurt feelings.

B. ARE FLEXIBLE: Don’t be rigid- evolve as your family does- as get married, start own families. Establish new traditions as you need. Do what feels right for your family and family members at this time. Your needs may change.

Some times it will feel sad. I think that is ok. Sometimes it may feel gentle, or peaceful, or strengthening. At different times you may need different activities. Sometimes you want a private quiet thing like writing a letter to your baby or buying a balloon and letting it go. Sometimes you are ready for a bigger community thing- March of Dimes or an area sports night

D. INCLUDE SPIRITUAL, EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL ASPECTS. Some may be solomn, but it is also ok to have fun. Your traditions can include different aspects- physical (walking a labyrinth, March of Dimes, going somewhere special), emotional (attending bereavement conferences or a balloon release), spiritual (attend a mass or religious ceremony)

E. INCLUDE DIFFERENT SENSES: SMELL (scented candles, food), TASTE (food), TOUCH (different textures- sand, water), SOUND (songs), SIGHT (symbols)

G. OCCASIONALLY EVALUATE YOUR TRADITIONS: make a list- any you want to add? Any to get rid of? Have a MODERATE number. Don’t try to do it all. People do so much FOR their family they neglect being WITH their family. The house looks perfect but the people inside are irritable and frustrated from exhaustion. You may want to simplify. Keep the ones that are most important to you at this time.

H. ARE MEANINGFUL: do service as a family, do something together QUALITY TIME, handed down generations. Each year as they are re-enacted warm memories return

I. PHOTOS & STORIES- write it down, my familiy loves to look at scrapbooks- if you don’t have photos, keep an ongoing journal of ways you celebrate or remember. When you do something in memory of your child, write your thought in a letter to him or her.


A. CONTINUED PARENTING: The first I heard of this was Kara Jones on You still have a connection with your child even though your child has died. You are still a parent even if your child is not with you.

Have a special place for your baby- can be area of your home or garden. One reason I am attending this conference is that SHARE is the only place in the world I am known solely for being Gabriel’s mom. He has brought me many friends I would not have met otherwise. That is my place with him.

Special time of day, week or year- sunrise, full moon. Can be time of day or yearyour baby was born. Sunday candles

Wear Jewelry with special significance

Angel Gardens/ Butterfly Gardens- butterfly bush, stepping stones, painted rocks

Symbols that have special meaning to your family- butterflies, ladybugs

Quotes/ Poems collection- special book, journal or scrapbook

Sponsor A Child (overseas)

Kindness Project- do good deeds in memory of your child

Scrapbooking Your Baby- ongoing scrapbook with your letters to your baby, notes about things you do in their memory, photos of the sky

Family Photos- include your baby with a symbol or stuffed animal



There is often the sense that someone is missing. Especially difficult are family gatherings and traditional holidays. It is common to feel great loss at the realization that your baby will never experience these holidays and special days with your family. However, it is possible to make some memories that do include your baby. Let’s look at some holidays and everyday things to do to include your baby in your family’s traditions.

Whole first year is full of ‘should have beens’ as you experience milestone dates or holidays. It is very obvious your baby is gone. You can keep their memory close by by remembering them on these dates. There are also ways to remember them everyday in your family activities. Your baby does not need to be forgotten.


Visit cemetery, discuss resurrection

Leave easter eggs at cemetery on other babies graves with a kind word to their parents


Mother’s Day/Father’s Day

Gift from baby

Special jewelry items, bracelets, keychains

Card exchange

ORIGIN Mothers Day was originally intended as a call to unite women against war after the civil war. It was to remember Mothers whos sons had died in the Civil War. 1870 Julia Ward Howe wrote a proclamation as a call for peace. It started as a ceremony of bereavement and then as a movement for peace and action to stop the senseless deaths of children everywhere. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. From there, the custom caught on- spreading eventually to 45 states. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

Kara Jones Quote: “Our society can commercialize all they want. Because in my heart of hearts I know the real meaning of this day came from pain, loss, and grief -- the same things I feel on any given Mothers Day. And from now on, when people urge me to celebrate the day, I will tell them this:

I'll celebrate with you as long as you will first mourn with me. It is the combination of the two that lends itself to the true meaning of Mothers Day!”

October- all month long, and particularly Oct 15th

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Tie pink or blue ribbons around trees

Ask local radio and tv stations to have them announce that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Write an article and submit it to your local newspapers.

Sponsor flowers in memory of your baby in a church service or hospital.

Participate in a memory walk or memorial service.

Release butterflies, doves or balloons

Send off a pink or blue balloon with your Angel’s name and/or picture

Instead of Halloween, Day of the Dead

On November 1st in Mexico we celebrate the Day of the Death. Families create altars in memory of their loved ones and place in there pictures, their favorite foods and drinks, flowers. poems. Though the subject matter may be considered morbid from the perspective of some other cultures, celebrants typically approach the Day of the Dead joyfully. The traditional mood is much brighter with emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, and celebrating the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.


send thankful letters instead of Christmas cards

have a toast to remember all those not sitting at the table with you

if it is too painful to attend a big family celebration SKIP IT this year! Do what you need to do


DEC 6 Candlelight Ceremony

Angel of Hope Statue: Candlelight ceremonies at Angel statues around the country. Can find more info at as well as a list of locations.

Located in a quiet, garden setting, Blanchette Park, St. Charles, Missouri is home to the National Share Office Angel of Hope. The angel's face is that of a child, its arms raised as a child waiting to be lifted. In its wing is inscribed the word Hope. The Angel of Hope, an exact replica of the Christmas Box Angel statue, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, stands as a symbol of hope for all parents who have experienced the death of a child.

To honor our children's memories, memorial bricks are being placed around the base of the Angel of Hope statue with separate walkways extending in various directions from the base of the statue. The statue and surrounding area is intended to be a place of peace and healing for all bereaved parents.

The memorial bricks are placed around the Angel of Hope twice a year in a brick dedication ceremony, held in April, before Mother's Day and Father's Day, and in November, in time for the holiday season. (contact SHARE for more info on bricks)

Dec- 2nd Sunday National Children's Memorial Day happens every year on the second Sunday of December and is observed internationally to honor the 80,000 children who die each year.. Families around the world light candles at 7 p.m. in their corresponding time zones. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe. This remembrance ceremony provides the world with lit candles for an entire 24 hour period in order to honor the children we have lost, the children who lived and died, and who, even in death, continue to matter.


Ornaments- buy a special one for your baby

Stocking for your baby- ask friends and family to do an act of service in memory of your baby and send you an email. Place the emails in your baby's stocking and open them as gifts on Christmas morning

Angel Giving Tree- buy and donate gifts for children that will not get many

Sunrise Breakfast

Christmas cards that include your baby- use a special punch or sticker in shape of star, butterfly, dragonfly, ladybug




Angelversary n. 1. This word denotes the annual date of a child's death. This day is just as important to a bereaved parent as a birthday, and stillbirth parents are marking both birth and death on the same day. So it is different than a regular birthday. While "anniversary" might work, that often seems to celebratory a word for this kind of day. Angelversary is our answer to describing this most difficult day. (excerpt from Dictionary of Loss)

Some ideas:

watch the sunrise,

thank your doctor and nurses (if applies)

write a letter to your baby

Sky photos- sunrise, or sunset photos

Kindness project- Random Acts of Kindness, leave flowers anonymously

Attend a Mass or other religious events

Buy a brick engraved with your baby’s name (SHARE Angel of Hope statue)

Put an Ad in paper

Balloon release

Butterfly release

Birthday cake- candles

Build a Bear

Stuffed animals in family photos

Write a letter to your baby

Kindness Project: flowers for random people, leave big tip for waitresses, pay for person behind you


Memory Boxes to hospital

Blanket projects- provide blankets to babies

Hospital Bereavement Projects- make gowns

Sporting Event: angelmaxch (Stacy) on SHARE mom to Maxwell Christopher s/b 6/27/03 at 26 weeks It is fairly simple to organize the night. I call the Phillies as soon as group tickets go on sale and reserve about 200 tickets (we usually have about 150 people attend). I put a downpayment on the tickets (it is non-refundable, so I have to be careful about how many I buy! lol). We send out the invitations to everyone we know with a response card and a stamped envelope. We need all of our responses 1 month before the game. I think the hardest part is doing the seating chart -- we try to put our families together and groups of friends together, so it gets a little crazy sometimes (like doing your seating chart for your wedding!!)

March of Dimes

Other ideas: donate rocking chair to NICU, books to library, buy a bench at a garden (butterfly bench)


A feeling of closeness and security doesn’t just happen in a family. Like anything else worth having, you have to work at it. When you think of ways you can help your family get a little closer, it’s not by telling someone to do something, and it’s by taking the time to share experiences- even small ones.

Wholesome family recreation is important in building successful families. By creating traditions that bring the family closer, parents can strengthen the bond between family members, fortify commitment to religion, and teach important principles they want their children to understand and live by.

Start a tradition- Not important WHAT it is, as long as it has MEANING FOR YOU

Facing the Holidays

Holidays are a time for family, and often it is difficult when you are so missing your child. You are very aware that your baby should be with you. It should be his or her first christmas, he should be taking the ornaments off the tree, she should be getting his or her picture with Santa, they should be with YOU. Your family should be together and you have a glaring, gaping hole, yet it appears you are the only one to feel this way.

Feelings of sadness are also complicated by anger if other family members do not remember your child. You get together at Thanksgiving and they don't understand why you don't just 'get over it'. You continuously run into other pregnant family members or friends with new babies who are preparing for or celebrating their children. You feel guilty for 'bringing them down' yet how can you just go on as if it is business as usual?

I have heard from many, many moms who say they would just like to 'skip Christmas' altogether. You may wish to simplify your holidays. Ask for help when you need it. If you aren't up for entertaining or being in big groups just say you are sorry you 'can't make it' this year. Do as much or as little as you are able. As you know, once a child dies things will never be 'back to normal'. We have to make a new normal for ourselves- a life without our child. Why shouldn't this include our holiday celebrations as well? You may consider some of the following suggestions.

*Include your baby in holiday cards and pictures. Some suggestions I have heard include having a stuffed animals or special symbol in your holiday picture. Your living children may benefit from picking a teddy bear or other item to include in the picture. You may choose to wear a special piece of jewelery, some special flower corsage, have a lit candle in your photo. Sign your cards from 'Gabriel's Family' (substitue your baby's name!) or include a star stamp or baby footprints.

*Do something different on Christmas Eve or morning. Attend a mass or other religious service. One family I heard about said they pack a breakfast and all go to watch the sunrise. One family who normally spends the holiday at home will intead go to the beach or out of town.

*Buy an ornament to remember your baby. You may want to purchase a special tree topper in honor of your child. You could decorate a small tree all in angels. It may be appropriate to buy or make an ornament to give grandparents or other family members in rememberance of your baby.

*Candles can remember your child with you. Lit candles are beautiful ways to remember. You may want to purchase and give candles to friends and family members to include them as well.

*Do an act of kindness or give a donation in memory of your baby. Choose a child off the angel tree the age your baby would be. Make a donation to Toys For Tots. If it pleases you to buy and wrap the presents you may put them under your tree at home and donate them after Christmas. If shopping is too difficult you may consider shopping online or making donations instead of purchasing presents. Make a donation to the NICU unit of the hospital or to a cause that is particularly dear to you.

*Hang a stocking with your baby's name. I heard this idea and love it- the family hangs their baby's stocking and family members put little slips of paper with scriptures, quotes, kind wishes, or acts of kindness written on them. They open the stocking on Christmas day and read these aloud. This would be a nice page to your baby's scrapbook to record the ways your family has remembered your child during December.

I wish you peace and comfort as you celebrate the holiday season.

with love, Emily

Presidential Proclamation

1988 Presidential Proclamation

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members on work to prevent causes of these problems.

Health care professionals recognize that trends of recent years, such as smaller family size and postponement of childbearing, adds another dimension of poignancy to the grief of parents who have lost infants. More than 700 local, national and international support groups are supplying programs and strategies designed to help parents cope with their loss. Parents who have suffered their own losses, health care professionals and specially trained hospital staff members are helping newly bereaved parents deal constructively with loss...

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 314, has designated the month of October, as "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month" and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.

NOW, THEREFORE, I RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.

Ronald Reagan
Former President
United States of America

Useful links

Often it helps to know you are not alone in this journey. There are many families that have experienced the loss of a baby. These sites have message boards and chat rooms. I have found these sites very welcoming and understanding as I have traveled this journey of grief.

SHARE I still go the message boards there daily- they have been an amazing support to me

Kotapress In particular I love the idea of continued parenting and Kara's zine she sends. Lots of ideas and a neat loss dictionary


Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep- Sends professional photographers free of charge to take photographs of the short time you may have to hold your child

A Place To Remember Many memory items

Signs of Grief

This list is provided as a resource. If you feel overwhelmed or beyond help PLEASE tell someone and get help. There are many excellent resources for depression or people feeling suicidal thoughts. Please do not suffer in silence. Here are some common signs of grief. They may include the following:

Physical Sensations

Tightness in chest
Tightness in throat
Oversensitivity to noise
Weakness in muscles
Lack of energy
Dry mouth
Trouble swallowing
Hollowness in the stomach


Sleep problems
No appetite
Social withdrawals
Dreams of deceased
Avoidance of reminders
Calling out
Restless Activity
Clinging to reminders
Treasuring objects




Sense of presence
Hearing and seeing the deceased

How to get removed from baby mailing lists

It is a difficult time- you come home without your child and it seems like everyone around you gets back to their own lives. And then the mail starts. Little diapers in the mail. Samples of formula. Postcards welcoming your child. Milestone checklists of what your child should be doing at this stage. Each trip to the mailbox is a little ticking time bomb.

There is a way to get your name off these lists. Ask a friend or family member to help if you need it.

Contact Direct Marketing Association and request the removal of your name from any baby product mailing list. Provide your name and address. You need to request all variations of your name should be removed such as Mr & Mrs. John Doe, Mary and John Doe, Parents of Baby Doe, etc. It can take up to 90 days to take effect.

Mail inquiries to Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 282, Carmel, NY 10512 or visit to fill out an online form.

This information is provided as a service and I can't guarantee effectiveness, but it is what was provided to me. Good luck- gentle days, emily