Thursday, January 1, 2009

Creating Our Children's Legacy

When I first heard the phrase 'continued parenting' from Kara over at KotaPress, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. It just made sense to me. The idea is that our relationship as our children's mom or dad does not end when they die- it is just beginning. The things we do for our children, and in their memory are how we 'parent' them. We create their legacy, for they are not here to do it themselves.

This is the idea behind the Kindness Projects over at MISSfoundation. We can watch for small ways to do good in the world, as a way to honor our children's memory. MISS sells small cards to be left behind explaining that this anonymous act of kindness has been done in memory of a child and that "their brief life and death continues to matter."

Creating a scrapbook for Gabriel was very difficult for me. For one thing, going to the scrapbook store was painful- so many 'baby's first steps', and 'baby's first smile' stickers and paper that I would never use. I thought it would be easier once my husband designed the Heartspoken Vellum Quotes pages and I had some quotes and images specific for scrapbooking a stillborn baby. And it was easier, a bit. But still I put it off.

I didn't want to start because in the back of my mind I never wanted to be 'finished'. It was easier to begin once I realized that I never need be 'finished'- I can always continue to add to his story, or rather my story as his mom. I can add pages for the Walks to Remember I attend. For the March of Dimes walks. For the friends I have met that I would never know otherwise. For the good I am able to do because although he was only with me for a brief moment, he changed me forever.

With or without offical 'kindness cards', large events or small acts done in memory of our child are ways to honor them. This year I hope to find ways to continue Gabriel's legacy- this blog is just another small way to do this.

I'd love to hear ways you are creating your children's legacy- please leave a comment or send me an email to share.

If you are newer in your journey and your loss is more recent you may not have any energy or enthusiasm for this. That is ok. Someday you will. Do what you can do at this minute. Take care of yourself.

I hope today is gentle for you. peace- emily


Noneya said...

Thanks for the post. This topic is one close to my heart. I embraced the project of caps for babies. Our Sophie was a preemie, so small. With a very small head. Through the act of kindness of a total stranger, my daughter had a cute little light purple cap on her head the day she left to go to heaven. It is one of the few things I have to actually touch that touched her.

So, after we got home and handled the tasks of celebrating her life and folks got back to their "normal" lives I was left to sit, heal from my c-section and ponder how to help.

We donate to our local Crisis Nursery. We gave away clothing, diapers and formula that would have been Sophie's. We continue to donate items and will do so for the rest of our lives.

The project that is close to my heart though, is caps. I crochet small caps for some unknown babies to wear in the hospital. I have been blessed by wonderful family and friends who have shared our story and my mission for these little caps. Even through the kindness of total strangers, the cap collection is growing. It makes my heart warm. I hope it keeps a little one's head warm and some mommy and daddy out there can keep that little hat forever and show it to their grandkids and great-grandkids. I hope their journey ends with a happy baby and family leaving a hospital and living a life of love together.

I call it Sophie Love. That's what those little caps are to me. Pure Sophie Love.

Sophie's Mommy!
We love you to the moon and back, baby girl!
Oct. 2-4, 2008

Emily said...

What a wonderful project!I am sure these caps are much appreciated by those families receiving them. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Nina Bennett said...

Emily, what a wonderful post. As a bereaved grandmother, I experienced many of the things you mentioned. During my DIL's pregnancy, I had collected paper and stickers in order to make a scrapbook. When my son and DIL's first baby was born still at full term, I couldn't even look at the scrapbook supples. But then I realized that I could still make a scrapbook. It was hard and filled with my tears as well as my love, but why should this baby not be honored the way my other grandchildren were? I also cross-stitched a birth dampler for Maddy, although that took me a few years to be able to do. My DIL requested that I not put a death date on it-not in denial of her stillbirth, but to recognize the fact that there was a birth, a child, a precious baby.

I have also taken Kara and Hawk's term to heart and am working on an article titled GRANDparenting the Legacy. I will send it to you when it's done.

Nina, Maddy's Grammy

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

I'm still figuring our our Seth's legacy.. I want to do something.. I want his life to have mattered, to still matter. I dont' know what that looks like.. Thanks for this post.

Rachel said...

I am still trying to figure out Ryan's legacy. One thing I do is try and raise awareness. Not as publiclas you but in my own little corner. I talk about Ryan and our experience. When people ask me how many children I have I always say three and if they ask further I explain. I wear tshirts, most from your store, that declare my status. I just want to make people understand that it is okay to talk about our children. It is okay to let us talk about our children. I am most terrified that Ryan will be forgotten. I know he never will be with me, my family and our friends, but I want the world to knwo he existed and he was here and that his short life was just as important as anyone elses.
Take care,