Sometimes the death that took them, since it’s often the final tangible moment on earth we have of them, shadows the memories of the babies we hoped for and dreamed of. Sadly, sometimes in our minds that individual becomes what happened to them, and memories of the unique baby we were growing begin to slip away.
Sometimes life with our new pregnancies and living children blur our moments of nostalgia when we long to connect with the child who died.
Part of it is our brains protecting us from the trauma we experienced. The other part is just human nature; the further you travel in time away from an instance, the more the details will become obscure.
Can I tell you something? It’s okay if I don’t remember every detail about the hospital experience when I lost Joislen. It’s okay if I have regrets about certain memories I didn’t get a chance to make. It’s okay that I am making memories with my living children and new pregnancy. Because what makes us mothers isn’t our ability to recall every detail, it’s the explosive unending love in our hearts. That emotion never tarnishes and never fades away.
Sherokee Ilse is a pioneer in our community. She’s an author, loss doula trainer, and advocate for the loss community (you can check out her website and training opportunities at her websites, Babies Remembered and Baby Loss Family Advisors). She lost her sweet boy Brennan some 30+ years ago and didn’t get to spend but minutes with him. No one was equipped to help her navigate through her fear and uncertainty, and so she has dedicated her life to making sure other parents are afforded the chances she never got: to make precious memories with their baby and look back on such a difficult time with less haunting regret. For those of us in our subsequent pregnancies she urges us to experience these months fully, embracing the joy. I was attending one of her life-changing trainings, and she began to shed tears as she thought about the baby who inspired her work for all these years. The love that she has for her firstborn son is undoubtedly palpable, over three decades later. I get chills just thinking about the power of the relationship between a mother and her cub.
We might not always have the same clear picture of events as time elapses, or a surplus of things in a keepsake box to jog our memories, but we are certainly left with a feeling. That feeling can become fuel for something that outlives time if we allow our passion to be met with our purpose.
When you feel like you are forgetting your baby, do something in his or her memory to keep their purpose alive. It could be a donation, a fundraiser, a random kind act, a plant, a trip, supporting a family who is experiencing the death of a child, or advocating in hopes of prevention…the possibilities are endless. We are the voice of their legacy, and staying quiet is not an option.
In memory of my best friend Joislen: I remember the feel of your cool skin and the new smell of you. I remember that death touched you but never defined you. As I held you and wept over your eyes, I knew the next time we’d meet that neither of us would cry. Joislen, I remember the dreams of your future when you were in my womb and now the hopes of heaven. You’re a part of me untold. You’re a joy to discover. I hate the horrible feelings of disappointment and embarrassment that plagued the day we met. But, oh, the depths of maternal love flowed from every fiber of my being.
Thank you for making me a mom. Thank you for calling me mommy. I hear your voice in my heart.