EXPERIENCING LOSS

To the momma who has just lost her baby, I am so so sorry. I wish I could sit and cry with you. Please know that I am giving you a big hug from this side of the screen.

 

My heart breaks for you as you tread these painful waters of deep grief and sadness. I know you ache for your baby more than your heart can stand and you want to soak in the fleeting moments you have with your baby on earth. The 24 hours I had to hold and love on my daughter, Bridget, were some of the most sacred moments of my life. 

 

This page consists of ideas on how to navigate the moments right after the birth of your baby, including ways to cherish the time you have with your baby while he or she is still in your arms. I made this list during and after my own experience. Though we all grieve and process differently, I pray that something here helps you in your own journey and allows you to make precious moments with your sweet baby during the time you have together on earth. I also pray that the advice I share for preparing a memorial service and for your baby's burial (if chosen) are helpful to you too.

 

I am sending you big hugs and lots of prayers.

Love, Ashley (Bridget’s Mommy)

After Birth

  • Spend time with your baby. Hold your baby for as long as you want or feel comfortable with. Tell your nurse that you'd like to keep your baby with you overnight in your hospital room.​​​

    • ​​Some hospitals have Cuddle Cots, a cooling system that can be placed in a bassinet and will help preserve your baby's appearance over time. Without a cooling system, your baby's physical state will change significantly over 24 hours post-birth/death, especially if your baby passed away in your womb days or weeks before their birth. The change in their appearance postmortem can be emotionally difficult to witness.

    • Some states allow for you to take your baby home (either before burial or even to be buried at home). You will need to check with your state's law, your hospital rules, and consider the emotional impacts of this decision; but if it is something that you desire, know that it could be a possible option.

  • Allow yourself alone time with your baby (without visitors, nurses, and even family members). It's important for a mother, and father, to have their own time to grieve and cry and be with their baby privately.

  • Have skin to skin time with both mommy and daddy. If your baby's skin or body is not too fragile, place your baby on your bare chest for some special bonding time.

  • Talk to your baby and sing to them. Read them a letter if you wrote one. It's okay to cry and share your sadness, emotions, and hopes and dreams you had for them. 

  • Stare at your precious baby's face, marvel at their features, and examine their fearfully & wonderfully made body. Study and memorize the way they look, taking mental pictures to hold in your memory.

  • Take pictures of your baby. You can take photos on your cell phone, personal camera, or have a NILMDTS or trusted photographer take professional pictures for you. You will want individual pictures of your baby and his/her features, as well as of your baby with you and family, together and individually. We later made a Shutterfly photo album with pictures of each family member holding Bridget with a letter they wrote her. 

  • Kiss your baby's nose and rub their cheeks. Try to pause and hold while kissing them and try to freeze time in your mind to remember how it feels.

  • Bathe your baby. Ask your nurse if they could help you bathe your baby. If your baby has hair, you could also ask them for a comb.

  • Allow family members or close friends to visit and see and/or hold your baby, if you feel comfortable.

  • Request memorial keepsakes from your hospital, if they have them available:

    • Have a nurse take your baby's hand and footprints (ask for multiple original copies so you can also give originals to grandparents or other family members).

    • Ask your nurse if they are able to take castings or moldings of your baby's hands or feet.

    • See if they have bereavement gowns, blankets, hats, or other parent keepsakes.

    • Please keep in mind that hospitals vary greatly in what they have to offer bereaved families. Also, resources and staff skilled to do special things like moldings will vary too. 

    • For a list of hospitals who have Bridget's Cradles and memory keepsakes, visit here.

Memorial Service

Planning your baby's memorial service (especially right after the initial shock of your loss) can be a very sad and stressful experience. It's helpful to find family members and friends you trust to help you plan your baby's service and take care of most of the details for you.

  • Location. A memorial service can be held at your church, your home, at a funeral home, graveside at your baby's cemetery, outside, or anywhere that has special meaning to you.

  • Timing. A memorial service doesn't have to be held immediately following the death of your baby. You can choose to have a traditional service (which is generally held before a burial), or you could wait weeks, or even months later, and hold a service when you are ready.

  • Baptism. If your baby is present for the service, you can choose to baptize your baby. We held Bridget and baptized her and we had a special handkerchief to wipe away the water from her forehead. 

  • Setup. Consider having a memorial table with special mementos to remember your baby's life (e.g., books, blankets, onesies, clothes). The photo pictured here is of the memorial table we set up at the front of the church sanctuary next to Bridget's casket and flower arrangements.

  • Pictures and Music. Play a slideshow of pictures if you're able, or display some in frames (e.g., ultrasounds, pregnancy pictures, NILMDTS pictures). We used our NILMDTS pictures and played the song I Will Carry You by Selah in the background during our slideshow. Sing or play Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grace, or other favorite hymns or worship songs.

  • Memorial handout. Create a memorial booklet with the order of your baby's service, a special poem, Scripture, and your baby's life story. You can choose to include anything that is special to you.

  • Memorial fund. In lieu of accepting flowers, consider setting up a memorial fund in your baby's name with a charity that is close to your heart and will honor your baby's life with gifts from your family and friends.

Burial

If choosing a private burial for your baby, here are some helpful ideas and advice to make the painful experience more comforting and peaceful.

In preparation for your baby's burial:

  • Dress your baby in a special dress or outfit, and/or place them inside their cradle or in a special blanket. Bridget is buried in her cradle in a pretty white dress.

  • Hold and kiss your baby one last time, if you're able to.

  • Say your goodbyes (this is for your own healing, but know that because of Jesus, this goodbye will not be forever).

  • Place meaningful items inside their casket, such as:

    • A special item that you purchased for your baby while you were pregnant (e.g., stuffed animal/lovey).

    • Matching bracelets or jewelry. I made a charm bracelet for Bridget and an identical one for me. She is buried with hers and I have mine with me.

    • Letters from Mommy & Daddy and other family members. Matt and I and each of our family members wrote letters to Bridget and placed them in her casket. We made copies beforehand to keep them for her memory book. We also included pictures of us and our families.

    • Locks of hair from mommy/daddy, siblings, or pets.

    • Snippet from your wedding dress or other symbolic dress (so that when you wear it, you know that part of it is with your baby).

    • Other special keepsakes from you or family members, or special items you want them to have from your home.

At graveside, before burial, consider doing the following:

  • Hold a small service with family and close friends

  • Read Scripture, a poem, or letters you've written

  • Release balloons

  • Sing or play a song

  • Say a prayer

After burial, consider the following ways to honor their grave:

  • Place flowers on top of your baby's grave

  • Ask your funeral home for a temporary marker with your baby's name to have in the meantime of ordering a headstone (you could also make your own if one is not available).

  • Hold a private candlelight vigil with family and close friends

More Resources

  • Grieving & Healing

    From her own experience after losing Bridget, Ashley shares practical ideas that she found helpful in her grieving and healing journey.

    Ideas include: writing letters to your baby, journaling, praying, crying, and talking about your baby. Ashley also recommends going to counseling, attending support groups, and connecting with other bereaved mothers. A list of ways to heal through helping others is also shared.

  • Memorial Ideas

    Are you looking for ways to memorialize your baby in Heaven as a way to remember them on a daily basis? 

    From her own experience after losing Bridget, Ashley shares practical ideas to honor your baby in your home and daily life. These ideas will fill your heart and home with the memory of your baby and the hope you have to see them again in Heaven. Not only will they serve as precious reminders of your baby's life, they will uplift your soul and aid in your healing journey.

  • Dates & Holidays

    Important dates such as your baby's due date, birthday, or Heaven day can be difficult milestones to face in your grieving journey. Feeling unprepared for what you'll do on these days or for the emotions that will surface can be anxiety-provoking in the days and weeks leading up to these monumental days.

    From her own experience after losing Bridget, Ashley shares how she and her family prepared for these difficult days and how they celebrate holidays in ways that bring peace and remembrance.

  • Find support

    Are you looking for pregnancy loss support groups and resources where you live? Here you will find support groups listed by city and state.

  • Quotes & Bible Verses

    A list of quotes and Bible verses to offer hope and healing for families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. 

  • Helpful Resources

    A list of organizations and websites focused on providing healing to families grieving the loss of a baby. We hope you find support & encouragement here.

Contact

PO Box 316 Kechi, KS 67067

 

info[at]bridgetscradles.com

 

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