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Creating Memories when a Pregnancy Ends

There are many different circumstances in which a pregnancy ends.  For many families the end of a pregnancy is completely unexpected and the family will be in a state of shock.  It can be difficult at such a time to think about creating memories, particularly when there is not much time to think.  Other families may have had time to plan for the end of a pregnancy and think more about what they would like to happen.  Creating memories may also depend on the stage of your pregnancy when the baby dies. Most importantly creating memories should be based on your own personal thoughts and feelings about how you want to remember your baby.  Everyone has their own way of remembering and grieving and its important to recognise that what might be right for one family, may not be right for you.

SANDS have produced a booklet called 'Saying Goodbye to Your Baby' which might be particularly helpful for families who have lost a baby unexpectedly.  It walks you through the first hours and days in a gentle but practical way, exploring how memories might be made in those precious first hours.

We have included some ideas below from things families have shared with us over the years. 

 

Photography

It can be difficult to think about taking photographs at such a difficult time, but many families find photographs an important thing to look back on at a later time.  Hospital staff should offer to take photographs for you.  If you do not wish to look at photographs at the time, they can be placed in a sealed envelope for you to take home with you. It may be useful to speak to someone else in your family about taking some photographs for you.  Its usually better to have too many photographs than too few. 

Families who have time to prepare for a pregnancy ending may wish to consider professional photography.  Remember My Baby has a register of professional photographers around the UK who are experienced at capturing memories when a baby dies.  

 

Mementos 

Depending on the stage of your pregnancy when the baby dies, it may be possible to capture physical mementos of your baby.  Many hospitals will offer to take ink handprints and/or footprints of your baby if possible.  You can also buy casting kits in various materials to make a 3d replica.  It may be possible to cut a lock of your baby's hair.  

Other reminders such as ultrasound pictures, foetal traces or hospital ID bracelets can also be requested as keepsakes. Often ultrasounds or traces are kept in your file, but if a baby dies can be returned to you. 

 

Memory Boxes

Many families choose to create a 'Memory Box' to store any photographs or keepsakes from their pregnancy.  Some hospitals provide these, in partnership with local charities.  SANDS also provides memory boxes free of charge, which can be ordered from their website

Some families like to make the memory boxes themselves or if you would prefer to buy one there are many beautiful examples on websites such as Ebay or Etsy. 

 

Memorial Service

Some families may choose to have an acknowledgement of their baby's life in the form of a funeral or memorial service.  This is not mandatory and your hospital will discuss your options with you. 

In most of the UK, funerals and burials or cremations for babies are now free.  England, Wales and Scotland all now waive charges.  Northern Ireland is slightly more complicated as it is organised at Local Authority level.  However if you are in an area that has not yet waived charges and are on a low income, you may be able to claim for financial assistance.

These days a memorial service can take any form you choose.  You may wish to have a private event, or invite friends and family.  You may choose to have a short blessing or a full funeral.  You may choose a religious service or a bespoke ceremony with poems or music thats important to you.  There are many good online resources now to help with the planning of memorial events. 

 

Other Ways

There are many other ways that families choose to remember their babies.  There are hundreds of remembrance ideas on the Web or on sites like Instagram or Pinterest.  What matters is that you find a way thats relevant for you and how you want to remember your baby. 

We've listed just a few ideas here for inspiration:

  • write a poem, story or blog
  • plant a tree or flower
  • name a star after your baby
  • write their name in sand or snow and take a photograph
  • remembrance jewellery
  • a pregnancy scrapbook
  • remembrance blanket
  • a star on our Remembrance page

 


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