Words of Support & Encouragement
These “Butterfly Kisses” are written with love to help you heal your heart after a death in a family, especially a child.
and How to Get Through
Some Uncomfortable Situations
We have a paper plate with Lucca’s footprints and one with his handprints. The hospital made them for us after he passed away. I have them in shadow boxes in our bedroom, along with prayer cards and flowers from the funeral.
Children need their parents to be open and honest about the death. Don’t be afraid to say that their sibling died. It is also important that you reassure them that nothing is going to happen to you –their parents- or them. Make sure that their welfare is your priority.
Men and women grieve in different ways. Women tend to want to be still, think, and cry to express their feelings. Men usually want to keep moving by getting busy around the house or doing some kind of physical labor to help them work through their emotions. Neither way is incorrect, just different.
Grief and Mourning. Grief is mental suffering or distress over a loss. When you grieve, you deal with your internal thoughts and feelings. Mourning is the outward expression of sorrow. When you mourn you cry, talk, write about your loss. You need to work through both during this time of loss. To heal, we need to be able to mourn.
See a counselor or therapist. We went through our hospital for referrals, but you can also get advice and names from books, websites, and national groups. (See a list of names in the Resource Section to help you get started.)
As much as it hurt or was uncomfortable, I usually told people as simply as I could that our baby had died. I explained that Lucca had a rare heart defect and only lived for 12 days. Somehow after telling his story a couple of times, it got easier and I felt like I was honoring him by doing so.
Most bereaved parents come up with some different ways to answer this question. Many parents think that if they leave out the child who has died then they are lying or being disloyal to the child they have lost. But if you include the child who has died, you might need to be prepared to have a lengthy conversation about what has happened.
Over the years, I have tried many answers to this question “on for size”. The ones that have worked for me are:
“ I have four children. I have a 10 year old, an 8 year old, a 6 year old, and a 4 year old. “ Or:
“ I have 3 children here on earth and one child in heaven.”
“You’re young, you can have another baby” or “ Time will heal all wounds”. Those are statements that don’t help and may upset you, but understand that people don’t know what to say and they want to “fix” the problem for you. At least they acknowledged the baby and your pain. Try not to let it affect you.
We had already chosen Lucca’s Godparents before he died, but they are still an important part of our lives, even though their relationship is much different with Lucca than it would have been. They are wonderful people that still remember his birthday and anniversary of his death. We are so thankful that we have them in our lives.
When Lucca died our other children were 4 and 2. We decided not to explain that Lucca’s body was actually in the casket because we didn’t want them to worry and we didn’t think they would understand. So we talked about Lucca’s casket being a “memory box” instead. When Lucca died, we wrote letters to him, drew pictures, and put a family picture of us in the memory box. We explained to them that the memory box is also filled with the sweet memories of our time with Lucca and all of the prayers that people have said about him. My 4 year old son explained it best when he said that Lucca’s memory box was small because he didn’t live with us for very long so he didn’t have very many memories to put inside his box. But when older people die, they have bigger memory boxes because they have more memories to store inside.
Bring special flowers to the cemetery. We always brought carnations because that’s the flower the children brought to me in the hospital when Lucca was born. Other people have brought rocks to set beside the tombstone. I’ve also seen little toys decorating the graves of the small children. We always decorate the grave a little for each holiday.
Carry something that reminds you of your baby. I carry a card with the meaning of the name Lucca on it. In Italian, “Lucca” means “light”. Lucca IS our light. He continues to “light up our lives.”
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