Last week I spent some time with Pregnancy After Loss Support’s founder, Lindsey Henke. At lunch before she dropped me off at the airport, we were chatting about our first born children–our stillbirths. She asked if Patrick was buried or cremated.
I’m always a little defensive about this topic. I know we made the right decision for us, but I still worry about being judged. We didn’t know what to do. We were incredibly ill-equipped to answer the question, “What would you like to do with the body?” No parent should have to deal with answering that question.
But, we had to make a decision.
After going around in circles, we asked for the social worker to come sit with us and help us make a decision. She actually didn’t say much, but having her in the room helped us (Lloyd, my mom, and me) come to a decision.
Eventually, I said, “I don’t want him buried in a cemetery. I don’t want the guilt of not visiting him enough. I want a spot for him in our home.” Lloyd agreed. I also didn’t want his ashes. My OB assured us that they were very respectful of the remains, so he was cremated by the hospital.
Creating his Spot
On his due date Lloyd and I took many of his precious items and created a shadow box to hang in our bedroom. That would be Patrick’s Spot. He would always be with us in that room. Next to the shadow box hangs a birth announcement that my cousin made.
I didn’t want a shrine. I wanted a respectful space to remember and celebrate our son. Over time, though, he’s made his way into every room in our home. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed by others.
Integrating Patrick into our lives and home
A few months ago, a friend’s daughter came to interview me about loss and pregnancy after loss. She noted that there is evidence of Patrick’s life all over our house and talked about how well we’ve integrated him into our lives. For as much as I worried about him having space in our home, in our lives, it’s really happened very naturally.
My aunt made a name plaque that hangs under the “Everafter Superhero” artwork that I commissioned for Lloyd as a wedding gift. Stitch also has her own plaque that hangs under Patrick’s.
For Patrick’s first birthday, my dear friend Donna gave us the ABC wall quilt she had been embroidering for him before he died. After a few months, she decided she would finish it, and she gifted it to us for his first birthday. We’ve hung it over the daybed in our workshop/guest room.
In Stitch’s room, Lloyd painted a hot air balloon mural on one of the walls. One of the hot air balloons is carrying a giraffe, for Patrick, and elephant, for Stitch.
We even have little reminders of him in the kitchen and bathroom. We stuck some of the Post-it Notes that we made for Post-its for Patrick last year on the wall by the kitchen table. In the bathroom we have a hooded towel that was gifted to Patrick after we found out we were pregnant, as well as a giraffe hooded towels that Stitch got from her Papa at her baby shower.
Pieces from his short life live in every room in our house. He has influenced so much of who we are and that evidence fills our hearts and our home.
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