Part of ‘Remember Rubén’ is to provide newly bereaved families with remembrance boxes containing a variety of things that can bring comfort and help to create even a few memories of or with their baby. Whether that is an impression kit to record your baby’s hand and footprints, a pouch for a lock of hair or a disposable camera to take lots of pictures with your baby – all of these can help to bring you comfort in the difficult times following your loss. It is so easy to assume that you would know how you would deal with your loss or want you would want but the truth is – until you are in that position you really have no clue.
When we first lost Rubén, I was adamant that I didn’t want any photographs taken of him. This isn’t because I didn’t love him or I was ashamed of him, but the few precious memories we had of him i.e what he looked like, I wanted it to be strictly private between our closest family. The catalyst that help me to change my mind was that I had an operation the night my angel was born and the first two times I saw him I couldn’t remember what he looked like! Maybe that was because of all the drugs I had in labour, or the general anesthetic or the mere fact I didn’t want to believe that this was happening to us; But after the third time I saw him, I was so terrified I would forget what he looked like. This was when we decided to take photographs at every opportunity we could and we decided to see him everyday up until the day we cremated him and this is a decision I would urge everyone who goes through this tragic loss to really consider. We knew that these were the only memories we were ever going to create with him and that as his parents, his funeral was the only thing we were ever going to be able to do FOR him. So we wanted to make it as special as we could, not only for him but for us too because this was our final goodbye. Items like his blanket and hat do not replace him and I remember so vividly holding them in the position in which I used to hold him and at first, it was just another realisation that he wasn’t there. But now, I get great comfort in holding them, smelling them and having them close to me. Deciding to see him was not a decision I had to even think about, but for some people it can be emotionally traumatic. It is important that bereaved families are given as much information about the positives and negatives of seeing the baby that they have lost. It allows them to create memories with that baby if they wish, but can also be emotionally draining and harder to accept what has happened.
There are many ways to go about seeing your baby. You can have your baby stay with you in your room in the hospital overnight or you can even take your baby home. If you do not feel comfortable with seeing your baby, you can ask the nurses or midwives to take a photograph to ease that initial shock or do not have to see your baby at all. You can plan your own funeral for your baby (providing there are enough remains) or the hospital can do that for you; planning a funeral for your baby is not an easy experience and having the knowledge that the hospital can do it for you (if they provide that service) can be easier for bereaved families. Ensure you are aware of all the options available to you.
Our aim is to provide families with as much information as possible to make a decision they won’t regret. The remembrance boxes offer them the initial opportunity to create some memories, if they want to. Not everyone deals with loss the same way – some people might not want to do things the way that we did and that is absolutely OK. There is no right or wrong way to deal with baby loss but it is all about doing what is right for you and your family. I believe it is important that families should know that the period of time from the moment of loss to the moment of your final goodbyes is so precious and they should be well educated and informed enough to make a decision you won’t regret. Ensure you have asked every question that has been bothering you or you read up as much as you can. It is not an easy experience and the initial days and weeks straight after losing your baby is a sensitive and fragile time – if you circumstance legally requires you to hold a funeral for your baby, then make sure you read, read and read some more. Do everything at your pace and don’t feel pressured into doing and planning everything straight away. Although it may not feel like it at the time, the memories you create are there for a lifetime and can provide you with comfort in the difficult weeks, months and years ahead.