Things We Have Done to Remember and Honor Our Baby Girl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the moment we were forced to say goodbye too soon, I wanted to do everything within my power to remember Esther and honor her place in our family. As the days and weeks progressed, I came up with a number of ways to do this. Working on some small projects served several purposes for me. It gave me something constructive to do in my grief, allowed me to feel like I was “nurturing” her memory, since I couldn’t nurture my baby, and made me feel a deeper connection and closeness to Esther even though we are apart. It also gave me a way to show other people that Esther is important and always on our minds. I wanted to share a few of the special things we have done to remember Esther in our lives.

One of the first things I wanted to do was order a necklace with Esther’s name printed on it. I wanted something tangible that I could always wear that represented my little Esther. I have two necklaces, each a little different, that I love to wear. These are both very special to me. When I wear Esther’s name, it feels like I am carrying a part of her with me. Adam also has a men’s style necklace with Esther’s name and birthday printed on it. We found this was something simple that really meant a lot to each of us. We also have special (although painful) memories of shopping together for these necklaces soon after Esther went to heaven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe really wanted Esther to have a place of memory in our home. Since she is one of our children, we planned to recognize her as such. We hoped to find some type of plaque or wall hanging with her name on it. I found a place to order this canvas, and it means a lot to us. It has her name and the meaning printed on it.

We also printed and framed the “Tribute to Esther Kate” that my mother wrote for Esther’s funeral service. We created a display in our living room that includes these two items, as well as the “little sister” onesie that was to be hers.

Seeing these things brings me both joy and sorrow. Sorrow, of course, that she is not here. Sorrow, that instead of looking at her newborn pictures on the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwall, I look at the tribute that was read at her funeral. Sorrow that she will never get to wear that little onesie, and I will never get to feel her soft skin in it. Yet, joy that she was here. Joy that she is and always will be my daughter. Joy that she is still a part of our family – now in heaven. And joy remembering that in time, we will be together again.

We also have a display in Kyla’s room, what would have been both Kyla and Esther’s room. In the weeks immediately following Esther’s death, it hurt every time I walked into that pretty pink room. Although it had seemed full with Kyla’s things before, now it felt so empty. Partly because many of Kyla’s “baby” items were still displayed in it, waiting to be passed to her little sibling, and partly because the pink décor should have been home to both my girls.

I wanted so much for this room to be Esther’s, too. I wanted her to enjoy all the princess things, and see the pastel pink curtains. I wanted to rock her in the rocking chair that I rocked her big sister in. I wanted to hang her first pictures beside Kyla’s. And I wanted to display her birth certificate in a beautiful frame too. Most of those things would never be, so I did what I could do to let this room display my love for both my daughters.

I rearranged the wall hangings, and made one big space to hang 3 special memories of my second girl. First, I hung a shadow box, containing my pregnancy photo and Esther’s ultrasound photo. Next, I hung a pink letter “E” just like OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe “K” I had hanging for Kyla. Lastly, I framed and hung Esther’s birth certificate, with her tiny footprints on it. Although it doesn’t take away the pain, it makes me feel like Esther is a part of our lives, and just as much one of my daughters as Kyla is. That makes me thankful.

Another thing we did was to personalize a family photo taken when I was pregnant. Adam and I were so sad when we thought that we didn’t really have a decent family photo from when Esther was with us. Obviously, we didn’t know that my pregnancy would be our only chance. But several weeks later, I came across a wonderful picture of all four of us, with Adam’s hand on my belly. We had forgotten about it! We were so happy to have this memory. We added some text to the photo, stating our names and the girls’ ages, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand printed it out in an 8×10. It reminds us constantly that we are still a family, and we will be together again.

The final thing I want to mention is the hutch in my bedroom. I don’t even remember what all used to be on it. But I know there was one frame with a collage photo of Kyla at 6 months. It was always the first things I would see every time I got up in the morning. After Esther died, seeing that picture every morning felt like a fresh stab in my heart. She would never have a 6 month picture. She would never even have a one month picture. It seemed like almost too much to bear, and I got to where I just had to look away from the picture. Well, a few weeks later, I decided to make this hutch (that I see first thing every morning) a place to keep special memories from Esther’s life. It now holds our two memory boxes, cards and gifts given to us from family, the dried flowers from her funeral, and the little bear that sat on her casket. I also made a shadow box with pictures and memorabilia from the hospital to sit beside the pictures of Kyla. Of course, it still hurts every time I see it in the morning. But like everything else I have mentioned, it also brings me joy to know that she is remembered. She will always be loved. She will always be cherished. She will always be my daughter.

I know that everyone is different when it comes to working through grief. Some people may cope by packing things away where they don’t see them. I have learned that it’s important to walk through this journey in small steps, and there is no right or wrong OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAway to process memories. For awhile, these memorabilia items were scattered all over our home. I didn’t want to move them from where they originally sat when we got home from the hospital. They just felt sacred, since it was all we had left of her. It almost felt like it we moved them, she would really be gone forever, even from our memories. Obviously this is ridiculous. But I guess it was my human way of trying to have some control over a helpless situation beyond my control.

After a few months (yes, months), I felt it was time to put the memories together in one place (or two or three!). I also was concerned that my precious memorabilia would get damaged, dirty, or broken sitting in our kitchen. There may come a day when I change how things are now, or I even put some items into a chest, to be protected and preserved long term, although the thought of this brings tears to my eyes.

For us, creating these memories has brought us some healing, and some tangible things to remember Esther by. We know that she has impacted our family as a whole, as well as Adam and I individually in such deep ways. We want her memory, her legacy, and her impact on us to remain and continue the rest of our lives. Although the pain also remains, we are so thankful to know that one day, the joy will outweigh all of the pain. And the wait to see her again will seem like it never even happened.

I would like to hear from you. How have you processed or preserved the memories of your heavenly baby? What things have you done to remember them or celebrate their place in your family? How have you displayed or stored memorabilia that is painful yet special?  I hope to hear about your experience.

Be watching soon for Gifts to Touch a Grieving Mom’s Heart, where I will share some of the very thoughtful things people have given us in memory of Esther.

This post linked up with Carrie from Carrie This Home.

Comments

  1. I kept a baby book throughout my first trimester, just like I did with my other two children. I ended up tearing out the 2nd trimester and 3rd trimester pages that we never got to fill, so it’s a bit thinner than my other childrens’, but I get to keep it on my bookshelf and remember that I have three children and not just two. I also stitched something with Aaron’s name and meaning, just like I did for the other boys. It’s framed and in my closet now, but I’d like to move it to the boys’ room eventually. I really, really like the necklace idea, though. What a sweet reminder.

    • Kalyn from Mommy's Heavenly Dream says:

      Thanks for sharing Kelsey…I think it is really sweet that you kept a baby book through your first trimester. I never started one that early, so I didn’t have one for Esther yet. I’m glad you found some special ways to remember Aaron.

  2. Kalyn,
    I really enjoyed this post from you. I cried most of the way through it as I thought about the things that we have sitting around from when we lost our little Zechariah. The thing that is most special to me is the ring my husband bought me a few weeks after. It has Zech’s birth stone on it. He was due August 25 of this year, but was born in March so my husband chose to have the March birth stone on the ring. Some people have found this odd, but to me it is very special, as that is the only time I got to hold my baby here on earth. I also made frames for all the grandparents in which I placed dried flowers from the funeral as well as Zech’s name and birth date. We have his hand and foot prints on our mantel. It is just like you said – so hard to look at some days, but there is that joy of knowing they will always be yours, part of your family, and you will see them again.

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