How to honor the first anniversary?

I would be interested to hear how other baby loss mamas have honored the first anniversary of the birth of babies who were born and taken away too soon?

Things I have read were planting a tree, releasing balloons, going to the beach and writing their names in the sand, sprinkling their ashes.

Silly as it sounds, I worry the tree might die, or something would go wrong interfering with the balloons or sand writing – or maybe that it might just all seem staged and forced rather than thoughtful and loving.

Although I don’t want this to be all about me, that is exactly how it feels.  After all, is a memorial or ritual to honor the dead really for those that we lost, or for us who are left behind?

Did anyone choose to do nothing, and not regret that choice?

I’m trying to be present in feeling my grief anew as the big day gets closer. Is it avoiding pain to focus on helping others or being supportive?

A long time friend of mine’s daughter entered the hospital a few days ago (a year to the day from when I was admitted), and as I write this, her water has broke and this 15 week gestation baby is coming and we know 15 weeks is far too soon.  I am devastated for her, and feel like I have some idea of what is ahead of her.  I wish there was some way I could make this easier on her, but I know that no one can.  But I do remember how much I valued the support of those who had been through similar grief before me.

I guess now I am at a new stage of grief that needs some more mama wisdom, so I welcome advice or suggestions.  How to honor, celebrate or should we do nothing if nothing feels right?

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10 Responses to How to honor the first anniversary?

  1. I think you should do what feels right. For me it was a balloon release. For you it may be something different. There is no right way to do things,,, you have to follow your heart.

  2. I have no personal experience with the death of a child but I agree to do what you feel is right. And, that might evolve in the days ahead. Because this is looming so large, I doubt that doing nothing will feel right even if the something you do is somewhat silent vs. an outward display. Carrying their memories forward is honoring them regardless of the passing of the first (or any) anniversary.
    I used to spend the anniversary of the day my brother died mourning in solitude, sobbing in an inconsolable and gut wrenching way for all that was lost and ruminating on the myriad ways my life changed as a result. Now, on that day, I offer up a silent prayer of thanks to him for all that he was to me when he was alive and all he has come to mean to me in spirit. All this I guess to say that I honor him in my heart, if that makes sense.
    I am sorry that you are wrangling with this but hope that others’ offer support/suggestions one of which will resonate. Which is to say, I am sorry for the loss of Quinn and Trace.

  3. Brianna says:

    Leif and I had no specific plans other than we wanted to buy a gift to donate in George’s name and we wanted to fly kites. We packed our car up and just started driving west, ending up in Santa Barbara. We spent the entire day doing whatever felt right at the time. I would suggest doing the same. Just listen to what your heart is telling you and try not to overthink what you “should” do.

  4. MyTwoLines says:

    I have no words to offer in the way of advice, but just wanted to give you a virtual hug. I hope you find some way to honor your boys that feels right for you, but know that whatever you do (or don’t do) you honor them every single day in your heart and mind.

  5. patty lee says:

    My daughter’s second anniv is coming up also in October… We always have a local support group walk a week before her bday annually since last year. I don’t know why but the releasing of balloons were powerful for me. I felt like my love message was reaching out to her in the sky. We never had a proper funeral for her….so last yr we invited anybody who wanted to come to her cemetery. Everyone wrote a message to her on the balloon and John and I released it that evening. I heard of parents with subsequent children make it a “birthday” – making a cake, visiting the burial place, and doing something as a family like going to the zoo.

  6. Sarah Rummel says:

    No personal experience, but need to send you a hug for this difficult week. Quinn and Trace were so blessed to have you as their loving and thoughtful mama. I trust that you will do what feels right for you and that whatever that is will bring you some sort of peace, as you are right, memorials are for the living. Hang in there!

  7. Sue says:

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments. It’s like a warm cyber-hug that I really needed.

  8. Jen Rowan says:

    Sue – I went to a counselor after my m/c, just before your loss…. She told me about planting trees (I was also afraid they would die!) and balloons and floating leaves down streams… but the best thing she said was just keep your eyes open, it may not be on the exact momentous day you want but you will find some way to commemorate them. We are remodelling our house and there’s a weird secret compartment under the floorboards in our bedroom. Always knew it was there but never put anything in there. Recently we were painting and had to move furniture, and encountered the little compartment again. Immediately I knew…. I went and got the ultrasound pictures I had in a drawer, from both pregnancies, and put them there for safe-keeping, a part of the history of this old house now. I have shed tears since but that was it, my goodbye, yet I know they are near me. You may not have something exactly like this but I think that advice, keep your eyes open, was the right thing…. do whatever feels right for you or do nothing, just love them and think of them especially that day….
    I think of you often and especially now, this changing from summer to fall brings back the time of my own first loss but of yours too, I remember so well sitting on my porch and crying for you. over each post……. hugs and strength to you….

  9. For the first angelversary, we took cupcakes to the NICU, where our son Zachary spent most of his life, we also made a “care package” with items that I wish I had during my NICU stay, and something that could help a family walking a similar path. I wrote, worked in his memory garden and stayed really busy doing all this things, planning them and actually looking forward for the celebration. It helped a lot. Our story is at, thank you for sharing your story.

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