Creating a memory space after the death of a child or miscarriage
It’s hard to know where to start when creating an altar, memory box or space to help remember and honour your child. Creating or connecting to a physical space can help us to honour the grieving process and create a place to come back to when you feel your heart pull.
When our daughter Arla died at 38 weeks in utero, we created a memory box and a memorial garden for her. Arla’s memory box still sits in our bedroom, close by. Many years on, I still occasionally revisit it, still in disbelief that this box is all we physically have left of her. Over the years, this box has brought comfort to me. Sometimes, when I found myself alone, I would sit in her room that we had prepared as a nursery, and pull it out. These quiet times of reflection were such important parts of the grieving journey, and having the memory box full of her items really allowed me to be present with my connect with her.
How do you create a space that honours your children?
A space can look very different, from family to family. Here are the more common ideas for creating a memory space:
Creating a memory box
A special box that houses sentimental or important items that can be brought out when needed. Things that I personally put in my memory box were:
Arla’s ashes in an urn
The blanket she was wrapped in when she was born
Maternity photos and photos of ultrasounds
Letters and cards we received from family and friends when she died
Her hand and feet plaster castings
A lock of her hair
Special presents that family and friends gave to us that are sentimental
Her hospital wristband from after her birth
A teddy that was meant for her
Photos of her
Setting up an Altar
A space dedicated to your child in a room of your house, usually on a surface in a frequently visited area. Some common things to include in an altar are:
Plants or a fresh bouquet of flowers every few weeks
A photo frame with a special photo in it
Special keepsakes that were gifted or that feel sentimental
A sculpture or picture of a symbol, animal, or colour that reminds you of them
A candle or light that can be kept on
Ashes in an urn or decorative ornament
Creating a memorial garden or room
An outdoor or indoor space that can be visited or tended to during your grief. Some ways you can make this memorial space really meaningful are:
Ask friends and family to help create this space with you
Ask them to donate plants and sculptures rather than flowers that can be included in this space
Tend to the garden or space weekly in the beginning. I found nurturing something that constantly changed very nourishing and helped me direct my maternal instincts into something constructive.
Choosing a special place to honour your child
A beach, park, a plot in a cemetery, piece of bushland, or a walk that reminds you of them, and creates a connection to them. This space might become part of a ritual for viewing a sunset or sunrise, a time of year, or a weekly routine.
Questions to ask help you along in the journey to creating your memory space:
What is your favourite sentimental item that reminds you most of your child or children?
If you don’t have a space and would like to create one, begin to jot down some ideas of what you might like to put inside your space. Why are these items important to me?
How might you interact with this memory space over time? For instance, will you provide fresh flowers for an altar every week, will you plant a new plant in the garden on anniversaries?
Your memory space may be a garden. It may be an altar, a room, a beach or a box. The space you honour your child and children in is entirely up to you, and should be designed to help you always feel connected to your child.
For great examples of keepsakes and memory box items, visit:
A copy of Heart Space book: www.heartspacebook.com
Beautiful urns and other keepsakes by Keepsakes by Nicoleta: https://www.keepsakesbynicoleta.com.au/
Aila and Lior affirmation cards: www.ailaandlior.com
Hand and Feet casts by Twinkle Toes (these will need to be organised soon after the passing of your child): www.twinkletoes.com.au
Beautiful Ocean Art by Carly Marie: http://theseashoreofremembrance.blogspot.com/
Breastmilk, ashes and hair jewellery by Beyond the Willow Tree: https://www.beyondthewillowtree.com/