home of loving support for bereaved parents

Question of the Month

My baby is buried in another state so I can't visit the cemetery when I like. Is there anything else I can do on birthdays and anniversaries to help me feel like I'm acknowledging my baby? I feel like I've abandoned her since I can't take care of her grave.

Ann DouglasFrom Ann Douglas . . .

Donąt feel like you have to visit your baby's grave in order to honor her memory. You can honor her memory in all kinds of other ways without physically being in the place in which she is buried.

You might decide to take a walk through a park that you find particularly peaceful, pausing to quietly reflect upon your memories of your baby.

You might choose to write a poem about your baby and read it to friends and family members while each person lights a candle in your baby's honor.

You might decide to make a donation in your baby's memory to a charity that provides support to families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death.

What matters is that you find a way of honoring your baby's memory that feels right to you.

And as for taking care of your baby's grave, if you are close to someone in the town in which your baby is buried, you could always ask that person if they would mind visiting your baby's grave once or twice a year to tend your baby's grave and -- if you wish -- to personally deliver a bouquet on your behalf.

I hope this helps to reassure you that there are all kinds of ways to honor your baby's memory, regardless of where your baby is buried.

Ann Douglas

Marilyn HeavilinFrom Marilyn Heavilin . . .

My babies were buried in Michigan for over thirty years after I moved to California. We have learned to acknowledge Jimmy and Ethan without visiting their graves. You can create a special place where you live, such as a rose garden in your backyard or a spot under a favorite tree. You can also place flowers on another child's grave at a local cemetery. We donate chancel flowers to our church in memory of our boys on one of their special days. My husband and I launch balloons in memory of our boys wherever we are.

Also, some cemeteries will place flowers on a grave and care for the grave for a small fee. One of the nicest things my friends did for me was tend to my babies' graves and then send me a picture of what they had done.

The ultimate gift a local mortuary in California did for me was to move my boys' caskets to California. While I suppose this effort may seem extreme to some, I have found it very satisfying in every way. Many morticians will tell you moving a casket is a very complicated and costly procedure, but it generally isn't that difficult.

We now live full time in a motorhome and don't really have a homebase, so this year we launched balloons on the Pacific coastline to remember our boys on a special day.

The main question is What would you like to do? There are no rules, so you can set the traditions for yourself.

Much love,
Marilyn Heavilin

Sherokee IlseFrom Sherokee Ilse . . .

You have many choices in your quest to honor and remember your baby on special days. Visiting the site of their burial is not the only way to be connected. You can have a birthday cake (my boys and I did this for years) or a little celebration that you create which has meaning for you and your family. Giving money or toys to a special charity can also have meaning. Or, what about lighting a candle that is only lit for your baby on special days or for special moments. Send someone a card in their memory, write a poem or letter to them, write a note to your special nurse or doctor who took care of you around the time of their death, buy a book or newsletter subscription for a local support group in memory of your baby, or create a special event (golf tournament, plant fundraiser for example) and donate the money to your favorite charity such as First Candle, a national organization which helps family after infant loss including miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS and early infant death.

If however, visiting a cemetery is something you wish to do why not find a local cemetery that has a baby section. You may find a baby grave that touches you - maybe an old one that has been or a general grave, or a special angel or bench that can become your special place to go. This way you can honor not only your baby but others who have gone before.

There are so many things you can do to make these days special--from saying a special prayer on those days to buying a bench at your local cemetery to honor your baby and all babies who have died or beginning an annual fundraiser near the anniversary/birthdate. The choices are many and the opportunities great. Use your imagination and follow your heart; you will figure out what makes the most sense to you.

Sherokee Ilse

From Laura Randolph . . .

A dear friend of mine is in the same situation. It is at times very difficult for her. Here are some ideas that have helped her and others in the same situation. I hope at least one will be helpful to you and will help ease your pain by acknowledging your baby in ways other than caring for her grave.

  • If you have any friends or relatives near the cemetery where your baby is buried perhaps you could send them whatever you would like placed on the grave and have them go in your place.

  • Contact the cemetery and ask if you can order flowers arrangements for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. through them to be placed on your baby's grave. One bereaved parent I know has been very comforted by this type of program offered by the cemetery where her daughter is buried.

  • Have a small gravestone placed in a cemetery that is closer to your home that you could visit more often. This may be somewhat expensive but could provide comfort when you long to be at your child’s grave. You could simply have your child’s name and birth/death dates listed or you could include a short phrase. One I’ve seen is similar to this,

    Olivia Ann Cohrt
    October 12, 2001-August 17, 2002
    In memory of our sweet baby girl who rests in peace at Brookside Cemetery in Salem, VA.

    You are always in our hearts.

  • Plant a small flower bed or even a stone garden in your yard and spend time there when you want to be close to your child.
Remember you can spend time with memories and speak to your child in your heart no matter where you are.

Laura Randolph


By Dezign