life after loss

Say Their Names

I collect names and make displays. Each name represents a baby who died. The first time I did this was for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Awareness has a lot to do with these projects. There is a stigma surrounding baby loss. Babies represent new beginnings. They are not supposed to die. Pregnancy and infant loss is a reality for 1 in 4 women. Once that baby is gone, we continue to talk about them. We want other people to know them and love them the way that we do. Some of us try to educate others. I’ve learned that people either do not realize how often these losses happen, or they do not want to realize how often it happens. Upon hearing that Lincoln died, most people get instantly uncomfortable. While I try to be understanding in social situations, I will always continue to say his name. Memory and legacy: those are all that I have of Lincoln. It is up to me to make sure that he is remembered. 

“Do you know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”

-Terry Pratchett

My recent name project came together much more quickly than the first. People may not realize how much bravery it takes to be a loss mom. Often times, even loss moms themselves, are unable to see how amazing they are. I used to shrug people off when they told me I was brave. But here’s the bottom line: this life is really, really hard. There are days, when it takes all the effort in the world to carry on with a somewhat normal life. Getting out of bed in the morning can be a strenuous process. Then comes the social interactions: the small talk, the questions, the shifting eyes of those who can’t meet your gaze. And to keep your baby’s memory alive, takes even more hard work. For New Years, I gathered names in hopes of reminding my Angel Mom friends of just how courageous they are. I began with the following post on instagram*: 

“As a loss mom, I’ve learned that bravery and courage do not mean what they used to mean. There is bravery is putting your feet on the floor every morning. There is bravery in taking the next step. There is bravery in compassion and kindness. There is bravery in carrying on without regrets. There is bravery in new beginnings and dreams of better ends. There is bravery in saying their names: loudly, proudly, and without hesitation. My New Years wish for my Angel Mom friends, is that they will embrace the bravery that this life takes. That they will acknowledge their strength and courage. That they will always speak their baby’s name without hesitation, or fear of judgement. This quote is written on a huge sheet of paper. Over the next few days, I’d like to fill this sheet of paper with the names of our babies. So say their names, and embrace your bravery for the upcoming year. Leave names in comments and feel free to share with anyone else who might want to add a name. Love and hugs, Janelle♡”

By the following day, the paper looked like this:

And the final product, just 3 days after the original post: 

As hard as it is to write each name, and as hard as it is to be a part of this community, I am glad to have found these women. They are some of the most compassionate human beings I have ever met. And they understand me like most cannot. Each one of them will always say their baby’s name. They, just like me, will put in the work to keep their baby’s legacy alive. And I will continue to write their names. 
*Follow me on Instagram @missing_link15 for many posts that do not end up on the blog. Find a link on my dropdown menu. 

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