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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

parenting after loss > Where is he?

Mateo was born 10 days ago and for now we have his precious remains and 'belongings' such as his blanket, hospital outfit, and box of memories on an accent table as you first walk in to our house. We explained to his big brother, Fabian, that Mateo was born and we got to meet and hold him but that he wasn't coming home and instead lives in the sky. I'm struggling with the idea of differentiating for Fabian his little brother's space: physical or his soul? Is he in our house through his material things? Or in the sky? He's 3 1/2 years old. How are you glowing parents dealing with this?
July 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIsabel
Hi Isabel,

I am so sorry for your loss of Mateo (what a beautiful name!). And I'm sorry that your 3.5 year old son has to face the issue of death in such raw and abrupt way.

We lost our first son almost 6 years ago. My second son is now almost 4 and knows about his brother. He has been asking a lot of questions about death and I have struggled with how to respond in an age appropriate way... A couple of suggestions:
1. Explain that Mateo's body stopped working - he can't see, eat, run, etc. From what I've read, it's important to explain death to young children in somewhat literal terms because words such as "departed", "went to sleep forever", "lost him" can be quite confusing and cause more fear (such as being afraid to go to sleep, etc.).
2. At this age, kids tend to be pretty self-centered. So I think it's important to assure Fabian that what happened to Mateo won't happen to him. I tell my 4 year old that once kids are born and healthy like him, they live for a very, very long time (i once showed him a row of cubes demonstrating what 80 is vs 4). My firstborn died due to a placental abruption, so I explain that sometimes (although very rarely) bad things can happen while a baby is in his mommy's tummy. He is out and safe. Showing your son the difference between him and the baby may be helpful. I know there are no guarantees and it scares me every time I assure him that mommy and daddy and him will live for a very, very long time, but I am trying to give him comfort while being honest about life and death.

As for what happens to people after they die... that is very individual and depends on your beliefs. We are not religious so I struggle with the narrative. I tell my son that the love we have for people, the memories, the actions we do in their honor is how people keep on living. That people stay in our hearts after they die and we can find them there, or see them in a beautiful sunset, flower, a smile... That is very unsatisfying for him. He recently heard about Heaven from somebody else and has really embraced the idea (and I can see why...). I told him that is what some people believe and that was good enough for him.

It's tough... I hate that my son struggles with the question of death (especially that of a baby). And I realize how much harder it must be answering such questions when you yourself are in shock and profound grief. Sending you love and hugs and my deepest sympathies. Thinking of you, Mateo and Fabian.

July 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMira
My oldest was 2 years and one month when her little sister was borned still. She was aware of here coming, and partly knew what the deal was
about as two of here friends just had siblings. We talked alot about miss S and she had questions, mostly why did she die. Not until she was 3 and I were 7 months pregnant with our rainbow she started really asking. We told here what we believe as non-religions people, and then we told here what other people think and believe. She seemed content, and we gave here the exact same answer each time. Now she's five, and the most caring and loving big-sister to both here younger siblings, almost never a no when I ask here to keep me company at the graveyard. She loves doing stuff for little miss S, and keeping here grave pretty.
July 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterScandinavian endo-girl
Dear Mira and Scandinavian endo-girl,
Mira, I am sorry for your loss of your first son and Scandinavian endo-girl, I am sorry for Miss S.
It has been 3 weeks since I gave birth to my sweet Mateo and although not much, I have gotten a little more time to digest this "new normal" Like both of you, we are non religious and my original response to Fabian when I told him that Mateo was in the sky really came out without thinking. I actually get very upset when people tell me that he is an angel or something along the lines of God needed an angel and that's why Mateo is now gone!! (I mean, how insensitive can people be???)
Mira, I used your technique of keeping it basic: "Mateo can't see, eat, run, etc." It broke my heart when Fabian said to me "He can't play with me?" but I know as he grows older and of course as we keep Mateo alive in our daily conversations, our hearts, and maintain his lovely garden he will begin to understand our reality better.
Thank you for comforting me through your responses .
July 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIsabel
Hi Isabel,

My son turned three a month after our daughter was born and died (she lived for 3 days). He has had a hard time understanding, although the hospital gave us some strategies that Mira outlined to you above. We also have been very frank about the fact that we cremated our daughter and that we have her ashes in Mommy and Daddy's room. He's asked to see them a couple of times and frequently says that he doesn't want her body to be ashes, to which we reply that we don't either but that her body stopped working and when your body stops working sometimes you get turned into ashes. I feel like three is a difficult time for an older sibling to have to deal with this. I know for my son he is firmly entrenched in the "why?" phase and there aren't good answers to why this happens. None of this really helps you, except to say that there are others who have experienced what you have, which frankly sucks and I wish wasn't the case. My heart goes out to you, Fabian, and the rest of your family.

July 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNicole