Death is always a delicate subject, for both adults and children, and even more so when trying to explain the abstract concept of baby loss to a toddler or young child. When William and Noah died almost 5 years ago, we knew that if we had any subsequent children, we’d talk openly with them about their brothers. They would know their story, their place in our family.
Henry grew up seeing William and Noah’s photo daily, in his natural environment. When he was around 1 year old, and starting to get curious about his surroundings, he’d point at their photo, and I’d say, “that’s William and Noah; your brothers.” A simple statement that was enough for his age. I followed Henry’s lead when it came to how much I said about them, and eventually, the questions started; “Where are they?” and “Why did they die?”
I found a really great book called Someone Came Before You, which is a perfect introduction to the topic of baby loss for a toddler. It is poignant and beautiful in its simplicity. Written in first person from the point of view of the parents, it follows the journey through their longing for a child, the pregnancy, the death of their baby, their grief and the birth of their rainbow baby.
It is direct and openly mentions the pain and sadness experienced when a baby dies. I also appreciate how it is a secular book, so no talk about heaven or God. I love how it speaks directly to your child, ending with “that special baby is you.” It’s one of Henry’s favourite books and he often requests us to read it to him. There are a few other books which have received good feedback from bereaved parents, which I have linked to below.
SHOP THE BOOKS:
For more tangible ways to talk about baby loss, we have two weighted bears from Molly Bears, each the same weight as the boys were, and the children love to hold them and play with them. And then there are the many prints from our scans, and William and Noah’s precious little hand and foot prints, which are good visual aids to talk about the boys and help solidify the concept that they were here, real and part of our family.
Although we can no longer visit their grave, having moved to the USA a couple of years ago, we do plan on having a small memorial garden for William and Noah, where the children can sit and play, water flowers and place small trinkets and stones.
These all offer simple and easy ways to start up the conversation of death with your child and help them understand that there was someone who came before them. Siblings who were, and always will be, part of the family.
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Take a look at my Baby Loss Resources page for more information and support following the loss of a baby.