There are few things in life as tragic and as difficult as losing a child. When a child dies, we don’t just mourn the person they were. We mourn for all the things they never got to experience in life. A small person has so much promise and potential. When they don’t get the opportunity to fulfill that potential, it can make their loss feel even more profound.
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If your child has died, you may be experiencing an unfathomable level of grief. It’s hard to know how you can even begin to cope. One thing that can help you begin to process your grief is making or commissioning a memorial item in loving memory of a child who has died.
Here, we explore some memorial ideas to commemorate the life of a baby, toddler, or child.
Memorial Ideas to Honor a Baby Who Died
When you’re expecting a baby, you look forward to creating scrapbooks and collecting baby keepsakes. You certainly don’t anticipate planning a funeral or selecting memorial items. These objects can be beautiful tributes if you or a loved one is mourning the loss of a baby.
1. Create a baby memory box
When you’re expecting a baby, people will get you all kinds of special items. You may get things like a monogrammed sterling silver rattle, or engraved silverware.
If that baby dies, you won’t feel right throwing these things away or giving them to another baby. But you also don’t want to keep them where you might stumble across them every day. Put items like this into a decorative baby memory box.
You can also include things like the outfit they would have worn home from the hospital, or a christening gown. When you’re in the right frame of mind, you can pull them out and revisit them. This is a good way to preserve those customized, individualized items while helping yourself heal.
2. Plant a tree in their honor
Planting a tree in someone’s memory is one of the most popular types of living memorials. Memorial trees can bring a great deal of comfort in their own way.
There’s something beautiful about planting and tending to a living plant as a way of honoring someone who has died. You can go sit by the tree whenever you want to remember your baby or feel close to them. As the years go by, the tree will grow taller and stronger and serve as a living tribute to your child.
3. Memorial or cremation jewelry
If you have your baby's lock of hair or cremated remains, you can send them in to be turned into a memorial diamond. After a consultation and a few months of waiting for the diamond to grow, you'll have a custom diamond that you can get set on a ring, necklace, or other jewelry.
Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.
Many expectant parents begin compiling scrapbooks practically the moment they find out they’re expecting a baby. Sadly, though, some wanted pregnancies end in miscarriages and stillbirths.
You can still celebrate the pregnancy milestones you so lovingly experienced by preserving them in a scrapbook. You can include things like ultrasound photos and pictures of yourself throughout your pregnancy. You can also include printouts of any emails you sent or social media posts you made about your pregnancy. Even if your pregnancy didn’t end joyfully, you can still commemorate it and honor the child you lost.
5. Garden stone
If you lose a wanted pregnancy, it can be as emotionally shattering as losing a living child. Not everyone can afford a gravestone and plot for an unborn child. But you can still put up a memorial stone of a different kind.
If you had already named your expected baby, you can get their name engraved on a stone and put it in a place of honor in your garden. Instead of carving a name, you could also have a memorial quote engraved in a garden stone. Something as simple as “Love Blooms Here” could really be lovely.
6. Memorial stuffed animal
When you lose a baby, sometimes your arms feel as empty as your heart. You just want something to hold and cradle. Some companies make memorial stuffed animals that are weighted so they weigh the same as your baby did at birth.
This special, customized touch can help you feel comforted when you cradle this stuffed animal.
When a baby dies young, the parents may have very few photos to remember their child. You can commission an artist to paint a portrait of your baby based on these few photos. It doesn’t have to be an exact recreation.
A talented artist can extrapolate from those photos and create a new portrait. It’s a lovely tribute, but also a way to create a new memory of someone whose time on the planet was too short.
Memorial Ideas to Honor a Toddler or Small Child Who Died
Toddlers and children may be small, but the love we have for them is massive. When they die, it can feel like we don’t have anywhere to direct that love. What we can do is invest time and attention into buying or creating a special memorial item for them. Here are some memorial ideas:
8. Get a charm bracelet
When a baby dies, they haven’t been able to express their own personality and interests as much as an older child. When an older child passes away they have had more opportunities to develop likes and interests.
A charm bracelet can be a beautiful way to pay tribute to that child. Fill it with charms that remind you of your child. If they liked art, you could add a little paint palette. You could also pick out charms of things like their favorite animal. This is a lovely, wearable reminder of a child you lost but still love.
7. Memorial park bench
If your toddler or child loved visiting a particular park, you may want to go there to feel closer to them. It could end up being the ideal spot for a thoughtful memorial. Many local parks departments raise funds by letting people purchase memorial plaques to display on park benches. People can buy them to honor family members who have passed away.
You can work on getting a bench dedicated to the memory of your child. When you go to the park in the future, you can sit on the bench and feel for a moment as though your child is still with you.
8. Memorial tattoo
Even if your child was only on Earth for a short time, they will make a permanent impact on your heart. You can pay tribute to them in a similarly permanent manner by getting a memorial tattoo. Memorial tattoos come in many forms.
You can commission a portrait of your child. You can get their name and the dates they were alive. One popular baby memorial tattoo is a baby’s footprint. A tattoo like this forms a tribute that you can always carry with you.
9. Tribute quilt
When someone you love dies, you end up with plenty of items that you can’t bear to look at, but also don’t want to throw away. This can include clothing. Some people find comfort in being able to donate their child’s clothes to a kid in need. But certain clothing items may be too special and memorable to let go of. You can always reimagine items like this into a new memorial item.
Memorial quilts made of the clothing of a deceased loved one can be incredible comfort items. When you feel cold and lonely, just wrap it around yourself. It feels like a warm hug from the child you miss.
10. Artwork compilation
Toddlers and young children often love drawing pictures and scribbling on bits of paper. They may decorate your refrigerator and walls. But if your child dies, it can be painful to be surrounded by all the things they’ve created.
Gather that artwork and bind it together into a booklet. In time, you can draw comfort from seeing the beautiful things they made. There’s something powerful about preserving the work made by a loved one’s own hands.
11. Memorial wind chime
When your child dies, it is incredibly difficult to deal with the feeling of loss and loneliness. It helps sometimes to imagine that your loved one is still with you, just out of sight. For this reason, customized wind chimes can actually be lovely memorial items. Every time the wind blows, you will feel like your child is near.
You can get it engraved with your child’s name and the dates they were alive. You can also get them engraved with a saying, like “When the wind blows, know that I am with you.”
Honor a Baby, Toddler, or Child With These Unique Memorial Ideas
When you lose a child, your world is irrevocably altered. Nothing can ever truly erase the pain of that kind of loss. But over time, the memories of that child can become less bitter and more sweet.
When you’re ready to reminisce about a child you’ve lost, a memorial item can help you with that. It gives you a tangible object on which to project your emotions. These memorial items can bring comfort, whether you’re choosing a gift for a grieving family, or dealing with the loss of your own child.