Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Category: Commendation Ceremony

Honoring Your Baby

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Honoring a very tiny baby may seem like overkill but it’s important to do something in honor of your baby. Honoring your baby can really help with coping and feelings of closure. Although not all ways may give you “closure” you may still feel a sense of peace when you honor your baby.

Honoring your baby can be very simple or as elaborate as you would like. Here are some ideas:

Naming Your Baby

Some women feel called to name their baby. You may feel push back from friends and family or you may receive positive support when you talk about naming your baby. If you feel called to name your baby, take some time in the quiet to feel out the best name for your baby. If you had a baby very early, you may not know the sex of your baby. This does not mean you cannot name your baby. You don’t even have to pick a gender neutral name, you can still name your baby what you felt your baby was or had picked for your baby.

Listen to your intuition. Many times, it is correct. If you pray, you may also pray and ask for God’s guidance on what your baby’s name is. There is no right or wrong name or way to do this. Names can be simple or elaborate. Some examples are: Baby Apple, Baby Bean, Asher, Neveah, Baby _______ (fill in your last name), or as we named our babies, Ruby Josephine and Augustus Jude.

Baby Book

With a miscarriage, it may be more difficult to have tangible items for a book; however, there are items which can create a wonderful keepsake. Items which can be included in a baby book might be:

  • Picture of positive pregnancy testMiscarriage Remembrance Book - Augustus Jude
  • Lab results
  • Ultrasound photos
  • Notes or journal writings to baby or about baby
  • Poems
  • Pictures of announcement
  • Sympathy cards

It is important to do what feels right for you. If you feel like including something in your book but feel you may be judged by others, it is okay to listen to your heart and place those items in your book. This is ultimately your book and one you may return to when you want to remember.

Memory Box

A memory box can be a great way to keep all your mementos together. Even for very tiny babies, you may have items that can be stored for remembering the experience. Items may include:

  • Positive Pregnancy TestHandprints - Rebekah Valerie Anderson - SBD
  • Lab Results
  • Ultrasound Photos
  • Hospital band (from D&C or other pregnancy related admission)
  • Personal journal
  • Pictures drawn by your or your living children
  • Work from therapy
  • Birth or Death Announcement
  • Sympathy Cards

If your baby passed at a later gestation, you could also include:

  • Pictures from labor and birth
  • Lock of hair
  • Handprints and/or footprints
  • Hospital blanket and/ or ID bands
  • Going home outfit that was intended for baby
  • Pictures from baby shower or gender reveal

Tattoos

Many are called to commemorate their baby through a tattoo, either with their baby’s name or some other symbol like a butterfly, tiny footprints, angel wings, or the pregnancy and infant loss ribbon. Some examples might be:

In memory of Hunter Grace

In memory of Hunter Grace

In Memory of Mayflower, Poppy, Pickle, Jennyfur Angel, Maybird, Willow, Lovebug, Joy, Rayne, Twinkle, Bluebell, Baby Bean, Glory Michelle, Sweet Baby, Sunshine

In Memory of Mayflower, Poppy, Pickle, Jennyfur Angel, Maybird, Willow, Lovebug, Joy, Rayne, Twinkle, Bluebell, Baby Bean, Glory Michelle, Sweet Baby, Sunshine

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Stephanie Joanna

Stephanie Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral or Memorial Service

Regardless of what you choose to do with the physical form of your baby’s body, you can still hold a funeral or memorial service. A memorial can be appropriate and very healing. You may send out invitations or call your friends and family inviting them to the service or event. This can be held at a church, in a garden, or even at your home. You may have flowers, a table displaying your baby’s name, pictures of your baby or pregnancy/ultrasound pictures, as well as other items with which you remember your baby by.

Commendation Ceremony - Ashley Henry PhotographyAt the service you can read prayers, poems or notes that remind you of your baby or were written for your baby. Invite others to share by allowing them to come forward and talk. The service doesn’t have to look like anything specific so trust what feels right for you.

A commendation ceremony is also a wonderful ceremony. It is typically a Catholic ceremony where the baby is commended back to Christ. This can be coupled with a naming ceremony.

Other ideas

balloonsRelease balloons, plant something (flowers, tree, bush), attend a butterfly release or memorial walk, purchase a special candle and light it when you think about your baby, purchase a special item which reminds you of your baby, make a blanket/hat/or other item which you can hold.

The possibilities truly are endless. Since there is no right or wrong way to remember your baby, you can be as creative or as elaborate as you would like. Celebrate your baby’s life, no matter how short it was.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Miscarriage Series – The Commendation Ceremony

Commendation Invitation for Miscarriage

I wasn’t sure what a Naming and Commendation Ceremony really was. After Ruby died, we were encouraged to celebrate her life and name her. We didn’t have an official ceremony but we named her. I had been to a commendation ceremony before for some clients but I wasn’t sure what ours would be like considering how early this baby was born. I wasn’t nervous though, I was very excited. A feeling I hadn’t experienced much over the prior weeks.

My excitement was just like the excitement I had before our gender-reveal party for Timmy. No one knew the sex of the baby and we all couldn’t wait to find out. When I learned the sex of Gus, I couldn’t wait to share it. I wanted everyone to be surprised just like if he was born alive.

I did fear judgment on the name we chose for him. I wasn’t sure if his name would be accepted by all. In reality, it didn’t matter, this was our son and the name chosen for him. I really can’t say we chose his name because Gus was chosen for him from the moment I knew he was within me. Oh how I wish he was here to carry such a powerful name.

As we all rushed to get ready, I remembered I needed to grab Gus’s memory box, the baby figurine, his cross, and his memory book. A blanket that was made for him would be brought by my friend Peggie. I couldn’t wait to hold it and see it (I sleep with this blanket). Very few memories for such a small child but memories none-the-less.

Gus's Memory Box

We got out of the house on time, but traffic was horrible getting out of town. I had wanted to stop for some thin Sharpie’s but there was no time after how long it took to get out of town. We would show up just five minutes before the ceremony and I had things to set up.

We arrived at the church and family and friends were gathered inside the Narthex. I knew this would be overwhelming and difficult for me in that I needed to greet each person, hug them, and hear their words. As an introvert, this is hard on a regular day; today, it would be even more overwhelming. I was also in a rush to get things set up and talk with Father Ed as I had not yet given him Gus’s full name.

I rushed through greeting everyone and made it to Father Ed where we talked about what was to take place and set up Gus’s things. It was nice to have a few private moments with Father Ed before the ceremony. I was so thankful he was doing this for us.

After everything was set up, all the people were still in the Narthex and I asked them to go sit. Father Ed officiated getting that done with a welcome to all Christians. We entered the church.

The ceremony started with a beautiful song called I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light. I had no idea this song would bring on the tears. I didn’t think anyone else would sing during the ceremony but as my voice choked and I no longer could sing through the tears, I could hear those around me singing. As the third verse began, I could see Father Ed walking up to the altar and as much as I wanted him to hear my voice resonating, my voice was not there.

The lyrics literally took my breath away and I was overcome with grief. It was as if Augustus was telling me, “All is okay mommy. See, this is what I am doing!”

1. I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
the star of my life is Jesus.

Refrain
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

2. I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of righteousness, shine on my path,
and show me the way to the Father.

Refrain
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

3. I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
we shall know the joy of Jesus.

Refrain
In him there is no darkness at all;
the night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God:
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

As the service began, I wondered if this was “overkill.” This was the stigma of miscarriage coming out in my own mind. As much as I knew this was needed and more people should do this, I felt a bit bad about making such a hoopla about my own child.

We had our priest and a cantor who were there with a fully lit church. We were such a small group there celebrating his life but it seemed, for a moment, that we were putting out all these people. I leaned into Hubby’s ear and asked, “Do you think this is overkill?” He shook his head no. Afterwards, I would realize why he felt that way.

As Father Ed chanted the beginning prayers, Augustus’ name was sung. I am not sure if everyone picked up on it or not and I hoped he would say his name more and more throughout the ceremony. I could hear my friends taking pictures all around me as I tried to keep the tears from flowing.

Commendation Ceremony 2

My friend Katie, read the first reading. It was so beautiful and relevant to infant loss. As she read, I wondered what was going through her mind. I wondered if she wanted to cry. I wondered if she would make it through without crying. I wondered if the loss of her own son, Henry Thomas, would bring on grief for her. I wondered if I was causing her pain. In that moment, I realized how hard this must have been for her. I just wanted to tell her I loved her.

Father Ed proceeded with the Gospel and then the Homily. The Homily took my breath away again. Father Ed has such a way with words. I wanted to soak in every word, remember it all but there was not way my mind could do so. Augustus’ name was repeated several times so all could hear and I had really wished in that moment, that we were there for another reason. A happy reason, not celebrating a short life.

Our friend Donna then read the petitions and it was so hard. She instantly started crying and it was so difficult but all I felt was love from her. I didn’t matter that she was crying. She was validating this experience. Our experience. She didn’t need to be stoic. She knew how hard this was for us. She had comforted her own daughter through loss. Afterwards, she came to us and gave us a big hug. I just wanted to tell her I loved her. She may never realize how much this meant to our family.

Commendation Ceremony 1

We were asked to place Ruby and Augustus’ name in the Book of Life. Oh how I couldn’t wait to see their names in there. I was awe struck by the fact that Ruby’s name would now be in a Book of Life. We had never placed her name in one before. She too, would be commended and honored today.

After Hubby wrote their names in the book, I noticed that Augustus’ name was missing a U. I had hoped we would have time to correct it later. We weren’t able to fill in the dates of life in the book. I knew Augustus’ but Ruby’s took a bit to remember her exact date. Father Ed told us we could fill it in later. I am not sure when later would be.

Hubby and Joey were then offered time to speak. Joey originally wanted to go first but then asked his dad to go first. I am sure he was just nervous. Hubby started but he was crying. He said some beautiful things but I loved that he said, “When your wife gets pregnant, you fall in love with that baby instantly. Someone you have never met and don’t know.” I know those weren’t his exact words. He probably doesn’t even remember his exact words but what I don’t think he realized is that I needed to hear those words. We talk, but I rarely hear those intimate thoughts he has. It was healing to me.

Joey shared his experience of what he heard from me when Gus died, how he felt, and how hard it was for him the next day because he knew I was hurting. I love him so much. We have an amazing bond and I really need to be more cognizant of that and help grow that bond. He loves me so much and we are “attached.”

Joey drew this in the sand at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. It was his message. He misses his brother.

Memory of Gus at Coral Pink Sand Dunes

The ceremony concluded soon after and we walked out behind Father Ed. We waited in the Narthex for the rest of our family and friends while they signed Gus’s book and we hugged them and thanked them for coming. They all said they thought the ceremony was beautiful. They all felt it was needed. It validated everything. We lost our son. It’s okay to grieve and our son meant something, no matter how small he was.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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