If there is one piece of advice I could give to those supporting bereaved parents it would be this – say their baby’s name.
We know that when Lenny died, people were unsure if it was ok to say his name, so we made it pretty clear to those around us it wasn’t just ok but that we wanted people to say his name. We now understand this to be very common amongst other bereaved parents. Parents spend hours and days and weeks and months deciding on a name for their precious baby and they want it to be spoken and heard. We named Lenny Lenny because we really like the name Lenny and now I am just seeing how many times I can write Lenny in one sentence because I really like the name Lenny.
Understandably, those around bereaved parents may have fears around this. A close friend shared with me that her big fear would be that parents may have decided not to name their baby and she wouldn’t want them to feel judged by this. This is entirely valid. So FYI – babies who are born after 24 weeks of pregnancy have to be registered, so they will have a name. Parents can decide whether or not to name their baby prior to this gestation – we chose to name Bhai. There is absolutely no judgement here about what parents in these unthinkable situations decide to do – nor should there be from anyone else, this decision has no baring on how much parents loved and wanted their baby.
So, parents may initially share a name with you and then it will be clear. Or you could ask something like ‘If you ever want to share, and there is no pressure to do so, I would love to hear about your beautiful baby’ – if they want to do this they may share with you a name. Sometimes parents don’t formally name a baby but may give them a nickname.
So if parents have named their baby and want to hear their babies name but their baby is tragically not here how do you include them??
Fair question and it is something we struggle with too. Below are some ideas that have touched our hearts you may or may not resonate with some of these:
- When people have asked the story behind Lenny or Bhai’s names;
- People text us saying ‘thinking of you, Roy, Lenny and Bhai;’
- Seeing their names in nature – written in the sand, in stones, with sticks – or Roy-style carved with a chainsaw (I absolutely cannot recommend people go carving baby’s names with a chainsaw – it was great when Roy did it but I can’t cope with any more tragedy so please don’t try this at home and lose a limb or worse!!);
- Gifts with their names on – we both have bracelets with them on, a blanket with Lenny’s initials and a beautiful embroidered cushion with Lenny’s name on it;
- If you are unsure whether to include their baby’s name in a card – it is ok to ask. If it is immediately after their baby has died – I would suggest including their name if it has been shared with you. Some of the sweetest cards we received when Lenny died were written to Lenny directly.
Prior warning – a person may cry when they hear their baby’s name. You have not MADE them cry. The fact their baby died has made them cry. You haven’t caused that sadness and this type of sadness is not something that needs fixing. Their babies deserve to be missed.
Still, I can imagine as a friend or family member who has been plunged into such an unthinkable situation it may be nerve-wracking – but allow me to play devil’s advocate here. If parents don’t wish to talk about their baby (which in my experience is rare) they can easily let you know they would rather not discuss it, it is much harder to communicate that you would really like people to talk more about your baby/babies. Imagine parents deciding to have children, finding out they are pregnant, going through an entire pregnancy and spending so long discussing names, choosing their favourite name for their favourite person and for that person never to be mentioned again because they died.
If you are a parent you will know only too well how much having a baby, especially your first is a huge huge big deal. It is also a huge big deal for bereaved parents. Huge. So pretending as though their favourite person in the world never existed isn’t supportive, its painful.
I have met so many bereaved parents on Instagram, I know their names reasonably well but I learned their babies names first – even when I know their names the parents are always ‘Reuben’s mum’ ‘Leo’s mum’ ‘Isabella’s mum’ ‘Ava and Luna’s mum’ ‘Gracie’s mum’ ‘Eli’s mum’ ‘Miles’ mum’ ‘Hayden’s Mum’ ‘Sienna’s Mum’ ‘Meadow’s Mum’ ‘Nash’s mum’ – and another precious ‘Lenny’s Mum’ the list sadly goes on……. I would like to think that someone somewhere calls me Lenny and Bhai’s mum.
Please say their names, they were chosen with so much love and deserve to be heard.