Remembering Your Pregnancy

This page is intended to provide information and support following a pregnancy loss. For information about the death of an adult visit Grief Support Following the Death of a Loved One on UofMHealth.org. For information about the death of a child, visit Grief Support Upon the Death of a Child on MottChildren.org.

The only “right” way to remember your pregnancy is what feels right to you and your family. Losing a pregnancy can be devastating. You and your family may be overwhelmed by many powerful emotions and much confusion.

At this time, you are presented with a number of decisions to make which can be difficult. Our medical and social work staff are available to help answer your questions. We are aware that families vary widely in how they experience pregnancy loss. For some it is the death of a son or daughter and the loss of a future. For others, it may solely be the loss of a pregnancy. There is no right or single path for families to follow. 

When You Are in the Hospital

While it is necessary that we follow legal and hospital procedures, our goal is to be as supportive as possible. If you are in the hospital, your decisions may include:

Seeing and holding your baby:

If you have a delivery, you may choose to see and hold your baby. You may also have photography taken, footprints made or engage in other memory making activities at that time.

Naming your baby:

While some parents are very comfortable naming their baby, others are not. It is a personal choice.

Keeping baby in your room:

Some parents would like the baby to remain in the hospital room with the family until they are discharged.  A cooling bed called a cuddle cot can be provided for the baby to remain in the room with the family.

Spiritual and religious support and rituals:

If you would like a spiritual or religious support or ritual performed, such as a blessing, naming, bathing or baptism, ask to speak with a hospital chaplain. You may also want to connect with your own spiritual leader. We want to support what is important to you as we are able in the hospital setting.

Visitors:

Do you want to welcome having family and friends to come to the hospital or is your preference for more privacy or both? The social worker and nurse can help you navigate your preferences.

Memorial Ideas Shared by Families 

Some families share that it is meaningful for them to acknowledge and honor the life they were anticipating. The following are some ideas families have shared that were helpful to them in mourning their loss.  These ideas may feel like something you would like to consider or may help you think of something unique and special for your family to do. 

Nature:

Have family and friends place special stones in a chose space to use as a border for a small flower garden
  • Plant a tree in a special place
  • Hold a butterfly release
  • Select wind chimes in honor of your baby which you can hear play in the breeze

Crafts:

  • Make a quilt or other handmade comfort item
  • Create a memory book
  • Create and decorate paper boats and place in a river, stream or other body of water for them to float away while people are gathered together talking about this shared loss

Volunteering and Donating:

  • Have a gathering on what was the pregnancy due date
  • Volunteer to work for meaningful organizations
  • Donate children’s books to a library with a certificate on the inside sharing why this book was chosen

Other Ideas:

  • Have a journal at family events and encourage family members to write messages regarding wishes they had, feelings they have about this los
  • Meditate in a peaceful place

Attend Our Special Memorial Event

A Walk to Remember and Tree-Planting Memorial: Non-denominational memorial service used as a time for families and friends to join with other who share a similar journey; a time to come together to honor hopes, dreams and memories held each October during National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

For more information, contact the Office of Decedent Affairs 734-232-4919 or Brandon NICU 734-232-7887

“In Honor of” Donations

Friends, family, and others in the community may wish to make a charitable donation in honor of you and your loss.  Many families’ direct donations to non-profit organizations that represent the values or interests of their family.

You can also direct donations to a specific department or program of your choosing at Michigan Medicine. The staff at the Office of Medical Development (734-998-6893) would be honored to help you choose an appropriate memorial fund. Donations can be made to provide services to other families struggling with illness or loss, support nursing units, social work, spiritual care, medical research, or the general fund among others. 

Getting through Special Days and Holidays

Holiday and birthday celebrations are traditionally known for joy and laughter. For those who are grieving, however, they may be particularly painful and they may even feel inappropriate.

The demands of grief require extra physical and emotional energy which may leave you unable to deal with excessive demands these times can bring. When these days come, think about ways you can care for yourself:

Be honest about what you can expect to be able to do.

Realize that as a grieving person you have limits. You may not be able to or even want to do the things you used to do. Decide what is really meaningful for you and your family and do just that.

Find new traditions.

It may be helpful to find new traditions.

If helpful, talk and share memories of your pregnancy.

Others may avoid starting these conversations, but may feel relieved that you are letting them know it is good, helpful and supportive to talk.

Make changes as it feels appropriate.

Change the time or place of certain traditions. Change responsibility for various tasks. Remember that what you choose to do this year may be different than what you choose to do next year.

If you have other children, remember that the holidays are likely very important for them.

They may not react to holidays in the same way as you do. They may still express excitement and joy during this time. Think of how you may be able to be comfortably present with them in their excitement.

Talk about your fears and share your feelings about the upcoming holiday with your friends and family.

This helps prepare them as well as helping you find the support you need.

Contact Us

The Office of Decedent Affairs (ODA) is part of the Michigan Medicine Department of Social Work. The ODA is the centralized point of contact at Michigan Medicine for ongoing questions and concerns before, during, and after the death of a loved one. The Children’s and Women’s Bereavement Program is part of ODA.

To contact the Office of Decedent Affairs, call 734-232-4919 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You may also email the ODA office at SocWk-ODA@med.umich.edu.