Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What to do with the stuff?

This was a post I wrote over a year ago when we started getting ready for Abigail's arrival. I have been meaning to post this but kept forgetting to add the pictures. So here it is, late but hopefully helpful....

One of the first things I remember my mom saying in the hospital after saying goodbye to Caleb was " I can have the nursery all cleared out." It hit me like a ton of bricks. If learning you have to go through labor for a dead baby and then trying to make funeral plans wasn't enough, I now had to decide what to do with the nursery we apparently did not need anymore. Again, no reference point, none of this was ever in the baby books. Without hesitating I said "no,leave it all." I don't know why I said that or what reasoning I had, but somewhere deep inside of me I knew I needed it there.

When we returned from the hospital the nursery door was closed. I remember walking in and seeing everything piled up everywhere. The two bouncy seats we had out in our living room were thrown in there, along with the car seat which had been taken out of the car and a few other random things. It sort of looked like a tornado had hit it, not the clean and neat nursery I left. So I shut the door and retreated to my room. Throughout those first few weeks and months we cleared a path through the nursery and actually made it into a memorial/ prayer room. It became a great source of prayer for us, a quiet place we could go. I remember a priest friend of ours coming over and I took him in the nursery. He said "Wow, there is a presence here, very peaceful. Not creepy like the movies would make it out to be." It made me laugh because I knew it was true. While people would see having a nursery still in tact after the baby dies as morbid, it actually wasn't. There was peace there.

We decided to keep the nursery up as our living hope. We knew we wanted more children and in time we prayed we would be able to bring them home. Besides, seeing it empty would be harder, we already had so much emptiness. So we prayed, we hoped and we kept the door shut to make visitors feel less awkward. But to us, it was so important in the grieving process. I spent hours going through all of Caleb's clothes, his baby towels, onesies, burp rags, and blankets. I needed to grieve over everything. I needed proof it was all real, he was real.

I think the temptation when someone loses someone is to clear things out as fast as possible. To this I would say- wrong. It just tries to make the person move on from their loss, when in reality they are not ready. I knew I would be ready to change the nursery when the time came. 1 day after delivering Caleb was not the time. Friends recommended I donate the items to charity, but that didn't make sense to me either. They were my son's things, all I had left of him. I also hoped for another boy down the road and knew I wanted to save some things for that boy.

If someone has a loss, let them take time dealing with their loved ones things. Everyone responds differently, but to just get rid of everything overnight like that person never existed is not natural, because they did exist. The grief books I have read recommend letting the person who experienced the loss go through their loved ones things. You can offer to help, but please do not do it for them. It might seem easier, but I have found so much healing in sorting through Caleb's things myself and facing that pain. I have had to grieve all his "baby's first (insert holiday) onesies" that he got. I needed to grieve his Christmas sweater and his pair of swim trunks I had bought him for the summer. Again, grieving it made it more real and confirmed that he actually had existed. If someone had done it for me it would have been taking away precious memories from me.

Last weekend Nathan and I decided it was about time to clean the nursery up. Since finding out we were having a girl, I have been thinking in my head of a way to keep the old nursery and incorporate the new one. I think we did a good job. I was able to sew new curtains and pillows. We changed the sheets to pink and basically added a lot of bows to things. I still am not ready to change over the clothes. I need Abigail in my arms alive in order to do that. Also, we don't have any clothes for her right now, so the closets would just look empty which would hurt more. Here are some pictures of the switched nursery-boy to girl. I won't lie and say I was happy to do it- I cried and was sad, but it felt cleansing at the same time. I think it helped that we didn't make any huge changes, just added some pink here and there.

If someone you know lost a loved one, give them time to sort through all the "stuff." Don't be pushy, trust that they will know when the time is right.  Ask them if they need help with any of it. One idea that I got was to make a memorial quilt out of Caleb's clothes. I am excited to start this project. I know we will use his clothes again if we have a boy, but there are somethings that are just so Caleb and I don't want them on anyone else. I am going to take those and sew together a small memorial quilt that can be hung up on display. This is a great idea for any person who has lost a loved on. A way to memorialize the person and allow the living loved one to remember them in a special way. It might only be clothes, but for a lot of people its all we have left. Don't be concerned if someone doesn't change over the room or redecorate right away after they lose someone. It all takes time and in time it will come.

Pictures of the nursery set up for Caleb:

 Blue walls with polka dot theme....lots of gifts we still hadn't put away!

 Changing table all ready to go with tons of diapers

Pictures of nursery for Abigail:
 Added the Carr family Tree of for Abigail, one for Caleb and a mommy and daddy owl..
 Kept the lime green crib skirt from Caleb's room and his comforter, added pink owl blanket and pink polka dot theme...
 You can't see it, but the wall writing says, "For this Child I Prayed." We had it made for Caleb and kept it up for Abigail. It also has two little birds flying around it.
 The mobile in the corner was made for Caleb but I added the pink strips for Abigail. I also glued a pink ruffle on Caleb's lamp
 The curtains that I made
 Added a pink dress to hang from the shelf, and a beautiful drawing a friend did in honor of Caleb...I also glued a small pink bow to the blue piggy bank!
 Home made Diaper sewing lessons came in use...and 
my friend Courtney who helped me!
Added a pink rug, and made the toy chest a little prayer memorial with Caleb's scrapbook his Bible, dried flowers from funeral and Easter Candle. And of course JC:)

What did you do with your loved ones things? Did you keep the nursery of clean it out? How did it make you feel?


  1. Just lovely looking through the photo's and how you have incorporated both your children. Wishing you a safe arrival of your little girl xx
    We have left Lillian's room how it was set up, its been just over 4 months since our loss and I really dont see myself changing the room until we add to our family. Thanks for sharing

  2. sorry I did get confused ....Abigail has arrived safely xxx

  3. Sorry it was confusing! Im glad you have kept Lillians room the way it was. No rush on changing things. Praying for healing for you as you grieve Lillian.

  4. Goodness. I remember this so clearly and so painfully. My husband ran in the house and took every baby item and stuffed it in the nursery that was perfect and waiting for our son. Eventually we went in there, but it was all stuffed and waiting until we brought his brother home from the hospital. We didn't get rid of anything, but some things will forever be Andrew's to me.

    Such a difficult thing...