Keeping their memories close: Memorial ideas for the loss of a child

06 November 2023
A photograph taken from behind of two teddy bears sitting next to each other in a garden.

If you have experienced loss and need support, there are organisations and resources available that may help. We have detailed some below, but if you require urgent assistance please contact a crisis organisation.

If you have lost a child, the grief can be the most challenging experience you ever face. Many parents feel that the grief never goes away, it just becomes something they learn to live with. Everybody’s experience with grief is different, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. However, finding positive ways to remember and honour your child may help as you gradually adapt to this change.

Experiencing grief after the loss of a child

"Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

Jamie Anderson, As the Lights Wink Out

Grief is hard. It can be overwhelming, painful and exhausting, and there is no easy way to journey through it. However, there are some steps you can take that can support you through the experience and help you to remember your child in loving and supportive ways.

Joining a support group for the loss of a child may help you cope with grief. It can provide a safe place for you to experience your grief alongside others facing similar circumstances. According to Grief Australia, support groups can help you understand your grief experience. They can also help to reduce feelings of loneliness, and provide strategies to help you cope in your day-to-day life.

Grief Australia and Compassionate Friends Victoria are two organisations that provide programs specifically for parents who have lost a child. You can also reach out to your family doctor, or contact the Community Care & Wellbeing program to find out if there are support groups in your area.

A photograph of a shooting star streaming across a starry night sky, above a canopy of trees.

Miscarriage and stillbirth memorial

Though it is often not discussed, the loss of an unborn child can be a deeply challenging time. As miscarriage and infant loss organisation Bears of Hope explains, it’s important to acknowledge that whatever you are feeling is a natural response to the loss of your baby.

You may wish to plan a funeral or memorial service for your baby, with some poems or music that feel right for you. If your child has been cremated, you may decide to find a special urn or vessel to safely house their ashes. If your nursery was ready, you might choose to keep it set up as a space for quiet reflection, or a way to feel closer to them. You may also wish to create a special miscarriage keepsake or memento. This might include:

  • Shadow box frames to display handprints, footprints or hospital tags
  • A special keepsake box for photos of ultrasounds or other precious items
  • Jewellery that can be personalised with baby’s name and birthday

If your baby has been cremated and you would like to inter the ashes, many cemeteries and memorial parks have special infant and children’s areas for this. You may choose to organise a special memorial plaque to be placed with your baby’s name. This will make sure there is somewhere you can visit to honour them in the years to come.

A close-up photograph of two hands holding a lit candle

Memorial ideas after child loss

In the days, months and years after the loss of your child, you may continue to seek ways to feel close to them. Specific times of year, such as anniversaries, birthdays and holiday periods, can be especially difficult. It can sometimes help to find ways to include them in holiday traditions. Perhaps you might cook their favourite recipe and eat it with the family, give them a gift each year or light a candle in their memory. You might wish to honour milestones like birthdays with a special event to reflect and remember.

Attending a memorial event may also help you feel as though you are not alone in your grief. This year, a special Children’s Remembrance Service will be held at Springvale Botanical Cemetery for any families who have lost children, and is free to attend.

Getting support

Please remember to be kind and patient with yourself as you sit with your grief. Remember that you are not alone.

Below are some organisations and resources that may help.

Crisis support

Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14

Beyond Blue1300 22 4636

Support organisations and helpful resources

The Community Care & Wellbeing program (CCW)

Grief Australia

Compassionate Friends Victoria

Bears of Hope

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