Families who experience infant loss while their child is in the NICU, whether the parents have been discharged or not, receive one of our hand decorated boxes. These boxes are filled with an assortment of items for both body and soul, including lotion, lip balm, coffee, tea, mug, journal, Bible, and One Year Book of Hope.
At first glance, these items seem a little random. So I thought I might elaborate on how we arrived at these contents. After Reagan was born, I was mailed a Hope Box from Hope Mommies which contained many of these same items. We've added some and changed others, but that was the most helpful and encouraging packages I received. One of the moments I remember with the most clarity after Reagan was born was sitting in the backyard next to the flower garden we planted for her, sipping my tea, and reading about Heaven. It brought me so much peace to know where she was and that she was cared for. We had a passage in Isaiah engraved on her urn, Isaiah 65:17-23. We were comforted in knowing our Lord had suffered loss and grieved with us. Without this Hope, we had nothing. Thus, we have included a Bible. Nancy Guthrie wrote the One Year Book of Hope after losing not just one but two children to a genetic disease. She is open and honest in sharing her pain, hurt, and frustrations with each child's death, but also the Hope she has in Christ. After Reagan was born, I began journaling on paper again (which I hadn't done since maybe middle school??). There were moments we chose to keep private, letters we wrote to Reagan which were not meant to be read by anyone else. And the monogrammable journals provided in our boxes and do just that for these families.
The items that seem a little less obvious are those intended to be more for pampering. Here's the thing, after you lose a child, you don't want to do anything. You don't care if you eat or drink. You don't care if you shower. It becomes very easy to retreat into yourself. These small items can help. Lips still get chapped, particularly after a hospital stay (drier air, perhaps?) Sleeping become difficult, and lavender aromatherapy lotion won't fix that, but it may give a moment of slight relaxation. Drinking some coffee first thing in the morning to get you out of bed or drinking Sleepytime tea at night to help you rest may be just the thing that is needed.
There is nothing profoundly special about what we put in each box. They are simply the items we have found most useful, items that brought us the most peace. Returning to life without your child is incredibly painful and difficult, and if these boxes can help any one family, show them a moment of peace, give them a Hope for the future, then our mission has been accomplished.